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David Hutchinson, Debashish Banerji and Rich Carlson Respond to Sraddhalu
Our intention was to draw your attention to the actual claims and allegations being made by a few people against Peter Heehs and their bid to censor Heehs’ recent biography of .
We encourage you to read the book, and arrive at your own conclusions. It is noteworthy that the book has been independently reviewed so far by a number of professional reviewers with different backgrounds. None of them
has arrived at anything resembling the conclusions stated in Ranade's letters. The same is true of reviews by several members of the . You may see all of these at:
Two of those involved in allegations and support of censorship, Ranade and Pandey, are invitees to this year’s AUM conference. They have both responded to our letter with justifications of their actions. Ranade has reiterated in his letter a list of his charges against the author and his book.
Ranade attempts to obfuscate the legal situation by claiming a copyright violation case between the Sri Aurobindo Ashram Trust and Columbia University Press, which Heehs’ activities are supposed to have resulted in. In fact, there is no legal basis for copyright violation nor has the Ashram (the copyright holder) brought any charges against the author.
The current charges against Heehs fall under the Indian criminal code that specifically concerns obscenity and defamation in writing and publishing. Our initial letter pointed out that the writ to ban publication of the book
in India was initiated by Bhattacharya, the wife of Ranade’s school classmate and friend Jayant Bhattacharya. In his most recent letter, Ranade continues to stand firmly behind the writ to ban the book.
We do not question the right of people to have opinions; what we question is the right to impose these opinions on others. The website iyfundamentalism.info demonstrates that this attempt to impose opinions and beliefs upon others, along with its corresponding demonizations of the author is tantamount to fundamentalism and contrary to the teaching of Sri Aurobindo and the Mother.
We question the moral and spiritual purpose in censoring the opinion of a scholar by seeking punitive actions in courts of law, and the legitimacy of such a legal approach in any spiritual endeavor, least of all that of Sri Aurobindo. We remain open for dialog on this issue but we ask a simple question of Ranade and Pandey: Do you support the censorship of this book? If your answer is "yes," there seems little possibility of dialog. If your answer is "no” - would you put your weight behind seeking a withdrawal of the cases? As long as the book is still subject to censorship and the author is still subject to punishment under criminal code it is difficult if not impossible to see a resolution.
David Hutchinson (email@example.com)
Debashish Banerji (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Rich Carlson (email@example.com)
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