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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~

Eric Ramanujam

On 19 March this year, Eric Ramanujam passed away at the age of 58 in PIMS where he had been taken due to advanced jaundice. While perhaps not having met him in person, many of us know his beautiful and educative wild life stone paintings placed in Pitchandikulam, at the visitors walk way to VC, as well as at the ECR toll plaza. Starting out at Aranya in 2000, where he studied, drew and wrote about the Indian Horned Eagle for several years, he later moved to Pitchandikulam where he was employed as wildlife biologist. His detailed, gentle drawings, combining black and white ink with colour, are found in scientific articles, books and papers all over India. A detailed obituary by India’s Sanctuary Nature Foundation is given here below.

Thank you, Eric. May you be in peace.

OM~

Obituary by Prasad Natarajan of the Sanctuary Nature Foundation.

Artist for Wildlife and Nature deeply mourns the death of senior wildlife illustrator and owl researcher Eric Ramanujam!

Eric was very supportive of AWN’s initiative’s and easy to approach. He was readily reachable giving his inputs and suggestions on any project. One of the first artist to come forward to display his artworks in the annual show in 2017.

Eric was employed by Pitchandikulam, a unit under Auroville Foundation, as a Wildlife Biologist. He has a background in the Advertising Industry (which he left because of the skull duggery and deadlines he, as junior staff, had to endure) and took to autecological / behavioural studies of the Indian Eagle Owl and associated nocturnal predators and prey in 1997. Since 2002 he has undertaken field studies of the Kaliveli wetland complex (near Pondicherry), Adyar wetland complex (in Chennai) and Shevroy Hills of the Eastern Ghats. In Pitchandikulam he created an ‘Art Collective’ – a group of wildlife / nature artists / illustrators working together to manifest outputs on a commercial scale. So far, the collective has been successful with working with Government departments (for example, Chennai Rivers Restoration Trust on the Adyar Eco Park and Gulf of Mannar Biodiversity Reserve Trust), Corporates (like WIPRO Technologies) and many NGOs (for example WWF-Delhi) in addition to quite a few private clients. This initiative is our major foray into a ‘studio based’ culture.

Eric Ramanujam authored “In Achilles’ Footstep – Adventures with The Indian Eagle-Owl”. Brilliant illustrations and in-depth knowledge sharing on Owls of India.

His last paper was on Wildlife art and illustration – combining black and white ink drawings in the Threatened taxa Magazine. Link to his paper can be read here: https://threatenedtaxa.org/JoTT/article/view/7455/8010

Eric was Mammal Category Award Winner of 2017 Artists for Wildlife and Nature Annual show.

His contributions to nature art, science and his love for owls will live forever!

Bryan Walton

This is to inform the community of the passing of Aurovilian Bryan Walton who was among the early pioneers and has always kept strong and live connections with Auroville and many of its old-time pioneer residents. Bryan had been coping with recurring cancer and made the transition on 8 March surrounded by his family in Wisconsin, USA.  He was 80 years old.

Having worked in educational audio-visuals, Bryan left the USA in the mid-sixties for India in search for a better life and eventually came to the Sri Aurobindo Ashram in June 1971. Along with his then partner Sally, he had several meetings with the Mother who approved of their idea to start a handicraft community as village development work near Kuilapalayam, which she would name ‘Fraternity’. (https://vimeo.com/517078368/e9ada0315b?utm_source=email&utm_medium=vimeo-cliptranscode-201504&utm_campaign=28749)  Although he had no experience in either crafts or business, Bryan felt a deep ‘yes’, and bravely started the Fraternity project in February 1972, now fifty years ago, with many other Aurovilians and his wife-to-be Fanou joining him over the years in the work. The original 15 acres of sand with hard red clay below it and only two palmyra trees on it, flourished in the subsequent years with gradual cultivation of the land and, helped by Poppo, the original keet sheds morphed into permanent handicraft buildings, a kindergarten for workers’ and village children, and an overhead tank for fresh water. The proceeds from the production of handloom and other craft products supported the training of local village women and youth, the running water system for Kuilapalayam, and the kindergarten with daily lunch, medical care and lessons in Tamil. Bryan’s extensive photographic documentation of the progress and life in Auroville at the time form a precious addition to Auroville’s archives.

Pressured by the challenging circumstances Auroville went through in those years, Bryan and Fanou left in 1980 with their two very young children, Auromarichi (Christian) and Aurelia, to USA where they lived in rural Spring Green, Wisconsin. With another couple, they imported art and craft products from Auroville and other parts of Asia, and found markets through their retail store from where they could always be of generous help to Auroville. Bryan also returned to his old skills and developed a virtual treasure of colourful and highly artistic audio-visual presentations, quietly narrated by himself, based on his wide range of interest, and pieced together from his research into Sri Aurobindo’s and Mother’s works, integral yoga, other inspiring world views, art works, books, articles, pictures and many many hours of work. During his last year he was able to upload most of them, as a fine gift to Auroville, – a complete list with links will be available on the Auroville website. (https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC85DC0zOXxbzDsyMw5vKdqA)

Bryan was also active member of the Board of AVI USA and served on the Board of the AVI Association since 2007, where his calm participation, dry humour and hands-on knowledge of life in Auroville was an esteemed commodity.

Since mid-2021 Bryan has been coping with a returned, aggressive cancer eventually resorting to two different sorts of chemotherapy. When these Plans A and B did not work for him, Bryan decided to switch to Plan M: “For me, no fear of the Great Adventure of the Spirit with Her, the Mother is with me, she’s with us all.  Since 22 or so coming first back from India, I was ok with the ultimate adventure.“

He now has embarked on that new venture, and we salute and let go, with utmost love and gratitude for this soft-spoken, always friendly co-traveler on the path, who endeared himself in fraternity with so many of his colleagues, workers and co-Aurovilians throughout his life.

Go and Come, dear Bryan!

Our warmest condolences and strength go out to his wife Fanou, and their three children Christian, Aurelia and Leo, their families, and to all his friends both here and abroad.

OM~

Francis in conversation with Bryan & Fanou, 2009
https://vimeo.com/529655760

Bryan & Fanou from Auroville Video Productions on Vimeo.

Sanjeev of SAIIER

In the very early morning of 24 February, our friend and brother Sanjeev Aggarwal of SAIIER passed away in JIPMER due to cardiac arrest at the age of 70.

Sanjeev came from Delhi to Auroville at the end of 1981 and was, with his legal background and formation, the right person to continue from 1992 onwards the immense challenge of bringing to further fruition the Sri Aurobindo International Institute of Educational Research (SAIIER), which had been set up in 1984 by Kireet Joshi and Alain Bernard. The Institute now oversees the many schools and other educational projects in Auroville and bioregion, and Sanjeev has been the main drive and pillar of strength in the organisation throughout the years. Certainly his focus on Auroville’s Udavi school in Edeyenchavadi village made the school expand enormously, and the teacher staff and pupils will sorely miss him. Sanjeev’s greatest joy was in enabling young people to discover their goal and potential in the context of Auroville. His very regular tennis and badminton session with his students was part of this approach. He loved the concept of Gurukul and brought up four girls. His continuous support and advice will be missed by many.

Sanjeev also enjoyed being a good host – many fondly remember having him make a cup of tea for them. He was happiest when in the company of small children and will be remembered for his sincerity and generosity.

His other passion was immersing himself in Sri Aurobindo’s Savitri. Having been member of the very first Working Committee from 1991 onwards, he continued taking up innumerable administrative functions and, with them, the accompanying complexity and tension. With his strong-willed character and deepest dedication towards the development of Mother’s Auroville, Sanjeev took wholeheartedly part in Auroville’s communal meetings and debates where his absence will be strongly felt. In the last years, he curtailed his administrative work due to stress related problems.

Sanjeev’s body remained at his ‘Mir’ house and was cremated in the afternoon of Tuesday March 1st at the Auroville mandapam with many of his extended family, friends and students attending.

Our warmest condolences go out to Sanjeev’s partner Miriam and their foster daughters Elene, Manjula, Saranya and Dakshini.

OM~

Dakshina

Dakshina, a dear US-based friend and spiritual sister to many, passed away on 19 February due to cancer. She was the profoundly inspired and inspiring devotee of Sri Aurobindo and the Mother who founded Sri Aurobindo Sadhana Peetham in Lodi, California, a haven for weary travellers on the path where numerous Aurovilians and Ashramites have visited and stayed throughout the years. Through her Auromere brand, she distributed books, shampoo, incense and more, of which 10% of the proceeds were donated to Auroville while the balance supported the ‘Lodi Ashram’ as the centre was mostly called. Dakshina also served on the board of the Foundation of World Education and built Mother’s House for guests visiting the Sri Aurobindo Ashram in Pondicherry.

We very sincerely salute a true sister and comrade on the path, and our warmest condolences go out to the Lodi family and all her many friends.

OM~

Amit Bawa

This is to inform the community that in the evening of Friday 18 February our dear friend and brother Amit Bawa passed away due to cardiac arrest at the age 48. Hailing from Srinagar, Aamit came first to Auroville in 2008 and became Aurovilian in 2011.

Aamit, with his friendly, outgoing and ever-smiling nature, was a welcome figure in the various Auroville services to which he contributed, such as Deepanam School as learner and facilitator, as member of the Matrimandir Access group at Matrimandir itself and the Visitors’ Centre, as active participant in children’s school camps, and more. In the later years he oversaw Swagatham guesthouse in Bharat Nivas, where he also peacefully lived with his cat family and transformed the gardens into a true flower paradise.

His dedicated and cheerful presence was evident throughout, and he will be sorely missed.

After his parents arrived from Srinagar, Aamit’s remains were cremated at the Auroville mandapam in the late afternoon of Sunday 20th.

OM~