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.