A Tribute to Aurovillian Pashi alias Prakash Chandra Kapur by Paulette Hadnagy

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 BeingImmortal India—Towards the Ideal SocietyThe Gnostic Cycle—Towards the SupermindAvatarhood—Human and DivineSri Aurobindo—Compassionate Grace and LaughterBeing of Gold—Our Goal of Self-PerfectionBecoming One—The Psychology of Integral YogaThe 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.


6 Replies to “A Tribute to Aurovillian Pashi alias Prakash Chandra Kapur by Paulette Hadnagy

  1. In spite of his age and health, Pashi was a combatant till the end, embodying the spirit of an age that is no more. Unconditional surrender to the Guru says it all. We shared two battles in particular: Mother’s guidelines, and the System Engineering Galaxy, see http://overmanfoundation.org/the-systems-engineering-galaxy-of-auroville-as-approved-by-the-mother-by-paulette-hadnagy/.

    On August 10, the day after my article was published on this website, Pashi wrote me:

    “Dear Paulette,
    I do hope that your current efforts bring some directional change to what is happening at present. Incidentally, presently practiced system of Building Information Management [BIM] meets the System Engineering parameters and we have Andrea Cammarata amongst us, who is an expert in this field but the most important aspect for any system to work effectively requires planned financial support that has been missing in case of Auroville from the very beginning.
    In the year 2007, We had estimated the cost of manifesting the Township as 25,000 crore Rupees.
    Recently, I learnt from an engineer of CPWD that the current estimate is Rs.35,000 Crores.”

    This is the link to a commemorative article in The Hindu:

    *Prof Andrea Cammarata teaches at Milan Politecnico, Italy, and visits us regularly because of Auroville International Zone.

  2. I recall today the time wen in 2010 in ine of my visits I found Pashi guiding and escorting visitors to the Matrimandir.His voice was very powerful and vibrant and impressed many newcomers.I had not known him personally but always heard from some senior sadhaks about his dedicated services at Auroville. Reading about his life in such details gives me a positive stroke and I feel obliged to Overman Foundation to publlish this beautiful piece!! Thanks.

  3. Thanks Prabhjot, Pashi carried with him a special atmosphere: he consecrated his life to the Mother and this was palpable.

    In Auroville, he stood for the highest: return to the Auroville Prosperity that the Mother had instituted three months after founding Auroville, same as at the Ashram, with the same identical form; every month, truly the minimum material needs. Auroville is for “the willing servitors of the divine consciousness” she said; the more one progresses spiritually, the less the material needs until they drop, effortlessly and spontaneously. Pashi had initiated a study group, of which I was part, to find ways to restore the Auroville Prosperity.

    He also stood for Mother’s town in its highest form, the original uncompromised Galaxy, to be built in five years via systems engineering. The Mother had asked the Ford Foundation to help financing a feasibility study, estimated to take one and a half year, and to cost, in 1969, $ 420,000 – the experts had to commute from Los Angeles. Pashi was amazed when I disclosed to him the complete Suresh Hindocha folder; when Madame Secretary of the Auroville Foundation passed by at the CIRHU boot, before his last fall, she told me that Pashi had just mentioned to her the systems engineering. A mechanical engineer supervising the construction of Roger’s industrial towns, Pashi always conveyed that enormous capitals are needed to build Mother’s town in all its beauty and perfection and big donors have to be mobilised. To build the systems engineering Galaxy the Mother had approved the institution of an Auroville Industrial Corporation, with redeemable bonds, to raise the needed capital. So Pashi always proclaimed the necessity of industries to build the town and make it self-sufficient, and proposed to use the lands, outside the master plan, not good for agriculture to set up industries.

    To inspire the Aurovilians to foresee an ideal, futuristic, green city, as Mother’s architect Roger Anger wished me to do I displayed at the Town Hall several exhibitions on contemporary architecture, and Pashi was always enthusiastic. From head to toes, within as without, Pashi Kapur was one with “the city the earth needs”.

    Auroville lives!

    Below is the link to an interview to Pashiji in two parts by Narad, the pioneer whom the Mother had put in charge of the Matrimandir gardens:



  4. This tribute to Pashi ji could not have been better composed. Congratulations dear Paulette !
    Heart-felt, personalized, full of insights and revelations,the offering to the memory of Pashi ji illuminates our understanding of dedicated souls in the path of inner life.

    Pashiji was alway full of energy, ideas and forthrightness when he interacted with me during the years I served Auroville as a member of the Governing Board. I treated him with great respect for the qualities of his head and the heart. He was generous to a fault and answered mails without fail.He was knowledgeable, articulate and respected the viewpoints of the correspondents. I saw with my own eyes his complete dedication to his ailing wife. Self-respecting,he carried himself with dignity till the very end. RIP Pashi ji.Yours was a life well lived!

    Sachidananda Mohanty

  5. Thanks, Sachi. While serving in the previous Governing Board your particular assignment was Culture and Education in Auroville, and this put you in contact with Pashiji’s dedicated work to manifest CIRHU, in spirit as in matter. What a blessing to have known a man of so unshakable faith!

    The following excerpt, taken from the monthly magazine “Auroville Today” with their permission, sheds further light on this special sadhak’s all-round personality:

    ““He didn’t want his children to have a conventional education and started his quest for a new world. This brought him to the Sri Aurobindo Ashram. In an Auroville Today interview in 2016 he recalled “There I met Kireet Joshi, who at that time was the Registrar of the Ashram School, and told him I would like to understand this system of education. He said, ‘Go and see’ and waved me towards the classrooms. I walked into one classroom and sat at the back. Everybody was quietly reading. Suddenly, a student raised his hand and asked a question. The teacher paused, and then said, ‘I am sorry, I do not have the answer. Shall we go to the library and find out the answer together?’ “That really hit me: it was so different from the schooling I had experienced.”

    But still he was not convinced that the Ashram was the best place for his children. However, in 1968 he had the opportunity to meet The Mother. “It was July, 1968 and the time I was given to meet Mother was 7.13 in the morning. I still remember this because it was so damn specific! But at that time I was very reluctant to accept somebody as a guru, so when this friend gave me flowers to give to The Mother I said ‘I don’t need these, I am just going for an interview’.
    “Finally I was called in, and she looked up. My eyes locked with hers. All I remember after that is that I had my head in her lap and she was stroking it. I don’t know how long I was there, but when I finally got up, I was shaking and crying. I walked down to the meditation hall and there I kept on crying.

    “This was the moment that decided my life.”
    After this he met Navajata, who talked about Auroville. “For me, there were no second thoughts; I fell in love with the concept of Auroville and immediately offered to work for it in any way I could.”

    In 1970, Pashi suggested that the various Ashram-associated organizations around India could initiate karma yoga activities to benefit the society around them as well as contribute revenue for the Ashram and Auroville. He sent his proposal to The Mother. The Mother sent for him and asked him what it should be called. “I said, “Auroville service”. Then she took a large sheet and wrote on it, ‘Auroservice’. Organizing the activities of Auroservice became one of Pashi’s main jobs.

    In November, 1973, while Pashi was in Assam on Auroservice business, The Mother passed away. “By the time I reached Pondicherry it was too late. She was already in the Samadhi. I cried my heart out because I couldn’t see her one more time. Nolini came by and asked why I was crying and I said I could not have Mother’s last darshan. He said, ‘Don’t you see Mother is always with you?’ He put his hand on my head, I closed my eyes and since that moment I’ve never felt away from her. It’s amazing.”

    In May, 1974 he moved permanently to Auroville where, in addition to his work with Auroservice d’Auroville, he worked closely with Roger Anger and his team: “My relationship with Roger was very close.”

    Events in Auroville during the 1980s made him start a new life as the Indian representative of an international marketing company. Pashi returned to Auroville on 1st January, 2000. “By that time Roger had also returned and he asked me to come back.” Since then, he helped to raise funds for Matrimandir and worked on tax-exemption issues, but his main concern was finding ways to secure the land so that at least the urban aspect of the city can be built. During his last years he worked tirelessly to establish the CIRHU project.

    “Above all, my faith in Auroville has never been shaken, I have an absolute faith in The Dream, in the Charter and in The Mother’s vision. It has to come because it is what the world needs.””

  6. Was fortunate enough to have to have known him at his place last three years of his life, maybe 5-6 meetings of about an hour, when he disclosed his whole life in great details, last one being September first, when he detailed out work of last three weeks up and down Chennai to find an architect guided by IIT Madras, who could do the detail drawing of CIRRHU, which got clearance from the Secretary on 13th, August when his secretary got a call from the Foundation Secretary JRavi to come over to open an Exhibition on Partition, after which he asked for an appointment with her which she had been postponing since two years and gave noon, when he arrived at the Secretary’s office, lots of photos were taken with the national flag, and regarding the financing of the plans requiring 40-50 lakhs, she said ask your secretary to speak to the finance person, and thus began the chase for the architect who could detail the final drawings for the construction to begin, found him next week, talking about the project,giving him the project drawings, and when he could begin the work, advance to be paid in four instalments, of 6.25 lakhs totalling ₹25 lakhs, lo next week the Architect himself came down to see AV for himself and on return mailed him waving off ₹5 lakh, and there ends the tale, working out the last detail of the project, including the water from the German specialist who had done the study for the lake, how to make the portion of CIRRHU extending under the Matrimandir lake .. told them carry on while he needed to recover, his health of which only the bare skin on bone was left, gave in a few days later and hospitalisation and dialysis, he knew and fought till his last breath, for the Mother’s Dream and CIRRHU.

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