Thursday, September 27, 2018

Break a leg

I don't understand the negative reviews of this book ("The Lives of Aurobindo"). Is the Sri Aurobindo Ashram some kind of cult? Can't they stand a book written by somebody who doesn't believe in Aurobindo's divine status and doesn't understand his mystical accomplishments? Or is something else going on? Apparently, Aurobindo has been turned into an icon in India and even been appropriated by the Hindutva nationalists.

After skimming this material, reading a few chapters here and there, I think this is a tolerable “secular” biography of Aurobindo Ghose, which doesn't hide his accomplishments in various fields. Personally, I found it interesting that Aurobindo went from “extremist” nationalist to pro-British asset during World War II and then pro-American ditto during the Cold War, quite at variance with many other Indian nationalists, who veered towards Nazi Germany or the Soviet Union.

One thing I didn't notice in the book was a detailed discussion of Aurobindo's sources. Surely, he didn't come up with the evolutionary perspective himself? It sounds, cough cough, Theosophical (or evolutionary-Kabbalist). Aurobindo did have contacts with Western occultists, most notably a certain Mirra Alfassa. Yes, that would be The Mother, who took over the ashram after his death. Perhaps it was just as good that the author left out this Occidentalist aspect of Aurobindo's thinking. I mean, God knows what the Supreme Court of Orissa could have done with *that* kind of material, LOL.

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