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.



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.


For a small clip of Ananda, see: 


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…


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…



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 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.

Gérard Maréchal

On January 2nd 2019 our long-term friend and brother, Aurovilian Gérard Maréchal, left his body due to a fall caused by a heart failure in his Sukhavati home, at the age of 71. Unfortunately, his wife Fabienne and daughter Aurrimà were in France at the time but returned at the earliest.

Gérard is one of the early pioneers who arrived from France in the 1969-caravan to wholeheartedly give his energies to the Mother and Auroville. Matrimandir was his focus of work and passion from the very beginning while he also took full part in the often-tumultuous life of the community at the time. In the early nineties, he and Fabienne left for Sudan where he oversaw various construction sites through which he was also able to provide work opportunities for Aurovilians. The couple returned in 2004 to then move into their Sukhavati house. Gérard once again returned to Matrimandir, this time at a calmer pace due to some heart condition that started developing.

Quietly introvert, and deeply into Mother, Sri Aurobindo as well as Satprem, it was a wonderful achievement and timely moment for Gérard that an Auroville’s 50th publication of Sri Aurobindo’s Savitri with the French translation by Satprem and the original English edition, side by side, has just now come out. This precious book was initiated, driven and put together by Gérard, OM~

Fare well, Gérard, on the way to the Light. Our warmest condolences, love and strength go out to Fabienne and Aurrimà and all his very close friends.

August Timmermans

My pull to Auroville was directly inspired by the Mother during a meditation when a white light came into me and the next day I found myself telling friends that I would go to Auroville.

I was a student in Sittard, the Netherlands. I completed first my studies in Community Development, and shortly after my graduation from the Social Academy I hitchhiked to India in October 1977.


I walked straight to the Matrimandir after I arrived by bus from Pondicherry in December 1977. Within a few hours I had my first keet-hut at the Matrimandir working area, and some months later I got my second keet-hut at the Matrimandir Workers Camp. My last work with fellow Aurovilians on the Matrimandir was chipping the ceiling of the Inner Room to prepare it for its plasterwork. My second work was as a building-manager of Center School, in Center Field, and about a year later I joined the Matrimandir Nursery for 4 years where I worked as one of the co-managers. I once designed the map of all the Plumerias there. After eight years, in October 1985, I left Auroville to join the rest of the world, and today I live and work in Marseille, France. My life has been fully inspired by the Integral Yoga since I discovered it, following the inner guidance that comes with it. I regard my eight years in India as the most significant period of my life. 

Wishing Auroville a thrilling 50th Birthday in 2018!

Roger Anger

A Tribute by Kireet Joshi

(Mr. Kireet Joshi is former Chairman of the Auroville Foundation)

“They want to go to U.S.A. for studying architecture, when the greatest architect of the world is here.”

This was the comment of the Mother in late 60’s, when a student of the Ashram Centre of Education wrote to Her that he wanted to go to U.S.A. for studying architecture. “The greatest architect of the world” was the phrase used by the Mother to refer to Roger.

This architect from France had earlier visited Chandigarh; and was disappointed, since the concept, design and architectural pattern of that great city of India did not come up to his own standards of aesthetic taste and sensitivity.

He had spoken of this to the Mother. Hence, when the idea of building up an international township of Auroville began to be conceived by the Mother, a letter was written by Her from the Ashram at Pondicherry to Roger, who was at that time in France , asking him if he would like to build up Auroville as its architect. When Roger answered the letter in the affirmative, the Mother was greatly pleased, and when She wrote to him in appreciation of his positive response, the Mother commented that his response was not a surprise to Her, because She had already known him as the “Man of the Project” (L’Homme de Projet)!

At that time, Roger was already a famous architect in charge of a number of projects. He had already executed over fifty large scale projects, and he was reputed for his significant style which had its own uniqueness and distinctiveness. At the age of forty five, he was a leading figure in the world of modern architecture. The most spectacular highlight of his work was “L’Ile Verte, Grenoble ,” then the highest inhabited residential buildings in Europe .

In the sixties, when the initial work for Auroville had started, I used to see Roger from far as an admirer who had heard of him in glowing terms, but who had no courage to approach him, – such was the awe that he had inspired in me for him. Soon, an occasion arose when my colleague and friend, Tanmaya (Jean Raymond) and I were struggling to find a solution to the problem of expanding the premises of our Centre of Education. During our conversation, Tanmaya suggested that we should discuss the problem with Roger. This was the most welcome suggestion, because this provided to me a ready opportunity to seek an interview with that greatest architect. Tanmaya knew Roger quite well, and he could soon secure an appointment for us to meet him. It was a most refreshing experience, when Tanmaya and I met him at his residence in Pondicherry , not far from our Centre of Education. He was extremely warm, informal and friendly. He was unassuming and he took no time to understand the problem that we wanted to explain to him. Within a few minutes, he gave a solution, – a solution on the lines which had not appeared within the horizons of our thought and imagination. Roger was a great worshipper and creator of beauty; he could never think of patchwork or any clumsy or grotesque expansion or chopping. He suggested a beautiful architectural design of building a marvelous expansion by creating a large basement of extra-ordinary beauty. I asked him innocently, if such an underground structure could be possible. He smiled and said, “Perfectly practicable, perfectly realizable, – perhaps a model with extra-ordinary beauty, which would be a lesson for architects, for students and teachers alike.” I was amazed and thrilled, although we could never execute his idea, since the need for expansion came to be halted, when teachers of the Centre of Education showed their preference for smaller classes and the programme of new admissions came to be greatly diminished. But my first experience of Roger had left a permanent mark, and even now when I think of that experience, I feel a living impact of that freshness, that youthful smile and that spontaneous ease of a genius.

Thereafter, I did not have many occasions to be directly in touch with him. But whenever I met him, I always found in him a genius whom one cannot fathom and yet a friend, in the waters of whose affection one could easily swim. My sphere of work was far removed from Auroville, and although I felt a tremendous admiration and intimacy with the developments of the work relating to Auroville, the only time when I got the opportunity to get interwoven with a major programme of Auroville was, when the Mother assigned to Tanmaya and to me the task of organizing the participation of the youths who were to come to Auroville for depositing token soil from their respective countries in the foundational urn of Auroville on the occasion of the inauguration. The inaugural ceremony was to take place on the 28 th February, 1968 . This task had intimate connection with Roger because he was the living spirit behind the numerous activities that were connected with the gigantic inaugural ceremony.

In my own personal life and in my sadhana, this occasion was momentous. All the arrangements of the youths had to be done in Pondicherry , and it was my responsibility to ensure that all the youths assembled at the right time at our Centre of Education so that they could be transported by buses which were to be furnished by the Sri Aurobindo Society. Roger was to receive the youths at Auroville, and the rest of the ceremony was under the charge of Roger. Thus Roger and I had to synchronize very carefully many aspects of this work. But how greatly I was shocked when the Sri Aurobindo Society informed me late in the evening of the 27 th February that the buses, which the society was to arrange for the transportation of the youths, would not be made available to me, and that I should make arrangements on my own. This was a terrible disabling breach of the promise, and it put me in a gravest state of crisis. This is not the occasion to narrate this incident in detail. But as can be imagined, I would have failed miserably to transport the youth from Pondicherry to Auroville and to hand them over to the charge of Roger at the appointed hour. I almost failed. But I was seeking earnestly some miraculous help from the Mother. I knew no transport agency, and none whom I approached was better in this respect. Something seemed to be helping me to remain very quiet. It was about 1a.m. that I could reach some deep level of being where I heard the Mother telling me, “Go and meet Udar”. I went to the residence of Udar, but it was naturally all closed. It was too late to wake him up at that late hour. At 5a.m. I knocked the door of his residence. Fortunately, Udar, whom the Mother had described as a “man with golden heart”, understood my predicament and promised to help me. The time available to him was so short that it was impossible. And yet, miraculously, he succeeded. At 8a.m. the buses arrived at the gate of the Centre of Education. The time left for me to arrange was extremely short. But I received maximum help from Tanmaya and teachers and students of our Centre of Education. I gave some anxious moments to Roger, since there was considerable delay in transporting the youths to Auroville. Nonetheless, Roger, although extremely anxious, showed no impatience, when he received the youths along with me at the site of the inauguration, and outwardly nobody could detect any external sign of the delay that had occurred. Everything happened punctually, and when the Mother’s inaugural message came to be relayed from the Mother’s room at Pondicherry, there was perfect calm and serenity and nearly five thousand people who had gathered on that momentous moment of the inauguration got enveloped by vibrant and gentle breeze of ineffable delight of the creative moment. It was Roger who had designed and created the beautiful urn in which the youths were to deposit the token soil of their respective countries and were thus to gather the entire earth in that unifying vessel of the foundation of Auroville. It was Roger who had beautifully designed the pavilions around that vast ground of the inaugural site for all those who had assembled to witness that great moment of the birth of Auroville. The entire organization of the programme, the sequence and the punctuality of every unfolding moment were meticulously executed, and it was evident that Roger manifested palpably and concretely the Divine Mother’s power of perfection, – particularly the genius and skill of Mahasaraswati. I cannot forget the smiling and shining face of Roger as it seemed to me floating over the entire movement and scene of the inauguration. Yes, “the Man of the Project” was spread from that Banyan tree (the Centre of Auroville) in all the spreading circumference of Auroville.

“L’Homme de’ Projet!” – These words of the Mother for Roger sum up splendidly and gloriously all that was so beautifully packed in that great artist, visionary, sculptor and architect. Auroville, as we all know, is the Dream of God in the process of materialization on this earth. That Dream of God was articulated and firmly established on that 28 th February, 1968 , when the Mother’s Charter for Auroville was declared and relayed so that the Ideals of Auroville could echo and reecho in all the corners of the earth. To live in Auroville, the Mother had said, one must be a willing servitor of the Divine Consciousness. She had spoken of Auroville as a place of unending education and of a youth that never ages. Here was a field where one can afford to have only one allegiance, allegiance to the Truth and Truth alone; and here was a field being created for constant progress through material and spiritual researches for a living embodiment of a Human Unity.

To symbolize this aspiration preeminently was the privilege of Roger. The task that the Mother had given him for Auroville remained for decades and decades throughout his life the sovereign occupation. He tried to fulfill that task as an instrument of Sri Aurobindo and the Mother. Like all adventurers who have striven to participate in a new experiment that has universal dimensions, he had to forge ahead through enormous difficulties, internal and external. How often he used to tell me during the seven years, 2000 – 2007, when I came greatly in close touch with him: “The Mother has given me the task; would you not help me?” Indeed, he had sought help from everyone in Auroville and he had received enormous help from the team of architects and engineers of Auroville, from the organizers of Auroville, from the workers of Auroville, and from rare and capable individuals to whom Matrimandir has been the sole breath of their lives.

From 1964 to15 th January, 2008, – the date on which he left his body, his life was dedicated to Auroville, and his first priority was Matrimandir, which the Mother had described as the soul of Auroville.
The Mother had said that the first task was to accomplish Matrimandir, and that once that is done, she would do the rest.
The Mother wanted that there had to be aspiration from men and women of the world that can rise up to call down the Grace from above. For more than forty years, Matrimandir had been under construction, and the fact that this construction has at last been completed is due to the devoted labour of thousands and, priceless contributions of materials and money, as also unprecedented researches that were required in every nook and corner of the splendid edifice meant for the habitation of the Supreme Mother’s Consciousness and Force. Right from the manufacture of the crystal to the manufacture of golden leaves that shine today in the dome of the edifice, incalculable and meticulous care was bestowed on every aspect of the work by hundreds to whom Matrimandir meant a mission. And yet the one factor that gave the form to the Matrimandir, the one factor that guided Matrimandir’s overall development, and the one factor that brought about the incarnation of surpassing beauty, majestic grandeur, and immortal glory, – that factor was Roger. Before he left his body, this great genius had accomplished the mission of his life; he has left behind him a glory that will never fade.

Roger’s life was a life of great struggle: even those who appreciated him opposed him from time to time, and there were distressing moments of frustrating disappointment. From time to time, he had felt that he was not understood and that his was a voice in wilderness. And yet he was not entirely alone, and there were hundreds who admired him and were ready to collaborate. And there has been Jacqueline, a rare companion who always understood him and stood by him and shared intimately the lot of his battles. I must record my first unforgettable impression of her when I met her in Geneva . I can never forget that divine greeting, as she was taking leave of me on that day in 1985. In that greeting, there was such depth of her entire being in which one could fathom her sense of unconditional reverence for the Divine Mother’s Wisdom and Power and Love. That reverence disclosed to me the secret of her entire personality and the secret of her unfailing fidelity and service that she rendered to Roger for the fulfillment of the Divine Task that the Divine Mother had assigned to him.

In this personal tribute to Roger, I should like to narrate that episode which brought me closest to Roger. That was in the year 2001. That was the second year of my Chairmanship of Auroville Foundation. I had come to learn a great deal of the problems that the Matrimandir was confronted with. I had heard praises of Roger. I had heard criticisms of Roger. I was struggling to understand the truth beyond praises and criticisms. The cacophony in Auroville about Matrimandir and about the role of Roger in Matrimandir was so noisy that I was unable to get at that source of information where I could glimpse and understand the real truth that could unlock the great obstruction that was blocking the progression of Matrimandir. I was praying to the Mother to guide me and to help me.

That guidance came to me at an unexpected moment. On 31 st March, 2001 , I was being wheeled to the ICU, just after my heart surgery in the Apollo Hospital at Delhi . I had hardly recovered my consciousness, and as I was being put on the bed, I was just waking up from my deep slumber. Suddenly, I felt greatly gripped by intense pain. I knew that it was not physical pain; I felt that it was the pain that touched the central part of my life and work in which I was involved at that moment. I asked the Mother inwardly: “What is this pain, Mother?” The answer that I received was: “Matrimandir”. And as I looked deeply into that answer, a deep guidance flowed from my inmost being and soul. The Mother was whispering to me: “Follow Roger.” There was immense silence, and there was a deep sense of release, and my pain had vanished.

During the next six months, I followed up the revelation and the guidance that I had received through my inner experience. I critically examined all that I had heard of Roger and all that I had heard about Matrimandir, – praises and criticisms, – in a state of relentless inquiry and self-criticism. I came to the conclusion that what Roger was telling me of the Mother’s intention about Matrimandir was true, and the more I read the original statements of the Mother, the more She led me to the right path and to the real understanding of Roger. And I have deep gratification that I could become a channel of facilitating the advancement of the work of Roger regarding Matrimandir, even though I have deep regret that the harmony and unity that I had striven for earnestly could not be attained because the power of resistance to that harmony was too great.

After the expiry of my term of Chairmanship of Auroville Foundation in 2004, I have not been able to return to Auroville, but Roger and Jacqueline repeatedly asked me to be with them and to work with them for Matrimandir, for Matrimandir gardens and for Auroville as a whole. Roger and Jacqueline asked me to write to them what I thought should be the design of the Matrimandir gardens. It was a tall order, but under their loving pressure, I went on scribbling. Whatever I wrote was greatly appreciated by them. My notes are still incomplete. Whenever, however, they spoke to me on the phone, I have felt deeply moved. Roger had spoken to me from France for the last time only a few weeks ago; his voice was choked with deep emotion, when he told me that I should be with him in Auroville.

Yes, I had promised to Roger, and I shall always crave to work with him.

Roger, please accept my gratitude and my love.

Kireet Joshi, 28/1/2008

Anger’s Auroville

Architect of Auroville, Roger Anger passed away recently.
His close associate, ANUPAMA KUNDOO recalls his vision for the commune

There are few people who manage by their very existence to raise standards. Roger Anger (24.03.1923 – 15.01.2008) will be remembered as a person who set a high benchmark. An exceptional architect, he belonged to the avant-garde trend that was e merging in Paris around the mid-Fifties.

At the age of 45, Roger Anger had already executed over 50 large scale projects, and significantly contributed to modern architecture in France . A Paris guide to Modern Architecture cites seven of his projects. “Simple in conception but complex in treatment” is how his approach had been summarised in French architectural essays of that time. The most spectacular highlight of his work was L’Ile Verte, Grenoble , then the highest inhabited residential buildings in Europe , and awarded the Brussels Premier Prix International d’Architecture in 1967.

Anger’s work integrated elements of modern and abstract ornamental art. Having graduated in 1947 from the Ecole des Beaux-Arts, he was equally passionate about painting and sculpture. His studio was full of artwork that he continuously churned out in large numbers till his last days. He lately worked with recycled plastic bottles and lids, egg crates, and other ‘waste’. He had said that this was where his research for beauty was being conducted.

In 1966, he was appointed Chief Architect of Auroville. Together with Pierre Braslawski and Mario Heymann he developed a concept for the city. Anger had kick-started the experimental spirit through his earliest projects and on a barren, eroded land, sowed the seeds of architectural experiments and research for years to come.

His early houses and schools demonstrated exemplary innovations at various levels. Architects and aspirants who were absorbed into Anger’s office, earlier in Pondicherry and later in Auroville, recall the high concentration of creative energy and collective work in those early days when the excitement of this idealistic project was still fresh.

He produced proposals for other towns: Salem , Kudremukh, and Faridabad . His last project — Matrimandir — a highly complex building that could be practically hand-made, thanks to years of assistance from Jacqueline La Coste, his partner; Piero Cicionesi; and a collective effort of the residents is nearing completion in spite of difficult circumstances. For many, it is natural that such outstanding projects take years to build, but Anger maintained that this was unnecessary, and that a lot of time was being wasted.

Roger Anger, like many visionaries, faced a lot of struggle. Ever since his client, ‘the Mother’ passed away, Auroville plunged into a struggle regarding collective organisation and decision-making; and Anger’s role and authority was endlessly questioned by those residents who had comfortably settled into an organically growing settlement, originally intended and inaugurated as a planned city.

From 1978 to 1985, he had left Auroville, with a sense of hopelessness and paralysis, but reappeared when conditions seemed more favourable. Sadly, he didn’t realise any further architectural project. All his energy was spent on creating conditions for the city to come.

His responsibility was to ensure the urban form of Auroville, and his last efforts revolved around the creation of a suitable governance structure that would promote the development of a city rather than a short-sighted one suited for the day-to-day activities of a handful of people. “I am trying to save what can still be saved,” he had said. Roger Anger was a member of Auroville’s Governing Board.

Anger had hoped that the Aurovilians would manage to go beyond internal polarities between developing and remaining nostalgic, and finally unblock the city and an urban life as opposed to widespread decentralised communities.

The aim of architecture was to manifest a high standard of beauty, he said, “Beauty has the power of uplifting the consciousness, spontaneously…”

For me, he has been an intriguingly rare personality who could maintain the widest of vision and simultaneously pay attention to the smallest of details. A refined and heroic being, straight-forward and courageous, who led a disciplined balanced life, and rarely skipped his afternoon game of chess, “its one game, where nothing can occur by chance, you create everything.”