Mrs Kirti Dinkar Gaonkar (Dadima)

Mrs Kirti Dinkar Gaonkar (Dadima)

This is to inform the community that Mrs Kirti Dinkar Gaonkar, the mother of Aurovilian Drupad, passed away here in Auroville on Monday 12 August after midnight at the age of 78. During the short time Dadima (grandmother) was here, she touched the hearts of the Matrimandir workers while working as a volunteer under the Banyan.

Her body is laid to rest at Farewell and can be visited by friends from today, Tuesday,  4 – 7pm, and from 10.30am in the coming days.

Our warmest condolences go out to Drupad.

Ursula (Loose Tuschkewitz)

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.

Myriam (Myriam Francoise Marie Noelle Isaac)

In the morning of 28 May, our dear and long-term sister Myriam Francoise Marie Noelle Isaac left her body at the age of 76 due to cancer at her house in Sincerity, surrounded by her children.

Myriam, who was born in France but carried the Swiss nationality, arrived in 1970 at Aspiration at the age of 27 with her little son Pascal, now Gopal. She’s one of those olden-days stalwarts of Auroville who has been always here, working in the background, totally dedicated to the Mother, in a quiet, modest and steady way. Starting off in Aspiration, she worked as a nurse with Dr Sen at the Auroville Health Center that was just starting off. She also was active as Auroville’s midwife and delivered many of our babies at home to be later joined by Hilde. At the same time, she was actively involved in Fraternity’s activities with the villagers living there. By 1977 Myriam was living at the Matrimandir workers’ camp, where she gave birth to little Prema. Three years later Kartik was born. Throughout the eighties she continued her involvement in various village related activities, participated in the community meetings and decisions of that time, and was one of the first ones to work in the Free Store at Bharat Nivas, where she also was active in the then Auroville Community Kitchen there.

Myriam took over the boutique from Claude while it was still at Bharat Nivas and then, since the very onset of the Visitors’ Centre in 1991, she maintained the new Auroville Boutique at the VC from where most of us will remember her. Due to her conscientious and capable management, and deeply concerned care for her staff, she soon became executive, while also functioning as one of the trustees of Artisana Trust.

Having remained at the viewing room for several days, Myriam’s remains were buried at Auroville’s burial grounds in the afternoon of Friday 31 May, with many old-timer friends, acquaintances and family members attending the quiet, serene and very Aurovilian moment of farewell.

Thank you, dear Myriam, for having actually continually lived and worked with us during all those years. Your unobtrusive, soft spoken and sweet manner will not be forgotten, and our prayers accompany you on the way to the Light.

Our heartfelt condolences go out to Gopal, Prema and Kartik, and little grandson Liam.

Boris Mabilat

Boris with his son Silas

Boris Mabilat left his body in Paris on 12th. He was 45 years old.

Boris came to Auroville in 1975 at age of 1 with his parents Samata and Cristo. He founded the community Reve where he had a mechanic workshop, taught many young people mechanics and in later years started Rève Guest House. His son Silas was born in Auroville in 2002.

On New Year 2001/2002, a small conflict resulted into a big tragedy. Boris was wrongly accused alongside two young Aurovilians. All three had to leave the country on a Leave India notice in 2005.

Boris found refuge in Paris with his partner Marjorine and his son Silas.

In 2008, the High Court Chennai declared the 3 boys innocent. But Boris was able to return only once, in 2010, on a Tourist Visa. His attempts in later years to return to Auroville to visit his family but his visa was always refused without explanation. It was an irony of fate that when his return to India was finally approved at the highest level, Boris passed away.

Zackaria

Zack was born in Egypt and had a materially privileged, though lonely, upbringing at a time when Islam was more tolerant, open-minded and progressive.  At a young age he discovered the joy of reading all kinds of literature in his father’s marvelous library and the world of books became his refuge and later his life’s calling pursued through academic studies.
During the tumultuous times ​following ​the revolution in Egypt​ in the 1950’s, after his family lost most of their possessions and his father died, Zack put all of his efforts into his academic studies hoping to win a scholarship to study abroad.  At the age of 20 he realized this dream and found himself doing post-graduate work in Germany. There he became acquainted with Sri Aurobindo’s Yoga through a German compilation, “Der Integrale Yoga” and felt these inspired words filling a void that all his intellectual pursuits had not been able to.
A profound turning point came when halfway through his doctoral program he fell into a severely debilitating depression where life had no more purpose.  At a crucial moment of despair he remembered the Integral Yoga book and gazed at Sri Aurobindo’s photo which shifted something deep within, leading slowly but surely out of the depression and into the beginnings of his spiritual life.   In Germany he met and married his wife, a fellow scholarship holder, but soon found an insurmountable conflict growing between his outer married life and inner spiritual life.  Though his wife was sympathetic and they continued the marriage for 30 years, moving from Germany to Cairo, to the U.S., in the end they parted as dear and respected friends and Zack was free to pursue his sadhana unencumbered.  This led him to Auroville, back to the U.S., to Switzerland, back to Cairo, changing life paths, careers and relationships, still finding the challenge of the outer circumstances at odds with the inner ideal.
Finally at the end of a short visit to Auroville 10 years ago, he received the Adesh, the inner command (and in this case also the outer command) of what he ultimately understood to be a kind of fulfillment of his life’s purpose:  to translate Sri Aurobindo and Mother’s works into Arabic.  In 2008, Zack returned to the Lodi Ashram and devoted half his time to Ashram work and half to his translation work and to the development of his website which served as a vehicle of outreach into the Arab and Islamic world, to allow some Light of Sri Aurobindo’s teachings to penetrate into the chaos and barbarism of fundamentalism that is raging there.  The translation work continued to expand with the publication of 3 books and numerous essays and articles.  He continued to grapple with ways to reach the Islamic psyche in a non-threatening way, inviting Muslim readers to perceive the possibility of a spirituality that grows naturally out of the Islamic faith into a wider Light.
In Zack’s words, “The reason I have left Egypt to spend my remaining years in an ashram dedicated to Sri Aurobindo and the Mother is that I find this ashram to be, for me, the most suitable place to deepen, in and around myself, that solid peace… the peace on which, in the long run, a divine life can be established on earth”.

 

Below are links to Zack’s various writings, many autobiographical.  Hope you may enjoy reading through–it is quite a legacy and testament to this unique and beloved child of the Mother.  Plans are underway to keep Zack’s website alive and well in perpetuity so that his work may continue to inspire those in the Arab world and elsewhere.

Website: sriaurobindo-inarabic.com

Translated books:

Luciano

 

Somewhere in the mid-nineties, Luciano joined the team in Annapurna and has worked with them ever since, taking care of the farm’s daily deliveries of milk and cheese, transporting Tomas’s daughter Usha to and from school in Auroville, and passionately studying Tamil in Auroville’s library in between. When he moved in 2011 to Realization, Usha could join him in his flat for her further studies, and will deeply miss her second father.

Due to his illness, Luciano went back to Italy in 2014 where he was hospitalised and now passed away.

Andrey Grig

Our Aurovilian brother Andrey Grigorachtchenko from Russia, passed away in the family’s house in Djaima at the age of 58. After a sudden faint, he left his body, possibly caused by a genetic ailment as also his father had passed away in such a manner. His sons were with him at the time.

Called by Auroville’s ideals, Andrey came on his own to Auroville in 1985 where he was welcomed as the first Russian and lived with Sven and the late Helena in Ekta, Auromodele. He soon returned to Russia, where he and his wife Svetlana decided to go to Germany to make some money in order to both join Auroville. They arrived here in 1997, with their two young sons, Terentij and Ivan, and were accepted as Aurovilian in December ’98.

Daniel Wilms

August Timmermans narrates his experience with Daniel, “Daniel Wilms was part of my special circle of friends that comprised of John Boonen, from Newlands, and Alan Klaas, from the Matrimandir Nursery.

We could enter deep conversations and share some great laughter. Daniel was the manager of the Nursery when I asked him if I could join, in 1981. Narad had left the Nursery responsibility in Daniel’s hands, and fortunately he could use an extra hand. Daniel was dedicated to his work from the perspective of yoga and put all his heart into it. Because of that, he had an excellent connection with the Tamil workers, who all liked him. What was not to like about him?, he was spirited, open-minded, had a great sense of humor, was passionate, and a true yogi, inspite of all the personal challenges in his life. It was always a joy being and working with him.

After he had left Auroville, we miraculously discovered that we had chosen the same country to work in, Thailand, where I lived in Bangkok, and he with his wife Chika and daughter Johanna in Chiang Mai. Daniel was from Germany, and died in 2003.” 

William Netter

Dressed in white in his all white room, in his 70-somethings, with white hair, he sits drinking black tea and looking outside into the blue skies. William Netter, born in the USA, and through family ties connected to Hollywood and celebrities of all kinds, seems more like a film director himself in his white director’s chair, pulling strings like a puppet master.

Wild years
“I had more publicity as an American in India than Liz Taylor,” he says. But before India could enjoy his presence, William had spent some wild years in his home country, running a steakhouse in Greenwich Village, being involved in showbusiness and teaching literature. He attended New York’s School of Interior Design at night, went to Foredom University, and joined a Jesuit Order. “I was really way out in those days. Still am… in design.”
Intuition calling
During a visit to Puerto Rico, he felt a strong intuition calling him to India, and went for a 6 weeks tour with some ‘humanity’ professors from the New York area.
“I was totally knocked off my horses when we attended the 1968 New Year’s Day meditation at the Sri Aurobindo Ashram in Pondicherry. Kireet Joshi showed us around. We then traveled on, returned and joined the inauguration of Auroville before going back. “I was moved deeply,” he recalls.
Back in the US, he started reading Sri Aurobindo and found himself building his first house in the residential zone of Auroville shortly after this first encounter. “I lived in it for 6 weeks, and then gave it to another Aurovilian, Amrita, who still resides on the same spot.”
State Bank of India
William became member of the Sri Aurobindo Ashram and was appointed by the chairman of the State Bank of India to do the interior design of the bank’s new central office building in Bombay. We cannot tell the whole story as Willam told it to us (we might crack the website space!), so let’s just fast-forward a bit.. The work was completed and the building inaugurated. Shortly after this, a major fire lead to doing it all over again! That’s what one calls Karma yoga, isn’t it?
“Actually, when David Rockefeller visited the final result, he said that it was the most beautiful bank premises in the world. But no-one told me, anyway. I would have made T-shirts!” laughs William. He is indeed very funny. “I used to make the Mother laugh. My name was given to me by her. My brother, the film maker, however, calls me Billy,” says William.
Hollywood
Hollywood; that’s where he envisions his future plans. A movie, directed by at least Steven Spielberg, special effects, state of the art perfection, the works.. The story? Savitri! William has spent the last three years writing and designing a book about his passion, Sri Aurobindo’s epic poem ‘Savitri’. The book is now released and it’s wonderful.
The non-house
Until things get going, he will be staying in the second house he built in Auroville, the non-house. Two hexagons, a pyramid, a ship’s deck, a spiral staircase, lots of triangle shapes, ceramic tiles, inside-outside and, of course, all in white. “The minimal connects with the consciousness. If my work is successful, I’d like people to pause and lower their voices. Comfort is not a big deal with me,” he says.
That’s why the inner chamber of the Matrimandir is his favourite piece of architecture in Auroville. “The inner room was the precise vision of the Mother. Simplicity is everything. All my designs are influenced by this,” says William.

Courtesy: Julietta Kühle