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Tuesday, December 30, 2008

The 26 November Mumbai Attacks fell on the 82nd anniversary of Immortality Day

Is the True Significance of Immortality Day Lost on Followers of Sri Aurobindo and the Mother?
By Lori Tompkins
23-24 Dec 2008
The 26 November Mumbai Attacks fell on the 82nd anniversary of Immortality Day, and 36 years exactly after the Mother gave the following ‘Immortality Day’ message:
‘Before dying, falsehood rises in full swing. Still people understand only the lesson of Catastrophe. Will it have to come before they open their eyes to the truth? I ask an effort from all so that it has not to be. It is only the truth that can save us; truth in words, truth in action, truth in will, truth in feelings. It is a choice between serving the truth or being destroyed.’ – The Mother, 26 November 1972
Do these synchronicities fall into the mind’s waste bin of random coincidence? Is it at all significant that the passage of the Indian Constitution also transpired on 26 November, in 1949? On the occasion of India’s Independence, 15 August 1947, Sri Aurobindo wrote:
‘August 15th is my own birthday and it is naturally gratifying to me that it should have assumed this vast significance. I take this coincidence, not as a fortuitous accident, but as the sanction and seal of the Divine Force that guides my steps on the work with which I began life, the beginning of its full fruition.’
For those who agree that India’s independence falling on Sri Aurobindo’s birthday was no ‘fortuitous accident’, and for those who agree that India must recover her true Self and recover the Sanatana Dharma, perhaps the Mumbai attacks effected on “Immortality Day’ will wake up a revived sense that the Divine Force spoken of by Sri Aurobindo is active in our world today.
For thousands of years India’s ancient culture and knowledge have been thoroughly walked on, eroded and distorted as a result of occupations, invasions, migrations and religious conversions (whether forced or peaceful). Perhaps with the Mumbai attacks, the passivity that allowed such encroachment on India’s soul, is now, from this important date, giving way to a stronger sense of self and a stronger will to be WHOLE. Surmising Sri Aurobindo’s vision for India, Sisir Kumar Mitra wrote:
‘… the task ahead of building up a new India is a tremendous one requiring the application of more than the utmost normal capacities of the race. The endeavour therefore must be made to reconstruct the national life on the basis of India's own culture, the truth of her soul and the purpose of her existence. Indeed the free India of today is not at all what she is destined to be. Her territorial integrity, her political oneness is vitally necessary for her growth as a nation as well as for the accomplishment of her mission in the world. Verily it is for this particular work that she has lived through the ages. A resurgent India, a strong, united and above all, an illumined India able powerfully to revolutionise the consciousness of the entire world and shape it anew by her own illimitable spiritual force is the hope and need of humanity today. That will be the noontide of her freedom, the high watermark of her greatness and her supreme raison d'etre among the peoples of the world.’ [Bold emphasis added] Sri Aurobindo and Indian Freedom, 1948 [1]
Those who follow the yoga of Sri Aurobindo and the Mother must wonder how the Supramental Shakti is active in accomplishing the tremendous task and destiny which Sri Aurobindo envisioned for India, which would ‘new-mould the life of the world and restore the peace of the human spirit’. [2] They must wonder at the coincidence of the Mumbai attacks beginning precisely on the 26th of November – ‘Immortality Day’, precisely at Apollo Bunder, the locale where Sri Aurobindo returned to Indian soil in 1893 to begin his epic work towards restoring India (and the Sanatana Dharma) to its full glory and potency.
In 1978 the Sri Aurobindo Ashram press began a publishing run of a book by Patrizia Norelli-Bachelet which discussed, among other things, the reincarnation of Sri Aurobindo. Against the wishes of the Ashram Trustees, all but three of the books were destroyed by the press managers. [3] The birth date given in that book for Sri Aurobindo’s rebirth was 26 November 1963. The story Ms. Norelli-Bachelet has told in her books – of her own role in the Yoga, of the rebirth of Sri Aurobindo, and of the Supramental Will expressing itself in cycles and geometries of time – won her few friends and many enemies amongst followers of Sri Aurobindo and the Mother. They could not imagine that the Supramental Descent would proceed in such a manner, and could not imagine that the Supramental Shakti would express herself or be visible in cycles and geometries of time.
One wonders if those persistent in dismissing Ms. Bachelet’s yoga, have yet paused to consider if the coincidence of the Mumbai attacks on the 45th birthday of the said reincarnation of Sri Aurobindo was not at all a ‘fortuitous accident’. For those who see 26/11 only as a tragedy, this association would seem unfortunate. But for those who understand and agree with the assessment that India’s ‘territorial integrity, her political oneness is vitally necessary for her growth as a nation as well as for the accomplishment of her mission in the world’, 26/11 can be appreciated as a profound seed of change and an important summoning of vital energies necessary for India’s reclamation of her own soul and her recovery of the Sanatana Dharma (the Eternal Truth of Being and Becoming) for all the world.
Those who understand something of the ‘secrets’ of the Vedic texts will not be adverse to the idea, as proposed by Patrizia Norelli-Bachelet, that the recovery of the soul and of the eternal dharma involves a retrieval of gnosis of the circle of 360, gnosis of the 9 number system used throughout the world and attributed to ancient India, gnosis of the Earth’s year as traveled in a twelve month journey around the Sun, and gnosis of the living Cosmos and its harmonies. Evidence for such retrievable gnosis can be found in both the Rig Veda itself and in Sri Aurobindo’s writings on Vedic truth:
Twelve spokes, one wheel, navels three.Who can comprehend this?On it are placed togetherThree hundred and sixty like pegs.They shake not in the least. – Rig Veda 1.154.48
‘It is in the revolution of the year that the recovery of the lost Sun and the lost cows [solar rays/light] is effected, for we have the explicit statement in X.62.2, rtenabhindan parivatsare valam, “by the truth, in the revolution of the year, they broke Vala [the Ignorance],” or, as Sayana interprets it, “by sacrifice lasting for a year.”’ – Sri Aurobindo, The Secret of the Veda
‘… in a hidden chamber closed and mute, Are kept the record graphs of the cosmic scribe, And there the tables of the sacred law, There is the Book of Being's index pageThe text and glossary of the Vedic truthAre there; the rhythms and meters of the starsSignificant of the movements of our fate:The symbol powers of number and form,And the secret code of the history of the worldand Nature’s correspondences with the soulare written in the mystic heart of life.’ – Sri Aurobindo, Savitri
In 2006, unimpressed by such words of the Veda and of Sri Aurobindo, moderators and members of Auroconf (an Integral Yoga Study Group) ridiculed Ms. Norelli-Bachelet’s notions that the Supramental Descent and Shakti would somehow be visible in ‘the rhythms and meters of the stars’ or the ‘symbol powers of number and form’.
In 2007 Auroconf member Lynda Lester co-hosted a panel discussion entitled "Facing the Challenge of Fundamentalism and other Shadow Issues in the Ongoing Evolution of Integral Yoga" at the California Institute of Integral Studies ‘AUM Conference’ held at the Institute of Noetic Sciences. The opening remarks of the discussion read as follows, ‘Sri Aurobindo and [The] Mother did not want to found a new religion... but we do see a few examples of fundamentalism …’. Lester then proceeded through a list of four offenders the last of which is ‘a small but aggressive group of people following Patrizia Norelli-Bachelet who are into esoteric numerology …’
According to the conference literature, the purpose of the conference was to ‘identify, heal, and clear unconscious divisions and blockages; foster deep listening, mutual learning, and the cross-pollination of knowledge streams; expand boundaries, build bridges of trust and collaboration; develop a more integrated, effective, and applied sense of the term "integral.”’ Yet by not inviting any presenters who appreciate or understand Ms. Norelli-Bachelet’s Supramental and Integral yoga and ‘applied cosmology’, they succeeded in continuing to block out points of view that renew the Sanatana Dharma, and succeeded in dismissing and alienating a living ‘stream’ of knowledge. Under the guise of authority and the safety of group agreement, the conference succeeded in defending old boundaries, and in refusing to bridge what has been accomplished by Sri Aurobindo and the Mother in the past with what is being accomplished by Ms. Norelli-Bachelet in the present. In response to Lester, and to others who label their enemies as fundamentalists, Ms. Norelli Bachelet has written:
The 'authorities' who pontificate on the danger of fundamentalismcannot appreciate that their own consciousness is its breeding ground.The bane of all new-agey scholarship is Liberal Fundamentalism.26.12.2008
The efforts to marginalize or keep on the outskirts the very new idea (which is actually a very old Vedic idea) of a Divine Consciousness-Force that eternally weaves and orchestrates patterns of sacred geometry and sacred architecture in the course of Time is painfully short-sighted by all involved. The refusal to admit or even attempt to see such a Divine Consciousness-Force at work in the progression of the year and in larger cycles of time, effectively disables seekers from comprehending the ‘body of Time’ and from integrating the past, present and future, whether on an individual or a collective scale.
Perhaps the weight of groups and institutions that participate in such dismissals will increasingly prove to be irrelevant to seekers who take on the task of determining for themselves who or what represents a religious calcification of the knowledge introduced by Sri Aurobindo and the Mother and who represents a true breakthrough into previously unseen and unexplored territories of the Supramental Truth-Consciousness. One wonders, what the members of Auroconf and the ‘experts’ on Sri Aurobindo and the Mother make of the coincidence not only of the Mumbai attacks on Immortality Day and on the date that they have denied as Sri Aurobindo’s rebirth; but also that the very slow moving Pluto (the unrecognized 9th planet of our solar system) happened to move into the 10th sign of Capricorn (the very portion of the 12 spokes/months of the wheel which the Veda extols as the month of the Victory), some three hours after the attacks began. The last time Pluto made this transit into Capricorn was in 1762.
Cultivating an appreciation for sacred geometry – for the Divine’s beauty, precision and perfection as displayed in nature, in Space – is no longer considered an ‘esoteric’ pursuit in our modern times. In fact many a scientist and mathematician have contributed to (and will continue to contribute to) our ever deepening appreciation of the Earthly, Cosmic and Human design. One wonders when it will no longer be considered ‘esoteric’ to consider a sacred geometry or divine control and beauty displayed in the course of Time. That will surely be the end of the prevailing mental view which imagines events in time proceeding randomly, with no connection to the individual or collective soul.
'Observe that in the Puranas the Yugas, moments, months, etc are all symbolic and it is stated that the body of man is the year.'– Sri Aurobindo, The Secret of the Veda
[1] Sri Aurobindo and India Freedom, Sisir Kumar Mitra, Madras; Sri Aurobindo Library, 1948 (from pp. 25-26.). Mitra’s portrait of Sri Aurobindo’s vision for India drew largely from Sri Aurobindo’s writings in Bande Mataram, Karmayogin, and letters and speeches written by Sri Aurobindo, such as the 15 August 1947 Independence Day Speech that was broadcast through All India Radio. See Link.
[2] Bande Mataram, 2 March 1908.
[3] This book, The New Way - A Study in the Rise and Establishment of a Gnostic Society, was subsequently published in 1981.

© Lori Tompkins, 2008 [Author’s note: In mid-January 2009 I was alerted by a reader that I had misattributed the Sisir Kumar Mitra quote to Sri Aurobindo. I apologize for the error and have made the appropriate corrections in the text and in the endnotes.]

Dr K B Hedgewar, the founder of the RSS, went Pondicherry in 1920 to convince him to rejoin politics

Post Comment COMMENTS BOARD :: 'God cannot be jailed' 22 November, 2008

gift of God By usubrato Mukherjee, Delhi on 11/22/2008 11:25:08 PM Dear sir, Aurobido Ghosh was a man with mission. it is pleasnt to know that Hedgewar, who founded the RSS in 1925, went Pondichery to request Aurobido to rejoin active politics. had he been accepted things for India would have been different. ther is now need to introduce Aurobindo's thought in curriculum. i congratulate Rakesh Sinha for his lucid presentation.

nationalism indiancreed By arun prakash on 11/22/2008 11:05:00 AM Rakesh sinha's writing on Aurobindo presents the views on nationalism. it is really a news for readers like me that auruobindo too characterised India as a Hindu nation. Aurobindo's philosophical root lies in vednatic literature. he is in true sense the prophet of cultural nationalism.

God'speople By Sushama Yadav on 11/22/2008 12:43:09 AM a relevent topic , the Pioneer has chosen. Namboodiri and Rakesh sinha both have made the past a thing of present and more than personality of Aurobindo , both dealt the ideology he propounded. regards

Alipore bomb case By niharika.chandra@yahoo.co.in on 11/22/2008 12:34:23 AM Rakesh Sinha has rightly articulated Aurobinod's thought on nationalism and differentiated it from the Western concept. He is forthright when he says that the decisive challenge before the nation is decolonisation of mind. He has lucidly thrown light on Aurobindo's encounter with the Western life, culture and people. regards Niharika California

Post Comment COMMENTS BOARD :: 100 years of righteous terror 22 November, 2008

Sri Aurobindo left disillusioned? By Bhuvan Chaturvedi on 11/30/2008 10:57:24 PM While an excellent article in other respects, the line "He was left disillusioned by terrorist tactics and underwent a paradigm shift in his attitude, chosing thenceforth to become a great spiritual savant." seems the author's own imagination. The reason why Sri Aurobindo turned to intense spiritual sadhana was the profound spiritual experiences he had while an undertrial prisoner, a realizaton that freedom would come to India in a matter of time when the British would leave on their own.

Terrorists and Revolutionaries By Chris on 11/28/2008 9:27:49 PM Hope Mr Namboodri has the grace to apologise, at least after the Mumbai incident, for equating great people like Khudiram Bose and Aurobindo Ghosh with the scum that the terrorists are.

Difference between the Terrorists and Revoltionatists. By Asim Mehtani on 11/24/2008 4:56:13 PM There is a difference between the Terrorists and Revolutionists. Khudiram Bose, Aurobindo Ghosh were the revolutionarists, not the terrorists. The revolutionarist are the one who creates revolution for the betterment of the Country. Their aim is not to kill the innocent people by planting the bombs in dustbins or hide the same for all of sudden explosions, and letting innocents people to die. Therefore they have the objective with logical reasons.

Revolutioneries By Jitendra Desai on 11/24/2008 12:06:36 PM We are slowly forgetting all those who laid down their lives for our freedom. Very soon we will have only Congress and Communists brand of freedom fighters. We must record, capsule and secretly bury this alternative history for posterity.

Biased 'Frame Of Reference' By M Patel on 11/22/2008 9:49:39 PM India's media and acedemia is in death-grip of fabian-stalinist forces. So hard is the death-grip that very few like 'The Pioneer' dare to differ from fabian-stalinist opinion. Unfortunately even those who dare to differ are un-consiously using biased fabian-stalinist 'Frame Of Reference' and Terms. eg. Mr. Namboodiri terminology 'rightous terror' found in this article.

100 years of righteous terror By Chris on 11/22/2008 4:14:30 PM To call people like Khudiram Bose and Aurobindo Ghosh terrorists is a gross error of facts. Even in the Middle East there is a clear understanding of what terror is. Torrorists are out to kill innocents and cause mayhem to them. Freedom fighters like Aurobindo and Khudiram never tried to kill innocents. Mr Namboodri needs to revise his thinking.

when 'terror' is heroic By pancham on 11/21/2008 10:21:01 PM Excellent point, and a very timely reminder.

Word of Savitri in its pristine glory and the power that can give expression to the Real-Idea in our life

from RY Deshpande <rydesh@gmail.com> to Tusar Mohapatra <tusarnmohapatra@gmail.com> date 30 December 2008 05:25 subject Fwd: An article has been posted to Mirror of Tomorrow - Editing Savitri—A Brief Discussion

The way Sri Aurobindo had drafted his epic Savitri with utmost care and precision is what is to be first appreciated, and therefore to try to read with our mental faculty his "intentions" while editing it will only be foolhardy, imprudent, rash. If we think that there are defects in Savitri the wise thing to do is to leave them as they are. What is it that we can judge about it? Nothing, really nothing.

However, in the context of editorial revisions of Savitri the overall picture as emerges is that of conflicting viewpoints in certain cases. Either at times it hurts insensitively the sentiments of devotees or else brings frustration to genuine researchers of the poem who are not given the relevant details. It is necessary that we take due care of the complexities and the many possible dimensions that are present in the entire work. In this regard perhaps the best procedure for the editors of the Savitri-text could be to take the first complete version that appeared in two volumes in 1950-51 as the basic reference. Part One of the epic was published in September 1950, before Sri Aurobindo's passing away in early December of that year, and Part II and Part III as the second volume within months of that day, in May 1951.

To take care of the "slips and oversights" that might have occurred in this edition, extensive research notes and references can be provided in a supplementary archival document; these might include several readings as we have in different drafts. Presentation of data should be the main concern in any objective editing. It is well appreciated that carrying out such an exhaustive job can never be an easy archival task; but then, possibly that is the only kind of an undertaking which would do some justice to the poem as well as to the poet—if at all we can talk of justice. This entails an enormous amount of labour but the gain is a certain scientific documentation that can stand permanently as reference material for generations to come who may have another approach towards the epic.

For an alert or perceptive reader of tomorrow this archival data will prove to be a help of immense value. When followed, it will also have the advantage of avoiding the charge of introducing in the edited text one's own likings and dislikings, one's natural subjective notions regarding matters poetic or spiritual or metaphysical. By presenting such "factual" details of research on the Savitri-drafts a new chapter of study can open out to enter into its spirit in another way. It is believed that this procedure will be in tune with the spirit in which the Savitri-chapter appears in Nirodbaran's Twelve Years. But in the truest sense these are perhaps issues of a minor kind and generally might have relevance only in their academic contexts. What is significant is the authenticity as well as the validity of the Word of Savitri in its pristine glory and the power that can give expression to the Real-Idea in our life. That is the true value of its poetry and that will always remain faultless and free,—because behind it is the yogic force of its creator.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Seven years of the Cosmic Review from January 1902 to December 1908

Topics Cosmic Review

The Cosmic Review was the journal of the Cosmic Movement (The Cosmic Movement was the organisation established by Max Theon around 1900, in Tlemcen, Algeria, at the instigation of hi...) established by Max Theon (Max Theon perhaps born Louis-Maximilian Bimstein, was a Polish Jewish Kabbalist and Occultist....) around the turn of the twentieth century, at the instigation of his wife Alma Theon (Alma Theon born Mary Chrystine Woodroffe Ware was an occultist and clairvoyant, and wife of and co-worker with Max Theon....), who he declared to be the moving spirit behind this idea.

The Cosmic Review was intended for the "study and re-establishment of the original Tradition", and became the Movement's mouthpiece. Its first editor was Charles Barlet; and Theon, under the name of Aia Aziz, was its Director. Later Mirra Alfassa took over the role of editor.

The Theons and their students published a number of articles and narratives in the seven years of the Cosmic Review - from January 1902 to December 1908. Following the death of Alma in 1908, Theon suspended production of the magazine.The Cosmic Review is currently available in French, published by Aken Editions.

External links Aken Editions catalogue - includes the Cosmic Review
Le Mouvement Cosmique by Pascal Themanlys Pascal Themanlys Pascal Themanlys was a French poet, zionist, and Kabbalist.... (in French French language French is the third-largest of the Romance languages in terms of number of native speakers, after Spanish and Portuguese, b...)
The Cosmic Review

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Sri Aurobindo brought to his cosmological work three major assets

Chapter Three–On The Nature Of Fact
In the next chapter, we will observe some important relationships between Whitehead’s fundamental metaphysical categories and those of Sri Aurobindo. But this connection between Whitehead’s thought and Eastern thought can be seen ... Eric Weiss - http://ericweiss.com/
Chapter Four–On The Nature Of The Physical World
In order to emphasize the analogy between Whitehead’s ideas and those of Sri Aurobindo, I will refer to Eternal Objects as determinate possibility (this is a shorthand for determinate possibilities of Existence, or Sat). ... Eric Weiss - http://ericweiss.com/
Chapter One–Doctrine Of The Subtle Worlds
... directly to seize on the physical energy and speed it accurately upon its errand. There, once we bring ourselves to recognize it, lie the gates that open upon the enormous vistas of the future.” Sri Aurobindo, The Life Divine, p. ... Eric Weiss - http://ericweiss.com/
Chapter Five – On The Nature Of The Subtle Worlds
Sri Aurobindo goes so far as to suggest that a thorough exploration of these subtle realms is one way that human beings can, ultimately, fulfill the evolutionary project by discovering their fundamental identity with the Divine source ... Eric Weiss - http://ericweiss.com/
Chapter Two - Doctrine Of The Subtle Worlds and the Cosmology of ...
Sri Aurobindo, the great Twentieth Century philosopher-mystic, took the work of the Theosophists to an entirely new level. Sri Aurobindo brought to his cosmological work three major assets: he was an accomplished yogi who seems to have ... Eric Weiss - http://ericweiss.com/
DOCTRINE OF THE SUBTLE WORLDS
This Doctrine was held by all premodern civilizations, and has, in modern times, been advanced in Theosophy and in the cosmology of Sri Aurobindo. This dissertation introduces the doctrine, explores its presentation in Sri Aurobindo, ... Eric Weiss - http://ericweiss.com/
participatory thinking: exploring new modes of thought in a ...
the ideas we will explore in this class are based in the work of jean gebser, sri aurobindo, and alfred north whitehead. however, rather than engaging in textual analysis, we will develop our participatory thinking through facilitated ... Eric Weiss - http://ericweiss.com/


The future body: Disappearances 22 Dec 2008 by Rich (Thacker 2006) Now startlingly he indicates that -albeit the methodological differences- the goals announced by Sri Aurobindo in The Life Divine of overcoming our mortal destiny may actually be facilitated by the process of tissue … Science, Culture and Integral Yoga - http://www.sciy.org/blog
“Such a Body We Must Create:” New Theses on Integral Micropolitics Daniel Gustav Anderson INTEGRAL REVIEW December 2008 Vol. 4, No. 2Anderson: New Theses on Integral Micropolitics . 10:53 AM 10:08 AM 9:33 PM 9:35 PM 8:30 AM Add comment December 24, 2008

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Like Milton, Aurobindo is a world-class poet and mythmaker, and a theologian to be taken seriously

"Such a Body We Must Create:" New Theses on Integral Micropolitics
Daniel Gustav Anderson

Anderson: New Theses on Integral Micropolitics
INTEGRAL REVIEW December 2008 Vol. 4, No. 2

119: Hobbes’s (1996) proposal for the establishment of a Christian commonwealth represents one of many explicit instances of this, where theology is openly described as a means of force, a means of subjective and social control. The ideological task of making these social controls into doctrines of natural science, presenting them as cosmic physical laws from above rather than as social forces, forecloses any appeal to the supernatural in the form of prophecy or dream-vision for moral or spiritual authority from below.

Hobbes recognizes and addresses this threat in his hypothetical commonwealth, observing that "he that pretends to teach men the way of so great a felicity," that is, one who claims to speak on behalf of Spirit, "pretends to govern them" (p. 288). Hobbes, then, establishes theological means to control, curb, and cage this threat to its own government, and the age of prophecy is declared closed. The relevance of vision and prophecy as a charismatic gesture is an unspoken subtext of Thesis Eight. Readers familiar with prophecy as a literary conceit will not be surprised to see that both natural-theological and prophetic gestures can and do arise in the writings of the same poet or thinker (Spenser, Milton, Blake, Yeats, Aurobindo), even in the same sentence, in dynamic tension.

120: As with so much else in integral theory, this is anticipated in the work of Aurobindo Ghose. Like Milton, Aurobindo is a world-class poet and mythmaker, and a theologian to be taken seriously (and not only by the faithful); also like Milton, Aurobindo is a problematic political and cultural critic. [...]

124 To give one example, Wilber (2001) claims it is "slander" to point out the racist overtones in Aurobindo’s writings (p. ix). But as I show in Anderson (2006), Aurobindo’s writings are more complex than Wilber seems willing to admit on the subject of race; it is not unfair to Aurobindo to insist he was among other things a product of his time, and that flickers of this time are legible in his work. By analogy, one can find moments of explicit racism in the writings of Mark Twain, even as Twain’s project was broadly and intensely anti-racist—and to say so amounts to critical honesty about Twain, not a slander to his legacy.

Anderson: New Theses on Integral Micropolitics
INTEGRAL REVIEW December 2008 Vol. 4, No. 2
Daniel Gustav Anderson is pursuing a Ph.D. in Cultural Studies at George Mason University.
His concerns include critical theory, ecocriticism, meditation, and early modern English culture.
Email
dander5@gmu.edu

----
Nizan, P. (1971). The watchdogs: Philosophers of the established order (P. Fittingoff, Trans.). New York: Monthly Review Press.

How the notion of attaining immortality arose among the sadhaks of the Sri Aurobindo Ashram

Death in the Sri Aurobindo Ashram
By Anurag Banerjee

Apropos of my biography of Arjava (published in www.savitriera.wordpress.com) where I’ve discussed how his demise had freed the Ashramites from the spell of the myth of becoming immortal, I’ve been urged to write about how the notion of attaining immortality arose among the sadhaks of the Sri Aurobindo Ashram. To them, physical immortality appeared to be an attainable reality though Sri Aurobindo himself had said that he had not conquered death though he had control over it. It was expected that Sri Aurobindo and the Mother would complete the yoga of transformation and divinize their bodies and hence would become immortal and so would the sadhaks.

It is not precisely known how and when the notion of becoming immortal crept into the minds of the sadhaks. However, it can be assumed that this notion originated after 24th November 1926, that is, on the day Krishna or the God of the Overmind had descended and established himself in the body of Sri Aurobindo. On that day, after a meditation that lasted for forty-five minutes when Sri Aurobindo and the Mother went inside, Datta (Dorothy Hodgson) was inspired to make a ‘gorgeous proclamation’ (to quote Sri Aurobindo’s own words). However, we have different versions of her proclamation. According to A .B. Purani, she said: “The Lord has descended into the physical today.” Champaklal remembers Datta saying:
“Krishna the Lord has come.
He has ended the hell of suffering.
He has conquered pain.
He has conquered death.
He has conquered all.
He has descended tonight
Bringing Immortality and Bliss.”

Nolini Kanta Gupta, who was present in the Ashram on 24 November 1926 recalls Datta saying: “The Lord has descended. He has conquered death and sorrow. He has brought down immortality.” Another sadhak, Rajani Palit writes about her proclamation: “Now Datta came out, inspired, and declared: “The Master has conquered death, decay, hunger and sleep!” And according to Rajangam, Datta has said:
“He has conquered Life.
He has conquered Death.
He has conquered All.
Krishna the Lord has descended.”

It is understandable that the exact words spoken by Datta were not remembered precisely by those who were present on the ‘Siddhi Day’, as 24 November is known in the Ashram, but the message she tried to convey was clear: the Lord had descended into Matter, that is, in the physical body of Sri Aurobindo and that he had conquered death.
Two days later, the Immortality Day was observed in the Ashram. But what exactly had happened on that day, that is, 26 November 1926? The answer is not known to all and only very few people were aware of the significance of this day because except Datta and Champaklal no one else was present when the Mother had declared the significance of the day. Let’s read what K. D. Sethna alias Amal Kiran has written about the Immortality Day:
“A day or two before November 26, Champaklal arranged flowers on the floor of the Mother’s room in the form of the Swastika. The Swastika is the sign of immortality. The Mother commented that it was remarkable that he should have chosen to make this particular sign on that particular day. Her words seemed to suggest an inner spiritual movement going on, significant of what the Swastika represented. Then on the 26th, in the passage-room where soup used to be prepared, the Mother stood before a basin of water and, holding her hands over it, appeared to pass into the water a spiritual consciousness and power descending into her. She declared that a most important and fundamental event had occurred but it was both very sacred and secret. She asked for some small glass bottles. When they were brought, she poured the occultly charged water into them and gave them to those who were there. According to her, the divine principle of Immortality had been brought down on that day.

How should we understand the message of the event? Just as November 24 promised with the descent of the delegate consciousness of the Supermind the advent of the true Supramental Divinity, November 26 confirmed to the very last particular of supramentalisation what the earlier occasion had betokened in general: the very last particular is the divinisation of the body. In Indian spirituality, from the beginning Immortality has stood for much more than personal survival of physical death: it has stood for a realisation of Divine Consciousness which is infinite and eternal, the Supreme God-Self both within and beyond the changeless series of birth and death in which our common terrestrial existence is caught. Immortality, in the Integral Yoga of Sri Aurobindo, necessarily includes this experience. When the Overmind came down into his body and the Mother’s, the highest range of the past realisation of the Immortal Being was compassed not only in the inner consciousness but also in the outermost, with wonderful consequences in the material sheath itself and an earnest of the full and final result which would come by the arrival of the Supramental Truth. The total earnest of the Godlike future was revealed on November 26—a signal almost incredible to the human mind haunted and obsessed by millennia of mortality. That is why the Mother considered the revelation not only sacred but secret and that is why the memory of it was allowed to hide in the background.” (The Mother: Past-Present-Future, pp. 158-160)

Another interesting information: on 26 November 1926 a cat was born which became the pet of A.B. Purani. The cat was named ‘Amar’ meaning immortal.

Just as a sapling becomes a tree over a period of time, the notion of attaining immortality also became a conviction. Moreover, the Mother too had made a statement that death was not a part of their programme. Even senior sadhaks like K. Amrita too were confident of achieving physical immortality. Amal Kiran writes about a particular incident:

‘Psychologically, one of the most central facts of the early days [of the Ashram] was the conviction that complete divinisation of the physical being was not only an aim of Sri Aurobindo’s Yoga but also a practical goal. “Supramentalisation” was clearly understood to include a complete change in the body itself. What is most significant is that by “body” was meant the physical instrument of even the sadhaks and not simply of the Master and the Mother…In this context I remember some words of Amrita, one of the earliest sadhaks. He used to be often in my room. Once when he was there we heard the sound of a funeral passing in the street. In a whisper as if conveying a secret, he said: “I have the feeling that this will not happen to me.” I did not raise my eyebrows in the least, for most of us who understood the originality of Sri Aurobindo’s spiritual vision and his reading of the Supermind’s implications could not help the expectation of a radical bodily change.’

However, Sri Aurobindo had categorically mentioned that he had not conquered death. When in March 1935, a sadhak breathed his last in the Ashram, Nirodbaran wrote to Sri Aurobindo: ‘I firmly believed that death was impossible here. Since it has been possible, it means that hostile forces have become victorious.’ Sri Aurobindo replied: ‘There have been three deaths since the Asram [sic] began—one, of a child in a house that was not then part of the Asram and the other of a visitor. This is the first death of an Asramite in the Asram itself.’

Nirodbaran continued: ‘You said, I hear, that you have conquered Death, not only personally, but for others as well.’
Sri Aurobindo answered: ‘I am unaware of having made any such statement. To whom did I make it? I have not said even that personally I have conquered it. All these are the usual Asram legends.

The conquest of Death would mean the conquest of illness and of the psychological and functional necessity of death of the body—that is one of the ideals of the Yoga, but it can be accomplished only if and when the supramental has driven its roots into Matter. All that has been acting here up to now is an Overmind force which is getting gradually supramentalised in parts—the utmost that it can do in this respect is to keep death at a distance and that is what has been done. The absence of death in the Asram for so many years has been due to that. But it is not impossible—especially when death is accepted.’
But Nirodbaran would not give up. He further asked: ‘From whatever you have said in joke or in earnest, it logically follows that you are immortal. Because if you say that Supramental can alone conquer death, one who has become that is evidently and consequently immortal. So if one is immortal or has conquered death, no poison or accident can affect him.’
Sri Aurobindo replied: ‘Your Syllogism is:
“One who became supramental, can conquer death.
Sri Aurobindo has become supramental.
Sri Aurobindo has conquered death.”
1st premiss right; second premises premature; conclusion at least premature and in any case excessive, for “can conquer” is turned into “has conquered” is immortal. It is not easy, my dear doctor, to be a logician; the human reasoning animal is always making slight inaccuracies like that in his syllogisms which vitiate the whole reasoning. This might be correct:
“One who becomes wholly supramental conquers death.
Sri Aurobindo is becoming supramental.

Sri Aurobindo is conquering death.”
But between “is conquering” and “has conquered” is a big difference. It is all the difference between present and future, logical possibility and logical certitude.’
Again a year later, Nirodbaran writes to Sri Aurobindo about the conquest of death: ‘In [your] letter to me, there was a very high optimistic, almost a certain tone about the conquest of death. Now it appears that you no longer hold that view and say that death is possible because of the lack of a solid mass of faith [in the inmates of the Ashram]…’ Sri Aurobindo replied: ‘In what does this change of views consist? Did I say that nobody could die in the Asram? If so, I must have been intoxicated or passing through a temporary aberration…Surely I never wrote that death and illness could not happen in the Asram…Conquest of death is something minor and, as I have always said, the last physical result of it [meaning the supramental change of the consciousness], not the first result of all or the most important…To put it first is to reverse all spiritual values.’
What led Nirodbaran to ask his query regarding the conquest of death was the demise of Dahi Lakshmi, the wife of a sadhak named Tulsi. Her death had shaken up many a sadhak. Sri Aurobindo, in a letter to Dilip Kumar Roy dated 18 October 1936, writes: ‘…the madness of Premshankar following on the death of Dahi Lakshmi has created a panic and at the least thing each person thinks he is going to go mad or die.’ But even then the conviction of attaining immortality was so intense and profound that Dahi Lakshmi’s death failed to create the impact it should have.

After Sri Aurobindo met with his accident in November 1938, during one of the talks which his attendants used to have with him, someone told him: ‘There are people who think that as soon as they have entered the Ashram they have become immortal.’ Sri Aurobindo answered: ‘People think so, because for a long time no death took place in the Ashram. Those who died were either visitors or who had gone back from here.’
But death did visit the Ashram within the next few months and this time it was none other than Arjava, one of the finest poets of the Ashram, who left his body in May 1939. But since he died in the train to Bangalore where he was going to receive medical treatment, his death was accepted only as an unfortunate incident. However his death was able to eradicate the conviction of becoming immortal to a great extent.
In April 1942, the wife of a sadhak named Madangopal died. With reference to this context, let’s read the following account of Pranab Kumar Bhattacharya who had come to the Ashram for the very first time in that month only: ‘In 1942, on the first day of my arrival in the Ashram, I went to the Dining Room for dinner. There I found out that the wife of a sadhak named Madangopal had died and the sweetmeat was being served as a part of her funeral rites. Something struck me as odd. So death did exist, after all, in the Ashram, I wondered. Later, I found out that Madangopal’s wife was not an inmate of the Ashram but lived outside. My mind was assured. Madangopal’s wife died because she had not lived in the Ashram. Had she lived in the Ashram she would not have died.’
So we see that though the inmates were gradually coming out of the spell of the myth of becoming immortal there were many who still thought that once they have joined the Ashram they have conquered death. But this gala dream was scheduled to break soon.

Two years later in 1944, Margaret Woodrow Wilson who was given the name of Nishtha by Sri Aurobindo breathed her last in the Ashram. But since she was suffering from kidney ailments even before she joined the Ashram, the news of her demise didn’t create quite a stir. But the death of Chandulal Shah in November 1945 eradicated the myth of becoming immortal for once and for all. Chandulal, who had become an inmate of the Ashram with his sister Vasudha in 1928 was in charge of the Building Service of the Ashram. He was an extremely devoted follower of Sri Aurobindo and the Mother and was quite close to the Mother. He had gone to the Town Hospital to for a hernia operation and died immediately after the operation. Pranab Kumar Bhattacharya, who had become an inmate of the Ashram by then, recounts:
‘At that time the Ashram did not have even a van to take the corpse to the cremation-ground. We carried him there on a cot for the funeral. His death shook my belief greatly. But I controlled myself and went on single-mindedly on the path indicated by Mother and Sri Aurobindo.’

Pranab had asked the Mother whether she and Sri Aurobindo had realized the supramental consciousness. The Mother answered: ‘No, not yet.’ She explained that the supramental consciousness had come down into them from time to time but it was not established. However she assured Pranab: ‘But we have caught the tail of it.’ Pranab admits that he was very disheartened but he consoled himself thinking that though the supramental consciousness was not established in Sri Aurobindo and the Mother they were marching on the path and before long the result will be visible to all. The Mother too on her part had assured him: ‘Pranab, this time there will be no tragedy. We will certainly complete our work. Pavitra, Nolini and all these old sadhaks are waiting to witness the supramental realization. I can’t dishearten them.’

A few words regarding Chandulal’s death wouldn’t be irrelevant here. Chandulal’s death was not death in the ordinary sense. Since he was a yogi, he was in a habit of going out of his physical body; that’s what he did when his operation ended. But the doctors judged from their medical point of view and declared him to be dead. So before his soul could come back to his body, Chandulal was taken to the crematorium. Thus the link was cut off and he couldn’t reenter the body. The Mother speaks about this incident in her conversation with Satprem:

‘He [Chandulal] had learned to go out of his body, he knew how to do it: he would go about and see things; he would see, note things, and come back into his body. then, when he was operated on, the doctors didn’t take the necessary precautions and the heart couldn’t withstand the shock of the operation: five days later, it was over. But he was in the habit of going out, so he went out and came to me (that’s how I knew it before they came to tell me he was “dead”). But he wasn’t at all aware of being dead: he had gone out of his body as he used to, and he came to me. He was with me. So there, it was quite fine, he remained peaceful. Then, at a certain point…(he died in hospital, and naturally, at that time nobody listened to me: they burned him much too soon—it would have been too soon anyway, because in his case, precisely because he had that practice, much precaution and time would have been required; but it was all rushed through), then all of a sudden, when they burned him (I didn’t even know the time of the cremation), he suddenly came into my room, you know, appalled…appalled, crying, miserable: “But I am dead! I didn’t know I was dead, but I am dead and they’ve burned me, they’ve burned me!...” Oh…it was horrible, horrible. So I calmed him down, told him to stay there, be calm, be with me, and that I would find him another body. And for a long, long time I had him consciously near me. Then I taught him to reincarnate—it was all done in detail.” (Mother’s Agenda, Volume VIII, 4 October 1967)

Does it mean that the grand dream of becoming immortal will never be fulfilled? The answer is: only the superman will be immortal. The conquest of death and the supramentalization of the body are the last of a long series of transformations that should take place. Physical immortality will be an attainable reality. But till then we have to wait and carry on with our work. So, as the followers of the Integral Yoga, what sort of attitude should we have towards the body’s death? Let’s quote Sri Aurobindo:
‘For the spiritual seeker death is only a passage from one form of life to another, and none is dead but only departed…Of course, that is the real fact—death is only a shedding of the body, not a cessation of the personal existence. A man is not dead because he goes into another country and changes his clothes to suit that climate.’ (Letters on Yoga, Part 1, p. 463)

After all:

‘Although Death walks beside us on Life’s road,
A dim bystander at the body’s start
And a last judgment on man’s futile works,
Other is the riddle of its ambiguous face:
Death is a stair, a door, a stumbling stride
The soul must take to cross from birth to birth,
A grey defeat pregnant with victory,
A whip to lash us towards our deathless state.’
(Savitri, Book X, Canto I, pp. 600-01)

And therefore the Mother advises:

‘One must never wish for death.
One must never will to die.
One must never be afraid to die.
And in all circumstances one must will to exceed oneself.’
(Collected Works of the Mother, Volume 4, p.356)

* from Anurag Banerjee <anuragbanerjee2002@yahoo.co.in> to tusarnmohapatra@gmail.com date 23 December 2008 16:57 subject An article for savitri era open forum The Mother’s Lasso

Friday, December 19, 2008

Aurobindonian input for open source integral book

Permalink Reply by M Alan Kazlev on December 16, 2008 at 3:07 pm
I'm in, if you can handle my eccentric, highly metaphysical-yogic approach ;-) Once printed, the book can be distributed through the Integral Community; it can get a plug at Andrew Cohen's magazine EnlightenNext and at the Integral Institute. And could be distributed at JFK University, CIIS, etc.

If there is enough Aurobindonian input (and not just from me) it could even be available at the Sri Aurobindo Ashram and Auroville. Perhaps also Gebser groups, Teilhard groups, Process Theology etc. It all depends who puts in the input. e.g. if we can't find any Gebserians to contribute we can't market it to Gebser groups. So i would suggest it be not just people who have posted here, but that we contact others as well to contribute, including big names like Sean Esbjörn-Hargens (who could write the chapter on Academic applications of Integral Theory), if they are interestedAnyway, these are just ideas, i'll leave it with you guys

Permalink Reply by M Alan Kazlev on December 16, 2008 at 4:57 pm
hi Mike, There is also the Wikipedia page on the Integral movement, mostly written by Goethean and myself. Maybe you could write a list of suggested topics as wellcheers :-)

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Arjava’s demise freed the Ashramites from the spell of the myth of becoming immortal

Arjava
By Anurag Banerjee

As mentioned earlier, both Nirodbaran and Nolini Kanta Gupta had described Arjava as ‘stiff but polite’ and ‘dry as dust’ respectively. They were under the impression that Arjava was bereft of any emotion. And they thought so due to his extremely introvert nature. But it was untrue! He had once told Dilip Kumar:

“Do not think that the English as a race baulk at emotion…Quite the contrary. We are a race with a rich background of profound emotion, the stuff poets are made of. But we are shy. What I mean is that while you, Bengalis, sail exultantly on the crest of your emotion—we, English, don’t like to be caught expressing our feelings too vividly. If you do not understand that, you miss something very important about our inner make-up.”[46] ...

Arjava’s life, though brief, was significant as it showed what Yoga was capable of doing and so was his demise. Many disciples and followers of Sri Aurobindo and the Mother had expected to see their Gurus in a divinized and immortal body and had also expected themselves to become immortal as well. Even senior sadhaks like K. Amrita too were under such an impression. Amal Kiran writes about this notion of attaining immortality:

“He [Amrita] used to be often in my room. Once when he was there we heard the sound of a funeral passing in the street. In a whisper as if conveying a secret, he said: “I have the feeling that this will not happen to me.” I did not raise my eyebrows in the least, for most of us who understood the originality of Sri Aurobindo’s spiritual vision and his reading of the Supermind’s implications could not help the expectation of a radical body change.[69]

Though death did visit the Ashram in 1936 when Dahi Lakshmi, the wife of a Gujarati sadhak named Tulsi passed away which shook a lot of sadhaks, yet the general perception remained the same. On 18 December 1938, Sri Aurobindo was informed by a disciple: “There are people who think that as soon as they have entered the Ashram they have become immortal!” Sri Aurobindo replied: “People think so, because for a long time no death took place in the Ashram. Those who died were either visitors or who had gone back from here.”

But Arjava’s demise freed the Ashramites from the spell of the myth of becoming immortal to a great extent; great extent but not completely because Arjava had died outside the Ashram. It was only when Chandulal, the Ashram engineer left his body in November 1945 in the Ashram that the futility of the myth was totally revealed. But that is a different story. The Mother’s Lasso

Monday, December 15, 2008

This is the best book for the beginners of the Path

from Anurag Banerjee <anuragbanerjee2002@yahoo.co.in> to tusarnmohapatra@gmail.com date14 December 2008 14:05 subject Two articles

Sri Aurobindo: Loho Pranam and A Garland of Adoration: A Review
By Anurag Banerjee

For the past several weeks two books have been my constant companions; whenever I found adequate time, I went on reading these two books—one in Bengali and the other one in English (though some of the articles included in it are in Bengali). Both the books have been penned by Krishna Chakravarti, a senior member of Sri Aurobindo Ashram, Pondicherry who is an inmate since 1956. These two books are not merely books; these are actually priceless gems offered at the Feet of Sri Aurobindo and the Mother.

The first book, which is in Bengali, is titled Sri Aurobindo: Loho Pranam; it is a biography of the Master. Sri Aurobindo has repeatedly instructed his followers from abstaining themselves from being his biographers because his life, according to him, has not been on the ordinary surface for man to see and he has also warned them that he did not craved to be murdered by his own disciples in cold print. Since Sri Aurobindo’s life was not on the ordinary surface for man to see, therefore, it is evident that his biographers would tend to draw inaccurate conclusions about him based on their personal research and hence, might represent him and his life in a wrong manner. Such a thing has happened very recently (I’m referring to the book The Lives of Sri Aurobindo by Peter Heehs which has created an uproar among the Aurobindonian scholars and followers of the Path).

But Krishna Chakravarti’s book is an exception. The author has based her research mainly on what Sri Aurobindo has said and written about himself, therefore, she has not deviated from the precise path to be followed and presented the life of the Lord who had sacrificed everything for his motherland and humanity in the most apt manner. The greatest beauty of the book is its simplicity and style; moreover, the complex theory of the Integral Yoga has been made easier and understandable by the author by the virtue of her usage of simple language and lucid style.

This book is the best book for the beginners of the Path. It comes as a relief to all those who have been emotionally hurt by the untiring efforts of Peter Heehs who has dared to denounce Sri Aurobindo as an Avatar and wrongly represented him as a ‘complex individual.’ The Lord must have touched the pen of Krishna Chakravarti while she was writing the biography of Sri Aurobindo and perhaps this is the secret behind the beauty of the book. After all, ‘all can be done if the god-touch is there.’ In Sri Aurobindo: Loho Pranam, he has been precisely portrayed of what he was, that is, the ‘Colonist from Immortality’ who came upon the struggling earth:

To aid a blind and suffering mortal race,
To open to Light the eyes that could not see,
To bring down bliss into the heart of grief,
To make thy life a bridge twixt earth and heaven
…(Savitri)

The second book by the same author is tilted A Garland of Adoration. It contains thirty-two articles in English and eleven in Bengali. The author has dived into the ocean of memory and brought out priceless pearls with which she has prepared the ‘garland of adoration.’ We know, “He who has chosen the Infinite has been chosen by the Infinite.” Krishna Chakravarti writes about some of the sadhaks and sadhikas of Sri Aurobindo Ashram who had consecrated all that they had to the Mother and Sri Aurobindo.

Their lives were offerings at the feet of Sri Aurobindo and the Mother; sadhaks like Dyuman and Amrita were extraordinary yogis who hid their true selves behind the garb of ordinariness. But we have been able to rediscover them and other sadhaks and sadhikas like Satyakarma, Mona Pinto, Priti Das Gupta, Indulekha Gupta, Millie Bhattacharya, Usha-ben to name a few who were chosen by the Divine to act as its instruments courtesy A Garland of Adoration. And we also have a wonderful reminiscence of the Mother titled The Joy of Faithfulness where the author whose life has been a dedicated service at the Feet of the Mother writes:

“She is the Divine Mother, Aditi, the mother of all the gods and goddesses, the Supreme, yet in Her dealings with us, She was the concerned, all affectionate, protective and loving human mother. Human She became to be amongst us, so that we the human accept Her as one of us and allow Her to be near and dear to our hearts. Otherwise we would keep Her far away, worship Her, but never let Her be approachable. We did have glimpses of Her Supreme self, Her Divine entity and that was the most beautiful, beatific aspect of Hers; the amalgamation of the human mother with the Divine Mother. Thus, in Her dealings with us, we often felt Her near and also distant. The mystic miracle, Mother of Delight.
Her physical body though human seemed to have been made of a different texture. Her eyes, Her touch, Her voice, Her gait, Her smile, Her glow conveyed a being of a different world—a sublime entity.”

To Sri Aurobindo, the Lord of her life, the author invokes:

“Your name, O Lord, conveys not the beauty and charm of a single lotus but like a mantra surges up from within the expectation for the advent and manifestation of the new world, of luminous beatitude, of magical charm and grace and of a supernatural beauty and joy through our hearts…Let humanity show its gratefulness to you, O Lord, by consenting to be transformed. You were not born for death, O Immortal Spirit, but like the eternal sun lighting up the world, you, O Lord, the deathless spirit, enlighten the entire humanity.”

And in the following words, she introduces her bosom friend to us:

“She is quiet, so very quiet that, in all these years of our friendship, I have never heard her utter a word! So quiet and calm is she! You may be wondering then how she could be a friend. Well, our friendship is in silence and the friendship comes closer and closer as the silence grows deeper and deeper.
She has that rare quality of being very understanding which comes from wisdom and indeed she is wise. If for some reason or other I am disturbed and annoyed and for days I don’t even look at her, she is there quietly waiting—no murmur or protest of any kind at my negligence. Waiting patiently till I come back to her and open up. Lo! there she is, giving me the exact words which soothe my revolting spirit and pull me out of turmoil. Isn’t she a devoted and loving friend?… She is a Guru, a Yogi, a Rishi and a visionary all blended together. Nothing can disturb her in this world. She has the knowledge of man’s inner being and of the universal forces. How with care, slowly but steadily she moves me towards the goal she has set for me…So much she has guided, been a constant companion and given herself and yet I am hesitant, doubtful or lethargic. She waits and when I wake up to my stupidity and blame myself for hurting so close a friend and am penitent and look up to her, there she is waiting and, not saying a single word, she shows me the path to follow. And when she finds me all ready and eager to follow her will she nearly picks me up and pushes on ahead perhaps to catch up with the time lost.”

And who is her friend? Who else but Savitri, the supreme creation of Sri Aurobindo!
Every sentence of this 160 page book is special because the words come not from the heart but from the soul; the words are the whispers of the psychic being of the author, hence special thoughts and realization are unfolded.
I invite everyone to read these books and take a sip of the nectar which is found abundantly in the pages.

How cleverly the whole thing has been made clumsy

Main Page Previous: A Few Comments Apropos of The Lives of Sri Aurobindo
A Chapter from The Lives of Sri Aurobindo by Peter Heehs
by RY Deshpande on Mon 15 Dec 2008 05:30 AM IST Permanent Link Cosmos

A Letter dated 6 October 2008
I’ve just gone through the chapter entitled The Ascent to Supermind: Pondicherry 1915-1926, the first of Part Five: Guide, of The Lives of Sri Aurobindo by Peter Heehs, and find it rather hastily written. It is also crude and easily popularistic-journalistic in its approach and attitude when seen in the context of the grand theme it purports to present, its plentiful inadequacies very glaring, its spiritual perceptions wanting in their penetration, in insight as much as in substance. The decidedly selective handling of the researched material much amounts to insensitive and blundering representation of Sri Aurobindo’s yogic siddhis, his realisations and his remarkable achievements. In fact the biography is doing enormous injustice to the spiritual things we value so deeply, so observantly and feelingly, injustice in more than one way. I may touch upon a few of them here.

Actually the title of the chapter itself is awfully misleading: the period 1915-1926 cannot be called “Ascent to Supermind”...

In my view, apart from such technicalities, the greatest defect of The Lives of Sri Aurobindo is the general absence of spiritual ambience in it; it is somewhat missing, in fact it is not there. From that perspective the biography is just trash. It might be claimed that it is meant for an academic audience, but then when the yogic-spiritual Sri Aurobindo is gone what will be left will be a false image of him. In that case it will be ironic if we should fail to recognize this aspect, fail to take appropriate action to dissolve this falsification. It is necessary that steps are taken towards this and also towards correcting the system to have the Archives documents available to the serious researchers studying the Mother and the Master’s works. This is the expectation and due consideration should be given to it, and given to it promptly.
RY Deshpande Mirror of Tomorrow

A Few Comments Apropos of The Lives of Sri Aurobindo
by RY Deshpande on Sun 14 Dec 2008 06:10 AM IST Permanent Link Cosmos

While here these few stray comments have been summarised only briefly, a more thorough and detailed examination is necessary, in fact not only necessary but is obligatory also. Yet it is felt that this material, forming sort of chapters of a larger work, will provide the essential background for the purposes of appreciating the many dimensions that are present in the issue. This need be seen from several yogic-spiritual perspectives. We look into Sri Aurobindo’s life, if at all that is possible, not as an aspect of mere academic or university or historical study, but essentially for living more and more in it, to enlighten and ennoble our souls, that which will bring fulfilment closer to us. These are the kind of intuitions we would wish to gather from it. If a biography fails to give us this, then that itself is its failure.
RY Deshpande

Re: A Few Comments Apropos of The Lives of Sri Aurobindo
by RY Deshpande on Mon 15 Dec 2008 06:05 AM IST Profile Permanent Link

Thanks. The reference is to The Lives of Sri Aurobindo by Peter Heehs. You can also see how cleverly the whole thing has been made clumsy, with phrases picked up from all sorts of places! RYD Reply 9:41 AM

Re: A Chapter from The Lives of Sri Aurobindo by Peter Heehs
by RY Deshpande on Mon 15 Dec 2008 11:37 AM IST Profile Permanent Link

Are these "documentary evidences" a private property of Heehs, that he is "preserving" them for future use? RYD Reply

On online coverage of Sri Aurobindo and The Mother

Sri Aurobindo and Ken Wilber on Wikipedia
from Integral Transformation by m alan kazlev
Sri Aurobindo is of course by far the more important and original; the founder of Integral Yoga, who provided both a roadmap to planetary transformation and, with his co-worker The Mother, the means...

Sri Aurobindo's and the Mother's pages are static, in the case of Sri Aurobindo poorly refernced (only 7 footnotes), and constantly savaged by editors who for the most part don't have the faintest idea what they are talking about... I have no doubt that many years from now, there will be enough Aurobindonians active on Wikipedia to rectify the current imbalance at least as far as the coverage of Sri Aurobindo and The Mother are concerned, but I don't envisage this happening any time soon.

Re: A Chapter from The Lives of Sri Aurobindo by Peter Heehs
by RY Deshpande on Mon 15 Dec 2008 09:44 AM IST Profile Permanent Link

Thanks. It will be much appreciated if other readers also present their observations as comments to the article. Spiritual dimensions of Sri Aurobindo as far as possible for us to discern and intuit are the things of interest, of interest for us to grow in them. RYD

Sunday, December 14, 2008

It was the first time he had called me by my name

Sri Aurobindo as I knew Him. A talk by Nirodbaran (September 1993, AVT 56)
Franz: For me was the September issue 1993 was a very special issue. Nirodbaran was the first speaker from the Ashram who spoke to us and it was the beginning of Auroville's opening up towards the Sri Aurobindo Ashram in Pondicherry .

On 14th August, Nirodbaran, one of Sri Aurobindo's personal attendants for many years, gave a talk in Pitanga Hall in which he shared his memories of Sri Aurobindo.

Your invitation came to me as a mystic surprise – I call it ‘mystic' because I feel that this occasion has been ordained by Sri Aurobindo – and I readily accepted it. It has made me think of Sri Aurobindo very much in the past month, and to pray to him to give me the inspiration so that I can truly convey to you something of what Sri Aurobindo is.
What I observed of his outer life over these years [1938-1950] – for I had no inkling of his inner life – can be divided into two categories; the impersonal and personal aspects… He started revising The Life Divine for hours on end, without referring to any books, like a machine that had been set going. He did not notice us – we were like shadows – and he was completely impervious to his bodily needs or the intense heat. In this way he completed the three volumes of The Life Divine before beginning to work again on Savitri.

This, then, was the impersonal aspect of Sri Aurobindo, which was the hallmark of his being and consciousness. But there were times also when he came down from his high consciousness, and would talk and joke with us; and these, for us, were the most beautiful times. We could ask anything, and he would answer slowly, in a few words, with a very sweet smile. But he would never look at us, and hardly ever call any of us by our name.
His humour encompassed everything. For example, during the war everything was rationed. And we, his attendants, among our other duties had to see that he cleared his bowels daily. One day we noticed he had passed very little. ‘Sir', we said, ‘What is this? Please try harder.' ‘It's war economy!' he replied. He was not one of these stiff, high and dry yogis!

“At the very end his personal aspect was also there. Before he passed away he embraced his great bhakta, Champaklal, three, four, five times in a vast recognition of his service. We were amazed. Then, a few minutes before the end, he called me. ‘Nirod, give me some water.' It was the first time he had called me by my name, and those few, sweet words are imprinted on my soul…..He was always poised, serene, above all attachments, perfectly free. He himself said, ‘There is nothing human in me'. But it wasn't inborn. He told us he had had many faults in his nature, but he had transformed his nature by sheer tapasya, by the practice of yoga, by identification with the Divine. For nobody can become a perfect man by his own efforts.

“So, brothers and sisters, you are indeed very lucky to come to Auroville, to do Sri Aurobindo's and The Mother's work through their Force. There are many wonders in the world today, but Matrimandir and Auroville will surpass all the other wonders because they are spiritual – and you will be the instruments of their creation.” Home > Journals & Media > Journals > Auroville Today > Current issue > The most memorable of the last 20 years

Saturday, December 13, 2008

A single para of Posner conveys more about the Guru than an entire chapter written by Heehs

shudip talukdar shudip.t@gmail.com Submitted on 2008/12/13 at 8:56am Response to "Suresh Chandra Chakravorty (Moni)"
1
shudip talukdar December 13th, 2008 at 8:56 am

I whole heartedly agree with the observations of Anurag Banerjee. I am quite familiar with the writings of Peter Heehs, which follows the dry letter of scholarship, not its rich spirit.
I wonder why he tends to dismiss works of other authors and biographers of Sri Aurobindo as hagiography, unscholarly and superficial, while claiming to be objective, scrupulous and factual himself.

Nobody can dispute the fact that whatever little we know of the Guru as a human being is because of people like Nirodbaran, one of Sri Auronindo’s closest disciples, whom he served for 12 years as physician, personal attendant and literary secretary. Surely their contribution cannot be dismissed or belittled so easily.
Writers like the late Satprem, Roy Posner and Georges Van Vrekhem have a far deeper and more comprehensive grasp of a complex subject like Sri Auronindo. In fact, a single para of Posner conveys more about the Guru than an entire chapter written by Heehs.

A quote that once appeared in the Reader’s Digest said there are two kinds of great men—-one who feels great by devaluing others and another who feels uplifted by doing the reverse. Perhaps Heehs belongs to the first categorty
Many scholars also dispute the avatarhood of Krishna and Christ by the same logic that Heehs applies to Sri Aurobindo. So why does he leave out the first two and target the subject of his ‘biography,’ describing him as an ordinary being..
What Heehs has been doing is to divest the Master of his greatness and make him seem rather common place. While his scholarship might pass muster, his intentions are suspect. Heehs is utilising it as a tool to villify the greatest spiritual giant of our age. I would advise him go through a serious introspection

Friday, December 5, 2008

Modern India is like Auroville in a way — still-developing and fragile

India, Terror, and Human Unity Walrus Magazine - Toronto, Ontario, Canada December 4th, 2008 by Holly Jean Buck in Shades of Green AUROVILLE, INDIA — In a comparison which is perhaps a stretch, but perhaps not, modern India is like Auroville in a way — still-developing and fragile. Robust and resilient, to be sure, but it feels not fully formed yet. This isn’t my outsider’s opinion, but something I’ve gleaned from talking to various people within India and reading Indian columnists.

One of the chief tensions in Auroville is caused by boundaries. Why boundaries, in a community devoted to human unity? Well, any experiment in sustainable community is both resilient and fragile. Resilient, because the people who are drawn to such an endeavor generally have adaptable, creative minds and innovative ways of doing things. Fragile, because to dream for sustainability, or human unity, or spiritual community, is still somewhat against the status quo. But because of this fragility, there is an impulse to draw boundaries, to protect, in order that the creation may be nurtured and grow.

I talked to one frustrated afforestation worker: she has spent hours, years of her life, planting saplings which the villagers often steal to sell or burn. This is a new forest, and in a way, it is under threat: it needs time and care for the greenery to really take hold. So, one reaction is to draw boundaries, to build walls: an understandable reaction.

The boundaries in this township are both physical and social. Physically, Aurovilians would like to purchase the remaining tracts of land around their town, but land prices have shot up in India, and so they lack the funds to do so. So for the visitor, there is a sense of blurring, of not knowing where Auroville begins and ends, of being almost-but-not-really a part of the local villages.

Socially, there is quite a process to become an Aurovilian: one cannot simply move there. There are interviews, assemblies, a trial period of a year. Hence there is a social boundary between who is and is not an Aurovilian, and there are also about 4,000 workers from the local villages who work in Auroville but are not an official part of it. And of course some local Indians want to join Auroville: a few suspect that this is because Aurovilians earn a “maintenance” of several thousand rupees per month from the central fund. Some residents seem to fear that the social cohesion of their community will fall apart, if too many people join who are not motivated by immediate financial gain rather than the greater dream.

Beneath these tensions is the spectre of colonialism, for Auroville is in some sense a colony. Clearly, Auroville is not a colony in the same sense that the British colonised India: Auroville’s aim is to create a place for everyone, a microcosm of the world. The Aurovilian pioneers took the villagers into account and continue to work to improve their quality of life. The town operates several initiatives for local welfare: women’s clubs, educational programmes, etc. It also provides employment for villagers, and has arguably raised the standard of life in this area...

It’s heartening to know that at least one small settlement around the globe, people are putting their ideals into action. On a greater scale, India itself is heartening: 1.1 billion people of all different ethnicities, religions, languages, and castes manage to live together, for the most part. All over, you can see icons of Ganesha, Breaker of Obstacles: evidence of the indomitable human spirit that impresses most travelers to India, including this one. If Auroville can meet its challenges in its microcosm; if India can refuse to give into the forces of divisiveness and maintain peace; then perhaps the whole planet can manage to get along. Finally, the global mood seems ripe for this.

Monday, December 1, 2008

I will make my own opinions strongly known

from M Alan Kazlev to "Tusar N . Mohapatra" <tusarnmohapatra@gmail.com> date 26 October 2008 09:22 subject Re: immediate

hi Tusar
To me this talk of "prosecution of Peter Heehs" is reminiscent of the worst aspects of religious extremism, and does great disservice to the community of students, devotees, and sadhaks of Sri Aurobindo and the Mother.

This blog entry http://www.sciy.org/blog/_archives/2008/9/27/3903585.html adequately illustrates the modus operandi of those involved in this witchhunt
best regards
alan

from Tusar N. Mohapatra <tusarnmohapatra@gmail.com> to alan kazlev date 29 October 2008 09:17 subject Re: immediate

Dear Alan,

I think, you always relish the "essay" idea; and this episode can best be judged when you put it together in one (or a series). That would help stop slavish following of the views of those having vested interest.

Yours fraternally, Tusar

from M Alan Kazlev to "Tusar N. Mohapatra" <tusarnmohapatra@gmail.com> date 31 October 2008 03:31 subject Re: immediate

hi Tusar
my apologies for the tone previous response (i have been replying to my emails from the most recent backwards). I was under the impression (hopefully mistaken) that you are sympathetic to these dispicable attacks against Heehs. i very much hope that this is not the case, because I have a lot of respect for you, but I could not maintain that respect if I thought you were agreeable to this whole sordid business.

As I said, I definite intend to purchase a copy of the book in question. Once I have read it, I will make my own opinions strongly known. But until then, as I requested, please do not forward me any material regarding Heehs. I am not interested in second hand sproutings; the only way to arrive at the truth is to read the original, and then let one's Psychic be the guide.
with very best regards alan