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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!

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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

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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


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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!

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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!

Nilesh

Our good friend and brother, Nilesh Premji Nisar of Arc-en-Ciel community, passed away around midday on Tuesday 5 November 2019, at the Kidney Centre in Pondicherry at the age of 49. He had suffered weak kidneys for quite some time and needed frequent dialysis treatment. His wife Geeta was with him during his transition.

Hailing from Bombay, Nilesh, Geeta and their young son Aditya arrived in Auroville in 2000. He had a clear penchant for business and, after an initially somewhat difficult time in finding his right place, he started working among others with Upasana and Naturellement. He also supported Auroville’s commercial units in discovering new markets and retail outlets across India. The couple’s ‘Natraj’ unit, which makes high-quality food products, has developed a reputation with food connoisseurs and conscious consumers.

Our warmest condolences and strength go to his wife Geeta, who enormously contributed to the setting up of ‘Natraj’, and their two sons Aditya (24) and Harsh (15).

Family passing: Sundar, Maheshwari, Kirthiga and Samicsha

Sundar, Maheshwari, Kirthiga and Samicsha

Auroville is gradually coming to terms with the sorrow and shock of losing four of its residents.

With deep regret, we inform the community that Sundar (Sundharamurthy Murugesan), his wife Maheshwari and their two daughters Kirthiga and Samicsha died in their home in Auromodele around 14 of October 2019. This was discovered on the night of Thursday 17th.

Having come into Auroville respectively via New Creation’s and Ananda’s Fraternity Boarding, and after marriage starting out in Big Boys Boarding for some time, it was from around 2003 that Sundar and Mahesh lived as a young couple with their small children in Surya Nivas community, Auromodèle. Sundar (Sundaramoorthy Murugesan, born 1976) had originally come from Kuilyapalayam, while Mahesh (Maheshwari, born 1978) hailed from Periya Mudhaliyar Chavadi. Both felt at home in Surya Nivas, and daughters Kirthiga (born 2002) and Samichsha (born 2007) grew up with other children in the community and followed Auroville schooling with pleasure. Kirthiga had been a student at New Era Secondary School, and Samichsha attended Transition.

Always being readily available in Surya Nivas for maintenance work, and also being a badminton player and teacher, Sundar’s main work was with Auroville’s Dental Clinic where he worked as technician, general assistant and overall handyman. While Mahesh in her younger years was an ardent basketball player, as a mother she was more reserved, meticulously taking care of her daughters’ appearance and wellbeing. For more than 20 years her day job was at Solar Kitchen, where she was one of the Aurovilians taking care of the fresh salads that needed to be prepared for the daily lunch. She is remembered as a regular, reliable worker.

Around 2011 the family built a house at the other side of Auromodèle and has been living there ever since, while continuing their lives as contributing residents and their daughters growing into lively teenagers.

Now they are no more. It was reported that there were financial problems but, whatever karma prompted their sudden demise, they will be remembered and honoured for their contribution to Auroville’s growth.

In the late afternoon of 18 October, the four bodies were buried at Auroville’s funeral grounds near Adventure with many attending. After members of their families and many close friends gave way to their grief and sorrow, a silence came down on the flower-covered graves, and prayers for our four friends could take shape and ascend with the gently flowing incense.

Our heartfelt love and condolences go out to the parents, brothers, sisters and other family members of Sundar and Mahesh, for whom this is an unspeakable loss. May you find peace.

Samiksha’s birthday in March 2015

Riju (Anatoly Bukov)

Riju (Anatoly Bukov)

Our dear friend and brother Riju Anatoly Bukov left his body in Marika’s House at 10.30am on Sunday 22 September 2019. Having grappled with a weak heart throughout the years, a massive stroke last week Wednesday proved to be too much for him. After a few days at PIMS, he returned to Marika’s. He would have been 75 in a few days’ time.

Before discovering Sri Aurobindo and the Mother, Riju, born in Ukraine, was actively involved in the Odessa art world as a playwright, director, poet, sculptor and painter with a clear call towards spirituality. He gradually started translating their works (‘The Mother’ and ‘Sunlit Path’) and visited Auroville in 1991 for the first time. In 1995 he arrived for good, inspiring quite a few friends from Ukraine to follow his lead.

Having lived in various places, Riju soon ended up in Aspiration where he built himself a small house. Functioning as an assistant at Savitri Bhavan for some time, he mainly worked from home, translating, writing, sculpting and sharpening his philosophical understanding by daily getting deeper into The Life Divine which was his stronghold. The sincerity of his yoga helped him deal with personal problems that came his way, and many of the Russian-speaking community revered him for his deep insight in Sri Aurobindo’s philosophy. The Sri Aurobindo Ashram published several compiled translations into Russian that include his name.

Since February 2018, Riju stayed at Marika’s where he visibly lived up and fully enjoyed his days. His daughter Christina, a skilled puppeteer who gave several puppet performances when here, and granddaughter Darya, visited him there as in the years before.

With warmest condolences to his family and close friends, we bid farewell to a brother, an artist, who had not chosen an easy life but who persevered, and is now on the way to the Light.


Ursula (Loose Tuschkewitz)

Ursula, Aspiration Program September 2012

In the early morning of 15 July, our Aurovilian sister and friend Ursula (Loose Tuschkewitz) of Gratitude passed away in PIMS at the age of 69. She had suffered from cancer (lymphoma) affecting her spine. After a short stay at PIMS, treatment in Chennai during March of this year could not prevent progression of paralysis of the legs while cancer progressed. She returned to PIMS, where additionally she got several minor strokes.

Ursula joined us from Germany in 2011 and, having worked as an accountant for a large German carmaker, she was readily welcomed to look after financial matters here in Auroville, half time for City Services, half time for Varuna. Though she could be at times somewhat strict, friends and colleagues much appreciated her often quaint German use of the English language, her great sense of humor, friendly goodwill and hard-working stance in life.

Ursula lived in a small, completely open house in the Gratitude community of which she had grown very fond, and where she will be deeply missed. Cats were another love of hers: she was an internationally well-respected juror for pedigree cats and traveled once a year abroad to attend international cat shows in that capacity.

As one of her doctors mentioned, she was a model of a life-oriented and affirming patient throughout the process.

Now she is free. Auroville’s love and prayers accompany her to the Light.

Ursula’s remains were brought to the Farewell center where friends could bid her goodbye. The cremation took place at Auroville’s mandapam in the afternoon of Tuesday 16 July where friends and colleagues honoured her with flowers and incense, and quietly stood by.

* * *

From Holger Vonhof (Ursula’s cousin):

Last time I met her was in September 18 when she visited Germany. She wanted to see my father, her uncle, who was very ill at that time. When she left, she gave him the instruction to watch out for his health so that she could meet him again this year. Now they have met earlier than both of them thought. Rest in peace.