On page 318, Peter Heehs alleges that Sri Aurobindo engaged in “sexual union dignified by marriage”.
The remark is as follows:
After Aurobindo entered what he called “the sexual union dignified by the name of marriage,” he seems to have found the state bothersome and uninteresting.
We are told to accept these sort of remarks because Sri Aurobindo is being “humanized“. That wouldn’t be a problem if it was actually true. Has anyone bothered to inquire into the source of this conclusion? It is derived from the previous page (page 316) where Sri Aurobindo asks his disciple Nolini whether he wishes to engage in “sexual union dignified by the name of marriage”. That passage is as follows:
Two of Aurobindo’s attendants, Nolini Kanta Gupta and Saurin Bose, went to Bengal in the summer of 1919. Both ended up getting married. Before Nolini took the step, Aurobindo sent him some tongue-in-cheek advice: Do you really mean to perpetuate the sexual union dignified by the name of marriage, or don’t you? Will you, won’t you, will you, won’t you—to quote the language of the spider to the fly?
If you ask someone a question, does that mean you engaged in the same activity before? If I ask someone “Are you watching a movie because you are bored?” does that mean I also watch movies because I am bored? Are all questions I ask derived from my self-experience? By this criterion, every journalist would be guilty of several heinous crimes.
The other remark which bears correction is this one, again from page 318:
According to her father, Aurobindo “lulled her with the hope that someday … he would return to Bengal.” Later he stopped writing, but “Mrinalini never ceased to hope.”
It is misleading to quote her father verbatim (“lulled her”) without offering any interlocution. Her father was not fully aware of the changed circumstances under which Sri Aurobindo was living in Pondicherry. The book should have explicated at this point that there is indeed evidence that Sri Aurobindo did not willfully mislead his wife. Even after her death, he was still thinking of returning to India, although these plans never came to fruition. As the following passage from the Agenda indicates, there are letters (see Autobiographical Notes, CWSA vol. 36, p 260) that Sri Aurobindo wrote after his wife’s death hinting at his possible plans to return to Bengal or British India.
They have found some letters — some old letters — from Sri Aurobindo to Barin and the lawyer[[C.R. Das, Sri Aurobindo’s lawyer in the Alipore bomb case. There are three letters; one dated November 18, 1922, to C.R. Das, and the two others to Barin, Sri Aurobindo’s younger brother, dated November 18, 1922 and December 1, 1922. The letters are included at the end of this conversation. ]] — extraordinary! They are incredible. They give the measure of Sri Aurobindo as a man of action. Even in 1920, he intended to undertake an action. To organize centers all over India, the world, oh!… a plan!… And that was before the liberation of the country!
He says that he has completely withdrawn to find his yoga, but once he had found it, he is going to start his action[[Even in 1928, when Tagore came to Pondicherry to visit Sri Aurobindo, he repeated his intention to go out of Pondicherry and launch an external action. But probably on the way, Sri Aurobindo realized … just what Mother was discovering. ]]….
( Agenda October 20 1971)
And in 1928, about ten years after the death of Mrinalini, he still expressed the desire to return to India in a conversation with Tagore who was visiting him. Tagore assumed it would happen soon, which led Sri Aurobindo to issue the following clarification:
I am surprised at Tagore’s remark about the two years (footnote expanded: Rabindranath Tagore remarked to someone in 1931 that Sri Aurobindo told him in 1928 that he would “expand” after two years) ; he must have misunderstood or misheard me. I did tell him that I would expand only after making a perfect (inner) foundation here, but I gave no date. I did give that date of two years long before in my letter to X, but I had then a less ample view of the work to be done than I have now — and I am now more cautious about assigning dates than I was once. To fix a precise time is impossible except in the two regions of certitude — the pure material which is the field of mathematical certitudes and the supramental which is the field of divine certitudes. In the planes in between where life has its word to say and things have to evolve under shock and stress. Time and Energy are too much in a flux and apt to kick against the rigour of a prefixed date or programme.
(On Himself, SABCL volume 26, page 162, 16-8-1931)