Ellen

Ellen Eckelmann had an epileptic crisis on the 28th of March and two days later she left her body in her New Community home in Certitude. She was surrounded by her loved ones, her friends, the animals and bird song she loved so much. She was 79 and had been unwell since a motorcycle accident in June 2020.

Ellen born in Berlin, Germany, came to Auroville in 1981 and was involved in the difficult situation of Auroville at the time. She had an export unit, brand Cocoon, and supplied residents with a range of finely tailored clothing items, manufactured from her New Community tailoring workshop; after which she went into theatre production resulting in a varied collection of well executed performances by Aurovilians.

During that period, the large New Community building with its various rooms, was transformed into a guesthouse. In October 2020, a new unexpected project took place at New Community. Patricia, introduced by Miriam, her mentor at that time, suggested to help Ellen to enliven the place. The idea was to welcome Newcomers, offering them a space of listening and sharing, as a support to accompany them in their Newcomer process; benevolence, mutual help and openness were the qualities selected to explore in New Community. The project was born. Then Veronese completed the team, and the Housing Service gave it its stamp as a Newcomer Community. Rapidly, some Newcomers interested in this community way of living, moved into the apartments of New Community. Ellen, intensely grateful and happy with the idea, could now let go, but her health condition started to shift in another way. All the members of New Community gave time to support and care for her.

Despite her persistent state of fatigue and Alzheimer’s, the relationship built with her was beautiful. We mutually supported each other; the new residents by our presence and care, and Ellen by her openness, her beauty, her inner light and unconditional love which she would, without fail, give us day after day. Her beauty and tenderness filled our hearts.

Ellen’s remains were cremated at the Auroville Cremation Grounds in the late afternoon of Sunday 4 April. Our warmest condolences go out to daughter Miriam, (ex)husband Thomas and other good friends.

OM~

Menaig

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

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

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

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

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

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

OM~

Dany Foureau

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

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

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

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

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

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

OM~

Matthias

In the morning of 30 January, our dear friend and longtime brother Matthias Achenbach passed away in his room at Mahalakshmi Home, ending a year-long process with cancer metastases in lungs and brain. He had just celebrated his 74th birthday a good week ago with all his close friends attending.

Having completed his studies in Physics and Pedagogy at Frankfurt’s Main University, Matthias started out as an electro-mechanic in Frankfurt to then pretty soon create his own ‘Achenbach Sprachlehranlagen’ company which manufactured language laboratories for Lufthansa, Bosch, Siemens etc.

In his own words: “Very early I developed a fetish for all things technical and I liked to play guitar and double-bass and joined a pop-band and later a jazz-band, where I fell in love with the singer and she became my first wife. Then I became a private and commercial pilot, and started my first own company producing language-laboratories.
In 1977, when I had just become 30 years of age, I travelled for the first time to India with a German jazz band (Barrelhouse Jazzband from Frankfurt – they still play!). I very much liked it there and inquired how one could live there. We were playing for the German Cultural Institutes and it happened just then, that they needed a new Regional Engineer for South Asia. I immediately applied for the job and by end 1977 I was posted to New Delhi with the Goethe Institute (Max Mueller Bhavan) for the next 5 years.”

While stationed in Delhi, Matthias with his (second) wife Marusch got to know about Auroville and at times Aurovilians would stay in their house. The result was that the pair joined Auroville on 28 February 1984, and soon Matthias gravitated towards Aurelec where computers were made. Having worked there several years, he formed his own ‘Altecs Energy Systems’, which produced solar-charge-controllers, PL-lamps and inverters enabling more than 100 totally self-sufficient solar houses in Auroville. The unit manufactured its own Inverters from 80VA to 5kVA and installed solar-pumps in and around Auroville. For this, he thoroughly taught and trained a large team of young aspiring Tamils who still see him as their guru. On top of that, Matthias built the multi-storey Altecs building in Auroshilpam where he lived with Dodo, as well as the Kailash Youth complex on the Crown Road. He later moved to Hope.

Naturally, being the open, good willing and authentic person he was, Matthias has been approached till the very end for his knowledge and expertise in electronic and other matters, and which he always readily shared. In the beginning of 2020 his physical problems started, and after a first operation he quietly moved to Mahalakshmi Home where he was warmly received. Very often surrounded by close friends, with whom he had good communications and understanding and who helped him prepare for this challenging phase of his life, he was clear-headed, ready and faithful to go.

Thank you for having been with us, Matthias, you definitely left a footprint and will so often be remembered. Our warmest condolences go out to Marusch, Dodo and Ingrida, as well as to his sister and brothers in Germany, and all his other close friends. He’s now in the Light.

OM~

Peter Kuhrt / Stream

This is to inform the community that our old friend and pioneer-brother Peter Kuhrt  – also known as Stream –  passed away on 28 January in a Munich hospital due to heart failure. He was 76.

Peter came to Auroville with the Caravan of 1969, together with Michel Klostermann, Christl, Joachim and Dorothee Hach. The group of Munich friends had read about the inauguration of Auroville in a German magazine and decided then and there to come. They had written to the Sri Aurobindo Society but never received an answer, so they just started off in an old VW bus, driving overland for 6 weeks and reaching Pondy in November 1969. In due time the group was assigned some accommodation in Auroville’s Aspiration.

Originally born in East-Prussia, Peter had grown up and studied in Germany. In Auroville he stayed for quite a few years in Aspiration, doing garden work, working at the then AuroPolyester unit, and growing more into his passion of painting. Later on, he lived for some time in the Pump House and in Existence (naming it ‘Edge of Existence’).

Residents who know him from that time remember him as a quiet, interiorised person, very gentle and kind-hearted. They observed that the intensity of his inner life came through in his art, and that he, as an artist, saw himself in a state of transition, without thinking to have “already arrived”. He considered such thinking as the greatest danger to creativity, to the gift of his life which he so abundantly had received with great gratitude. That he took on the name ‘Stream’ may have to do with this transitory stance.

After some ten years he left, feeling unsupported and insecure, realising that Auroville at that stage was not a place for artists. Friends who knew him in his later years in Germany, tell us that he lived his life as an artist to the bone – no cell phone and internet, utmost simplicity and only concerned with painting – which was his yoga. A strong yoga which carried him throughout. He was a true and faithful soul and Aurovilian until his last breath.

OM~

S. Bhavani Shankar

This is to inform the community, that our beloved Manager Mr. S. Bhavani Shankar, a senior Aurovilian, who worked with us from March’1991 to October’2011, has passed away peacefully in his native place Kurnool Dist, Andra Pradesh on Monday 03rd January 2021. He was accompanied by his Son and Daughter.

He was a diploma holder in Mechanical Engineering and worked as a Principal in a Private I.T.I. firm at Kurnool District. He also represented Senior State Volley Ball team of Andra Pradesh. After becoming the devotee of the Mother and Sri Aurobindo, Mr. Bhavani Shankar had come to visit the Ashram during his early days.

After that he joined Auroville in the year 1991 and stayed in Promesse community from his early days till 2011, when first he left Auroville due to elderly age problem. Then he returned back to Auroville after 2 years and started staying in Inspiration Community and stayed there until 2018, when he finally left Auroville again due to his age.

We, the Staff of Auroville Electrical Service, along the whole community of Auroville extend our deepest condolences to the bereaved family members and pray for him and his family members.

REST IN PEACE, SIR.
Auroville Electrical Service