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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?.
Most of the debate here on the new book by PH has so far been based on hurt sentiments caused by PH doubting and criticising Sri Aurobindo. But the authority and scholarship of the book have not been brought into question.
If historical facts are critical of Sri Aurobindo or his behaviour, we should have no problem facing them, however much we may dislike them. This should be our commitment to intellectual honesty and our courage.
On the contrary, if PH has falsified his facts or deliberately misrepresented them, then we should be equally objective and firm in our response even if we are uncomfortable in taking the required action. This should be the strength of our courage and our loyalty to truth.
Peter's intentions are easily proved by analysing some of the most innocuous and non-controversial passages. He can be shown to be deceiving the reader with selective quotation with negative bias, quoting out of context, and even distorting actual quotes. The background and statements of his financiers also exposes perverse objectives. Attached is a note describing this background and offering samples of analysis. I request you to keep the note strictly within the SAICE forum, as its contents can be misused by interested people.
The practical difficulty faced by the common reader is that he trusts the author's intentions, and does not bother to verify whether the references offered are actually supportive of the text. Second, the common reader is not aware of all the other documentation that exists contradicting the few negative quotations selected by the author and placed out of context. Such a reader is left with an impression of a scholarly work that presents a darker vision of Sri Aurobindo’s life, and he is easily led to reductionist and false conclusions of Sri Aurobindo’s personality and work. The scope of fraud is so widespread that on every page at least one can demonstrate such deliberate distortions and defamatory intent. Numerous passages are obviously defamatory under section 499 of the IPC. But none of this is visible to the common reader who takes it all at face value from ignorance of the real facts. That is why you can find reviews of appreciation and praise from readers – but they only come from the uninformed readers, and not from any scholar of Sri Aurobindo’s life and writings.
Had such a book been published by some other author anywhere in the world, we would certainly have ignored it as the ravings of a madman or the handiwork of evangelical extremists. But in this case the book emerges from the heart of the Ashram's Archives, and is presented as a product of the Ashram's own research, and is touted to represent the views of the Ashram’s own chosen editorial board. Practically it amounts to the Ashram’s authorised bodyguard of Sri Aurobindo turning around and attempting to murder him! This is a serious enough matter that we cannot ignore the book, or its author, or the forces that inspire, finance and support him.
The central question before us is: what is the right action that we should take. At the very least, this should involve limiting the harm that PH has already done to Sri Aurobindo, his work and his Ashram. Further, it should include suitable action to prevent further damage, considering that PH has a history of increasingly damaging attacks on Sri Aurobindo over a span of 20 years. If we cannot do this much, as objectively as we would have supported PH had his book been of genuine scholarship, then we will be living by double standards. 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.
I would request you not to reply on impulse. Please reread the above, go through the attached note with its background and analysis, and then think deeply before you choose to reply or not.