Alexey Klementyev

I found out about Sri Aurobindo in 1992. I saw the book The Adventure of Consciousness in a bookshop. At that time I had read quite a lot of spiritual books and when in the bookshop I saw books and when in the bookshop I saw a new book about someone called Sri Aurobindo I decided not to buy it. I told myself that I had done enough reading; it was now time to take some action and I left that bookshop. And what happened next? A week or two later a friend of mine, when we were in the Metro, opened that same book and started reading. I remembered the cover and asked what this book was about? My friend looked at me and answered: ” it is Sri Aurobindo. It is about what needs to be done.” Something pricked me. Immediately I realised that this was an anwer to my thoughts in the bookshop! I bought the book and ever since then I can read nothing except Sri Aurobindo.

 

In 1998 I got a chance to go to Auroville and the Ashram. This place deeply touched my heart. I flet that it was my second motherland and my soul could feel at home there. I now go there almost every year.

It happened that in 2000 I became a part of a team working in Aditi Publishing House, which translates Sri Aurobindo’s and the Mother’s works into Russian. In 2001, when we held an AVI meeting in St. Petersburg, many Aurovilians came to Russia. It was a great event in our lives. Every year since 2003 wwe have helped to organize the All Russian Meeting to celebrate Sri Aurobindo’s birthday. many people come from different parts of our country. We have invited alok Pandey, Narad, Chandresh patel and others to participate in our meetings. An atmosphere of oneness experienced during these meetings helps us to come in touch with the ideas behind Auroville, and to deepen our understanding of them.

Gunnur & Tugay Basar

We first arrived in Auroville in January 2008. Although we were familiar with Sri Aurobindo’s philosophy, we were very much influenced by the prospect of observing a living example of Integral Yoga. During our first visit we stayed at Aspiration and we enjoyed the community life there very much.Towards the end of our stay we had a motorbike accident- it was the time when the Auroville road was first covered with tarmac – and my husband Tugay and my daughter Ada were so seriously injured that they had to stay in an intensive care unit for three days. At that time we were astonished to find some real friends around us who took care of our injured family compassionately, and some healers who visited us regularly and helped very much in our physical and psychological healing. That event, athough it seems unfortunate, strengthened our bonds with Auroville and we started visiting there every year.

In the following years we found our own ways to contribute to the community. We helped Bade and Sateesh with Thamarai after school. Tugay started a morning playing time with body percussion at Aikiyam school and sometimes we also joined in as a whole family. I tried to help some village women at Edayanchavadi with homeopathy in the context of a healing project there. I also organised an art therapy group for the AVAG workers. We benefited a lot from all the classes and on-going healing activities in Auroville, and enjoyed very much the time we spent with the OM choir, Vedic chanting, and the SWARAM musical instrument group.

We have a lot of very inspiring memories from Auroville, which have had a real influence on our lives. Our daughter Ada participated in a community school project at Evergreen and had a role in a children’s play speaking entirely in English for the first time in her life! We liked the Evergreen community very much and we stayed there for the next two years after we left Aspiration. At that time we met Vera and Ashesh and started playing Russian bells. Vera and Tugay gave some concerts together in many places in Auroville. I started integral Yoga classes with Ashesh which I followed for three years and they opened up a new dimension in my life. I visited the Ashram many times and was influenced very much by the books available there. Then I decided to translate a book into Turkish. With the help of a publisher we translated and published the book Living Within in Turkish. A year later Vera and Ashesh visited us in Istanbul and we had a lot of pleasure organizing Integral Yoga workshops with Ashesh and introducing our lovely friends to Auroville and Integral Yoga. We also organized workshops with bogi and JV; and with some other Aurovilians we organized free nights to show Auroville films at our healing centre in Istanbul. The excitement was so great that the next year, in order to continue doing what we were already doing, we decided to apply for a more formal position by becoming members of Auroville International. Our own enthusiasm was matched by the excitement of the whole group. This support meant a lot to us and we still feel we are part of the community even if this year we are not able to visit Auroville, and this makes us feel that something is really missing in our life. But we are looking forward hopefully to joining an integrative community at the door of a new age for the whole world, while at the same time we dream of creating similar communities and relationships in our own land.

Sungheui Jang

Auroville itself has been a disciplinary course and path for the growth of my individual consciousness ever since my first visit to it in February, 1998.

The spirit of Auroville was introduced in Korea through a book, Welcome to Auroville, a compilation of articles translated from Auroville Today by Namu, a previous Korean Liaison who had stayed in Auroville for a short time before settling back in Korea. However, noticing that many Korean visitors to Auroville still could not find concrete and experiential connections with the heart of Aurovilian devotion to Human Unity, I have made a website, www.auroville-korea.org and recently created a linking action, ‘Auroville-Korea project’ to make it easier for Koreans to find deeper touches and contacts with various fields and projects, on-going conscious movements for Global Oneness in Auroville, and to gradually build a bridge between Auroville and Korea for many-sided  collaboration in our endeavour to create a new consciousness on our Earth.

Stephen Inglis

Lyubomir Dimitrov

In 2000 I found a book about Sri Aurobindo and everything changed. Later on I learned about The Mother and Auroville. In 2005 I travelled to India with the intention to visit Auroville and the Sri Aurobindo Ashram. I have been 7 times in Auroville so far. When I am there I usually do volunteer work at the Matrimandir.

As part of my aspiration, I translated three of Sri Aurobindo’s books into Bulgarian – The Human Cycle, a combination of Thoughts and Aphorisms and Thoughts and Glimpses(with Mother’s comments) and The Synthesis of Yoga(Volume 1).

I occasionally send donations to Auroville, particularly for Matrimandir. In order to make more people aware about Sri Aurobindo and his writings, about Auroville, and eventually to support Auroville financially, I founded the Heart and Sun Foundation and started the publication of a magazine in English with two sections: section one as a comic book where the focus is not particularly on Sri Aurobindo but where some ideas from his writings are exposed; and section two containing selected quotes from Savitri: A Legend and a Symbol. I also maintain the Heart and Sun Foundation Facebook page where I daily post quotes from Sri Aurobindo and The Mother.

I stand for Auroville because I feel deeply connected with it, with its ideal and, most of all, with its founder – The Mother. I respect the aspiration of the Aurovilians, their efforts and sincerity and I want to support them.

I became AVI Liaison in 2012, firstly because of my inner connection with Auroville, secondly because my aspiration is similar to the Aspiration of AVI, and thirdly because there was no AVI representative in Bulgaria at that time.

Paulo Jose

In 1970, I saw Rolf Gelewski for the first time in his Dance Performance Solo in Belo Horizonte-MG, Brazil. In the first part of the program he used western music: J.S. Bach, F Mendelssohn, B. Bartok and Mahalia Jackson. The second part was called: Towards the New Consciousness, with the music of Sunil Bhattacharya and texts from Savitri of Sri Aurobindo. Following that I participated in Rolf’s dance course at the IV Winter Festival of the Federal University of Minas Gerais (UFMG) – Brazil. One of the subjects was Philosophy of Dance. Among the different texts he presented to us we encountered Sri Aurobindo and the Mother. This was how and where I touched my soul, and this is where I found the Integral Yoga.

The next year I moved to Salvador-Bahia to study dance at the Federal University of Bahia(UFBA), where Rolf was the main teacher and director and choreographer of the Dance Group of the university. I became later a dancer of this group. In the same year he created the association Casa Sri Aurobindo(CASA) for the studies of Sri Aurobindo, oriented towards a new consciousness and providing a practical community experience. I was part of it.

Eight years later Ila Zadrozny – also a member of the community – and I got married. At that time(1978/79) we went for the first time to the Sri Aurobindo Ashram and visited Auroville. Following oour personal development, we left the CASA and moved to Zurich, especially because of my decision to study the Analytical Psychology of C.G.Jung. We settled there from 1980 to 1985 and visited Auroville every year.

When in 1982 Yusuf and Peter A. stayed with us in Zurich, they told us that Auroville(or the Aurovilians) proposed to organize an international association, where centres or people of different countries in resonance with the ideals of Auroville could unite, to support and strengthen Auroville’s international significance for the world. And they insisted on Ila and me(even though being officialy Brazilians, but living for a while in Zurich) to participate in this new Auroville International as a Swiss Centre. The centre was then created by Paulo, Ila and Jasmin (later AVI liaison South Africa). That is how we went to the first meeting of the centres(February 1982) in France at Auroc, where Auroville International was officially created and later registered in The Netherlands. From 1982 to 1986 we participated as AVI Switzerland in all international meetings: in France, England, Germany, Sweden, Italy, Netherlands. During this time our daughters, Mahi and Dakshina, were born.

In January 1986 we moved to Auroville to become Aurovilians. While Jasmin was holding and sustaining the centre we tried to help it stay alive, and still participated in the next two meetings of AVI. At the same time we tried to start a Brazilian centre. Berenice Nogueira Santiago, an architect from Brazil whom we knew, visited Auroville, and together we started creating AVI Brazil. We went to Brasilia to meet Governor Jose Aparecido de Oliveira, who created there the Foundation City of Peace (Cidade da Paz). Having shown him and his assistant a film on Auroville, he asked me to participate in the Foundation’s studies and in the creation of the statutes, which were finally stipulated exactly along the lines of the Auroville Foundation created by the Indian Government. After that I became a member of the Foundation’s International Governing Board as a contact with Auroville. We started creating the AVI centre, formulated statutes and developed some projects to kick off. But Ila and me staying entirely in Auroville made it impossible to keep using and developing an AVI Brazil centre. We decided to close it. 

In the nineties Carlos Gohn, a teacher of languages at the UFMG, lived for a few years in Auroville with his family, and after that accepted to become the AVI Brazil Liaison. One of his main functions was to organize the AVI website in Portugues. This was a major input for opening the flow of information and the understanding of Auroville in Brazil.

From 1998 to 2002 I decided to conclude my graduation in Analytical Psychology at the C. G. Jung-Institut of Zurich. Having finishd it, I settled in Brazil to establish myself professionally. To interconnect Auroville and Brazil was close to my heart. Carlos Gohn suggested that I should assume the position as AVI Brazil Liaison which I did. In the same year many of the AVI centres asked me if I could organize an AVI meeting in Brazil. There had not been any AVI meeting in South America yet, so I accepted. Therefore in the next year(2003) I went to the meeting in Paris/ Meridon. There we decided we to have the next one in Belo Horizonte-Brazil. It is almost difficult for me to remember how it happened. It was so smooth. Of course there were many details to organize and decisions to take. Many of the participants had never been to Brazil. but nevertheless the energy was clear and strong.

The public part of the meeting was presented at the Federal University of Minas Gerais(UFMG). It took place the School of Architecture, School of Music and School of Theatre. At the opening of our meeting, the Indian Council of Minas Gerais, Elson de Barros Gomes Jr was present and gave a talk, and Devasmita presented Odissi Dance. She gave a class on Odissi at the Theatre School for graduate students and teachers and also gave an open talk at the Music School explaining the structure and meaning of Indian music to the public. Photos of Auroville were exhibited both at the Architecture School and at the Music School. Our internal meeting was organized at a convent of nuns, presently used as a hostel for such types of conferences. I have to give a mention to Marcelo S. R. Cunha, who was a strong central figure of our meeting. he was extremely dedicated to our meeting, gentle and firm, and very warm. After our encounter in Brazil, I was able to participate in the AVI meetings in Canada(Montreal) and in South Africa(cape Town). My main work as a Liaison is to give information and explanations (especially in the Portuguese language) about Auroville.

In 2013 the Rector of UFMG created the Indian Studies Centre, to develop and enhance academic cooperation between our University and Institutions for Higher Education in India, bringing together researchers from here and from other institutions developing research and formative activities related to India. As a dance teacher at the fine Arts School of UFMG, I was invited to participate in this Centre, Right now, in February 2014, two Aurovilians will be present at our First International Symposium on Brazil-India Studies, under the topic “brazil-India Academic Cooperation in the 21st Century”.

to conclude I can say that Auroville is definitely and completely part of my life.

 

Jan Allen

The year 1968 was for many, in my social realm of borderline Bohemia, the advent of a positive revolution. The much heralded Age of Aquarius was now on the horizon and an interesting concoction of mind bending substances, once mythical were becoming swiftly mainstream as the Beatles and Dylan were predicting in their lyrics “the times they are achanging…”

Sadly due to my own circumstances Timothy Leary’s catch cry “Turn on, tune in and drop out” was an anathema for me – it was impossible for me to follow this decree. My son, born the year before and not particularly well, required my absolute attention. The letterpress printing business I had started was thriving, orders just had started was thriving, orders just had to be completed on schedule, dead-lines had to be met. Most of my clients were the smaller, now burgeoning galleries in Sydney in the late sixties, with their constantly changing exhibitions which must be heralded with posters and invites.

Meanwhile my father lay ill and dying, a very dear friend was involved in a shocking tragedy, and they both required compassion and care. For my son’s father it was halcyon times indeed and we soon drifted apart. This was the final unbearable crisis that inspired me to search for a more appropriate life for myself and my little son.

I had taken some refuge in the study of Theosophy and it was one after-noon in the sanctity of their city library that I happened upon the works of Sri Aurobindo and the Mother. Struggling in the sea of confusion I had become engulfed in, this was akin to being tossed a life buoy from an elegant ghost ship passing by. Here at last was the seed of my new resolve to change our lives and seek an entirely fresh experience. These notions of escape had to be put to rest as I grappled with everyday realities. It was not until 1970, when I felt my life in Sydney to be utterly unbearable, that I was propelled to plan an indefinite release from the turmoil I was embroiled in.

It was in May that year that my son and myself boarded the plane that would take us first to Sri Lanka and then in June we would commence our new life in the protective and gentle energy of the Sri Aurobindo Ashram in South India. There we happily remained for most of the first year. In those days Pondicherry was a haven of peace and I remember marvelling at the absence of motor traffic. Most people used cycles, or travelled in rickshaws or pony carts. Here the occasional motor vehicle was something to remark upon. We soon felt very much at home, there was no looking back, and very soon we began to meet the many people who would become our life long friends and amongst them many existing Auroville pioneers. In those days Mother would give darshan on birthdays and so it was on the 6th of March 1971 that I finally stood before the grand mistress of our fate. It was Champaklal who led me to her, ascending the winding staircase; an atmosphere hushed and the sweet aromas of incense mingled with flower scents added to the glory of the moment. A gaze of unadulterated benevolence and a red rose was mine from a gentle, elderly, exquisitely saried lady on a throne-like chair. Concerned about the contingent of other birthday visitors I denied myself the prospect of lingering longer and rapidly left the room, a little over-whelmed by this legendary being.

I was fortunate to see her again on my son’s birthday in April. “Here comes the artist!” announced Champaklal, as Jonas unfazed delivered one of his fine abstract paintings to this wonderful queenly being. A great fuss was made of my golden haired child. It was by then his fourth birthday.

At the end of this year when we were already living at Quiet Beach(before it became known as that) my son’s father, Johnny, arrived just for a look, and approving what he beheld he remains in Auroville to this day, a popular and essential member of the community.

Family commitments oblige me to remain in Australia for the time being. My duties as a liaison person for Auroville involve meeting people who are planning to come either to live there or visit the community. There is a certain amount of email contact or interviews by telephone. I can usually after speaking with them glean their interest and expectations and advise them. As we live here in a particularly beautiful part of Sydney, on the harbour and very close to the city and accessible by ferry, it has been a popular place for visiting Aurovilians to drop in, and when convenient and other family members are absent, to stay for awhile. Over the years we have hosted many grateful Aurovilians.

So it was that the outcome has been delightful.

Chetana Deorah

Growing up in india and given the name Chetana(pron. chay-thna, a hindi word meaning consciousness), which was blessed by The Mother, little did I realize the immense potential and calling for inner and outer growth I would be drawn toward! I grew up in an eclectic mix of environments, experiences and influences from urban city life in Mumbai to most summers and the end of the year in Pondicherry and Auroville.

I have been driven by a passion for design, yogasana, education and a relentless sense of curiosity. My personal and professional work is greatly inspired by the teachings of The Mother and Sri Aurobindo and this is manifest in most of my creative endeavors. Currently I live in the San Francisco Bay area and work as a Graphic Design and User-Interface designer for Web and Mobile. In my pursuit to learn(and unlearn) I have spent time at the 200 hour Hatha Yoga Teacher Training ( Yoga Tree ), 50 hours Tantra Yoga immersion (with Pedro Franco) and the Inner Engineering program (with Sadhguru) in San Francisco.

I have had the privilege of growing-up in and embracing the worlds around the Sri Aurobindo Ashram, Sri Aurobindo Society and Auroville  and this is my way of integrating Yoga! I volunteer for various projects from helping at Udhavi School and Maitreye community in Auroville, to working as an AVI USA Board member and on various Sri Aurobindo Society design and education projects. I am also a member of the Education Committee with the Inneract Project in san Francisco, sharing design as a potential career via design classes for middle school inner-city kids.

Bill Leon

Bill Leon is a former President of AVI USA. He has been a member of AVI USA since 1992. He is a professional geographer, educator, community developer and evaluator. 

Bill was introduced to Auroville and to the Yoga of Sri Aurobindo and Mother in the early 1980s by Ron Jorgensen, while a graduate student in Seattle. His interest in developing community led him to investigate the Auroville experiment in intentional community through writings and visitors and finally his own first exploration in 1991. At the time, he was teaching and managing student/faculty outreach programs at the University of Colorado in Colorado Springs.

While in Auroville, Bill saw that it would be a great place to bring students to study and help in a process that has since become known as service- learning. It took ten years to develop, but after moving to work at the University of Washington in Seattle, Bill collaborated with Professor Karen Litfin to develop and manage programs to bring university students to Auroville. These programs have now allowed over 100 students to live in Auroville for 2-3 months, learn from faculty and from Auroville presenters and mentors, and gain experience in a variety of areas of personal interest with hands-on experience that also benefits Auroville. Students have engaged in education, building techniques, solar energy design, Tamil musical instrument and cultural development, organic farming, forestry, environmental restoration and many other activities with Auroville units.

Bill brought his son Evan to Auroville in 2001, a trip that kindled both their interests in supporting village development work and educational opportunities for village children. Evan raised funds for and brought school supplies to Isai Ambalam School. Bill returned the next year with UW architecture and landscape architecture students and faculty who designed and built an environmentally sustainable dormitory that is now the International House. many other students and faculty from UW have since come to engage in service-learning activities in Auroville.

Bill manages his own consulting firm Geo Education and Research, which is engaged in evaluation work for large and small NGOs, government agencies and foundations(including the United Nations, the International Criminal Court, National Safe Place and other programs working to eliminate homelessness). He evaluates health, education, environmental and other types of programs and trains and coaches staff in nonprofits, government agencies, and foundations in evaluation techniques. He has also been a professor/instructor at the University of Washington and the University of Colarado.

Bill volunteers in local environmental activities, mostly in his village of Lake Forest Park, Washington. he donates his professional services to organizations like Yoga Behind Bars and Bike Works. he also facilitates the meetings of the Seattle Sri Aurobindo Circle, a study group that has been meeting regularly in the Seattle area for over 30 years. Bill is working with Ron Jorgensen and others in the Yoga to develop a collection of quotations on oneness from a wide variety of cultures, settings, time periods and situations. They have over a thousand but other suggested quotes are always welcome. In his professional work, Bill integrates the ideas and tools he has gathered from his study of Yoga with his knowledge and practice of geography, community development and evaluation into practical applications for his clients. All of these perspectives/fields emphasize the integration of multiple parts into a vision of the whole- understanding how different parts of a program community, or process work together and influence each other. When we understand the complex relationships(which Bill often models) we can better guide efforts to improve them. In some work(e.g., Bill’s work for Native American NGOs and educational ventures) this entails understanding the spiritual as well as the physical, practical, educational, social and psychological dimensions of the program. In others, it requires the development of intricate, online databases and reporting structures to provide constant feedback for program improvement. The work continuously requires the integration of left brain, right brain and non-brain functions. Making the supramental influence more visible and tangible iin the physical world is an intriguing challenge- and the most important work Mother laid out for Auroville. We can all find ways to do that in our lives anywhere. That is why, as Sri Aurobindo said, “All life is Yoga”.

Jeanne Korstange

After meeting The Mother in 1971 for a birthday darshan I joined Auroville. I moved into an Aspiration hut where my husband, Gordon wa s living with two local boys from Kuyilapalayam and one boy from the lake Estate whose Bengali parents had enrolled him in the Aspiration school.

I took up work as a teacher in the kindergarten, which was located right next to our hut in Aspiration, while Gordon and the three boys walked down to Last School for his work as a teacher and their work as students. In 1980 I left Auroville and returned to the USA where I worked as an educational counsellor for women and then for elementary school students. I served as an elementary school principal in the US and abroad. While working in the US I was able to organize short-term informal educational programs for Tamil Aurovilians through The Merriam Hill Foundation and The Foundation for World Education. Through the on-going support of The Foundation for World Education my husband and I were able to start up a teacher exchange program between Antioch New England Graduate School and the Auroville Schools.

Now that both of us are retired we have the luxury of spending the winter in Auroville where we continue to be involved in education, visiting our friends and finding new projects to support in Auroville.