In Memoriam: Shraddhavan

Shraddhavan is the Sanskrit name given by the Mother in June 1972 to a young Englishwoman who left her country to join the upcoming project of Auroville in 1970. Shraddhavan means ‘one who has faith in the higher being’. She fully embraced her name.

She was born Anne Margret Robinson on June 4th, 1942. Her father was a protestant pastor and her mother, Winnie (known to many in Auroville), was a teacher. Before leaving England, she studied English Language and Literature as well as Library Science at Bristol University. Before coming to Auroville she traveled extensively throughout Europe, Asia, including India, and Australia.

When she arrived in Pondicherry in November 1970, she was sent by the Mother to Auroville to teach in the newly started school in Aspiration.

In Last School 1974

But the work for which she will always be remembered is her work as Project Coordinator of Savitri Bhavan, which along with her partner, Helmut, she built up from its inception.

Savitri Bhavan

Shraddhavan undertook an in-depth study of the works of Sri Aurobindo and The Mother. She was a teacher, a poet (she published a book of her poems ‘Stars in the Soup’), a translator, a researcher, an efficient administrator, and above all a great sadhak. Several of her poems, stories, essays, articles, and book reviews have been published in the Ashram journal Mother India, Heritage magazine, Collaboration, etc. She was the editor of the journal Invocation: Study notes on Savitri. She has been honored with the ‘Auro-Ratna Award’ by the Overman Foundation on 18 November 2012.

Shraddhavan conducted classes on The Life Divine, Essays on the Gita and Savitri. Many AVI centres were happy to have hosted her for her classes in their countries and via Zoom link. They continue with regular classes guided by Shraddhavan’s books and videos.

Savitri Study Group in Holland

The depth of her understanding of Sri Aurobindo’s mantric epic poem Savitri was reflected in her classes, the joy her students experienced during her Sunday Savitri Study Circle, which have been going on for the last 25 years, and her ‘English of Savitri’ classes.

The Savitri Study Circle

Her sentence by sentence explanations of Sri Aurobindo’s great epic have been transcribed into 12 volumes, the last two volumes are in the stage of publication. They are an unparalleled guide for Savitri lovers around the globe.  Shraddhavan declared that this was her life’s work.

Late last year, she gradually began to fade away and left her body on July 19th 2022 aged 80 years.

As the Mother wrote in Prayers and Meditations:

Some give their soul to the Divine, some their life, some offer their work, some their money, a few consecrate all of themselves and all they have – soul, life, work, wealth; these are the true children of God.

Shraddhavan – A True Child of the Mother

Helmut, Judith and Dhanalakshmi
on behalf of the Savitri Bhavan Team

Shraddhavan

This is to inform the community that our sister Shraddhavan of Savitri Bhavan on 19 July 2022 left her body in the Sri Aurobindo’s Nursing Home where she had been taken several weeks ago. She just had become 80 years old. In November 1970 she came to Pondicherry and met the Mother who accepted her for Auroville.

Shraddhavan has been with us since 1971 and was the initiative taker of Savitri Bhavan and its main guiding force.

Our gratitude and prayers go with her.

OM~


Shree Krishna, Himself has pronounced the term ‘Shraddhavan’ (Adorer) while narrating the Bhagavad Gita.

‘The one who performs Bhakti is a Bhakta. However, we must not forget that the one who remains within the Devotion Sentience (Bhaktibhav Chaitanya) is the real Bhakta that is – the ‘Shraddhavan’.

Shraddhavan is the Sanskrit name given in June 1972 by the Mother to an English woman who joined Auroville in 1970. After studying English Language and Literature at Bristol University in the U.K., she travelled extensively in Europe, Asia and Australia before coming to Auroville, where she lived ever since, played the role as an educator, translator, editor and writer. Several of her poems, stories, essays and book reviews have been published in the Ashram journal Mother India as well as in Heritage magazine.

Since August 1999 she had been the Project Coordinator of Savitri Bhavan, a centre of Sri Aurobindo and The Mother Studies which is a unit of SAIIER (Sri Aurobindo International Institute of Educational Research). She edited the Savitri Bhavan’s journal, Invocation: study notes on Savitri and led study courses on Savitri and The Life Divine.


ABOUT SAVITRI BHAVAN

We dream of an environment in Auroville
that will breathe the atmosphere of Savitri
that will welcome Savitri lovers from every corner of the world
that will be an inspiring centre of Savitri studies
that will house all kinds of materials and activities to enrich
our understanding and enjoyment of Sri Aurobindo’s revelatory epic.
that will be the abode of Savitri, the Truth that has come
from the Sun.

Shraddhavan (for Invocation journal)

submitted by Uma
Melin, Shraddhavan’s friend and collaborator

Trini Blanch

This just in from our friends of AVI Spain:

On July 4, 2022, our beloved friend and soul sister Trini Blanch, has left her body, at age 57. She leaves with a suitcase loaded with love, light, constancy and delivery. For AVI Spain she has always been an example and a fundamental pillar for the tenacity of the Centre’s aspiration and dedication to the Divine. She leaves a deep imprint on all of us. We beg Mother to keep her in her lap.

We here share with you the link of her blog ‘La Flama d’Auroville’ https://laflamadauroville.blogspot.com/

OM~

Daniel Brewer

This is to inform the community that in the late afternoon of July 3rd Daniel Brewer, one of Auroville’s early pioneers and co-founder of Kottakarai community, passed away at the age of 84 in his home in Sayulita, Mexico.

As so many individuals in those days, Daniel left his home place in southern California in the mid-sixties and started traveling eastwards overland from Europe, arriving in India in 1969. A year later he joined, along with his then partner Iris and young son Mitra, the early residents living in the ‘Silence’ community, located at the site of the then still future Bharat Nivas. Understanding that they would have to vacate when construction began, and armed with Auroville property maps, the small team went on the look-out for a place to start a new living space. When they found a suitable location just outside Kottakarai village, and Mother gave her blessing for the same, the beginning of Kottakarai community started in close collaboration with the villagers nearby.

As Andrea, Daniel’s wife once reminisced in an AVI USA’s newsletter: “Daniel’s gracious relation with the villagers! Tamil is one of the oldest living languages on the planet and exceedingly complicated. Daniel spoke Tamil with surprising fluency, even able to make jokes. Besides being involved with planting trees and care of the land, he had become the local cobbler. He was making handsome leather sandals for any and all who needed them, including the villagers who were quite amazed that this vele karan (white man) would stoop to a work that was normally only done by Harijans, the outcasts. Small wonder that the villagers adored Daniel. We couldn’t have had a better ambassador for Auroville in the village of Kottakarai.” “His trips to the village tea stall were essential…” observed another friend of that time.

Daniel built a house on the edge of the large grove of silk-cotton trees and made Auroville his home for the next 8 years, enormously helping Kottakarai community to come about with his hands-on skills, practical experience and always willing demeanour. He has 4 children, three of whom were born in India,  lived in Mexico for the last 22 years and stayed always in touch with the City of Dawn.

We salute a long-ago comrade, with our warmest condolences to his family and his remaining friends in Auroville.

OM~

In the early days of Auroville – Daniel, Hiranya and Hosiah (the donkey)

Marion

This is to inform the community that our dear friend and sister Marion Maekin passed away by suicide in the morning of Monday 13 June. She was 72 years old, and had been struggling with clinical depression.

Originally from UK, Marion came to Auroville in 2014 with her husband Tony, and officially joined in 2016. With her straightforward, direct and friendly nature, she was a much-appreciated teacher in several of our schools and other educational projects, took part in the Aikiyam support group, was involved with the Farewell team as well as with the Tibetan Pavilion, and functioned as a lively and hands-on member of the Auroville child protection group.

Many of us will remember her from the road, on her three-wheeler scooter with on the back her elderly husband Tony, whom she always surrounded and treated with the utmost love and care.

Our warmest condolences and strength go out to Tony and family members abroad, as well as her friends here in Auroville.

May you find peace, dear Marion.

OM~

To remember her, enjoy her choice of music and comments on https://www.aurovilleradio.org/soul-tracks-se2-ep-7-music-from-marion/ recorded in March ’21.

Laura Mosci

This is to inform the community that on June 7th our good friend Laura Nina Mosci passed away in Italy after coping with cancer for several years. She was 62.

Nina joined Auroville in 2001 and was involved in various activities for the community.

We remember her for her spontaneity and zest, and her lively participation in community life.

May her soul have a peaceful journey.

OM~

Auralee

We have been informed that one of the earlier Aurovilians and dear friend Auralee (Audrey McCormick) left her body in the early morning of Wednesday 25 May, in Montreal, Canada.  She was 77, and had been treated for cancer.

Auralee came to Auroville for the first time in 1986, with her two sons, Michale (Shwetaketu) and John. After her keet house in Fertile had burned down, she went back to Canada to return with Shweta in 1996 when she moved into Vikas. During her years here, she worked at Pour Tous, and later as secretary to the Entry Service. Colleagues remember her as an alert, pleasant and friendly person to work with. She and Shwetaketu left Auroville around 2010 for the latter’s higher studies.

Auralee was a serious practitioner of Sri Aurobindo’s Yoga. We join her family’s and friends’ prayers for her soul’s peaceful journey ahead.

OM~

Peter Holl

In the late afternoon of Wednesday, 25 May, our long-term pioneer friend and brother Peter Holl passed away in a hospice in Hamburg after coping with cancer for more than a year. He was 74.

Having been part of a Sri Aurobindo study group in Berlin in the very early seventies, ‘Peti’ as he was called (pronounce Peetee), left his job in the banking world, had his father drive him to the autobahn and hitchhiked overland to India, arriving in the Ashram in 1972 where he received Mother’s darshan and lived for some time. At the end of the 70s, after a track in the Himalayas which he made with Helmut whom he knew from the Berlin study group, the two came to Auroville and started the community of Grace in 1979 by building the first keet huts and digging a well.

Being passionately in love with homeopathy, Peti qualified himself thoroughly by following schools and courses in various countries and certainly India. Between his many activities –  such as football and several long bike hikes with his Aurovilian mountain biker friends in the Himalayas, an occasional theatre stint, his lively partnership with Brazilian singer Eliane and walks with Sri M – he functioned as a much appreciated homeopathic therapist, whose calm and subtle healing power and advice touched many. He will be sorely missed.

Peti’s sporting life ended by a fall some fifteen years ago, severely injuring a shoulder, but after recovery he continued his work as therapist with Auroville’s holistic Integral Health centre. When visiting his family in 2020, and discovering the onset of his illness, he was most distraught not to be able to return to Auroville because of the covid epidemic. His love and commitment to the Auroville experiment, its yoga and high call was always up front and guided him through the challenge of these last years. As he wrote last month from Hamburg to a close Auroville friend: “My only recipe now is surrender…, surrender, surrender…”

Thank you, dear Peti, for having been with us so long. May you be hiking the spheres with Godspeed till your return to the City of Dawn.

Our warmest condolences go out to his siblings Marianne and Hans, who have closely stood by him these last years.

OM~

Bhaga

In the early morning of Wednesday 18 May, our dear friend and sister Bhaga (Christiane Odile Gabriau) peacefully left her body at the age of 77 in her Luminosity flat.  She had been experiencing cancer during the last year, working on it with her cellular consciousness and insight gained through intense evolutive research throughout her life.

Bhaga, French-born in Algeria, came to Auroville in August 1972. Starting off as a second-language French teacher in various of Auroville’s budding schools of that time, and working at Matrimandir, she gradually veered towards a deep and thorough research into Sri Aurobindo’s and Mother’s teachings. This resulted in her initiating in 1984 the ‘Laboratory of Evolution – Centre for Human Unity’ (LOE-CHU), then located at Bharat Nivas, from where she also started her extensive compilation of Mother’s Words on Auroville.  The Centre evolved throughout the years and still functions today. Many of us remember her from her abode at ‘Repos’ at the beach where she lived for 18 years until the sea took over.

With her animating, always smiling and outgoing nature, Bhaga will be remembered for her many workshops, talks, private consultancies and web communications and for her persistent work in the light of our Integral Yoga.

Fare well, dear Bhaga, thank you for having held the torch for the true nature of the Auroville experiment throughout your years, and for your determined inner work. May it come to fruition.

OM~

Luigi

This is to inform the community that in the morning of Wednesday 4 May, Luigi Zanzi’s body was found by a friend in his Citadines apartment. He had been struggling with his health for quite some time, and would have been 70 this year.

Luigi was one of Auroville’s more striking figures who played many a role in Auroville’s development. Hailing from Ravenna, Italy, where he undertook humanistic studies at the Bologna University, he came to Auroville when he was 22 and joined a few years later, becoming an ardent developer, fundraiser and networker. In 1980 he started the development of Transformation in the Cultural Zone, from 1987 till 89 he took care of the Matrimandir Nursery. From 1990 onwards he coordinated Auroville’s Future, and was project manager of two Asia Urbs projects while participating as a speaker for Auroville at numerous national and international conferences and exhibitions both in and outside Auroville.  In liaison with UNESCO and the Government of India, he has been instrumental in raising funds for several projects and events in Auroville. After serving in the Auroville Planning and Development group, he functioned in his later years as executive of Auroservice, continuing his network from there.

We salute yet another member of the Old Guard. Our warmest condolences go out to his sister Diana, daughter Auroyami  and her mom Aryamani, and his niece Divya.

OM~