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10. Demonizing the enemy and claiming divine guidance
It is well known to social scientists and historians that violence against individuals and groups is often preceded by attempts to demonize them. The classic case is, of course, the Nazi demonization of the Jews before the Holocaust. The efforts by the leaders of the anti-Heehs movement to demonize Heehs, though on a much smaller scale, are nevertheless significant. Practically all of them have indulged in this pastime in surprisingly and shockingly explicit terms. Pandey, in his three page letter to the trustees, refers to Heehs’s diabolical nature no less than five times: “the intent behind the book is a diabolic one”; “the diabolic nature of [Heehs’s] writings”; “one of the standard strategies of the asura [demon] in man who falsifies things very subtly and craftily”; “everything is small, narrow and diabolic”; “the second [method employed by Heehs] is at worst a betrayal and at best diabolic” (AP1). In his letter and email to Heehs, Pandey equates Heehs with a whole menagerie of literary demons and traitors: Ravana (Ramayana), Kamsa (Bhagavata Purana), Judas (the Bible), Peter Pettigrew also known as Wormtail (Harry Potter novels). After being forced to participate in this black mass of diabolism, the reader must struggle to recall that Pandey is a qualified psychiatrist.
Ananda Reddy picks up the same theme in his email of September 18: “such asuric forces”; “Peter is only a tool in the hands of the anti-Sri Aurobindo forces and maybe he himself is not aware of it just as Hitler was in the constant sway of the Asura but he did not know about it until the end” (AR3).
Eggenberger claims to be able to perceive the satanic nature of Heehs’s book simply by looking at its cover: “I picked up the book and immediately my strong inner feeling was, ‘This is something dark’” (RE).
Eggenberger goes on to place himself on the side of God, which is the other side of any attempt to demonize the Other: “I would ask that the following be done for the Lord’s work upon earth…” (RE). The same technique is utilized by many of the other leaders, notably Ananda Reddy, who in his letter of 6 September (AR1) invokes “the Mother’s Mahakali aspect” to “save the Ashram and the devotees” from legal action and adverse publicity (this at the same time that his colleagues were preparing civil and criminal cases against Heehs that brought much negative coverage in the press).
Pandey, Ranade and others have also openly appealed to the religious and heroically crusading impulse: “With utmost goodwill and love for Them who sacrificed Their life for us” (AP1); “We certainly would not be worthy of the trust that the Mother has placed in us if we cannot do the minimum required to protect the truth and to defend Sri Aurobindo and Her” (SR1).