On Thursday, 17th July 2020, renowned architect and artist Paolo Tommasi passed away at JIPMER (Jawaharlal Institute of Postgraduate Medical Education and Research), Pondicherry, at the age of ninety-two.
Hailing from Ancona, Italy, Paolo Tommasi had made a name for himself as an architect, painter and interior designer. At the age of thirty-eight, he visited Pondicherry in 1966 and met the Mother. He had always been a spiritual seeker; after meeting the Mother he realized that his quest had ended. When Auroville was established, he played a pivotal role in helping Roger Anger, the French architect, to design the ‘Matrimandir’ at Auroville as well as the twelve beautiful gardens surrounding it. His paintings and sketches have been exhibited in many galleries across the globe.
Pondicherry was a special place for Paolo. About this town — for the development of which he would offer his suggestions on design aesthetics — he had once remarked: “In no other places do I feel my soul reawaken and do I achieve that inner work that gives meaning to my life; becoming more aware of myself and the mystery that surrounds us.” In 2010, he settled in Pondicherry and remained closely associated with Sri Aurobindo Ashram.
In the last week of June 2020, Paolo was diagnosed with Covid-19. On 2nd July, he was admitted to JIPMER and was shifted to the I.C.U. on the 15th. His condition deteriorated further and he passed away on 17th July.
Through his designs, Paolo Tommasi had manifested a high standard of beauty. And it is in his artistic creations that he would continue to live — forever.
With warm regards,
5 Replies to “Paolo Tommasi: In Memoriam by Anurag Banerjee”
Thank you , Anurag for giving such an impressively touching sketch of the true child of the Divine Mother that was “Paolo”
Thanks, Paolo, for carrying the cross for all others as the master you are
The crystal in the Chamber of Matrimandir, which he discussed with the Mother, was Paolo Tommasi’s contribution to Auroville. As the news reached me that he was in critical conditions I was pervaded by two opposite feelings: coniunctiooppositorum. Of course, always, till the very end, Paolo had a deep knowledge of Yoga and Integral Yoga, and was a Jungian.That the Mother chose him as the first Covid 19 victim teaches a tremendous lesson.
1973. The solar beauty of our promenades on the beach, passing the village, J. and me dancing in the waves, Paolo peacefully sitting on the sand reading a book… Everything was in that dance, we almost got that world… almost… and the sky was so intensely blue…
2020. The Mother on Sri Aurobindo’s passing… had the world been more receptive this tragedy would have not been necessary… words irrupting over and again since when the pandemic took over…
Paolo could have serenely died in his sleep, after a long, creative life but no, the Mother chose otherwise. She chose him, him and no one else,the Jungian and spiritual traveller meeting many masters but always faithful to Her, the One Guru. One of his last books, bright colours designs as typical of his last years, is about the crucifixion. Crucifixion… isn’t this the path to abolition of the ego? Did Paolo foresee he would be the chosen one, the instrument to carry on Her work in a world of ignorance, crucifixion 2020?
I hope Paolo was spared the extreme physical suffering that Covid 19 may compel. But even if the latest hours, put on a ventilator, he caught some, this too was an offering to the Supreme Mother, the Parashakti. Mahakali in all her glory and compassion, redeeming extreme suffering and agony. Sri Aurobindo and the Mother tell us that even the most intense pain can turn into joy and bliss: love, devotion, unconditional surrender to the Guru, in life as in death, nothing is impossible for the soul.
Thanks, Paolo, for carrying the cross for all others as the master you are. Death is just a new stage. The psychic lives in its glorious sheath, waiting for Supermind to manifest.
That world exists forever. See you there.
I would like to add something very revealing about Paolo. I knew Paolo well because we had several very good common friends like Bruno, Paola, Elio and his wife Luciana from Rome.
This must have been sometime in the mid-90s. I was working at the Sri Aurobindo Archives Library then on Suffren street. One afternoon, Paolo walked in asking for me. I came out into the garden and found him in the usual elegance of his signature white dress, with his head wrapped in a kind of white bandana. He told me that he needed my help in formulating a letter he wished to write to Roger and the Matrimandir team with regard to the Matrimandir Chamber and the gardens. Many of his friends were insisting that he put into words what he had received as guidance from the Mother. And even as he said this, he was moved to tears. His humility and gratitude were so beautifully reflected in those eyes welling up as he fixed his regard on the Mother’s picture on the wall in front.
We sat down in the main room of the Archives Library which he was visiting for the first time. Fond as he was of white, he greatly appreciated the space that was all white and carried a very “interiorising” atmosphere, he said.
“You see, Maurice, I have been requested to send a letter to Roger about what Mother shared with me regarding the Matrimandir. My English is not adequate at all so will you help me formulate it?”
“Well, Paolo, I feel honoured to do it. I don’t know if I will be able to do justice to your expectations.”
We sat there for over an hour, writing and rewriting each sentence with silences punctuating our letter-writing efforts. He did not want ANY word or expression that might hurt or offend Roger. He had great regard for him but he just wished to share with him something the Mother had told him. This sharing was to be effectuated with the deepest sense of humility and LOVE vis-a-vis the Mother and Roger. And I went on recasting the formulation, chiselling it until Paolo was assured that NOTHING negative or arrogant or aggressive was present in his letter.
More than the content of the letter, what touched me very deeply was Paolo’s constant concern not to hurt or upset or confront Roger.
After we had finished, he asked me once more, “Will Mother be happy with our letter? Are you completely sure?”
“Don’t worry, Paolo, your LOVE for the Mother shines through your love for Her Matrimandir!”
And he gently sailed out in that golden light of the evening sky, softly holding the file with his letter.
Losing Paolo at such a time in these very surreal circumstances was most unfortunate but considering Paolo’s self-effacing nature, his leaving our physical world was quite in resonance.
This is indeed an apocalyptic time for humanity and the earth and if we can come out of it richer and stronger in clarity and understanding of ourselves and the raison-d’être of our life on this planet, it will not have been in vain. Let’s pray to Them to grant us Their Love and Protection in our endeavour at a better understanding of this pandemic.
How the contention on the Matrimandir gardens ended I know directly from Roger and Jacqueline, and afterwards Paolo; but it was a deeply emotional encounter about which I cannot write.
Yes, Paolo deeply loved Roger and was fully aware of the role the Mother assigned to her architect. That Paolo died at such a tragic time, the first of us, has a profound occult resonance of which we should be fully aware.
Deep changes are awaiting us and we must be prepared, at the height of the task: the ordeal is NOW. The world we belonged to is dead.