Roger Harris

In the early morning of Monday 30 March our dear and long-term friend and brother Roger Harris (USA) left his body at the age of 64 in his Prarthana apartment due to advanced lung cancer. Close friends that had been with him the days before, described him as absolutely lucid, lively, talking about “going on a journey, a short one…”, with deeply shining eyes, and ready to go.

Roger is one of Auroville’s pioneering poets who came to Auroville in the late seventies, starting out at Forecomers, from where he moved to Certitude and eventually Prarthana.  Having travelled all over the world with his diplomatic parents from a young age onward, he was well versed in languages and at home with the phenomenon of language itself. Being a writer, he extensively studied Sri Aurobindo and Mother’s work, particularly Savitri, and this, along with his direct connection with the Dalai Lama and Satprem, added to his widening inner perspective which helped him tackle personal challenges he was confronted with. His articles and poems of the time are joyous, deep and telling. His “Auroville is…” will forever be an iconic ode on the City of Dawn (see below).

Aurovilians knew him in those days as a raconteur par excellence, a dreamer visionary with a wide world of knowledge to tap and always with humour and wit. He was fun to be with, versatile, and strong in his stand for, and faith in, Auroville.

For many years, Roger was a stalwart of the Auroville Today team, lightening its meetings with his impish humour, and writing beautifully on topics as varied as ‘Avlish’ (the Auroville language), the local culture, Satprem, Tibet and, of course, his beloved Matrimandir.

In November 2012, Roger wrote in News & Notes: “Six years ago, I translated ‘The Mutation of Death’ by Satprem. I finished 2 /3 third of the book by myself. Then I had a motorcycle accident and spent six weeks in deep coma. The last two years since my exit from coma, I have experienced a mutation, a little perilous.”

And perilous has been the time indeed during which he grappled with the lost use of the right arm, some control of movement, and increasing general unease. Complaining was not his thing, he would find an outlet in his humour, faith and inner stamina. In fact, in one of his last articles he wrote, “On 29 February, 2012, the ‘Golden Day’ anniversary marking the supramental manifestation on the physical plane on the planet Earth and many universes, my mutation has become miraculous, beautiful, and strange. Before, I used to suffer from depression, but now I wake up every morning just happy to be alive and I thank sweet Mother for that.”

In 2009 AV Press Publishers published a compilation of his work “Alchemies of the Night”, described as “a collection of poems permeated with music. They are songs of an elegant journeyman: sometimes romantic and elegiac, sometimes sensuous and joyful and sometimes powerfully mystical.” That was Roger full out. The book was launched at end of October that year during an evening of poetry, held in the Tibetan Pavilion, where Roger read some of the work, highlighting it from his everlasting perspective of humour.

Now he is free from an increasingly more stressful physical condition. We let him go home with deep gratitude and love; – you will not be forgotten, Roger.

Our condolences go out to his to sisters Alison and Julia who always stayed in touch and visited regularly, and his close friends Ann R, Marush and Olivier, as well as to his caretakers Ilango and Kumar.

Jay MA~


Auroville is…

Auroville is a prayer and a curse
A suspicious sidelong glance
An explosion of silent love.
A temple in the sun
A fractured broken jar
A whisper in the wind
A laughter and a song
A strong fraternal clasp
A blasphemy of the gods.
A golden-bodied truth
A prayer beyond the stars
A battlefield of bliss.
A child against the sun
A golden thought unsung
A flame that is a cry,
Towards an unknown earth
That in our hearts does rest
And slowly comes to birth
Breaking slowly forth.

Roger Harris



We are requested to particularly confirm that his passing is due to a longstanding illness and NOT due to Covid-19.

Jayram

It is with shock that we inform the community of the sudden passing of Jayram (Jayaraman Ramalingam) of Arka who, complaining of chest pains, was taken in the evening of 17 March by his family to Nallam Clinic and from there to General Hospital where he left his body around 9pm due to heart attack. On investigation it was discovered that he must have suffered various silent attacks before. He was 38 years old.

Hailing from Kuilyapalayam, Jayram attended New Creation School where he got to know Maria Grazia, who was teacher there at the time. Subsequently he followed an electronics course, worked at New Creation’s swimming pool and always remained in touch with Auroville. At the age of 25 he officially joined and started working at Arka, eventually becoming its manager and executive. Many of our guests will remember him for his ultra-patient, friendly and gentle way of managing things, in a seemingly roundabout way but always having things in strict order.

These last years, Jayram and his wife Ramana lived in Realization with their little son Sanjit going to Nandanam school. His passing is a terrible loss for them, as well as for Arka’s Krishnan and Maria Grazia, who have taken them up as family. Our heartfelt condolences go out to them and other family members in Auroville.

Jayram’s body remained at his brother’s house in Kuilyapalayam near Auroville Bakery during Wednesday 18th, and was cremated at 5pm at Kuilyapalayam’s mandappam.

Farewell Jayram, Auroville and many of its guests will remember you and salute you.

OM~

Mani of FoodLink (G Gnanamani)

This is to inform the community that our good friend Mani (G Gnanamani) of Foodlink passed away in the morning of 20 February succumbing to injuries suffered by a car accident on ECR road the day before. His remains were cremated on 21st in Chinnamudaliyarchavadi. He was 38 years old.

Although he never officially joined Auroville, Mani was known to many who frequented FoodLink, where he was a steady and responsible presence since February 2012. Most of the FoodLink clients may know him from the FoodLink desk, registering their selected items in a friendly and totally concentrated way; his colleagues describe him as a very honest and straightforward person, always serious but also great fun to be with, and who will be sorely missed.

Mani leaves behind his wife and two young children in Bharatipuram. Our heartfelt condolences with this terrible loss go out to them as well as to the FoodLink team.

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.

Christian Koradi

In the evening of Friday 17 January, our Aurovilian brother Christian Koradi left his body at his home in Prarthana, at the age of 69. Suffering from severe back pain, he had been treated in Santé since June last year for Arteritis Temporalis (Giant Cell Arteritis), a rare auto-immune vasculitis. In his last days, his condition aggravated and he may have succumbed to an acute flare up of the same. His dedicated house worker and AVHS Dr Amarnath were with him at the time.

Born in Zurich, Switzerland, Christian came first to Auroville in 2003. He became Aurovilian in 2006 while working at Matrimandir Nursery where he was in charge of the hibiscus section for several years. Later he mainly stayed at his home in Prarthana, living a rather solitary life, maintaining his garden with great love and care, meditating and studying Sri Aurobindo’s and Mother’s works, and often visiting the Chamber.

Christian unexpectedly passed away – may his inner connection guide him straight to the Light. His remains were cremated in the late afternoon of Tuesday 21 January at Auroville’s mandappam near Adventure. Our condolences go out to his ex-wife Denise and son Daniel.

Ingo H.W. Torp

In the morning of Tuesday 7 January 2020, our good friend and brother Ingo H.W. Torp left his body at the age of 77 in Santé, after staying two days in the ICU in PIMS. Ingo had a weakened body due to a chronic heart condition, and succumbed to pneumonia gone septic. Some of his friends were with him during the time of transition.

Born in Riga, Latvia, Ingo grew up Germany. Being a teacher, and hearing about Auroville’s educational system, he came first to Auroville in 1976. As there were no schools functioning yet at the time, he stayed and worked in Forecomers and Success and got interested in homeopathy. During the turmoil that plagued AV those days, Ingo moved to New Community in Certitude to eventually leave in 1984. He got married and worked in Hamburg as a school teacher while becoming a Heilpraktiker and deepening his knowledge of homeopathy. In 1996 he founded, along with others, the SdH-Hamburg, a school of homeopathy where he worked as lecturer and teacher. He also worked as archivist at the Norddeutscher Rundfunk (NDR). In 2009 he returned to Auroville where he lived in the Needam premises in Certitude.

Aurovilians got to know him as a concerned and apt homeopath, as member of the Residents’ Service team, as a mouth organ player ready to jive with groups in concerts, and as an actor in various theatre plays. Last month, already in weakened condition, he insisted on still playing the burglar role in ‘Noises on, Noises off’.

Ingo’s body was taken to the Farewell Centre on the Crown Road, where friends could bid a last farewell. In the afternoon of Sunday 12 January, the burial took place at Auroville’s burial grounds, with his two sons from Germany and friends attending.

Farewell, Ingo. Thank you for having come back and for again sharing your energies with Mother’s city. May you rest in peace.

* * *

From Peter Conradi:

After hearing about my great-uncle Ingo’s death last night, I’m trying to learn more about his recent years in Auroville. His last sign of life came to me from May 1, 2019 when he was in Hamburg, as so often. For many years I met my great-uncle there earlier and developed a trusting relationship with him, which has been lost for about 10 years. I still see with great admiration how much he committed himself to Auroville as a definite life’s work, and I wish the community Auroville all the best!

Heinrich K Weihrauch

On Wednesday evening, December 25th 2019, our friend and brother Heinrich K Weihrauch peacefully passed away in his Auromodèle home at the age of 81. He had suffered a number of strokes since 2010.

Born in Heidelberg, Germany, Heinrich met his future wife Chantal (Shanta) Gowa in 1980 in France and, having lived in Germany for some 10 years, they came to India in ’91. Heinrich became Aurovilian in ’96. Being a qualified allopathic physician, he later became a homeopath and naturopath as well. Moreover, he was a fervent pianist and cello player, giving many public performances over the years. His last public performance was just around a year ago in Cripa and he was working on the next.

With his open and friendly personality, Auroville will remember him with love, and with gratitude for sharing moments of his fine, musical joy with us all.

Having laid in Auroville’s Farewell Centre for a last viewing and visit, Heinrich’s remains were cremated in the afternoon of Sunday, 29 December, at the Auroville cremation grounds with friends and family attending.

Our warmest condolences go out to his wife Shanta, son Coriolan, and son Bernhard and brother Manfred (the latter two in Europe) and his grandchildren.