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Farewell “Devotee”, Welcome “Practitioner”

September 15, 2012 Leave a comment Go to comments

We had a funny feeling about the use of the term “practitioner” in the absurd and self-serving “Basic Scheme” posted at CHOLATLOSA (the Central Hub Of Lies About…).  How was it that the writer has substituted this term for “devotee”, which is found in all other proposals, lawsuits, etc., that have been written by our beloved Integral Yoga fundamentalists?

In this “Basic Scheme”, “devotees” is used to designate members of outside centres, who are meant to support the decisions of the proposed Advisory Committee without of course actually taking part in them. No doubt the reason why “devotee” has been demoted was, as our friends in the Sri Aurobindo Society have noted, “the image of all devotees has dropped to a ridiculously low level.”

We were thus motivated to check on the use of the term “practitioner” and did a search on the useful IYFundamentalism site, which preserves many of the documents relating to the present crisis. Here are the results:

We find that the term “practitioner” was used at least twice in The Lives of Sri Aurobindo, in passages quoted by Peter Heehs in one of his letters to Manoj Das Gupta and by the editors of the site in their answer to one of Sraddhalu Ranade’s screeds. If we remember correctly, Heehs used the term rather frequently in the Lives, though we haven’t counted yet.

Heehs also used the term in regard to himself in his August 2008 interview in Auroville Today, as pointed out by Alok Pandey and by Ranganath Raghavan and Raman Reddy, all three of whom sneeringly dispute Heehs’s right to apply the term to himself. (Raghavan and Reddy add, in a poorly worded aside, that to be a real practitioner Heehs would have to be a devotee as well!)

The other fundamentalists whose documents are on file at IYFundamentalism have never before now spoken of sadhaks as “practitioners”. The only other uses we find are by an Indian academic (Makarand Paranjape), by a reviewer of Heehs’s book (Ellen Daly), by an American named Savitra, certainly no friend of either the fundamentalists or the SAS, and by the editors of the site.

It therefore appears likely that the writer of the “Basic Scheme” has picked up the useful term “practitioner” from Heehs. (So far as we have been able to find by searching the Complete Works online, Sri Aurobindo never used the term for those who practice his yoga. He also, as has often been observed, never used the term “devotee” for those with bhakti for him and the Mother.)

Of course this is all somewhat speculative. We cannot claim to know what is going through the mind of the writer of the “Basic Scheme”. But in any case we congratulate him for choosing a good term, given that the “devotees” have sullied the word “devotee” for all time.

If however the self-serving writer of the “Basic Scheme” did take the term from Heehs, it would only be right and proper for him to acknowledge it in a second edition. Credit where credit is due, as they say.

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