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.

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; 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

Mia Berden

Is there anyone who knew Mia and doesn’t smile, with a sudden rush of warmth to the heart, at the mention of her name? For this indomitable lady was one of those rare individuals who had succeeded in integrating into her modest outer life the beliefs and qualities of a loving and enlightened soul. She met the difficulties of a long life lived through troubled times with the kind of courage and optimism that Sri Aurobindo claimed to be indispensable to the truly spiritual life – in the words of an English poet: “the courage never to submit or yield and what is else not to be overcome.”

The injustice of the human world pierced her heart when she was very young. Brought up in a Catholic family, a misguided emphasis on the dire consequences of even minor transgressions of the ‘rules’ caused this sensitive and intelligent child to suffer agonies of guilt, as she once confided to me. Yet an inborn strength of character caused her to see the sadness of the human condition and resolve to do something about it. It was not in her nature to feel bitterness or to blame.
Although Mia’s life appeared very simple in its outward pattern, behind it lay a rich fabric of experience and inner struggle. She had lived through the years of a world war and endured the scars it left behind. her abiding interest was undoubtedly the support she gave to Auroville through the foundation Stitching de Zaaier and her work with AVI. through this work she could give expression to an abiding love that sought to enfold the whole world in its wide embrace.
I came to know Mia only in her later years, mainly through her commitment to AVI and her interest in Sri Aurobindo’s epic poem Savitri, which I shared. she had initiated the collective study of Savitri with a group who met regularly in her small apartment in The Hague. this work continues with an expanded membership and great success in inspiring other enthusiasts around the world.
One day she telephoned me with a note of urgency in her voice. She spoke of a remarkable dream-vision which had made a deep impression on her: she had seen the Earth as if from space, with beams of bright light emanating from certain points on the globe. An inner voice had told her that these points represented the places where Savitri was being read with a sincere aspiration to know and to understand. From there a force went out for the transformation of consciousness. Mia urged me to do all that I could to promote the study of Savitri at many places throughout the world. She spoke of this very often.
Mia had faith in the Mother – a faith that must have helped her greatly during the illness that troubled her final years. She suffered from an accumulation of fluid in her lungs, which built up to the point where it affected her breathing. Every three weeks she had to make the jouney to a hospital for the fluid to be drained off. The doctors could not pin point either the cause or the cure, and so it went on. Mia told me that one night she felt very ill and in need of immediate help, but what could she do alone in her apartment, in the middle of the night? She decided that she would contact the hospital immediately the next morning.
Eventually she fell into a very deep sleep, from which she awoke to find the symptoms – gone! She felt completely well. Nevertheless she took herself to the hospital for a check up. The doctors were completely baffled, since her previous visit the fluid should have uilt up again, how had it suddenly disappeared?
Mia’s ‘family’ had to extensions in different directions. At one point in her life she had adopted as her daughter a young girl from Africa who had some how been abandoned. Mia’s attraction towards Africa and its people was evident in her life and she undertoo the responsibility of trying to build a bridge of love between two very different personalities and cultural traditions. It was a brave attempt and the resulting relationship not always easy for her. Her other family, beyond any doubt, was AVI and the Aurovilians.
As a member of AVI, Mia represented the Netherlands, and it always seemed to me that she epitomized in herself the soul of that nation, a soul forged in the struggle for existence against the tidal forces of Nature and the encroachment of occupying foreign powers; a sea faring nation of pioneers and bold adventurers unafraid to venture into unknown waters. These soul qualities of a nation owere somehow reflected in the character and personality of Mia. This insight challenged and changed my own view of AVI and made me see it in a new light: more than just a random collection of individuals, each one of us represents a strand in the tapestry of human inheritance that will one day manifest, in all its diversity, as the International Zone.
i have told the story of mia as I knew her, aware that there is so much more to tell. So much more that could be written about AVI itself, and its role in the development of Auroville, and the many remarkable people who have contributed to it. I think of them all as I write, and I know that Mia herself would wish to be remembered as one of their company.
Mia passed away peacefully in 2011 at the age of 97.

Courtesy: Auroville International, the worldwide network of Auroville Friends.


Hailing from Chidambaram, Nisha came to Auroville and married Raj, who works as sysop in the Auroville Language Lab. The couple lived in Inspiration. Being a trained nurse with earlier experience in other hospitals, it was but natural that she came to work in Santé.
“I met Nisha in 2013 as I joined Kailash clinic, in 2015 we moved as a team to Sante. I noticed her exceptional loving care and truly believed that her small gentle hands have healing power. I visited her one month before she passed and last time one week before. I was awed by her courage to fight the terminal decease and strong will to live, even as her body was failing there was a fire that burned in her eyes and and determination that made me believe in a miracle. I will always cherish Nisha’s courage and dedicated love of Raj (her husband) in my heart.” says Helena on Nisha.



“Few of us know that Chris is one of those who got a living first contact with Auroville.

In the early seventies, arriving overland with his own Mercedes van, from Promesse side, between the tar road and Edayanchavady, he perceived suddenly a difference in the atmosphere. Later on, he identified that it was an atmosphere specific to Auroville. Thus started his adventures in Auroville.”, Alain Grandolas