The Biography The Lives of S Aurobindo sparked off a controversy on the Life of Sri Aurobindo,Freedom Fighter,Yogi.Poet ,Winner of the Nobel Prize for Literature for his ’Gitanjali‘ and a Great Mystic, by Peter Heehs.
Peter Heehs was himself a follower of Sri Aurobindo and a Member of Sri Aurobindo Ashram in Pondicherry,India, since 1971.
The Book was published by the Columbia University Press.
There are passages quoted from the Book that suggest sexual intimacy between Sri Aurobindo, and Mirra Alfassa, The Mother who is also a Spiritualist .
The passages referred to suggest that Sri Aurobindo had illicit relationship with The Mother ,he is a terrorist and was also mad.
Peter Heehs has clarified that he has taken two years to research the Book and the said portions of the Book are being quoted out of context.
The Book is not even available for Sale in India!
To those who criticise the Book.
1. The Book is not even available in India nor can you read it in full in Google Books.
How does one object to a Book that is not available and without reading it in full?
(those who raised the issue are from India)
2.While attempting to unravel a multi faceted personality as Sri Aurobindo,some facts might come to light that were unknown hitherto. They have to be checked for veracity and if found to be true is to be accepted.
Let us assume what Peter Heehs has stated in the Book is true.
It does not change our respect and reverence for Sri Aurobindo.
He was a Freedom Fighter for us, the Indians; but for the British he was a terrorist,it all depends on which side of the fence you are.
He had’ sexual relations with The Mother’
Does that change his Philosophy,his stature as a Poet or his thoughts or his Great work on Mysticism and Tantric Sastra as explained by him in his book ‘Savitri’?
Yogis like Sri Aurobindo can not be equated with us ordinary mortals.
“He was mad’
Well, from our stand point, he was mad!
பித்தா பிறை சூடி பெருமானே அருளாளா”
‘The one who is mad and who wears the Moon on His Head’
And Lord Siva himself is believed to have suggested this first line to Sundarar!
Sri Abirami Bhattar, in his Abirami Andhadhi, a great work on Goddess Abirami,Thirukkadayuyr( it should be spelled as Thirukkadavoor) states,
“‘விரும்பித் தொழும் அடியார் விழி மல்கி நீர் மல்கி .மெய் புளகம்
அரும்பித் ததும்பிய ஆனந்தமாகி ,அறிவிழந்து
‘Since his death in 1950, Sri Aurobindo Ghose has been known primarily as a yogi and a philosopher of spiritual evolution who was nominated for the Nobel Prize in peace and literature. But the years Aurobindo spent in yogic retirement were preceded by nearly four decades of rich public and intellectual work. Biographers usually focus solely on Aurobindo’s life as a politician or sage, but he was also a scholar, a revolutionary, a poet, a philosopher, a social and cultural theorist, and the inspiration for an experiment in communal living.
Peter Heehs, one of the founders of the Sri Aurobindo Ashram Archives, is the first to relate all the aspects of Aurobindo’s life in its entirety. Consulting rare primary sources, Heehs describes the leader’s role in the freedom movement and in the framing of modern Indian spirituality. He examines the thinker’s literary, cultural, and sociological writings and the Sanskrit, Bengali, English, and French literature that influenced them, and he finds the foundations of Aurobindo’s yoga practice in his diaries and unpublished letters. Heehs’s biography is a sensitive, honest portrait of a life that also provides surprising insights into twentieth-century Indian history.’
The latest biography by Peter Heehs, himself an ashram member since 1971 and one of those persons who painstakingly organised the Aurobindo archives there, was objectively commended by another noted historian Ramachandra Guha, as a product of “lifetime scholarship”. It had the added authenticity for “Heehs knows the documentary evidence on and around Sri Aurobindo’s life, better than anyone else,” wrote Guha hailing it.
“I wrote the book from 2002 to 2006 and it took two years to get the book accepted (for publishing),” Heehs told Deccan Herald in an extensive interview in Pondicherry, a few days before the Home Ministry extended his visa by a year from April 15 that set at naught several uncertainties for now.
But shortly after the book came hot from the Columbia University Press in August-September 2008, Heehs found the satisfaction from his long years of labour in presenting Aurobindo’s many-sided life “to a very serious audience” to be so short-lived as a “small coterie” of people connected to the ashram soon began a relentless campaign against Heehs, dubbing it “blasphemous”.
Apparently, some passages in the book–one allegedly suggesting a romantic ring to the Aurobindo-Mother relationship, and some discussions of an “element of lunacy” that ran in Aurobindo’s family–triggered a full-scale tirade against the biography even before it could be published in India.”