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.

Henk van Putten

Our Dutch friend and brother Henk van Putten left his body on Saturday 16 February, at the age of 82. He had been taken to PIMS due to an asthma induced lung complication that flared up after his recent return from Holland. His son Jeroen and nephew Dirk were with him at the moment of passing.

Henk, and his late wife Agnus Gastmans, came to Auroville since 2001 and joined in 2004 for good. Both accomplished artists, they settled in Petite Ferme where they created their art as well. Henk was a quite known designer and sculptor, who worked with various materials such as steel, stone, bronze and wood to form the building blocks of his sculptures and multi-dimensional objects. One finds a good number of his large structures in Auroville, in Visitors’ Centre, along the roads, in gardens and other places. Not a very socially active person, Henk was totally dedicated to his work and was a much-asked artist participating in exhibitions and art fairs across Europe. In 2014 his work ‘Stretching’ won the Liu Kaiqu Excellence Award, Wuhu, China.

After a few days in the Farewell Centre, Henk’s remains were buried at the Auroville burial grounds in the afternoon of 19 February.

Saluting Henk and thanking him for his beautiful art that may enliven Auroville’s landscapes for eons to come, our warmest condolences go out to his son Jeroen and daughter Marjolein in Holland, as well as to Walter and Tina and the wider Gastmans family here on site.


A short interview of Henk talking about his work: