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The Lives of Sri Aurobindo: the aggrieved victim
“ It happens quite frequently that the person seeking revenge is unclear about what really induced him to act: perhaps he delivered the counterblow from fear and in order to preserve himself, but later, when he has time to think about the point of his injured honor, he convinces himself that he avenged himself for his honor’s sake—after all, this motive is nobler than the other one. Moreover, it is also important whether he believes his honor to have been injured in the eyes of others (the world) or only in the eyes of the opponent who insulted him: in the latter case he will prefer secret revenge, in the former public revenge. Depending on whether he projects himself strongly or weakly into the soul of his opponent and the spectators, his revenge will be more embittered or tamer; if he lacks this type of imagination entirely, he will not think of revenge at all, for in that case the feeling for “honor" is not present in him and hence cannot be injured. Just so, he will not think of revenge if he despises the doer and the spectators of the deed—because they, being despised, cannot accord him any honor and hence also cannot take it away”
The Lives of Sri Aurobindo: the aggrieved victim
The aggrieved party is the term for the party injured by a criminal act of aggression. The aggrieved party may be an individual, organization or nation. Insofar as the treatment they have received has been humiliating, the right of retaliatory responses for the acts suffered invest them with the power to humiliate the perpetrator or predator to restore individual and collective honor, through revenge and the exacting of justice. The victim asserts superiority over the criminal in that the victim is able again to rise up as the aggressor is brought low.
The psychology of the aggrieved victim
is one shared by the aggrieved post-colonial subject, whose
forefathers have suffered occupation and humiliation at the hands of
an imperialist foreign power. When the nation is liberated and the
balance of power shifts again to indigenous folk there remains
festering resentment justified by suffering, especially among those
who even after generations are still disenfranchised socially. In the
absence of social, educational, and economic reform to improve living
conditions often solace is sought in other worldly pursuits of
religion. There are wounds however, that do not heal, families have
perished and homes have been lost, these psychic pangs
Before the violent act the aggressor assures himself of his self-righteousness by depersonalizing the victim who is often made to seem less than human. The myth of victim hood in Hindu nationalism shares common themes with the aggrieved victim mythologies of other nations, although it has its own unique aggressive character. For example, in depersonalizing the enemy, the Hindu nationalist historian Kittu Reddy compares the entrance of Muslims into India in terms of hordes of locust swarming into the land. He speaks of actions to be taken in response to the aggrievement he feels as a victim of partition in terms of grand spiritual narratives that become reasons for a military conquest of Pakistan. (Reddy 2000/2004) These Hindu Nationalist themes have been adopted by many within the Sri Aurobindo Ashram in which Mr. Reddy resides.
Sri Aurobindo was indeed a revolutionary leader against the British occupation of India as well as a cultural icon who fought for the self-determination of the subcontinent's indigenous populations, however, his writing on the polity that best suited the new nation of India is secular and democratic. His penetrating analysis of Fascism, Communism, Capitalism, from 1900 – 1950 is still a critically satisfying read today. He certainly did not suggest following the chauvinistic path of fundamentalist religion, rather he envisioned a renewal of the collective spirit through a continual graduation of consciousness In his evolutionary perspective he clearly placed secular democratic values on a higher rung of the ladder of consciousness than one determined by religious fervor.
Therefore, it is ironic to watch those who claim to represent Sri Aurobindo ideals ignore the democratic character of his words and replace them with a militant interpretation of Hindu nationalism. This is evident in its failure to critically assess text that are viewed as hostile to their aspiration to seize the cultural interpretations of powerful institutions. In fact, words themselves are ignored by those claiming speaking rights for Sri Aurobindo. One leader (S) of the movement to censor the The Lives of Sri Aurobindo essentially declared that there is no need to read the book, that one can in fact can judge a book by its cover, or at least a paragraph. He says:
“Some people are insisting on the idea that unless you read the full book you cannot understand the context of a single line in it. That is ridiculous. One can easily see the context from within any complete unit of thought structure -- at the very least a paragraph and at the most a section or chapter “ (Sraddhalu Ranade 2008)*
Heehs' book has also been lumped in by
the Hindu Right with Jeffrey Kripal's book “Kali's Child” a
Freudian interpretation of the life of Ramakrishna. The book is
thought by many Hindus including some western scholars to be a
desecration of Indian Religion by Western scholarship. While
conceding that “Kali's Child” is a reduction of the vast
complexity of one culture into the narrow psychoanalysis of another,
e.g. Indian spirituality in terms of Judeo-Germanic psychoanalysis,
and can perhaps be viewed as a form of intellectual imperialism. “The
Lives of Sri Aurobindo” by Heehs - who denounced the orthodox
Freudian interpretation of Kripal (Heehs 2002) - is entirely
respectful of the cultural and national history of his subject, and
remains open to multiple cultural epistemologies to help reveal his
subject's complex intra-personality.
When the author, the scholar, the foreigner is reduced to the Beast. It becomes no longer important to actually read his words. The beast is the final form the victim takes before revenge is extracted.
(2004) Hartman Thom, The Myth
(2002) Heehs Peter , Indian
(2000) Judah, Tim Yale
(1996) Nietzsche, Friedrich. Human, All
too Human: A book for Free Spirits.
(2000) Reddy, Kittu. On the
(2004) Reddy, Kittu, A
* unpublished correspondence.
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