Bryan Walton

This is to inform the community of the passing of Aurovilian Bryan Walton who was among the early pioneers and has always kept strong and live connections with Auroville and many of its old-time pioneer residents. Bryan had been coping with recurring cancer and made the transition on 8 March surrounded by his family in Wisconsin, USA.  He was 80 years old.

Having worked in educational audio-visuals, Bryan left the USA in the mid-sixties for India in search for a better life and eventually came to the Sri Aurobindo Ashram in June 1971. Along with his then partner Sally, he had several meetings with the Mother who approved of their idea to start a handicraft community as village development work near Kuilapalayam, which she would name ‘Fraternity’. (https://vimeo.com/517078368/e9ada0315b?utm_source=email&utm_medium=vimeo-cliptranscode-201504&utm_campaign=28749)  Although he had no experience in either crafts or business, Bryan felt a deep ‘yes’, and bravely started the Fraternity project in February 1972, now fifty years ago, with many other Aurovilians and his wife-to-be Fanou joining him over the years in the work. The original 15 acres of sand with hard red clay below it and only two palmyra trees on it, flourished in the subsequent years with gradual cultivation of the land and, helped by Poppo, the original keet sheds morphed into permanent handicraft buildings, a kindergarten for workers’ and village children, and an overhead tank for fresh water. The proceeds from the production of handloom and other craft products supported the training of local village women and youth, the running water system for Kuilapalayam, and the kindergarten with daily lunch, medical care and lessons in Tamil. Bryan’s extensive photographic documentation of the progress and life in Auroville at the time form a precious addition to Auroville’s archives.

Pressured by the challenging circumstances Auroville went through in those years, Bryan and Fanou left in 1980 with their two very young children, Auromarichi (Christian) and Aurelia, to USA where they lived in rural Spring Green, Wisconsin. With another couple, they imported art and craft products from Auroville and other parts of Asia, and found markets through their retail store from where they could always be of generous help to Auroville. Bryan also returned to his old skills and developed a virtual treasure of colourful and highly artistic audio-visual presentations, quietly narrated by himself, based on his wide range of interest, and pieced together from his research into Sri Aurobindo’s and Mother’s works, integral yoga, other inspiring world views, art works, books, articles, pictures and many many hours of work. During his last year he was able to upload most of them, as a fine gift to Auroville, – a complete list with links will be available on the Auroville website. (https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC85DC0zOXxbzDsyMw5vKdqA)

Bryan was also active member of the Board of AVI USA and served on the Board of the AVI Association since 2007, where his calm participation, dry humour and hands-on knowledge of life in Auroville was an esteemed commodity.

Since mid-2021 Bryan has been coping with a returned, aggressive cancer eventually resorting to two different sorts of chemotherapy. When these Plans A and B did not work for him, Bryan decided to switch to Plan M: “For me, no fear of the Great Adventure of the Spirit with Her, the Mother is with me, she’s with us all.  Since 22 or so coming first back from India, I was ok with the ultimate adventure.“

He now has embarked on that new venture, and we salute and let go, with utmost love and gratitude for this soft-spoken, always friendly co-traveler on the path, who endeared himself in fraternity with so many of his colleagues, workers and co-Aurovilians throughout his life.

Go and Come, dear Bryan!

Our warmest condolences and strength go out to his wife Fanou, and their three children Christian, Aurelia and Leo, their families, and to all his friends both here and abroad.

OM~

Francis in conversation with Bryan & Fanou, 2009
https://vimeo.com/529655760

Bryan & Fanou from Auroville Video Productions on Vimeo.

Dakshina

Dakshina, a dear US-based friend and spiritual sister to many, passed away on 19 February due to cancer. She was the profoundly inspired and inspiring devotee of Sri Aurobindo and the Mother who founded Sri Aurobindo Sadhana Peetham in Lodi, California, a haven for weary travellers on the path where numerous Aurovilians and Ashramites have visited and stayed throughout the years. Through her Auromere brand, she distributed books, shampoo, incense and more, of which 10% of the proceeds were donated to Auroville while the balance supported the ‘Lodi Ashram’ as the centre was mostly called. Dakshina also served on the board of the Foundation of World Education and built Mother’s House for guests visiting the Sri Aurobindo Ashram in Pondicherry.

We very sincerely salute a true sister and comrade on the path, and our warmest condolences go out to the Lodi family and all her many friends.

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.

Gordon Korstange

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.

Julian Lines

I heard about Auroville in 1972 from Robert Lawlor, founder of Forecomers, and spent that summer at Omega Station a community of students and teachers on the farm of Andre and goldian Vanden Broeck in South Otselic, NY. Majorie Spalding, Robert McDermott, Jehangir Chubb, Zena Daysh and Udar Pinto, who toured the US for Sri Aurobindo’s Birth Centenary were early influences.

I first visited Auroville in 1974, staying for four months and studied with Arabinda Basu at the Ashram. Back in New York, I volunteered at the Sri Aurobindo Center and later became a member of the Lindisfarne Association where William Irwin Thompson invited speakers from the Ashram and Auroville to give talks. I cofounded the ALL USA Meetings, an annual gathering for those interested in the vision of Sri Aurobindo and Mother. I serve on the Boards of AVI USA, AVI and in 2009 was appointed to Auroville’s International Advisory Council. I also serve as President of Matagiri Sri Aurobindo Center and on the board of Nakashima Foundation for Peace. I sing in a choir called Prana and together with my wife, Wendy, own a boutique called Pondicherry in Woodstock, NY.

Bryan Walton

Traveling on my own in North India at age 22, I found myself greatly attracted to the culture and spirituality. Influenced by Ravi Shankar and Krishnamurti, Hinduism and Buddhism, and by personally meeting the Dalai Lama, I determined to return someday to live and discover more, and to visit the Sri Aurobindo Ashram that I learned about then. 

I met the Mother several times in 1971-72 as a visitor to the Ashram(most powerful experiences), and soon was accepted by her to live and work in Auroville. Her vision of an ideal town-ship based on human unity was tremendously attractive to me. I established and organized Fraternity in early 1972, at her request, as the first handicraft training and village employment center, to address the concern about the poverty, health and talents of the local villagers. With some other Aurovilians, we developed handloom weaving, along with its associated crafts of tailoring, embroidery, crochet and handloom lampshades. then came the production of woodcraft items, hammocks, hammock chairs, and candle-making. And we planted trees and trees.

New workshops were built, with a kindergarten and fresh water supply for the nearby village. Rapid expansion followed and with quality craft production achieved, we opened export markets in Europe and the US. My wife Fanou joined the venture, heading up the crochet unit. Our first two children, Auromarichi and Aurelia, were born in Auroville.

We moved in 1980 to Wisconsin, USA, where for many years we imported and sold arts and crafts from Auroville and elsewhere, via a store called Global View. Retired now, I have placed many photos of my nine years in Auroville in Facebook’s group called “Olden Days: The Old Timers of Auroville”.

Some years ago, I was asked to join the board of Auroville International USA. Originally begun as the Auroville Association in 1973 in Aptos, California by June Maher with a handful of local board members, the name was changed in 1986, and now our 10 board members are scattered from coast to coast. We meet by phone once a month and face to face every year. Besides channelling funds to Auroville projects, we email Auroville project and donation information periodically as eVolve and publish a printed newsletter, Connect, twice a year to thousands of Auroville supporters in the US. I am the administrator of AuroHost, and currently serve as President of AVI USA.

Since twelve years, Fanou and I return to Auroville for at least a month every two years, and we support it as much as possible. From over 200 people then, to well over 2000 people today, Auroville seems to bloom more and more; its forests now thrive on the once desolate sand and desert, and culture abounds in so many ways. It is always a joy to return, to be with many dear old friends and to make new ones, and to meet there as a member of Auroville International.