Savitri Era of those who adore, Om Sri Aurobindo and The Mother.

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

How religionification occurs, and reverse-engineer it

Re: Explanation of my Stand wrt The Lives of Sri Aurobindo
by Angiras on Mon 24 Nov 2008 11:08 PM PST Profile Permanent Link

Thank you, Rick, for your thoughtful comments on the potential of Peter's book to reach a wide variety of people, especially in the West. Much of its value is due, of course, to what you said: "The biographer, a good one like Peter, anyway, does not bind readers to his own set of views and limitations, but presents an approach through following which readers discover for themselves the subject of the biography and what he stands for, and the path he opens." Unfortunately, there are some who seem unable to appreciate this and expect a biographer to be a preacher.

Outside the circles of devotees, I expect this book to have at least as positive an impact in India as in America, once the publisher gets over the legal hurdles. As the late Dr. Nadkarni pointed out in an article entitled "Sri Aurobindo and the Indian Intelligentsia", there are four main categories of intellectuals in India who have been largely hostile or at best indifferent to Sri Aurobindo: the Hindu religious establishment, the Gandhians, the politically non-committed but Eurocentric academics and the Leftists. These account for much of the intelligentsia of the country.

With the publication of the Lives, we can look forward to a slowly increasing awareness of Sri Aurobindo in America, but in India the book is likely to attract immediate attention. Peter Heehs is one of the few writers on Sri Aurobindo who has earned some respect in academic circles. His biography is written in a way that intellectuals can take seriously. It challenges negative stereotypes of Sri Aurobindo held by many of them and is sure to provoke discussion and reassessment of his place in India's political, cultural and spiritual history.

Apart from the academics, the book may appeal to many other educated Indians who have neither disowned their own culture nor fled for shelter from the challenges of the global age in a traditional religious mentality. Even in Sri Aurobindo Ashram, among the few who have had a chance to read the new biography, there are Indians who like it, including young ones from the big cities with cosmopolitan upbringings. But at present they hardly dare to admit it. Reply

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Yoga, religion, and fundamentalism in the Integral Yoga Community by Lynda Lester Science, Culture and Integral Yoga on Sat 29 Nov 2008 04:51 PM PST Permanent Link
Yoga, religion, and fundamentalism in the Integral Yoga community
Opening remarks for a panel discussion at AUM 2007
June 23, 2007
Lynda Lester

Sri Aurobindo and Mother did not want to found a new religion... but we do see a few examples of fundamentalism:

  • Satprem is one, in my opinion: his later writings reduce the complexity of Integral Yoga to a simplistic formula, and are full of angry rants against nearly everyone—the Ashram, Auroville, traditional spiritual seekers, scientists, bureaucrats, and basically all of Western civilization.
  • The BJP party in India is part of a right-wing Hindu nationalist movement who are quoting a small subset of Sri Aurobindo’s writings to justify fundamentalist political agendas.
  • There’s a group suing the Archives department of the Sri Aurobindo Ashram for revising and updating Sri Aurobindo’s books which, they say, were perfect on first publication.
  • And finally, there’s a small but aggressive group of people following Patrizia Norelli-Bachelet who are into esoteric numerology and claim the Matrimandir is a temple of falsehood because the measurements are wrong.

Between the these two poles of “anything goes” on one side and fundamentalism on the other there are some conventional, traditional-type religious behaviors in the middle.
One of those is devotion, which we do see in the Integral Yoga community. On Darshan day, for instance, there are huge crowds filing through the samadhi at the Sri Aurobindo Ashram. Also, many of us do regard Mother and Sri Aurobindo as direct incarnations of the Divine, and we do have altars with photos of Mother and Sri Aurobindo in our homes.

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Re: Explanation of my Stand wrt The Lives of Sri Aurobindo Lynda Lester Mon 01 Dec 2008 08:04 PM PST

What we're seeing trying to happen here is the creation of a religion out of something Sri Aurobindo and Mother said should never, ever become a religion. Getting the details straight of what has happened would be quite helpful so that at least the basic facts are there to inform more enlightened decision making, become more educated about how religionification occurs, reverse-engineer it in this instance if possible ... and, as Ned says, to become more transparent as a community. --Lynda

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