Heehs Biography Controversy (SCIY)


Introduction arrow Further Documents
Documents without annotations
Letter to the Managing Trustee, from Peter Heehs Print E-mail

25 September 2008

Dear Manoj-da,

During a conversation the other day, you asked me whether I would write a brief note to clarify what I was trying to do when I wrote my recent biography….

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Letter to the Managing Trustee, from Michael Murphy Print E-mail

Dear Manoj–

Since 1950 (even before we played on the Ashram basketball team together!), Sri Aurobindo has been the chief influence on my life and work. For that reason I’ve been thrilled by the new interest in him among American opinion elites that’s been inspired by Peter Heehs’s biography. Because of Peter’s book, more and more people here are exhibiting new interest in the revolutionary leader, philosopher, and spiritual genius who inspires us. I can now reach academics and others I couldn’t before with the rich portrait Peter has given us.

And among those of us acquainted with Ashram politics, admiration for you, Manoj, and for the others there who support Peter’s work has grown enormously. Many of us are inspired by the courage and wisdom you have shown in the midst of the controversy surrounding the new biography. Your leadership reflects the fearlessness Sri Aurobindo valued. He, after all, went where his work and vision led in spite of the consequences.

For all of this, I salute and thank you. You are one of my new heroes.

With fond regards,

Michael Murphy


Letter to the Managing Trustee, from Debashish Banerji Print E-mail

17 October 2008

Dear Manoj-da,

In a world torn with conflict and one where every human solution is being shown to be inadequate, the message of Sri Aurobindo is needed like never before – not in a dogmatic or religious form, but as a concrete ray of hope with the power of the sun visible in it. The heavy atmosphere of mental doubt which pervades the mainstream structures of organized academic preparation, are designed to keep out the possibility of a fair hearing to the voice of divine realization which Sri Aurobindo represents. In this atmosphere, strident claims of avatarhood, absolutism, belief in mythologies and miraculous births etc. are just the kinds of things which will help most effectively to marginalize and exclude Sri Aurobindo and his message from credible consideration.

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Letter to the Managing Trustee, from Richard Hartz Print E-mail

15 September 2008

Dear Manoj‑da,

The basic question raised by Peter’s biography and the reactions to it is whether different approaches to Sri Aurobindo can be tolerated. Peter has adopted a typically “Western” approach. Otherwise Columbia University Press would not have been interested in the book and Sri Aurobindo would have remained unknown to most of those who are now reading it. I imagined that its publication in America would be welcomed by Sri Aurobindo’s followers as a step in the fulfilment of his dream of the gift of India’s spiritual knowledge to the world. Instead, we are told that this book has hurt the Indian psyche. This is puzzling. Can the soul of India be hurt so easily?

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Letter to the Managing Trustee, from Dhir Sarangi Print E-mail

24 September 2008

Dear Manoj-da,

For the past one week or so I have been following the discussions and debates over the new biography of Sri Aurobindo by Peter Heehs. Initially, I thought I would not voice my opinion on the SAICE [Sri Aurobindo International Centre of Education] yahoo group, but I finally did so judging by some of the reactions that were posted on the group. Frankly, I cannot understand how this group of ‘ex-students’ could claim to be custodians of Sri Aurobindo’s philosophy or for that matter, his Ashram….

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Response to Allegations, by Michael Murphy Print E-mail

Dear Rich Carlson–

Rumors that I asked Jeff Kripal to write a “Freudian” study of Sri Aurobindo are completely false, and Kripal has no intentions to do so.

But I am indeed deeply fascinated (and indebted) to Sri Aurobindo, who remains the chief inspiration for my life work.  I discovered his writings in 1950, at Stanford University, as a 19-year old undergraduate and  would not have started the Esalen Institute without his inspiration.

Lately, I have been newly inspired by Peter Heehs’s magnifcent Aurobindo biography and by the historic scholarship conducted by Heehs and Richard Hartz at the Aurobindo Ashram Archives. Their work on Aurobindo’s extraordinary Record of Yoga will one day help revolutionize psychology and transformative practice, and Heehs’s book is bringing new awareness of Sri Aurobindo to countless people worldwide. I hope that the book’s detractors will eventually come to appreciate the good it is doing for the very cause they celebrate.

Peter Heehs and Richard Hartz are expanding the frontiers of Aurobindo scholarship with the courage and dedication that Aurobindo embodied and recommended to us all.

Michael Murphy


Letter to Dr Karan Singh, from Michael Murphy Print E-mail

November 12, 2008

My dear Karan Singh– 

With the election of Obama, I and my colleagues anticipate a new era in American life that will bring the dreams for human advance that you and I share closer to reality.

And as a sign of these new times, the publication of Peter Heehs’s Sri Aurobindo biography by the Columbia University Press is opening new doors to us among American opinion leaders who have not until now appreciated his importance for the world-at-large.

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Letter to Dr Karan Singh, from Debashish Banerji Print E-mail

November 13, 2008

Dear Karan-ji,

You have perhaps heard of some of the hubbub surrounding the publication of Peter Heeh’s recent biography of Sri Aurobindo, The Lives of Sri Aurobindo, published by Columbia University Press. As a professor teaching Art History at Pasadena City College and UCLA, I can see the beginning of a new opening to the message of Indian spirituality and the special contribuition of Sri Aurobindo as a result of scholarly attention to this book. All those I know who have read the book have been positively impacted by the horizons of human possibility represented in Sri Aurobindo’s life through the book’s unsentimental portrayal.

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Open Letter by Julian Lines Print E-mail

Dear Spiritual Family,

In the current world crisis, the excesses of power, greed  and religious extremism are causing profound upheavals. People are looking to Sri Aurobindo and the Mother for answers. Those of us who have given our lives over to their high ideals understand the Ashram and Auroville will be places where every problem facing humanity has to be confronted and solved.

Even with this perspective, I must admit a profound sadness from reading recent letters concerning The Lives of Sri Aurobindo. I have kept from speaking out with the deep hope that time and reflection would allow for some dialogue and exchange of ideas. Instead there rather seems to be a growing mob mentality looking to punish and avenge.

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Response to Julian, by Alok Pandey (with analysis by David H.) Print E-mail

Dear all

We all deeply share the anguish at the apparent split that seems to threaten the Sri Aurobindo Community. But may I ask who is responsible for this.

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Turning into Dust… Print E-mail

From two comments by Rick Lipschutz
(A possible reply to Alok’s rebuttal of Julian)

I have read in full Peter Heehs’s book, “The Lives of Sri Aurobindo,” and met with him when he came to San Francisco giving readings and discussing his work. I found he added to my understanding and appreciation of Sri Aurobindo — not only in his life before Pondicherry, but after his great realizations: the Silent Brahman, the Cosmic Consciousness that he entered in the Alipur jail, the Parabrahman realization, the Overmental Realization and through the entire arc of his earthy life. I have a deeper sense now how Sri Aurobindo, by the power of yoga, transformed a human consciousness into an integral divine consciousness. And in respect to his Integral Yoga, which is my principal focus (I was recently co-facilitating a Synthesis of Yoga study group and plan to resume it) the book afforded me stronger hope that humans like myself can make progress on this difficult and thorny path. Sri Aurobindo struggled with human problems, family problems, national problems; found a way through Integral Yoga to surmount them for himself and even to bring into the world a greater force so that others individually and collectively and the nations and the earth itself have a more certain hope, or at least the main chance, to transform our ignorance and struggling lives into something divine. I venerate Purani’s biography, I love and enjoy what I’ve read of Iyengar’s, have deep respect for Van Vrekhem’s, but I feel there is room for “The Lives of Sri Aurobindo.” I feel his approach to a critical, scholarly work based on a great deal of research, directed to the scholarly and academic community, is a potent form of inoculation against inevitable intellectual attacks to come. After all, Sri Aurobindo and Mother are not only for devotees, and for much-needed karma yogis; they’re also for intellectuals, those with a more mental bent — and an integral Yoga must include in it and integrate the heart, the will, the mind and more, in a “methodized effort towards self-perfection.”

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Letters to Peter Heehs by Alok Pandey Print E-mail

“Frantic orthodoxy is never rooted in faith but in doubt. It is when we are unsure that we are doubly sure.”

— Reinhold Niebuhr

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Email from Ananda Reddy Print E-mail

covering the Distributed Extracts, dated 11 September 2008.

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Email from Ananda Reddy to Pavitra Print E-mail

dated September 18, 2008.

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Email posted to the SAICE forum by Sraddhalu Ranade Print E-mail

Posted to the SAICE (Sri Aurobindo International Centre of Education) Yahoo! group on September 25, 2008. As of April 13, 2009, the group has 200 non-bouncing members.

Readers are cautioned that this unannotated document contains numerous false assertions. For an annotated email by Ranade see The Core Problem. For in-depth analysis of this and similar documents see An Outbreak of Fundamentalism?.

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Sraddhalu Ranade to the Ashram Trustees Print E-mail

Letter dated 17 January, 2009.

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Letter from Vijay Poddar to the Ashram Trustees Print E-mail

dated 30 September 2008. Readers are cautioned that this unannotated document contains false assertions. For in-depth analysis of this and similar documents see An Outbreak of Fundamentalism?.

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Richard Eggenberger (“Narad”) to the Ashram Trustees Print E-mail

Email dated 1 October 2008. For in-depth analysis of this and similar documents see An Outbreak of Fundamentalism?.

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Pranab’s Proposal Print E-mail

Notice by Kittu Reddy displayed on the Ashram’s notice board and mass emailed on 11 October 2008.

Read more…



View Article  The Strange Case of Dr. M and Mr. S

Sachidananda Mohanty is a Professor of English at the University of Hyderabad, India.

Like the main character in Robert Louis Stevenson’s Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde, Sachidananda Mohanty seems to have a split personality. There is the academic – let us call him Dr. M – who praised the work of Peter Heehs and warned of the danger of “collective bigotry” in the Sri Aurobindo Ashram. And there is the writer of a letter to the Trustees – we may call him Mr. S – who has condemned The Lives of Sri Aurobindo and joined the movement calling for Heehs’s expulsion. The contrast between the two makes an interesting study.   more »

View Article  Thought Reform and the Psychology of Totalism by Robert Jay Lifton
This is an edited excerpt from Chapter 22 of Robert Jay Lifton’s book,”Thought Reform and the Psychology of Totalism: A Study of ‘Brainwashing’ in China.” Lifton, a psychiatrist and distinguished professor at the City University of New York, has studied the psychology of extremism for decades. He testified at the 1976 bank robbery trial of Patty Hearst about the theory of “coercive persuasion.” First published in 1961, his book was reprinted in 1989 by the University of North Carolina Press. Lifton’s analysis of “thought-reform” applied to cultic behavior is very instructive in our present space-time.   more »

View Article  Yoga, religion, and fundamentalism in the Integral Yoga Community by Lynda Lester

Lynda Lester made a great presentation at AUM 2007 on fundamentalist tendencies in Integral Yoga. We are happy to post it here:

Today I’d like to focus on the difference between yoga, religion, and fundamentalism in the Integral Yoga community. And because in a discussion like this we’re all coming from different cultures and orientations, my yoga might be your religion and someone else’s fundamentalism. So I thought I’d start out with some definitions….   more »

View Article  Savitra speaks out on The Lives of Sri Aurobindo

Until recently, I had not actually read Peter’s book. So, despite the polarizing atmosphere and escalating polemics surrounding its publication, I refrained from taking a position or passing judgment. For how could I come to conclusions about something that I myself had not personally experienced?

As a published author myself, my own natural writing style tends more toward the creative rather than the academic or scholarly. So to be honest, I was not sure if I could wade through more than 400 pages of biographical details drawn from decades of archival research. After all, I was, I believed, sufficiently familiar with the essential outline and major events of Sri Aurobindo’s life. And as a dedicated practitioner of Sri Aurobindo’s Integral Yoga as well as a serious student of his own writings since the mid-1960s, having read all of his major works before coming to Pondicherry to meet the Mother, I wondered how I could possibly benefit from pouring through the micro-facts and minutia of such a figure whose Life was so much greater than the sum of its parts. I also had reservations about whether such an academic approach would turn out to be a boring compilation or disconnected series of meticulously-researched historical details which would simply drone on, failing both to hold my attention or hold together as a whole….   more »

View Article  Peter Heehs called to appear in Court

In an act of desperation the petitioner as well as those Ashramites who are conspiring against Peter Heehs are attempting to file criminal charges in this matter. Note that these charges are being filed under the following sections: Section 501 is “printing or engraving matter known to be defamatory” – Section 500 covers punishment for defamation; Section 275 (a) does not seem to exist though 275 covers sale of adulterated drugs.

The truth however, will not be denied. Not only will this case be dismissed but the truth regards the hypocrisy and malice of those persons who have seen fit to conspire in secret to take these actions will be unveiled for all to see.

The truth of this matter will be revealed in a forthcoming text that will be announced on SCIY. The voices of the ashramite leaders of the ex-communication movement will speak for themselves. What will become obvious is their disregarded for the spirit of the yoga as well as the rules and regulations of the Sri Aurobindo Ashram itself in persecuting a fellow sadhak.   more »

View Article  An examination of the criticism against The Lives of Sri Aurobindo by Larry Seidlitz
This article continues the section of responses on The Lives of Sri Aurobindo by those who have read the book. In this essay, Larry Seidlitz, a resident and scholar at Pondicherry, examines the charges being made against the author of The Lives of Sri Aurobindo and attempts to put to rest the exaggerations and misreadings which have been circulated by the ringleaders of the “anti-PH movement” and which have become “authorized truths” to a vast range of “followers” of these ringleaders, most of whom have not read the book.   more »

View Article  Representing Swami Vivekananda: Some Issues and Debates By Makarand Paranjape

Controversy surrounding the representation of a “nationalized” Indian mystic comes late to Sri Aurobindo. Pre-dating the latter in personal chronology as in nationalism and the modern articulation of a global Vedantic spirituality, Vivekananda precedes also in the matter of contemporary debates on representation. In the present 2005 piece by Makarand Paranjape, some of the recent histories of representation and the all too familiar stakes are rehearsed and can be instructive to our consideration of the present controversy raging around “The Lives of Sri Aurobindo.” Who gets to authorize the representation? What are the relative uses of hagiographny and biography? Are not both of these varieties of fiction? What purposes do they serve? Where does cultural tradition come in? What is the place of hermeneutics in all this? Paranjape’s reflections and call for a balanced realism is much needed for us to heed and reflect on in these times of myth-making and madness.   more »

View Article  Religious Nationalism and Transnationalism in a Global World by Mark Juergensmeyer

The rampant rise of religious nationalism and sectarian violence all over the world may have an intimate relation with contemporary neo-liberal globalization. Mark Juergensmeyer, director of global and international studies at the University of California, Santa Barbara, presents his sociology of 21st century national and transnational religious sectarianism in a post-Enlightenment global context.   more »

View Article  Corrections to textual excerpts of The Lives of Sri Aurobindo by Peter Heehs
There is a movement of folks in Pondicherry who are so upset by the biography that Peter Heehs has written entitled The Lives of Sri Aurobindo that they have instigated a movement to discredit the author. Some people have even become so embolden as to try and have him ejected from the Ashram itself. The folks who have spurred this on have in the course of their attacks on Mr. Heehs openly distorted his text by decontextualizing portions of it or by a series of selective omissions to make it suit their own interpretation of events that facilitate their own story they wish to tell.

Because of this movement I have decided to post all the portions of the text that have been decontextualized or omitted and reprint them with corrections to demonstrate how the text from the book actually reads in its entire context. The portions of the text that have been lifted to suit the purposes of those with an agenda against the author of The Lives of Sri Aurobindo are in black, the missing portions of the text that are needed to give the entire context of the narrative are in red. As everyone will see there is a lot of red in the text.:    more »

View Article  The Lives of Sri Aurobindo: the aggrieved victim

Therefore, it is ironic to watch those who claim to represent Sri Aurobindo ideals ignore the democratic character of his words and replace them with a militant interpretation of Hindu nationalism. This is evident in its failure to critically assess text that are viewed as hostile to their aspiration to seize the cultural interpretations of powerful institutions. In fact, words themselves are ignored by those claiming speaking rights for Sri Aurobindo. One leader (S) of the movement to censor the The Lives of Sri Aurobindo essentially declared that there is no need to read the book, that one can in fact can judge a book by its cover, or at least a paragraph. He says:

“Some people are insisting on the idea that unless you read the full book you cannot understand the context of a single line in it. That is ridiculous. One can easily see the context from within any complete unit of thought structure — at the very least a paragraph and at the most a section or chapter” (2008)*

When such irrationality is loosed coupled with the xenophobic nationalism of the aggrieved victim there can only be trouble ahead.

   more »

View Article  Competing Visions of History in Internal Islamic Discourse and Islamic-Western Dialogue – ABDULLAHI A. AN-NA’IM
Prof. An-Na'im in Jos, Nigeria

Abdullahi Ahmed An-Na’im is the Charles Howard Candler Professor of Law at Emory University School of Law. Originally from Sudan, An-Na’im is a disciple of nationalist leader and Islamic reformer and Sufi, Mahmoud Mohamed Taha, who was executed in 1985 by the regime of President Gaafar Nimeiry. Taha’s pronouncement of his first political incarceration by the British is reminiscent of Sri Aurobindo’s: “When I settled in prison I began to realize that I was brought there by my Lord and thence I started my Khalwah with Him.”

An-Na’im’s specialties include human rights in Islam and cross-cultural issues in human rights. He is the director of the Religion and Human Rights Program at Emory. He also participates in Emory’s Center for the Study of Law and Religion. An-Naim was formerly the Executive Director of the African bureau of Human Rights Watch. He argues for a synergy and interdependence between human rights, religion, critical thought and secularism, instead of a dichotomy and incompatibility between them.   more »

View Article  The Mother: “No one with an atom of intelligence would fall into such a hole!”
In this passage from her Agenda (12 January 1961), the Mother comments on the pharisaic behavior of members of the Sri Aurobindo Ashram. The recent experience of the friend of Peter Heehs is the latest case in point.

“Consider the case of a woman with many friends, and these friends are very fond of her for her special capacities, her pleasant company, and because they feel they can always learn something from her. Then all of a sudden, through a quirk of circumstances, she finds herself socially ostracized…. In the world at large it seems quite normal, but when this happens here it always gives me a bit of a shock, in the sense that I say to myself, ‘So they’re still at that level! …’ This is a primary stage. As long as you haven’t gone beyond this condition, you are unfit for yoga. Because truly, no one in such a rudimentary state is ready for yoga.”   more »

View Article  The Evolution of Discourse and The Lives of Sri Aurobindo

When Sri Aurobindo left his body the evolution of consciousness did not suddenly cease. Namely, there have been several significant mutations of discourse regimes, in response to the advent of the practice of Critical Theory. It is my view that one can view this succession of discourse in the same light as one would the development of a future poetry; it is a representation of the evolution of language.

While it would be understandable for a traditional religion to discard the advent and development of styles of discourse which follow on the death of its founder, in a spiritual practice whose organizing idea is of the evolution of consciousness, to discard the ideas, movements, cultural logic, etc that are part and parcel of this development, would be its undoing.

Peter Heehs book is a critical biography written in a contemporary academic style, that is -as all contemporary academic styles – informed by Critical Theory. It is not surprising therefore, that it treats its subject in a manner appropriate for this type of discourse. The fact that those in a yoga whose unique major metaphysical premise is of the evolution of consciousness would criticize its language and method of inquiry because it follows a discursive style that is indicative of how consciousness has evolved over the past 58 years is nothing short of ironic. It is almost as if these reactionary followers of Integral Yoga in looking back to the past to co-opt modes of expression that have now become fossilized discursive practices, as consciousness has evolved into a new millennium, have begun looking backward to the past instead of forward to the future to complete the project of integral yoga. Such a backward looking view of the yoga can be understood to have flipped the goals of the Integral Yoga in substituting devolution for evolution…..   more »

View Article  The Mother’s war for the Truth against all conceptions of the truth

Were Truth to manifest in such a way as to be seen and understood by all, they would be terrified by the enormity of their ignorance and false interpretation…   more »

View Article  The Greyscale Between Religion and Spirituality by Rick Lipschutz
Rick Lipschutz reflects here on the continuum which stretches from religion to spirituality. Drawing on the Mother’s distinction between spiritual realization, spiritual philosophy, occultism and religion and her perception of a complementarity in their workings, the author calls for a more integral understanding of the yoga and its stages and processes.   more »

View Article  Explanation of my Stand wrt The Lives of Sri Aurobindo
Since some of my friends at the Sri Aurobindo ashram have expressed puzzlement at my stand against the “Brahmins of Pondicherry” in the matter of the book The Lives of Sri Aurobindo, I am copying here a letter written by me to a senior and respected member of the ashram. That the views expressed here are not “popular” is well known. But I am wondering how many others who have read the book share any of these views. I would encourage them to express themselves in the comments following this posting.   more »

View Article  Orissa court stays release of book on Sri Aurobindo (Tainidan news)
Having edged out Texas, whose governor declares it a “willful state of ignorance”, and now in second place, the High Court of Orissa seems to be closing the final intellectual gap, between itself and the State of Alaska, in a competition to determine cultural backwardness:

Alaska governor Sarah Palin who pressured librarians to ban books she objected to in Wasilla Ak

The recently appointed chief justice of the Orissa High Court, Justice Balbir Singh Chauhan who will decide if Sri Aurobindo’s biography should be banned in India.

The Orissa High Court has stayed the release of a book on Sri Aurobindo in India over allegations that it has objectionable content and distorted facts about the late spiritual leader, a lawyer said Thursday.Geetanjali Bhattacharya, a devotee, filed a petition in the court seeking a ban on the book ‘The Lives of Sri Aurobindo’ and action against the writer, her lawyer Siddharta Das told IANS.
Bhattacharya alleges that the book by American Peter Heehs questions Sri Aurobindo’s character and integrity. The book was published in the US in May by Colombia Press. It was to be re-printed and sold by Penguin Books India Pvt Ltd in November.   more »

View Article  Auroville Today Interview with Peter Heehs
Alan of Auroville Today interviewed Peter Heehs, author of The Lives of Sri Aurobindo, which has created such strong reactions among followers of Sri Aurobindo and the Mother at the Sri Aurobindo ashram and elsewhere. In this short, but pointed interview, one gets to hear Peter’s voice on his book and its controversies.   more »

View Article  Prisons We Choose to Live Inside – an Introduction by Diane Christine

Doris Lessing, 2007 Nobel awardee for Literature, gave a set of lectures in 1986, which were published under the name “Prisons We Choose to Live Inside.” In this book, the author draws upon the lessons of history to show how easily the primitive instincts of human beings can and have been aroused and how manipulable we have shown ourselves to be under the pressure of rhetoric particularly by political, religious, ideological and commercial interests. But the lessons of the past seem to leave little trace on our subjective progress. Are we helplessly doomed to ever repeat the patterns of the unconscious group mind or can we emerge as a race to a level of freedom and choice? A good part of Sri Aurobindo’s work also deals with these questions – and answers them from a much deeper place of realization. But what must we do to embody this? It is hoped that this short introduction by Diane Christine will whet our appetites to read the book and ponder its problems in our own lives.   more »

View Article  Jihad vs. McWorld by Benjamin R. Barber

Juergensmeyer’s article on Religious Nationalism and Transnationalism in a Globalizing World, carried earlier in sciy, throws a clear interpretive light on our contemporary world situation, a context within which the present imbroglio in Pondicherry wrt. “The Lives of Sri Aurobindo” may be framed (with whatever customized caveats). But perhaps the earliest intuitive ray on this dialectic fueling the present discourse was the publication in 1995 of Benjamin Barber’s now classic study “Jihad vs. McWorld.” The book itself was in fact preceded by a March 1992 article of the same name in The Atlantic by the author (which later became the Introduction chapter in the book). This article is worthy of our consideration (or reconsideration if already read) in the present circumstances.   more »

View Article  Setting the Record Straight: An Open Letter from Michael Murphy
Not only have the detractors of The Lives of Sri Aurobindo done violence to the text through selective omission and decontextualization to distort its meaning and make it appear degrading to Sri Aurobindo, but some folks, who should know better, have also been spreading rumors, making innuendos, and telling downright falsehoods regards the intention that the author Peter Heehs had in writing the book

One allegation is that Peter and an associate had taken and sold documents from the Sri Aurobindo Archives that concern the Record of Yoga. The way the story is told is that these documents were suppose to have been purchased by Jeffrey Kripal, the Newton Rayzor Professor of Religious Studies/Chair of the Department of Religious Studies at Rice University and author of Kali’s Child, who with the support and financial backing of Michael Murphy founder of the Esalen Institute were going to publish some type of Freudian account of the Record of Yoga. This conspiracy theory goes on to allege that the Lives of Sri Aurobindo was a just prelude to the distortions of Sri Aurobindo and The Record of Yoga yet to come.

Oddly enough even though the people making these allegations have never been privy to conversations between any of these parties (aka Peter Heehs, Michael Murphy, Jeffrey Kripal) that has not discouraged them from making these charges, that in short are based on wild speculation. To set the record straight on this issue and the value of the work Peter Heehs has done in his critical biography of Sri Aurobindo and that Richard Hartz has accomplished in his painstaking work making The Record of Yoga available to us all, I would like to publish an open letter to SCIY from Michael Murphy

Dear Rich Carlson-

Rumors that I asked Jeff Kripal to write a “Freudian” study of Sri Aurobindo are completely false, and Kripal has no intentions to do so. But I am indeed deeply fascinated (and indebted) to Sri Aurobindo, who remains the chief inspiration for my life work. I discovered his writings in 1950, at Stanford University, as a 19-year old undergraduate and would not have started the Esalen Institute without his inspiration.

Lately, I have been newly inspired by Peter Heehs’s magnifcent Aurobindo biography and by the historic scholarship conducted by Heehs and Richard Hartz at the Aurobindo Ashram Archives. Their work on Aurobindo’s extraordinary Record of Yoga will one day help revolutionize psychology and transformative practice, and Heehs’s book is bringing new awareness of Sri Aurobindo to countless people worldwide. I hope that the book’s detractors will eventually come to appreciate the good it is doing for the very cause they celebrate.

Peter Heehs and Richard Hartz are expanding the frontiers of Aurobindo scholarship with the courage and dedication that Aurobindo embodied and recommended to us all.

Michael Murphy

   more »

2 Responses to "Heehs Biography Controversy (SCIY)"

We all must assume that the status of persons participating in the Controversial debate/discussion herein is obviously varying from person to person. And, Avatar, Consciousness, Sadhana [Inner] etc are concepts related to individual spiritual capacities. They demand corresponding status and potentiality of one’s spirituality itself to understand.
Humanity must wait and keep open specific individual attitudes – pride or ego based – rather than a fixed or paradigm bound approach. Let us pick up and thank about what can benefit Humanity from this “evolutionary spirituality” episodes and lives, whether coming from Avatars or plain alleged Human Beings on this Earth. -Yeshwant sane, Email:

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Tusar N. Mohapatra

Director, Savitri Era Learning Forum
SRA-102-C, Shipra Riviera, Indirapuram, Ghaziabad - 201014 (UP) India + 91 96500-65636
Aadhaar No. 3628 2075 7337
SELF posits a model of counselling and communicative action as an instrument in order to stimulate the public sphere. The model aims at supplementing the individual’s struggle for a successful social adjustment with more aspirational inputs so as to help one take an informed and balanced attitude towards life as well as society.
Savitri Era of those who adore,
Om Sri Aurobindo & The Mother.

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