Akash Nandkumar

Akash Nandkumar, a gentle soul who always meets everyone with a smile, is no more with us.

He came for Swadharma 5, July-Aug 2018, and after the programme continued to live in Auroville, developing Hempcrete. He was from Kerala, Palakkad, and had done Civil Engineering from Anna University. Hempcrete became his life’s passion and he was working with Auroville Earth Institute (& later with Tom Mo) and pioneering a difficult research and development work. During the lockdown, everything had practically slowed down or shut and his work too was not happening much. He had many personal struggles like everyone else and yet was finding his way through. It seems the difficulties were mounting, and on the 13th of October he chose to leave his body. He was 27 years old.

On 15 October, there was a gathering at the Tibetan Pavilion in his memory.

We will miss him deeply.

May his soul rest in peace and light.

Avinash, Divyanshi, Lalit, Manoj, Siddharth and Valentine (for ACI) & Tom Mo, AVEI Team & friends


Kamla Tewari

Dr. (Major) Kamla Tewari, MBBS, DGO, left her body peacefully on September 29, 2020 at 1830 hrs, surrounded by her loving family.

Kamla was born on 4th April 1927 in Jammu. From a young age, Kamla had made up her mind to study medicine, completing her MBBS degree at Lady Hardinge Medical College in Delhi in 1950. This was also the year she married a young army officer, Krishen Kumar Tewari (later Krishna).

The next few years found her raising three daughters and volunteering her medical expertise at free clinics and welfare centers. Following her father’s guidance, she never charged private fees, in service to our young and developing nation. She and Krishna lived by this ethos all their lives.

Her life changed dramatically in November 1962, when Krishna was taken prisoner of war on the Himalayan heights during the short but brutal India-China war. With three children, and no income (Krishna’s salary stopped the day he went missing in action) and determined to support herself and her daughters, she joined the Indian Army as a doctor. Her fourth daughter was born in 1965, and in the next many years she and Krishna juggled their military postings with their family life. They were both posted in Calcutta, in 1971, when India and Pakistan went to war over what became independent Bangladesh. This war awakened in both a deeper quest; a moment when they discovered Sri Aurobindo’s world view. Visiting Pondicherry with their daughters, they were present on 21st February 1972 for the foundation of the Matrimandir and Mother’s birthday. On the 22nd of February Krishna, Kamla and the girls were given a personal Darshan by Mother in her room. This moment had life altering consequences for all.

Upon retirement from the army in 1976, they moved first to Pondicherry, and then to Auromodel where Krishna started a farm while building their house. Kamla worked at the Sri Aurobindo Ashram dispensary in Pondicherry, and the rural Health Center in Aspiration, abutting Kuilapalayam, which The Mother had  started. Her presence energised the Health Centre, and for years she ran an active maternity and birth control clinic, helping to deliver close to a thousand babies. She thought nothing of hopping upon the back of cycles or motorcycles in response to midnight calls to help deliveries, both at the Health Centre and at remote Auroville settlements, working sometimes with only the illumination of kerosene lamps.

While a qualified Allopath and gynaecologist, Kamla’s preference was for homeopathy and her practice expanded to include what she called the Multipurpose Health Centre located in Certitude and later Bharat Nivas. Many Aurovilians and villagers lined up for her treatment, not least because her deeply intuitive therapeutic approach included a warm and sympathetic listening ear. In the early years, Aurovilians will recall a seemingly driverless peach coloured Jonga hurtling down the dirt tracks of Auroville, her diminutive figure wrestling the controls behind the wheel!

Kamla lived through many momentous events and broke many barriers. She did not let herself be limited by the opportunities available to women, qualifying as a doctor at a time when few women chose that route, and making her husband-to-be wait while she finished her medical studies. She was an accomplished sportswoman, horse rider, hiker, and swimmer, and won prizes for her prowess on the shooting range.

The house Krishna and Kamla built in Auromodel in 1980, Aurogriha, was where she chose to leave her body surrounded by her family, having dedicated nearly half her life to Auroville.

Kamla’s beloved life partner of nearly 66 years, Krishna, departed in 2016, at the same age, 93, as she is now. She leaves four loving daughters: Uma, Deepti, Abha and Shubha, sons-in-law Yogesh, Arjun, Claude and Narayanan, and grandchildren: Rohan, Ruchir, Smiti, Achala and Kabir. Much of her family have dedicated their lives to Auroville in no small measure influenced by her deep ethos of service, her indomitable courage and can-do spirit that triumphed over every obstacle.

She leaves a legacy of many lives touched and changed forever by her love, patience, and ability to deal with anything that came her way with unflappable presence of mind.



Dr. Kapila Vatsyayan

Dr. Kapila Vatsyayan, leading scholar of Indian culture, art and art history, and Padma Vibhushan awardee, passed away on September 16, 2020 at her Delhi home, at the age of 91. She was a member of the Governing Board of the Auroville Foundation from 1991 till 1999, and was, as India’s Representative to UNESCO’s Executive Board, one of the moving forces behind the celebration in October 2008 of Auroville’s 40th anniversary at UNESCO’s headquarters in Paris.

Kapila Vatsyayan was known as the Great Dame of Indian Arts. Her life was marked by the exploration and promotion of virtually every dimension of India’s rich and varied culture. She was not only an internationally celebrated scholar but an institution builder, laying the foundations for a sustained and deep-going study of the intricacies of India’s artistic traditions.

“In the passing of Dr. Kapila Vatsyayan the nation has lost a woman of great learning and erudition,” wrote Dr. Karan Singh in his eulogy. “Over six decades she has made a significant contribution not only to the administration of the H.R.D. Ministry but to public life and scholarship in general. A prolific author, her work on the Gita Govinda and the Thanjavur temple inscriptions is well known, as is her role in setting up the Indira Gandhi National Centre for the Arts, including a special manuscript section to which she contributed a large number from her personal collection. She had a close connection with the India International Centre, serving it as Vice-President for five years and for another five years as President. She nurtured the Asia Project which I had started and expanded its scope which resulted in a number of significant international seminars and publications.”

Her interpretation of arts, culture and literature and Indian Thought, which she shared with thinkers and practitioners in the world of arts, science and philosophy, was phenomenal. She left behind a vast corpus of writings, such as Plural Cultures and Monolithic Structures: Comprehending India, Dance in Indian Painting and The Indian Arts, Their Ideational Background and Principles of Forms.

In recent years she was very preoccupied with questions of ecology. She wanted to highlight how cultures of Asia revered nature as a mother, a source of nurture rather than a dark force to be conquered and harnessed to human greed. She was always interested in climate change and was convinced that India could be an example to the world if only it could return to its traditional reverence for nature and the view that all links in the ecological chain are equally indispensable to saving our fragile planet.

Many Aurovilians, whose lives she touched upon briefly but very profoundly as a Governing Board Member in the early years of the Auroville Foundation, will always be indebted to her. A number of Auroville residents joined the virtual Peace Meeting in memory of Dr Kapila Vatsyayan, on Saturday 19 September 2020, at her residence in New Delhi.

Hervé


At around noontime of Friday 14 August, our dear friend and brother, long-term Aurovilian Hervé Millet left his body, quietly and faithfully, at Marika Home at the age of 75, due to complications of cancer which he had been battling since several years.

Hervé was one of the French pioneers, a Breton, who joined the caravan that left Paris in 1974 for the over-land travel to Auroville. From the moment of arrival at the end of that year, he wholeheartedly plunged into a long range of work activities and services which characterised him throughout his life in Auroville. It started with construction work with Pierre Elouard, building the houses in Auromodèle, during which time he was also active at the then emerging Pour Tous service in Aspiration. During Auroville’s survival struggles of those years, Hervé was jailed twice, along with others, both in Tindivanam and Villupuram.

When things got quieter, Hervé got into planting trees in Révélation, looked after SAIIER’s transport, worked at Maroma, and spent several years active at Mira Aditi’s in Karnataka, and later on with Satprem in the Nilgiris.

After an intensive time in the mountains, he returned to Auroville in the mid-nineties where he was welcomed by the Auroville Press team and, soon after that, participated in the creation of Auroville Papers of which he later became executive. It was here that he found his true element, doing all kinds of experimentations for different kinds of new-look and new-feel papers, with a great variety of leaves, flowers and colours, and became skilled in giving animated paper-making workshops, showing the audience the art and techniques of producing paper. Hervé was never happier than when showing a child how to make paper or help in the unit. He lived in Citadines.

During an interview by the auroville.com team, Hervé said: “Living in Auroville means everything to me, and the Mother takes care of me, she really takes care of me. I feel like I am walking the wire with no net under to catch me, but Mother will not let me fall. When I arrived here, I had no money, and she gave me everything. Everything that I have has been given to me… I give my work to the Mother, and I can’t be disappointed, because she knows what I need.”

In full faith that Hervé is now on the way home, we let go of this energetic, at times tenacious and often passionate man, who was our friend and comrade all these years, steadily working for the Mother, for Auroville, for us all. Thank you, Hervé.

Jay MA~



Giorgio Molinari

Our dear friend and brother, Italian Giorgio Molinari, peacefully left his body at 3.10pm in the afternoon of Monday 10 August at the age of 83 in his Arka apartment, succumbing to the heart problems that have been plaguing him for years.

Born in Milano, Giorgio was involved in photography from early age onwards while also developing interest in oriental philosophy. As a young man during the military service he functioned as ground assistant for aerial photography, after which he wholeheartedly entered the world of advertisement agencies, freelancing for record companies, theatre productions, architectural designs, often working with big names in the field. In 1980 he made an architectural photo study of Chandigarh, from where he visited Auroville, Matrimandir and the first true contact was made.
Then came the ‘Auroville 35 years’ festivity in UNESCO’s Paris centre in 2003, during which he learned more about Auroville and met several Aurovilians. His decision was made. Even though he was stricken with cerebral hemorrhage and right-side paralysis during the very preparations to come here, he managed to fly in October 2004 to Auroville where he could convalesce in Arka. In December 2006 he became Aurovilian.

From the very onset Giorgio was generously involved in the upgrading of Arka’s infra structure and lived there as well. From there he did extensive photo studies of Savitri Bhavan, Matrimandir, and we saw him time and again during our meetings, at special events, in schools and at village occasions, cautiously but persistently negotiating the spaces and making photos wherever he could, always freely giving them to Auroville. He would merrily make marriage photos of friends in the village, providing them with CDs of the footage, and the Eluciole Circus would not be the same without him. In his studio, Giorgio trained various students, and endeavoured to make AVians familiar with his Chronotype© technique.

Several years ago, Giorgio’s beloved sister Graziella, who often came over from Italy and stayed with him in Arka, passed away, and since then Giorgio wasn’t the same anymore. His health withered, and so did his humour and zest of life. He recently offered all his material and equipment to Auroville to constitute ‘Studio Giorgio’, currently temporarily housed in Citadines. The collection will now move to his Arka studio from where ‘Studio Giorgio’ can operate under guidance of his closest collaborator, Piero Cefaloni.

Thank you for having been with us, dear Giorgio, we will remember you through your many exquisite photos and touching images, and for your warm hearted generosity and endearingly grinning smile.

OM~



Giorgio on: Kronotipia©   Chronotype©

Whereas photography’s common characteristic is to fix on film an instant of space-time continuum, most often reproducing on the two-dimensional surface of the final support an image that one thinks to be close to reality and that deeply stimulates those unconscious processes of reconstruction by similitude, constituting the base itself of human visual perception, – Chronotypes© fixes on the film a duration of sizeable importance. The duration is appreciable given a handful of seconds along with a space that is trapped within the two dimensions, through which the subject loses that perspective reference that is usually implicit in what is intended for photography. The reduction of a tri-dimensional subject on a plane that crosses it in a perceivable time, though remaining apparently still, is, I believe, the most adherent representation of that unknowable reality of which we are an inseparable part.  Although it may seem surprising, the result maintains a compliance with reality outside of any subsequent interpretative intervention.

Paolo Tommasi

This is to inform the community that our dear friend and brother Paolo Tommasi passed away in JIPMER on 16 July at around 11.15am due to complications of the Covid19 virus. He had just become 92 years old.

Paolo, born in Ancona, Italy, and recognised in the fifties as a leading figure and point of reference in the world of art and performance in Europe and further abroad, was an architect gifted with a true passion for architectural interiors, design, theatre, scenography (such as in Milan’s La Scala Theatre) and painting; his exhibitions travelled worldwide.

Always a searcher, he was in his thirties called to India, where he met Mother at the age of 38 and felt he had found what he had been seeking. This was just before Auroville’s inauguration in ’68, and a few years before the concept of Matrimandir would emerge. In this very process Paolo would, in his reserved and reflective manner, play an unobtrusive but significant role. He later would also propose elaborate designs for the twelve gardens around Matrimandir.

While continuing his artistic activities abroad, from 2010 onwards Paolo came to live in Pondicherry for increasingly longer periods as “In no other place do I feel my soul reawaken and do I achieve that inner work that gives meaning to my life: becoming more aware of myself and the mystery that surrounds us.” From time to time he would visit his friends in Auroville and Matrimandir.

In his Pondy house, he would continue painting his often strikingly expressive images,  which were published in the book ‘Immagini sull’Invisibile’ – ‘Images on the Invisible’ and exhibited in Savitri Bhavan in 2016. The biography  ‘Alla Ricerca dell’Armonia’ –  ‘In Search of Harmony’  follows him throughout his life.

At the end of June, Paolo was tested positive for the Coronavirus and has been treated for the same, remaining stable for the first weeks on mask ventilation. On 15 July intubation was needed as his condition rapidly deteriorated. In the morning of Friday 17 July his remains were cremated in JIPMER’s crematorium; due to Covid19 restrictions only 4 people were allowed, one of them was from Matrimandir, Auroville. May he be in peace.

We profoundly and lovingly thank Paolo for his creative vision and the support extended by him for the Soul of the City,

 Jay MA~

A 5-minute clip on Paolo, Piero and Gloria 
visiting the Matrimandir in 2009:

The interview that Francois Gautier made with Paolo, filmed by Olivier Barot, in which Paolo is speaking of his life, of building Matrimandir, the Mother, Satprem, the yoga and many other things of interest:

Jean Neal

This is to inform the community that in the afternoon of Friday 10 July, our dear sister Jean Neal, wife of Bob Neal, peacefully left her body at the age of 86 in her UK home. She had been in constant pain for years and had got to the point where communication was not possible anymore.

Jean was a lively, amazing woman who already in the early seventies was part of London’s ‘Bell Street’ group that regularly came together to study works of Sri Aurobindo and the Mother. In 1998 Bob and Jean came to Auroville where, while living in Sri Ma, Bob would see many an Aurovilian in his capacity as healer using Samalin chiropractic and bio-magnetic techniques. Jean, who had from young age onwards a second sight & hearing ability, would assist Aurovilians in different ways by giving ‘Beyond the 5th sense’ and other workshops and one-to-one treatment sessions.

Unfortunately, Jean’s health gradually started deteriorating, causing the couple to leave in April 2006. They both joined AVI UK and worked from there, although Jean’s health remained troublesome.

Thank you Jean for having been with us;  our sincerest condolences go out to Bob and other family members.

OM~

Joan Tomb

A friend, mentor, and guardian angel to many in Auroville. Joan was a strikingly beautiful, generous, strong, independent woman.

Joan heard of the Mother through Dietra (Claire Worden), and in ‘71 she and June Maher traveled together to India to meet the Mother.

On 2nd April 1972, June excitedly phoned Joan and read out this message from Mother:
“It is the hour to be heroic. Heroism in full sincerity.”
“Heroism is not what it is said to be, it is to become wholly unified.”
“We are here to prepare the way for the new creation. For centuries and centuries humanity has waited for this time. You are here at this moment, that is to say on earth, because you chose it at one time. You do not remember it anymore, but I know it. That is why you are here. Well, you must strive, you must conquer all weaknesses and limitations, above all you must tell your ego: ‘Your hour has gone.’ It is the Divine Consciousness which will allow the race to develop itself and the supramental being to take birth.”

Joan later wrote, “Not sure how June received this. We were both very moved. It strengthened the bond that we both felt….and affirmed that ‘YES’, we took birth so as to participate in this work, this process. Not really knowing what it actually meant….to be wholly unified with the new Consciousness…. [which was ] part of the inner process.”

“A year later in ‘72 I left with 3 of my 4 children by ship as a spectacular pink/orange sun set behind us over the San Francisco bridge. Later I learned that color was the shade Mother designated as the Auroville hibiscus.” It became Joan’s favorite color to wear.

In the early years, Joan drove a small moped from Pondy to Auroville. Staying stretches of time in Forecomers, she soon moved to Auroville as a resident. Living in her treehouse, she worked with Pierre Elouard to design and build her house and named the place Recueillement. She always had an open door and a big heart. There were toys in the guest room for children who visited, food in the kitchen, and a comfortable chair to sit on.

For many years, she travelled back and forth from the US to Auroville, and in early 2011, Joan came back to Auroville for the last time, cleared out her house, and handed over the keys to the housing group.

Shortly before her 80th birthday Joan wrote, “Although I miss the babies born in Auroville and the close expressions of spiritual family there, here is the best home for me now. My spiritual family in Auroville live forever here in my heart wherever I reside. I feel the Mother’s presence at work, arranging even details of my life, which was my experience in Auroville as well. So, while the outward has changed, my inner life is the same.”

Joan, at the age of 85, left her body at 3:30 pm on June 23 in her apartment in Tucson Arizona with 3 of her 4 children by her side. She leaves behind 4 children (Laura, Leslie, David, Libby), 4 grandchildren (Pavan, Varun, Ezra, Anna), her son-in-law (Leo Katz), and a great grandson ( Leo Dennis Katz Costa), a grandson in law ( Nic Costa), and 2 life companions (Paul Pinthon and Zach).

Thank you Joan for being a profound part of this spiritual family. We wish you light and joy in your next adventure. Remain close to the Mother.


Joan talking about her life from Auroville Archives


Arya Maloney

We have been informed that Arya (Charles William) Maloney, USA, passed away on 17 April due to a long-term illness. He had just become 80 years old.

While at Columbia University (NYC) working toward his doctorate, he came across Sri Aurobindo’s work which would entirely direct his further life. Already in the late 70’s-early 80’s he was facilitating groups to study the Integral Yoga in Woodstock (NY).

At the end of 1983 he came, along with his then partner Marlenka and 8-year old Ashaman (who both had lived here in the seventies) to Auroville and stayed with them in Verité. A year later he returned to USA where he worked in the various fields of science, philosophy, psychology and spirituality as a teacher and psychologist. His book, Alchemy of the Soul— based on his life, work and spiritual exploration is his contribution to the field of transpersonal psychology.

While he lived in Auroville only shortly,  residents remember him as a caring teacher and effective therapist. Abroad, his wide range of influence enabled Sri Aurobindo’s and Mother’s yoga and vision to find access to innumerable young and open minds.

Jay MA~


We here particularly confirm that her passing is NOT due to Covid-19.

Jan Pieter Derksen

Our dear Jan Pieter Derksen passed away peacefully on 02-06-2020 in the Netherlands after a period of illness.

Jan Pieter’s connection with Sri Aurobindo, the Mother and Auroville goes back to the mid-seventies.  In those days Jan Pieter stayed in one of the houses of the Sri Aurobindo Ashram and visited Auroville almost every day, as a guide. He informed visitors about the Dream that is being realized in Auroville. He was very good at his work. In addition to his native language (Dutch), he spoke English, French and German fluently. Jan Pieter was a soft spoken and patient guide who answered the numerous questions about Auroville, sincerely and tirelessly.

After his work in Pondicherry, Jan Pieter lived at the Sri Aurobindo Ashram, Delhi Branch, before joining Findhorn, in Scotland. There he met Sonja. Together they have two daughters, Marjon and Samantha. The family visited Auroville several times. 

Jan Pieter was a member of the board of Auroville International Netherlands in the eighties, again in the nineties and during a third period from 2009 till 2016 he was the treasurer. It was during this period that he translated Sri Aurobindo’s ‘The Synthesis of Yoga’ into Dutch and wrote many articles on his frequent visits to Auroville, as a candidate newcomer.

Recently he had completed his newcomers’ period, took up residence at Sunship in Auroville and was about to return to Auroville for good.

Meenakshi was one of his mentors during his newcomer’s period in Auroville and wrote the following poem in his memory:

Jan Pieter and Vishnukranti*

Vishnukranti,
the tiny plant holding tight Mother Earth with flowers bright.
Single little leaves travel long like small dots so many.

Once the monsoon sets in, this blossoming universal herb serves the needy silently.

Five petals with silky tender waves and a golden moon in the heart centre.

Vishnukranti,
the blue of Sri Aurobindo and Krishna’s consciousness covers the red soil around Matrimandir.

Pure simple and total surrender to assignments given by the Divine
A feeling of belongingness to this City of the Future.
We remember our dear brother Jan Pieter in Vishnukranti – always near, holding us together to go beyond.

*) botanical name: Evolvulus alsinoides


We here particularly confirm that her passing is NOT due to Covid-19.