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~

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.

Vijayamala

This is to inform that on Tuesday 26 May, Ms Vijayamala Ganapatarao, a long-term volunteer at New Creation’s Creche and Boarding School, passed away due to heart attack at Jipmer at the age of 51.

Mala came from the Sri Aurobindo Ashram in 2000 and has been living and working in New Creation, co-running the Boarding School with MarieBabu ever since. Always smiling, she was a gentle, kind person who became a beloved member of the NC family. Her gift was art which she shared with countless children as well as at various Auroville events, exhibitions and marathons. She also taught New Creation’s children French, Hindi, painting, drawing, stitching and other artistic activities.

As her health became an issue. Mala spent more time doing her own craft, working from home, but would still assist and help the children as much as possible with their daily homework and art.

Mala will be deeply missed by all New Creation’s family members, young and old.

Her remains were buried at Auroville’s burial grounds in the evening of May 26th

OM~


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

Roma Hira

In the later afternoon of 25 April, our good friend and sister Roma Hira (of Roma’s Kitchen) peacefully left her body at her home in Dana due to renal failure with which she had been struggling since a while. She would have turned 73 in September this year.

Hailing from Calcutta, Roma first visited Pondicherry in 1975. This was a seminal moment which cemented her connection and commitment to Sri Aurobindo’s world view. Thereafter, she became a very good friend of Auroville, offering support and material encouragement at a moment when Auroville was going through hard times.

In 1980, in an attempt to improve Auroville’s image in India, a multiple city tour of what was called the Auroville Today Exhibition was arranged by JRD Tata. And Roma was the point person for its Calcutta leg, hosting many of the Aurovilians at her flat. Her Calcutta house subsequently became the pied-à-terre for Aurovilians travelling to Calcutta.

In those early years, Roma used her dynamism and her many connections in the Indian commercial and administrative world to help Auroville’s fledgling commercial units with their marketing and clientele. It was in the mid ’80’s that Roma moved permanently to Auroville and soon after settled into her home in Dana while continuing her work with Auroville’s commercial units, which activity she never stopped. In the first years she was involved in Aurelec’s purchasing department, after which she skillfully functioned as Maroma’s manager for years. She officially joined as Aurovilian in 1992.

Roma was a foodie – she was a chef par excellence- and she liked nothing better than to feed people. To start with she coordinated the food arrangements for seminars and meetings that Auroville hosted (such as the Peace Trees seminars). And people will remember the meticulous planning and rigorous hygiene standards she brought to these events.

Her dream was to have her own restaurant and this was fulfilled when she took charge of what came to be famously known as Roma’s Kitchen in Auromodèle, a place with a reputation for serving gourmet Indian food. Roma’s Kitchen has been featured in magazines and has had a well-deserved recognition for food quality. Over the years, it has hosted and catered to all the important visitors to Auroville.

We let her go with our heartfelt respect and appreciation, knowing that now is her time to receive well-earned sustenance of the highest order. Farewell, dear Roma.

OM~

Roma’s remains were cremated in the morning of Sunday 26 April at Auroville’s mandappam.


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

Auroculture

This is to inform the community that our long-term friend and sister Auroculture (Helga Ahy – born Pirk) quietly left her body today, 10 February, at Marika Home at 10.40 in the morning, with friends at her side. She was 86 and had been suffering a major stroke in November 2014 which left her partially paralyzed, with a weakened heart and hardly able to swallow. After this, various other strokes occurred, each leaving her more peaceful and ready. She eventually passed away due to aspiration pneumonia.

Auroculture, born in Vienna, Austria, came to the Ashram in 1971, having left her husband Jahan Ahy in New York. Ahy, an Iranian diplomat, was no stranger to the Ashram. He had visited Mother in 1969 who mentioned to him “I really like your wife” and inspired him to become instrumental in the first set-up of Auroville International. Hence Auroculture’s connection with AVI.

While living in the Ashram, she was in charge of the flowers on the Samadhi every morning and, during the years of turmoil, might bring some of this sable sacré to the Aurovilians in order to support them in their struggle. This was not always appreciated by various parties, and neither the fact that she kept planting trees in the Bharat Nivas area.  Having a strong, independent and upbeat character, and totally devoted to Mother and Sri Aurobindo, Auroculture was used to do what she thought was right and never could be bothered by criticism. It was M.P. Pandit who gave her the ‘Auroculture’ name.

During this time, Auroculture also started developing her educative ‘Aurogames’, puzzles and toy-like material designed to create mathematical understanding in youngsters. For some time she worked with them at Udavi School that had just started off. Throughout the years the games have been refined in greater detail, and are presently being used and produced under the same name by TLC Maya and Paula of Transition through their Auroville ‘Kalvi’ unit.

In 1995, Auroculture made the step to come over to Auroville and became Aurovilian a year later. From then onwards she has been active as a green-finger worker & consultant in the Matrimandir gardens, endlessly picking up flowers there, and elsewhere, to combine and blend them into a wonderful flower compost used for Matrimandir and many a special other occasion. Her meditative ‘flower mandalas’ became highly appreciated decorative entities in our ceremonies, – a tradition that will live on in her name.

Auroculture started off in Aspiration, then moved to Inspiration, Arka and eventually Marika Home. Auroville will always associate her with greenery, flowers and gardens and unwavering devotion to the Work. She was ready and prepared for the great journey  –  our love and deepest gratitude travel with her.

* * *

From Louise:

One fine day after Cyclone Thane, having distinctly received my ‘calling’ I approached a friend who worked for AVHS and expressed an interest in helping with the Seniors. I was given the names of two ‘senior’ members of Auroville whom I should contact to see if they needed some help. Madam Auroculture, I was told, was a little bent old lady with white hair, quite a character by all accounts. Little did I know quite what a character she would turn out to be. “You can find her at the Matrimandir gardens in the morning” I was told. It was the start of an incredible journey for me as I ventured tentatively, not so fresh and mostly naive yet eager to learn and grow, onto ‘the path’. It was to be my thread to connect with the Mother, my thread to connect with the Divine on another, blissful level. It was to give me much joy and it was to provide me with some valuable lessons and insights. It was to provide a link with one of the few remaining living material beings who had been in Mother’s presence, had communicated with her directly, who was and still is very much connected and who dedicated her life to the task Mother set for her – to create for her a new body…a ‘New Earth’. Auroculture, with the most amazing eyes, no dots for pupils – more like little sunflowers, almost a supernova explosion! I’m so happy for you, back in Mother’s arms…and so grateful!

* * *

From Till van Dorst:

Remembering Auroculture with her special slightly hoarse voice, that had become silent in the end. So madly in Love with The Mother, as she once told me.

In her presence, I learned not to talk too much because the flower mandala’s were her meditation. We helped her pick them up at the nursery.

My very first meeting with AuroCulture was in 2001, my first visit to Auroville, together with my husband and a friend at that time. Exploring the roads around CGH and Matrimandir I came along a fence out of which gently a hand came out, offering me a most beautiful flower, along with her slightly hoarse voice: ‘Divine Love governing the world’. I was deeply touched. We three were allowed to work with her in her garden corner so close to MM. What a Grace this was!

After some years we visited again with a meditation group devoted to Sri Aurobindo and The Mother. On this occasion Auro Culture even introduced a Dutch corner.

Through AuroCulture, who emphasized the bringing out of ‘The spiritual significance of flowers’, my big love for flowers has even grown more.

Also, she offered our group the yearly Ashram calendar. My first one was a big picture of Mother [from 1954] between the flowers she handed over to the ashramites. This was such an inspiration for me that from this picture I made an embroidery work. It was such a Joy to do!

AuroCulture’s offerings [also mandala cd’s], some times eating together, the visits at her home, and one time at Marika’s home [I still picture her there] were so nice. I sent her post mail with pictures to show her my garden at home.

She has shown me that everything is Mother Divine, despite her reclining bodily health.

Dear Auro Culture, I am so happy that you crossed my path. Your footprints and love for Mother Earth remain forever. May your big journey continue in Mother’s Spirit, further and further. Just BE with Her.

Lots of Love forever
Till van Dorst,
Netherlands

* * *

From Renate Straeuli:

Divine Love Governing the World

To the service flower named Auroculture.pdf


Martin Sobieroj

In the afternoon of Sunday 2 February, our German friend and brother Martin Sobieroj passed away in his room at Arka with some of his friends at his side. He was 76 and had been suffering from pancreatic cancer. Martin was ready to go and had opted to stay away from heavy treatment and follow the natural course of the disease, a choice which he -admirably- adhered to apart from accepting some pain plasters at the very end.

Being a searcher from young age onwards, Martin already came to Auroville in 77 but it became clear that for him it was not the right time, or possibly not the right motivation. When he returned 15 years later with the sincere intent to further his spiritual development here, he very soon got in contact with Gangalakshmi with whom he started working at L’Agenda de Mère in Aspiration and became Aurovilian in ‘94. When the House of Mother’s Agenda (HOMA) moved to Savitri Bhavan in 2006, he continued his non-stop research and information work such as answering questions from Aurovilians pertaining to Sri Aurobindo’s and Mother’s work, making indexes and compilations of their texts whenever needed, preparing with Gangalakshmi the HOMA pages for News&Notes and so on, always in a spirit of collaboration and giving.

Apart from writing several texts on Auroville’s Integral Yoga and context, and regularly participating in discussions on Auronet, Martin also wrote the published book ‘Der Stern des Abgrundes: das Medium Adolf Hitler im Lichte Sri Aurobindo und Der Mutter (‘The star of the abyss: the medium Adolf Hitler in the light of Sri Aurobindo and the Mother’), a collection of statements from the Mother and Sri Aurobindo on the mediumistic nature of Hitler for which Martin, by widely researching German literature of the time, documented convincing confirmations. The book gives a good overview of the occult Hitler phenomenon largely ignored by historians.

Thanking him for having been a reference point for many, we pray that purification and rejuvenation be his share in the Light.


For an interesting overview of his life, in his own words:
https://youtu.be/taQYIowP6tY


* * *

From Louise:

I met Martin only a handful of times while in the company of Auroculture. It was he who sparked my interest to read Mother’s Agenda, having told me he read a couple of pages every day!

Thank you Martin, you enriched my life!

* * *

From Brigitta Sobieroj:

My brother Martin, who is 1 year older than me, spent a childhood in poverty with my mother and I, during 12 years after the second world war. My grandmother idolized Martin. He spent every afternoon with her. Martin was an overweight and lonely boy. His classmates teased him. He didn’t play with them but prefered reading Greek Legends.In 1955 Adenauer negotiated with Bulganin in Moscow so that the last German prisoners of war could go home. Our father was among these last German prisoners. Then our family life changed. Martin separated from his grandmother and lived again in the family home. Martin became slim. Then 3 young brothers were born into our family – Michael, Florian and Wolfgang. Martin attended a boarding school in another town and successfully completed his education there. He then went to university. Michael, Florian and Wolfgang loved their older brother, his incense sticks, and his glowing eyes when he spoke about Sri Aurobindo. His grandmother always waited for him, for his return from Auroville. With 103 years, she could wait no longer. Dear Martin, rest in peace.


Der Stern des Abgrundes: das Medium Adolf Hitler im
Lichte Sri Aurobindo und Der Mutter

by Martin Sobieroj (Satparam)

A collection of statements from the Mother and Sri Aurobindo on the Mediumistic nature of Hitler. This book gives a good overview of the occult Hitler phenomenon largely ignored by historians.

Published by: Lulu, 2010
Format: Hardcover
Language: German
Pages: 463

PDF Book: der_stern_des_abgrund

Subash Chandra

This is to inform the community that in the morning of Saturday, 1 February, our good friend and brother Subash (M.S. Subash Chandra) passed away in Mahalakshmi Home, surrounded by his AVHS caretakers and friends. He had just become 74 earlier this month and had been battling Parkinson’s disease since several years.

Born in Madurai, and after obtaining an B.E. (Electrical) at Madras University, Subash read some texts by Mother and Sri Aurobindo which deeply touched him. He travelled to Pondicherry in 1971 for Mother’s public darshan with as result that, at the age of 27, he joined Auroville in 1973 where he became part of the Last School team in Aspiration. It may have been here that his interest in education began. However, as he gradually felt the need for a more personal guidance in his spiritual development, he left Auroville at the end of ’74 to join a karma yogi elsewhere with whom he stayed for 18 years.

Having been introduced to various methods of education during that time, Subash returned to Auroville in 1994 in order to conduct a 4-months experiment with 12 kindergarten children of New Creation Bilingual (now Aikiyam) School, using the Glenn Doman Word Flash Cards method which he wanted to test on their authenticity and usefulness. This was one of the first such efforts in Auroville. It proved successful and from there he became a much-appreciated teacher at the school’s primary level.

In 1996, when Lisa left Isai Ambalam school, he was asked to take over and this became the love of his life. He continued studying and applying more alternative educational approaches, one after another, and trained the teachers to use them.  At the same time, he wrote a number of papers on these various systems, bringing them to the attention of many schools in Tamil Nadu. He also conducted ‘Consecration’ and other workshops and week-ends, introducing young Aurovilians and residents in the bioregion to the teachings of Sri Aurobindo and the Mother. When several years ago the STEM Land Project started in the school, its educational direction somewhat changed, while still integrating the use of these effective innovative approaches for maximizing the learning of the students.

Subash was determined in getting education to whomever needed. He started out in a small house in New Creation, from where he moved to Isai Ambalam, then Creativity, and this last half year he remained in Mahalakshmi Home, where he bloomed up through the round-the-clock, loving attention from the residents and AVHS ladies. Many of his students will dearly miss him and pray for his good journey to the Light, and so does Auroville with love and gratitude.

Subash’s remains were taken to the Crown Road Farewell Centre and were buried on Sunday morning, 2 February, with members of his family, Isai Ambalam staff, students and friends attending.

Navoditte (Norman Thomas)

At around 3am of Saturday morning 1 February, our long-term friend and brother, Aurovilian-of-the-first-hour Navoditte (Norman Thomas) left his body at the age of 93 at Marika Home, quietly in his sleep. During the last few days he had steadily withdrawn and was in peace.

Originally from Wales, UK, Navoditte was an author and poet. In 1963 his first book ‘Ask at the Unicorn’ was published to critical acclaim in UK and USA. When travelling in USA in the sixties, he met his wife Alice, and many of the major poets and writers of the time. In 1967 Navoditte came to the Sri Aurobindo Ashram and worked at Senteurs. He attended Auroville’s inauguration and moved to Aspiration around 1971 where he was involved in the Prosperity distributions of that time. He was part of the group that regularly met with the Mother (which conversations were recorded in ‘Aspiration Talks’). Extensively making notes on the turmoil events of those early years, he later destroyed them because he no longer wanted to be caught up in the memories thereof.

During the 80’s, Navoditte worked in Shuttle Technology library at Aurelec, as its librarian. Already still in the seventies, he had moved with Alice to Certitude where he functioned for some time as the weatherman, living in the Eco House and taking daily weather records. Eventually the couple built their own house there where they lived until Alice passed away after which he moved to Invocation. Several years ago he moved to Marika Home where he spent a good and happy last stretch of his life.

In 2003 his ‘The thousand-petalled daisy’ book was published in which he describes the experiences, findings, emotional growth and understanding of a young person’s first encounters with life in India, the Mother and himself in a rather unique and intimate way. Navoditte’s poems appeared in ‘Mother India’, ‘Sri Aurobindo’s action’, ‘50 poems from Auroville’ and other collections. (An excerpt of ‘With stump of candle’ is posted here at the end.)

Those who closely knew Navoditte will remember him for his great sense of humour and self-depreciation, and honour him for his unique contribution to Auroville through his steady composure and commitment to the highest ideals. For most of us he was a quietly present, early-on pioneer and stalwart old-faithful, whose passing seems the end of an era.

Thank you, Navoditte.

It is the dark world
I leave behind me on this pilgrimage…
Yet…He who meets me
greets me not with scorn
as I deserve, but with his grace.
It is almost too much for me to bear.



* * *

From Alan Herbert:

Navoditte 1926 – 2020 Navoditte came to the Ashram in 1967 with his wife, Alice, and in February, 1968 attended the inauguration of Auroville. He moved to Aspiration in 1971 where he was part of the group that met Mother a number of times, conversations subsequently recorded in ‘Aspiration Talks’. Later he moved to the Eco-House in Certitude where he was the weatherman, taking daily records of sun and wind. During the 1980s he worked for some time as the librarian at Aurelec. Above all, he was a fine writer. His best work navigates a delicate line between quicksilver humour and profundity, reflecting both his wry, self-deprecating take on life (he once wrote that the most marvellous phrase in the English language was “I don’t know) as well as his deep philosophical introspection and quiet devotion to The Mother. What he wrote about the ancient Chinese poet, Tao Yuang-Ming, could well have been written about himself: “He was quiet, even taciturn, had no desire for riches or fame. He amused himself with books, but never to such an extent that he would trouble himself with exact interpretations…He amused himself by writing occasion poems, wherein his aspirations are revealed, having no interest in worldly success or failure. And so his life passed to its end.” Navoditte, like Yuang-Ming, also loved laughter. Typically, he wrote his own funeral poem. It begins

“You won’t need a coffin

To carry me off in
But a sheet
Would be rather neat”

and ends

“No music. No heavy breathing. No words
Just – if you’re lucky – the sound of birds
And then, with the rising smoke
Let some-in-the-crowd bloke
Give a vote of thanks on my behalf,
And then you all can laugh and laugh and laugh and laugh”.

Navoditte passed away on 1st February at the age of 93. He was buried in Auroville’s burial ground three days later. His quiet, twinkle-eyed presence will be sorely missed.