They protested against the failure to take action against fellow inmate Peter Heehs for making “denigrating and unacceptable remarks” on Sri Aurobindo and his spiritual collaborator, Mirra Alfassa, better known as the Mother, in his biography on the philosopher. Even as 12 inmates staged a silent protest, another section of inmates defended the book saying, it had received favourable reviews from experts in Aurobindo studies and the ashram “should not bow to pressure from fundamentalists”.
The month-long protest between 8am and 11am daily. in front of the office of the Sri Aurobindo Trust is to seek the dismissal of the present group of trustees of the Sri Aurobindo Ashram Trust and immediate expulsion of Peter Heehs from the ashram community. The protesters insist that the trust publicly declare that the book is factually incorrect and does not represent its views and that Peter Heehs has abused his position at the archives. They also demanded that the trust withdraw the copyright permission given to Columbia University Press.
The book titled ‘The Lives of Sri Aurobindo’ published by Columbia University Press is available in the
A review by Choice, a publication of the Association of College and Research Libraries and a division of the American Library Association summed up the book as ‘essential’ for graduate students, faculty, researchers and general readers. The rival group of inmates contend that the ashram gives complete freedom to its inmates and everyone has the liberty to like or dislike a book. They argued that the protesters have not read the book but rather an unrepresentative set of “extracts” and have misunderstood certain things.