Joan Tomb

A friend, mentor, and guardian angel to many in Auroville. Joan was a strikingly beautiful, generous, strong, independent woman.

Joan heard of the Mother through Dietra (Claire Worden), and in ‘71 she and June Maher traveled together to India to meet the Mother.

On 2nd April 1972, June excitedly phoned Joan and read out this message from Mother:
“It is the hour to be heroic. Heroism in full sincerity.”
“Heroism is not what it is said to be, it is to become wholly unified.”
“We are here to prepare the way for the new creation. For centuries and centuries humanity has waited for this time. You are here at this moment, that is to say on earth, because you chose it at one time. You do not remember it anymore, but I know it. That is why you are here. Well, you must strive, you must conquer all weaknesses and limitations, above all you must tell your ego: ‘Your hour has gone.’ It is the Divine Consciousness which will allow the race to develop itself and the supramental being to take birth.”

Joan later wrote, “Not sure how June received this. We were both very moved. It strengthened the bond that we both felt….and affirmed that ‘YES’, we took birth so as to participate in this work, this process. Not really knowing what it actually meant….to be wholly unified with the new Consciousness…. [which was ] part of the inner process.”

“A year later in ‘72 I left with 3 of my 4 children by ship as a spectacular pink/orange sun set behind us over the San Francisco bridge. Later I learned that color was the shade Mother designated as the Auroville hibiscus.” It became Joan’s favorite color to wear.

In the early years, Joan drove a small moped from Pondy to Auroville. Staying stretches of time in Forecomers, she soon moved to Auroville as a resident. Living in her treehouse, she worked with Pierre Elouard to design and build her house and named the place Recueillement. She always had an open door and a big heart. There were toys in the guest room for children who visited, food in the kitchen, and a comfortable chair to sit on.

For many years, she travelled back and forth from the US to Auroville, and in early 2011, Joan came back to Auroville for the last time, cleared out her house, and handed over the keys to the housing group.

Shortly before her 80th birthday Joan wrote, “Although I miss the babies born in Auroville and the close expressions of spiritual family there, here is the best home for me now. My spiritual family in Auroville live forever here in my heart wherever I reside. I feel the Mother’s presence at work, arranging even details of my life, which was my experience in Auroville as well. So, while the outward has changed, my inner life is the same.”

Joan, at the age of 85, left her body at 3:30 pm on June 23 in her apartment in Tucson Arizona with 3 of her 4 children by her side. She leaves behind 4 children (Laura, Leslie, David, Libby), 4 grandchildren (Pavan, Varun, Ezra, Anna), her son-in-law (Leo Katz), and a great grandson ( Leo Dennis Katz Costa), a grandson in law ( Nic Costa), and 2 life companions (Paul Pinthon and Zach).

Thank you Joan for being a profound part of this spiritual family. We wish you light and joy in your next adventure. Remain close to the Mother.


Joan talking about her life from Auroville Archives


Arya Maloney

We have been informed that Arya (Charles William) Maloney, USA, passed away on 17 April due to a long-term illness. He had just become 80 years old.

While at Columbia University (NYC) working toward his doctorate, he came across Sri Aurobindo’s work which would entirely direct his further life. Already in the late 70’s-early 80’s he was facilitating groups to study the Integral Yoga in Woodstock (NY).

At the end of 1983 he came, along with his then partner Marlenka and 8-year old Ashaman (who both had lived here in the seventies) to Auroville and stayed with them in Verité. A year later he returned to USA where he worked in the various fields of science, philosophy, psychology and spirituality as a teacher and psychologist. His book, Alchemy of the Soul— based on his life, work and spiritual exploration is his contribution to the field of transpersonal psychology.

While he lived in Auroville only shortly,  residents remember him as a caring teacher and effective therapist. Abroad, his wide range of influence enabled Sri Aurobindo’s and Mother’s yoga and vision to find access to innumerable young and open minds.

Jay MA~


We here particularly confirm that her passing is NOT due to Covid-19.

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.

Vijayamala

This is to inform that on Tuesday 26 May, Ms Vijayamala Ganapatarao, a long-term volunteer at New Creation’s Creche and Boarding School, passed away due to heart attack at Jipmer at the age of 51.

Mala came from the Sri Aurobindo Ashram in 2000 and has been living and working in New Creation, co-running the Boarding School with MarieBabu ever since. Always smiling, she was a gentle, kind person who became a beloved member of the NC family. Her gift was art which she shared with countless children as well as at various Auroville events, exhibitions and marathons. She also taught New Creation’s children French, Hindi, painting, drawing, stitching and other artistic activities.

As her health became an issue. Mala spent more time doing her own craft, working from home, but would still assist and help the children as much as possible with their daily homework and art.

Mala will be deeply missed by all New Creation’s family members, young and old.

Her remains were buried at Auroville’s burial grounds in the evening of May 26th

OM~


We here particularly confirm that her passing is NOT due to Covid-19.

Uschi Ernst

Long-term Friend of Auroville and AVI member Uschi Ernst, passed away on Sunday 3 May at the age of 80. Her health had been gradually weakening this last half year.

Uschi, and husband Helmut Ernst, have been closely connected to Sri Aurobindo and the Mother since the sixties. They were active members of AVI Germany and would regularly participate in the various AVI meetings in Auroville and/or abroad. They built a house in Grace in the mid-nineties which they co-stewarded throughout the years while yearly visiting for some weeks.

Uschi was an energetic woman, an enthusiast trumpet player, and warmly received visiting Aurovilians in her large, plant & flower rich Frankfurter home.

Our warmest condolences go out to Helmut and their U.K.based daughter Dorothee and family, who will sorely miss her. Be in peace, dear Uschi.

Jay MA~


Roma Hira

In the later afternoon of 25 April, our good friend and sister Roma Hira (of Roma’s Kitchen) peacefully left her body at her home in Dana due to renal failure with which she had been struggling since a while. She would have turned 73 in September this year.

Hailing from Calcutta, Roma first visited Pondicherry in 1975. This was a seminal moment which cemented her connection and commitment to Sri Aurobindo’s world view. Thereafter, she became a very good friend of Auroville, offering support and material encouragement at a moment when Auroville was going through hard times.

In 1980, in an attempt to improve Auroville’s image in India, a multiple city tour of what was called the Auroville Today Exhibition was arranged by JRD Tata. And Roma was the point person for its Calcutta leg, hosting many of the Aurovilians at her flat. Her Calcutta house subsequently became the pied-à-terre for Aurovilians travelling to Calcutta.

In those early years, Roma used her dynamism and her many connections in the Indian commercial and administrative world to help Auroville’s fledgling commercial units with their marketing and clientele. It was in the mid ’80’s that Roma moved permanently to Auroville and soon after settled into her home in Dana while continuing her work with Auroville’s commercial units, which activity she never stopped. In the first years she was involved in Aurelec’s purchasing department, after which she skillfully functioned as Maroma’s manager for years. She officially joined as Aurovilian in 1992.

Roma was a foodie – she was a chef par excellence- and she liked nothing better than to feed people. To start with she coordinated the food arrangements for seminars and meetings that Auroville hosted (such as the Peace Trees seminars). And people will remember the meticulous planning and rigorous hygiene standards she brought to these events.

Her dream was to have her own restaurant and this was fulfilled when she took charge of what came to be famously known as Roma’s Kitchen in Auromodèle, a place with a reputation for serving gourmet Indian food. Roma’s Kitchen has been featured in magazines and has had a well-deserved recognition for food quality. Over the years, it has hosted and catered to all the important visitors to Auroville.

We let her go with our heartfelt respect and appreciation, knowing that now is her time to receive well-earned sustenance of the highest order. Farewell, dear Roma.

OM~

Roma’s remains were cremated in the morning of Sunday 26 April at Auroville’s mandappam.


We here particularly confirm that her passing is NOT due to Covid-19.

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