Pashi Kapur, who marked Auroville in many ways, left us on Friday evening, October 20th, 2023. He was 91. From the Sri Aurobindo Ashram’s Nursing Home he was transferred to an intensive care unit, dialysis as an extreme attempt failed. Facing him dead, unrecognisable, I saw the end of a cycle. I had premonitions last year watching Luigi, his Aurofuture alter-ego, dead, but Pashi stood and fought. Now that Pashi too is gone, are the Dream years irreversibly over? Have we missed the train?
Two combatants, so close, yet so different… Italian Luigi lived in adoration of Roger Anger, Mother’s architect; he crawled under the table to dig out from the waste paper-basket the incredible sketches and caricatures that Roger drew during the meetings; a work-man, Roger hated meetings and went on drawing exhilarating images. How proud of his collection was Auroville-made Luigi, he gave me photocopies of all! But Indian Pashi, Ashram-made, had the unconditional loyalty and surrender of a soul who never questions the Guru, faith rules. Both stood for Mother’s highest vision of Her town, whose realisation she had entrusted to Roger Anger. The CIRHU (Centre for International Research on Human Unity), of which Pashi was in charge (Luigi was too), is Roger’s interpretation of Mother’s wish for the World University of Human Unity. His second mega project in Auroville, after Matrimandir, Roger kept working at those plans till he breathed his last.
Centre for International Research on Human Unity
Pashi and I shared two battles: the Auroville Prosperity System (of which he passed to me the original forms) and Mother’s guidelines; and the Systems Engineering Galaxy (I had passed to him the Hindocha folder). Pashi ardently believed in both. But a death formation loomed over it and it was Pashi, who the last year had grown so frail, almost transparent, who succumbed. Yet even so emaciated he was a rock, unshakable, a combatant till the end. On September 28th Pashi sent me a long email, making no mention of his health condition: his last words to me.
Born in future Pakistan in 1932, Pashi completed his college education in Dehradun, Indian Himalayas, then went to England for higher studies in mechanical engineering; back to India, he worked as a lead engineer in a British company in Calcutta. For so long Pashi kept begging the Mother, until in 1972 she gave her assent via three flowers: surrender, patience, aspiration. He turned for an interpretation to Nolini Kanta Gupta, whom Sri Aurobindo saw as his most advanced disciple; follow your heart was the answer. “His heart wanted to join and he met the Mother again and offered all that he owned, the insurance policies of his family members, and what he may get as compensation for resigning from his company. The Mother agreed to all except the policies and said she would leave with him in trust the money to pay the premium for the policies and accept the balance. He went back joyfully to Calcutta and resigned from his job but as his company wanted a year’s time to find a replacement, he with his family joined Auroville only in 1974” [Jothi Charles, https://unitedtrueindia.blogspot.com/2023/10/blog-post_21.html] — the Mother had left the body on November 17, 1973… When Pashi told me this I replied that Shyam Sunder too went through something similar; he too had offered everything to the Mother, unconditionally; but reminding him that he had a family, she deducted what needed for them. The Divine Mother…
Finally free to move to Auroville with his family, living in the Aspiration community (two huts one bathroom, if I remember), Pashi worked for Auroservice with Roger Anger and his team. However, when the turmoil with the Sri Aurobindo Society commenced, his two children were affected and in 1980 all returned to Pondicherry. But Pashi’s was no ordinary family: his devoted wife entered daily the Ashram, in the wee hours, to arrange the samadhi’s flowers; their daughter married Aurofilio, the first child born in Auroville, and a marine engineer who became the spokesperson for Harald Kraft, working with Roger to materialize the Matrimandir’s lake. Daily commuting from Pondy, in 1998, engineer Pashi resumed his work for Mother’s town, fully involved in planning and related issues, and in 2011 he became a (returned) Aurovilian.
Once I told Pashi that Prem Malik at 26 was a communist; and so was I in my youth, Pashi replied about himself. Both had renounced their native place (future Pakistan) for India; teen Pashi was in Delhi, when India’s Independence was announced. Both were resolute, powerful personalities, sharing the same unconditional surrender to Mother’s vision and loyalty to Roger. Prem Malik was in charge of Auroville’s economic zone and of the Matrimandir fundraising brochure, which the Mother signed with a full-page size “Blessings”— and Pashi was the engineer supervising the industrial towns (Sailam was one) Roger was building to raise money for Auroville. For them, Mother’s city was real, a radiance from within; their faith was unshakable, and so was their loyalty to Roger and to the one plan the Mother had approved and blessed.
The last few days, as Pashi’s demise was getting close, Prem’s last, prophetic words to me came back. I was flooded by overwhelming gratitude for all that I received by these two sadhaks, always exhorting me to keep going, to never give up. Exuding Mother’s force, both were signposts in the long march towards the Avatar’s model town. Both lived for her vision and through her vision, forever one with her, where death is not. Blissfully resting into Mother’s arms.
Recalling all this, which Pashi told me in bits, and so did Prem — and much more, which cannot be written — the memory of other Aurovilians surfaces, they too with that Ashram-base making us so different: unconditional surrender to the Guru, faith that triumphs over all obstacles.
Paradise lost? River with no return?
The early sadhaks, at the Ashram as in Auroville, are dropping the body one by one. I had the privilege to live and interact with them, nourished by their example; but what about the new people? Mother’s Vision knows no death. Her guidelines know no death. Her town to be perfectly planned by those sending the first astronauts on the moon knows no death. The CIRHU on the lake, with its cascade on it, knows no death. Long lives Mother’s Auroville! Satyayuga!
About the Author: A senior member of Auroville, Paulette Hadnagy is a photographer, author and compiler whose published works include titles like At the Crossroads: the Evolution of the Spiritual Being, Immortal India—Towards the Ideal Society, The Gnostic Cycle—Towards the Supermind, Avatarhood—Human and Divine, Sri Aurobindo—Compassionate Grace and Laughter, Being of Gold—Our Goal of Self-Perfection, Becoming One—The Psychology of Integral Yoga, The Process of the Integral Yoga, Crossroad: the New Humanity, The Little Child and the Holy Knight — A Vedantin Tale. Regarding Auroville, she has published: The Auroville Foundation Act and the Mother’s Guidelines: a Comparative Study and The New Being and the New Society: A Compilation of the Mother’s Words and Archival Material During the Formative Years of Auroville and Interacting with UNESCO during Mother’s years.