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Frantic orthodoxy is never rooted in faith but in doubt. It is when we are not sure that we are doubly sure. Fundamentalism is, therefore, inevitable in an age which has destroyed so many certainties by which faith once expressed itself and upon which it relied.

— Reinhold Niebuhr

Dear Peter

May I ask you one simple question, — What is your object in writing this 'painstaking' and 'laborius' [sic] biography of Sri Aurobindo? Is it to bring out some outer details of his life that may show to us that He was as fallible as us humans or to bring out the diviner side so that all who care can draw an inspiration from His life as an example? What is the truth that you seek to unearth, the truth of Sri Aurobindo's divine stature that does not interest you much by your own admission or the opinion of some critics whose own credentials are uncertain? What do you mean when through a most convoluted argument, quoting the Guru-Student dialogue from the Isavasya you arrive at the startling revelation as to the real reasons for Sri Aurobindo's marraige to Mrinalini devi? What are your specific intents in changing and expanding (by your own admission) the notes by A B Purani ji, putting words in Sri Aurobindo's mouth but to suggest something, hint something, almost half-mockingly? Either you believe that we are all naive or you think that all of us are a bunch of idiots whom you have to teach about how to read and write the elementaries of literary criticisms. May be some fools who have not read either the book or Sri Aurobindo in full and His other biographies would be deceived by your 'plead innocence' posture. And how about choosing mainly the psychoanalytic positions to understand Sri Aurobindo's mystical experiences? What do you mean when you say that modern psychology has hardly gone beyond Freud. I am utterly surprised, though not really so knowing the way you have written the book, that having stayed for so long in Ashram you betray the least understanding of the subject and speak where you had better kept your mouth shut. And what about putting that 'abusive word' for Sri Aurobindo through the lips of someone in the crowd (Surat congress reference). And by the way who are these people and their credentials and reliability who say that Sri Aurobindo had a touch of lunacy and the opinions of the British records. Oh, I forgot they would never lie nor will you. And what about the many many ommissions, including Sri Aurobindo's own position on most of the subjects including the veracity of mystical experiences; and the psychoanalytic clout? You will say they cannot be accepted since they are personal but on other accounts you most conveniently choose to cite Sri Aurobindo's words when it comes to A B Purani's diary account where in, [sic] Sri Aurobindo refers to himself as a terrible liar and a coward. So only negative remarks of Sri Aurobindo about himself have to be taken as truth but the other 'claims' are subjective and personal with no bearing upon others. Then what is this whole yoga affair about. It is as if you were taking Sri Aurobindo to trial and like a most crafty lawyer (sorry liar as they say in India), use those words that suit your purpose and omit that which contradicts it!! I could go on and on.

Having read the book, the full texts, and not formed my opinion on the basis of the extracts, I can easily say that the whole atmosphere that the book brings is something very negative and critical, as if an imp was struggling to prove something, as if a mole was trying to describe a mountain he cannot climb nor behold. In fact, anyone with the least spiritual sensitivity would perceive what you are trying to say, which is best summarised as: setting up a commitee to try the Divine Incarnate, to plant subtle suggestions, to create a certain mood of ambiguity about the truth of Sri Aurobindo, to highlight a few grey spots here and there on His persona, so that the Beauty and grandness of his being and his vision goes into the background and what remains at the end of the reading is a doubtful appreciation, a strange mixture that conceals the poison draught in an insipid liquid, yet works all the same to diminish and belittle, at least bring down Sri Aurobindo, the Divine Incarnate to the level of a slightly more than ordinary humanity. So let me say what you are trying to say through out [sic] the book,— Look Sri Aurobindo may be considered as someone Divine and Incarnation and all that stuff by you but that is only a question of your faith and that is simply a dogma and an outdated religion. Next you are trying to show that though He can be considered great from certain points of view (Oh you have been so generous at times, thanks Peter thanks for conceeding some greatness at least or may be you just could not help it!) but in reality and if one takes a total account he is not so relevent and great as all that (quite a confusing message indeed). As to His yoga you leave it still more grey. One wonders whether you are encouraging people to read Sri Aurobindo or discouraging them!! And all that being an insider of the Ashram, great. How beautifully did Harry Potter's author J K Rowling foresee you in a character with the same name as yours [Peter Pettigrew also known as Wormtail, how apt] (Read Prisoner of Azkaban)!! Oh no some others too foresaw your intent, Jugal da and many others. But as Sri Aurobindo has said that the difference between God and man is that while God plays the fool in season, man plays it in and out of season. Perhaps the season to play the fool is over for you and it would do good if you were to quietly and in a dignified way quit the Archives and find some other suitable work in the Ashram or elsewhere that is more suited to your capacities to dig out unneccesary details and string together the most illogical things so that the meaning is lost and left questionable. But please never agin [sic] try to write the biography of any great spiritual Master, leave alone the Divine Incarnate, since you understand nothing, nor are interested in understanding anything about the mystery of the Divine wearing a human guise.

Whom are you trying to deceive dear Peter,— yourself, others, or the Divine???

I am sending as an attachment my full response to your book in totality. With pity on you for having wasted so many years in this place and to have so little understanding and prayer that may your soul wake up and despite the muddled surface vision of your so-called objectivity, may It See The Light

alok

(dated 17 September 2008)


Dear Peter,

I read your biography of Sri Aurobindo, and I have come to truly appreciate your 'intellect' that everyone seems to hold in such awe. Truly one has to be only an 'intellect' and nothing else, a robotic brain-machine so to say, to write with such a heartless ardour and ingratitude, a biography full of subtle mischief of someone who gave you spiritual and material refuge despite all your doubting and resistances. Surely, you must be a great intellectual to so deftly weave your doubts in a story of faith and even make them look like starlights that point what the blind God-lover does not see. And yes, it does need all the ingenuity and cunning to put forth your subjective judgments in a way that it appears only non-committal objectivity. And what shall one say about your 'claims' to be able to objectively find the facts of human life,— a 'claim' that even 'Heissenberger' [sic] dealing with the inside hard concrete matter would not make. Why historians, the world of psychologists should hail you as the new avatar, the prophet and the guru who can know and write about another avatar, prophet and guru. For only the 'like knows like' and by that logic you yourself must be a great Master to be able to analyse, discern and know the facts of another great Master, 'possibly' the greatest in recent times.

Oh no, I forgot you do not 'really' believe in Masters and yogis and their 'claims', whether what they claim is delusive or true, whether they are schizophrenic or real and authentic, you do not know that. Nevertheless, you still are an equal to them though by another logic. Me human — you human — we human — we all human = you and me are basically same; the difference is only in degree and measure and not in any essential quality. Oh yes, I am sorry, you do not say so in so many words, objectively I mean. And unlike your 'misfortunate' self we do not have the privilege of digging into your private diaries with voyeuristic 'displeasure.' But you see that's where your logic leads or will lead those who want to read. Oh yes, I am sorry again, you are not so famous as to anyone bothering to find out about your sex-life or your ability to lip-sync to someone else's song.

But that may be a presumption, for with this new book you may become famous! After all, it takes guts for a mole to dig a hole in the mighty mountain and bring out of it a few strands of hair of some buried past carcass declare proudly to the world,— 'here is my find, my exhibit. Come, come, I will tell you the secret of the mountain. You deluded jnanis, mountain's snow-summits may be doubted, as 'I do not see it', you sentimental bhaktas the purifying streams of the mountain heart may be delusive as 'I, the mole, have never bathed in it', and you foolish seekers, the rich bounty of flora and fauna you speak of is equally a suspect 'may be, may-be-not' to my objective eyes, though books are written on it by others, I do not 'believe' them either'. Come, I will tell you something you do not know. And one would fancy rats and moles gathering around you and bandicoots and lizards and serpents hailing your find as a wonderful painstaking labour and thank you for revealing what the great climbers and photographers missed.

Anyway, your road to fame is open through the backdoor, nay through which some choose to enter a palace, for they are but a thief at heart and feel unfit for the front-door. Don't worry you too will be purged and given an equal seat by the side of the Lord. For history repeats itself as they say and who would think of Rama without thinking about Ravana and Krishna without Kansa and of Christ without Judas. But these are myths for you, 'objectively' unverified. May be, but then such myths as these which have helped man to grow towards Truth and Beauty and Light are far better than your half-truths and misrepresented facts, that perpetuate the reign of falsehood in the name of truth. After all Judas was being truthful and honest when he pointed a finger at Christ and revealed his identity. Yes, but truthful and honest to whom, — to those hostile to Christ's mission or to his own soul, that is the question!

But forget all this. You won't understand all this as it needs truly a wide mind and a generous heart, an inner psychic vision and a spiritual sense. And I doubt you have these, even though you 'claim' to be a practitioner of Integral Yoga. Must be some new brand of your own making where you don't require faith or a Master but can be done by any Peter anywhere. Or is it the American edition of the IY you are busy with, where you do not need the Mother and Sri Aurobindo's divine help. Though I am told new self-styled IY gurus have sprung up all over the world and your book will be the new gospel for them.

Frankly I do not wish to concede to you the status of even Ravana or Kansa. At least they were honest about their intent and did not hide their hostility nor masquerade as a disciple. But Judas may fit you well. Though historians say, that Christ is 'doubtful' and Judas dead, 'the fact' of our inner life is that Christ and Judas, Krishna and Kansa, continue to live and wrestle in the human heart. But, who can show that to you, O petty-minded scholar, for you the heart is just an anatomical organ and all emotions rubbish. Well, not quite all for you would surely validate for oneself as self-love and for one's family and girl-friend. But if emotions surpass these limits and turn to God and by the force of His Grace enter into His secret heart and read the dream-prints of His eye and share the vastness of His kingdom of delight, then you become scared (envious for the capacity you lack). Only in limits, your reason is safe. Not for you the Illimitable and the Immeasurable. May I ask, how big is your measuring rod and rope and how deep you probing lens? Can you measure the ocean of Light that shines through the milky-way? Can your rope tie the universe as a whole? Can you probe into the secret intent, the Will and Intelligence that works within the atomic void? If you can, then you may be ready perhaps, to measure the infinite Compassion and Light that is Sri Aurobindo and probe the heart of boundless Love and Grace that is the Mother.

But it is pointless to tell you all that. Who can show the sun to the blind or show him the beauty and joy of the flowers? So let me not dare to try what even God Himself perhaps finds difficult. My only request is that a blind man should be put in his right place so that he can not play the bluff with the equally blind 'claiming' that he can see. His place is in the school of elementary education with Braille. To graduate him to read the script of the stars or to expect him to see the Light that even mortal eyes can not bear is too much of a wrong choice. And what Sri Aurobindo and the Mother have written is neither braille nor mere human words. You should not be there, even though I am told some great man put you there. But you see, great men can blunder greatly and it is left sometimes for the lesser mortals to bear the brunt of their blunders. And have we not borne enough of that,— your previous biography, then this one, all at the expense of the Ashram resources to denounce its own founders, its very base and core, its soul and substance. While the world outside waits eagerly and expectantly for the Collected Works, you are busy spinning biography after biography. Have we not had enough of you and your tales? Perhaps you did not learn while in kindergarten that it is wrong to lie and tell tales about other people. I forgot, you are one of the founding-members of the Archives, and this you need to remind yourself, lest it turns into a department of research into psychoanalytic history.

Lastly, and since it is not within our means to do anything else as you are held in such awe and respect, let me just give you a word of advice, an advice similar to what Angad (I am sorry I can't furnish accurate documents of this man or a monkey and do not know his qualifications, but his advice was a sane one and still valid) gave to Ravana, to seek refuge in the Divine Incarnate whom the intellectual giant could not understand. Well, here is the same advice for you, how else could one explain that you have been tolerated if not for Grace or the magnanimity of the indiscriminate and the indifferent humans who are otherwise so ready to excommunicate ordinary humans for much lesser personal offences and transgressions but would bear with you, nay encourage, shield and support you. Take refuge in Her Grace. May be your heart would change and your eyes see, feel and know the splendours that hide beyond the reach and ken of your so called objective sight.

Wishing you well within and without

alok