Francis Malan

Francis Malan of Citadines peacefully left his body in the morning of Wednesday 5 October while listening to ‘A New Birth’, told by the Mother. He was sitting outside on the terrace looking out over the garden of Marika’s Home where he had been taken several days ago after suffering a stroke. He was 81.

From France, Francis has been visiting Auroville since 2006 and made it his home in 2009, officially joining in 2011. He was always happy to help in many ways: teaching French and mathematics, supporting educational projects and his many friends. He particularly loved the Matrimandir where he spent many hours in duty, meditating or walking. Until very recently, he would go every morning watch the sunrise at the Amphitheatre and in the evening see the sunset there as well.

We will remember his big gentle smile, his kindness and sense of humour, his generosity and his love for Sri Aurobindo, the Mother and Satprem.

Francis’s body remained in Farewell during the week and was cremated at the Auroville mandapam in the afternoon of Monday October 10th.

Our warmest condolences go out to his niece Claire of Darkali and her partner Michel, as well as his friends Kalou, Sophie, Padma and family, Namah, Patrice, Turiya and others.

OM~

Christine Besson

In the evening of Sunday 25 September, our friend and sister Christine Besson left her body at Marika Home, where she had been taken two weeks ago as her struggle with lung cancer became critical. She was 65 years old.

Christine came from France to Auroville in 2008. Having worked in the Parisian banking world, her accounting skills were readily welcomed by the Financial Service where colleagues remember her as a kind and pleasant person to work with.

She moved into Vikas, where she lived an unobtrusive, reserved and solitary life. True to her lifestyle, she expressed the wish to have no visiting hours at Farewell after her passing. Her remains were cremated at the Auroville mandapam in the afternoon of Wednesday, October 28th.

Our warmest condolences go out to her mother and sister whom she visited every year.

Farewell, dear sister, thank you for having been with us.

OM

Saraswati Helene

This is to inform the community that our dear friend and sister, Aurovilian Saraswati Helene Champaloux, passed away in France at the age of 75 after a long struggle with cancer.

Saraswati received her name from Champaklal in 1991 and joined Auroville two years later. Being a painter, her vision and technique of her expressions gradually changed due to her inner research in light of quantum physicists and the readings David Bohm and Fridjof Capra which aligned with her experience. She held several exhibitions in Auroville such as the Angel’s theme exhibition in September 2000 at Pitanga, which was deeply inspiring and had a wonderful presence.

Apart from her artwork, Saraswati worked at the Auroville Health Center and Auroville Earth Institute. She was known for her warmhearted nature, always giving love and support to the ones around her.
The funeral of Saraswati’s remains took place in France on 16 February, and Auroville friends bade her farewell during a silent gathering at the Matrimandir Banyan tree in the late afternoon of the same day.

Our warmest condolences go out to her daughter Anata and grandson Raphael.

OM~

Gerard

At noontime of Sunday 10 October, our dear friend and brother Gerard Carabin passed away in his room at Marika House due to issues related to Parkinson’s Disease. He was 73 years old.

Gerard was born in Paris and came to join Auroville in 1973 at the age of 25  after watching J.P. Elkabach’s documentary on Auroville, which includes a Darshan of the Mother… A musician, bass player in the Paris music scene, he arrived in Auroville where he was offered to work at the construction of Auromodele with Pierre Elouard and Cristo, for this was the need of the time! A film lover and passionate about Cinema, soon enough he started to organise film screenings in Auroville. First in 16mm, then with a set of two 35 mm portable Russian film projectors in Aspiration, and then in different places, like Certitude, the Auditorium at Bharat Nivas, and Fraternity, all under the umbrella of the service he created with friends and called Aurofilm. They would also do film screenings in the neighbouring villages with Poppo, assisted by some young Aurovilians like Selvaraj, Raman and others! SAIIER was created in the early 80s under the inspiration of Shri Kireet Joshi, and Aurofilm was an obvious inclusion.

At Aurofilm, apart from doing research in Cinema and presenting films to the community, Gerard made a number of short films, from documentaries to fiction and poetic or experimental expression. In 1986 he went for a trip to Paris to make a film on Pondicherian Bharata Natyam dancers Pichaya and Vasanty Manet, and there he also worked for nearly a year as projectionist at the French Cinémathèque (equivalent to the National Film Archive).

Sri Aurobindo and Mother have always been his inspiration.

In the early 80s, during the ‘fight’ with the SAS, he was one of the Aurovilians going to jail, wanting to help Auroville to stay free from these ‘forces’. But in 1988 the Auroville Foundation was about to be created and the Government was taking over. Like some other Aurovilians, Gerard (along with his then partner Surya) left for France, only to return at the end of 1994, for good: whatever the situation, Auroville was his home and dream! Gerard and Surya restarted the film screenings in the Sri Aurobindo Auditorium, upgrading the film projection with good professional 35 mm machines made in Pondicherry from an Italian model! These “Friday movies” are since a few years now happening at MMC, which welcomed Aurofilm when the Auditorium at Bharat Nivas was closed for long lasting repairs. Gerard always took great care of the choice of films screened in Auroville, choosing them from all over the world, classics, recent, “difficult” or “slow”, entertaining, and with an emphasis on presenting the richness of Indian Cinema. Regular Film festivals have been conducted every year thanks to his initiative ! His film selection was always aiming at quality and a possible way to uplift our human condition.

The current Aurofilm team will strive to keep up this goal, but already misses him a lot. Since a couple of years, Gerard had started developing Parkinson’s Disease and little by little withdrew from the office and screenings. Last year he moved from his simple studio in Citadines to Marika Home where he was welcomed and gently taken good care of, and where he passed away on Sunday 10 October in the mid-day, quite prepared.

Our love goes out to him, a “peaceful warrior” as a good old friend wrote about him, and we wish him a good journey onward, fully with Mother’s care and smile.

OM~

Ananda

In the early morning of Thursday 26 August, our long-term brother Ananda (Jean-François R.L. Bertaux) left his body at Marika House at the age of 68, after coping with Parkinson’s Disease for many years. The moment of transition had come quite unexpected, as Ananda had moved two days earlier from Fraternity to Marika House and was looking forward to get in better shape and had plans for the future. His partner Michiko and caretaker Raji were with him at the time.

Born in Paris, Ananda discovered there the yoga of Sri Aurobindo and the Mother in his early twenties. Before coming to Auroville, he stayed in Japan, where he learned Aikido, the Japanese language and teamed up with life partner Michiko, who helped him translate ‘The adventure of consciousness’ into Japanese and made a very first start of establishing an Auroville centre in Tokyo. In 1982, the pair joined Auroville where he picked up on the work of black belter André Pithon who had taught Aikido in Aspiration in the early 70’s. Now an authentic dojo emerged in Fraternity and under Ananda’s guidance, skill and teaching Aikido entered Auroville for good. He also took over the remaining part of the ‘Lotus Fraternity’ unit, producing hammocks, Japanese lampshades and floor mats, while at the same time running a Girls’ Boarding at the entrance of Fraternity (one of whose participants, Raji, was grateful to be by his side at the time of his passing).  At the same time, Ananda started performing accounting services for various units, and since 2009 he functioned as internal auditor of AV commercial units and coordinator of the Auroville Board of Commerce.

Ananda was a linguist with an enormous feel for language; he would learn a language for the sheer fun of it. His and Michiko’s weekly language sessions at Solar Kitchen’s la Terrace, mostly in French but easily expanding into other tongues, were lively and fun and attracted quite a few participants. It was heartening to see this man, who had a friendly, gentle and unobtrusive way of being, growing into his full element, animatedly coming through in various modes of linguistic expression.

Auroville thanks and salutes one of its loyal, steady residents, who in his personal life lived with the absolute bare minimum while giving such a rich and varied service and commitment to the City he loved.

Our warmest condolences and love and strength go out to Michiko.

OM~


For a small clip of Ananda, see: 

Menaig

In the late evening of 26 March, long-term Aurovilian Menaig Renouf passed away at PIMS’ ICU due to multiple organ failure leading to cardiac shock. She was 73. Menaig suffered from TTP, a rare hereditary auto-immune blood disorder and used to say she “lived on borrowed time” since her mother died of the same at a much earlier age. Throughout her many years in Auroville she would have strokes and hospital treatments because of this but, being a lively, courageous and sprite personality, she always bounced back. This time she knew that she wouldn’t since she “was really tired” as mentioned to her friends during her birthday in February this year.

Menaig ‒ a Canadian, born in France ‒ first came with her little son Gandalf to Pondy in 1979 and joined Auroville in 1980. For a short while they moved in with Judith in Kottakarai and pretty soon built a house with Hero where now Celebration is. At the time her artistic qualities started expressing in beautiful batiks on cloth and canvas. In 1984, during an Auroville summer holiday school trip in Yercaud, young Gandalf stumbled during a climb in the mountains, fell from a height and died. Whole Auroville was stunned and mourned with Menaig this terrible, sudden loss.

Not long after that, the couple moved to Centre Field. A new life started and work at Matrimandir intensified. Throughout the eighties she worked on the structure and in the workshop, wherever needed, overseeing the meticulous and delicate work of painting of the twelve columns, the cleaning and placement of marble in the Chamber etc. Her joy, humour, total commitment and passion for the work was a true strength for the team and will never be forgotten.

In the nineties, Menaig started working with Auroform in Pondy, using her skills in providing artistic touches to the company’s interior designs through wall paintings, curtains, bed covers, – all pieces of art. At the same time, living alone, she made and gifted paintings to her friends, took full part in community meetings and events, and managed a little guesthouse on the side of her house. In these last years, Menaig’s health started slowly, gradually deteriorating, leaving her at times confused and at a loss.

Having arrived with a difficult karma, she lived through it with a free spirit, chutzpah and a colourful outlook, leaving good and loving memories behind.

Go paint the heavens, dear Menaig! And thank you for having been with us…

OM~

Dany Foureau

In the early morning of Thursday 4 February, our dear friend and sister Dany Foureau unexpectedly passed away due to sudden cardiac arrest in her room in the Mukti Complex near AV Health Centre. She had been complaining about back pain after lifting a possibly too heavy load a week ago. She was 60 years old.

Dany, who hails from France, had a long history with Auroville, which started out with the small community of friends in the Ardèche in the early seventies, where she stayed as a young girl rebelliously having left her parental home. Like several other members of that community, Dany came to Auroville in 1980, starting out in Forecomers. One of the things she did at the time was working with Otto in Kottakarai Bakery. She then moved to Revelation where she ran a small vegetable market. Dany did whatever was needed in front of her, without much ado and gave it her all. In due time she met an Indian man with whom she married and the couple left for France around 1984. Some 5 years later she returned, with toddler son Salia, and worked for New Creation’s Kindergarten while staying in NC Field.

Several years later she left again, to return for good in 2014, on her own, her son being well established with family and two children. By now being well versed in geriatric care, she joined the Auroville Health Service team, training new worker therapists and shortly taking over the AVHS coordination. There then followed a good year of maintaining the Auromode Apartments guest service’s night shift during which time she already frequented the AV Integrated Animal Care Centre (IACC) in daytime. In 2017 she left Auromode and took up full time work at IACC while living in Prayatna (as caretaker of the newcomer accommodation there) and later on moved to Mukti. It was at IACC that Dany came into her full element, joining the then team consisting of Kannan, Rita and Lorraine, and giving all her energy and passion to the hundreds of dogs in the centre’s care. The IACC, situated behind Buddha Garden, takes care of vaccinations (anti rabies and distemper/parvo) & treatments & sterilisations.

Dany’s love and care for the hundreds of dogs, her persistent overseeing and hands-on participation in all aspects of the work, day-in day-out and at times almost single-handedly, aggravated by the unfortunate habit of heavy smoking, may eventually have been too much for her.

Our love and condolences go out to her son Salia and her two grandchildren, as well as to her IACC colleagues, and Vijaya, Kathrin and other good friends.

Farewell, dear Dany. Thank you for your persistent coming back to be part of Mother’s experiment. We will meet again…

OM~

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~



Myriam (Myriam Francoise Marie Noelle Isaac)

In the morning of 28 May, our dear and long-term sister Myriam Francoise Marie Noelle Isaac left her body at the age of 76 due to cancer at her house in Sincerity, surrounded by her children.

Myriam, who was born in France but carried the Swiss nationality, arrived in 1970 at Aspiration at the age of 27 with her little son Pascal, now Gopal. She’s one of those olden-days stalwarts of Auroville who has been always here, working in the background, totally dedicated to the Mother, in a quiet, modest and steady way. Starting off in Aspiration, she worked as a nurse with Dr Sen at the Auroville Health Center that was just starting off. She also was active as Auroville’s midwife and delivered many of our babies at home to be later joined by Hilde. At the same time, she was actively involved in Fraternity’s activities with the villagers living there. By 1977 Myriam was living at the Matrimandir workers’ camp, where she gave birth to little Prema. Three years later Kartik was born. Throughout the eighties she continued her involvement in various village related activities, participated in the community meetings and decisions of that time, and was one of the first ones to work in the Free Store at Bharat Nivas, where she also was active in the then Auroville Community Kitchen there.

Myriam took over the boutique from Claude while it was still at Bharat Nivas and then, since the very onset of the Visitors’ Centre in 1991, she maintained the new Auroville Boutique at the VC from where most of us will remember her. Due to her conscientious and capable management, and deeply concerned care for her staff, she soon became executive, while also functioning as one of the trustees of Artisana Trust.

Having remained at the viewing room for several days, Myriam’s remains were buried at Auroville’s burial grounds in the afternoon of Friday 31 May, with many old-timer friends, acquaintances and family members attending the quiet, serene and very Aurovilian moment of farewell.

Thank you, dear Myriam, for having actually continually lived and worked with us during all those years. Your unobtrusive, soft spoken and sweet manner will not be forgotten, and our prayers accompany you on the way to the Light.

Our heartfelt condolences go out to Gopal, Prema and Kartik, and little grandson Liam.

* * *

Bhaga recalls about Myriam:

When I arrived in Auroville, India, on August 4th 1972, I was already reading the books of Sri Aurobindo and the Mother and practising their Integral Yoga, but I knew absolutely nothing of their personal lives – not even that the year 1972 was a big year, the year of Sri Aurobindo’s Birthday Centenary, to be celebrated in many places all over the planet and by many eminent people everywhere besides the disciples.

I soon fell with fever, though, and found myself in one of the Ashram’s Nursing Homes in Pondicherry, ‘Treasure Nursing Home’, a small one, not far from the main Ashram building where the Mother, still alive then, was residing.

In the same Nursing Home another Aurovilian lady happened to be right then also taken care of, who had befriended me from the beginning: Myriam.

On the 15th of August, it is her who told me that there would be a ‘Darshan’, that is, a special moment when the Mother would come out on the balcony of her room so that the crowd that had gathered in the streets down below would be able to see her, and so, to benefit directly from her physical presence and the spiritual inner condition she would be in, if one was able to open oneself inwardly to it.

At the given time, my friend took me with her to a tiny balcony in our Nursing Home, and pointed at a silhouette that had just come out, hardly visible in the distance, on another, bigger balcony: there the Mother stood, and from where we were we also remained standing, but transfixed, our mind suddenly gone silent, our heart beating harder, immobile there with our eyes on that form far away, while time too stood still.

Then the silhouette started moving again and slowly retreated back inside, and within moments, in the street down below her balcony the whole crowd, which like the two of us had spontaneously also fallen absolutely silent during the Darshan, came back to normal life and noise again, although some special softness lingered for long in the atmosphere and within the two of us in the Nursing-Home.

This was my first Darshan, the Darshan given by the Mother for this extraordinary occasion, the Centenary of Sri Aurobindo. At that time I was a total iconoclast, and without any notion that a Darshan could be highly beneficial for you, so on my own I would probably have missed the whole thing. I like to think that Sri Aurobindo himself, from the non-physical dimensions, wanted me not to miss that exceptional moment, and arranged everything, even my illness and that of my friend, so that I would have that so special First Darshan, and with it the inner gifts he wanted to give me, and that are still within me, helping me in every moment of my life.

(Extract from an article posted on my blog for August 15th 2011 –
the year I started it, Bhaga) 


Boris Mabilat

Boris with his son Silas

Boris Mabilat left his body in Paris on 12th. He was 45 years old.

Boris came to Auroville in 1975 at age of 1 with his parents Samata and Cristo. He founded the community Reve where he had a mechanic workshop, taught many young people mechanics and in later years started Rève Guest House. His son Silas was born in Auroville in 2002.

On New Year 2001/2002, a small conflict resulted into a big tragedy. Boris was wrongly accused alongside two young Aurovilians. All three had to leave the country on a Leave India notice in 2005.

Boris found refuge in Paris with his partner Marjorine and his son Silas.

In 2008, the High Court Chennai declared the 3 boys innocent. But Boris was able to return only once, in 2010, on a Tourist Visa. His attempts in later years to return to Auroville to visit his family but his visa was always refused without explanation. It was an irony of fate that when his return to India was finally approved at the highest level, Boris passed away.