SAIIER Annual Report 2014-2015: Savitri Bhavan
Savitri Bhavan - Learning Materials
The central purpose of Savitri Bhavan is to help foster the values on which a true and lasting human unity can be founded, by making available to students and seekers in Auroville and worldwide all possible materials, facilities and assistance that would aid a deeper and more widespread understanding of the vision and teachings of Sri Aurobindo and the Mother. The activities of the Bhavan are aimed at Aurovilians (children, youth and adults), and interested members of the general public. Savitri Bhavan is open to the general public from 9-5 daily except Sundays throughout the year, and additionally hosts musical offerings, film-shows and special presentations.
Savitri Bhavan is maintained by a team of 17 Aurovilians, 6 employees, and a fluctuating number of volunteers from Auroville and outside according to need and availability. The knowledge shared and the materials produced at Savitri Bhavan are intended to benefit humanity as a whole, and Auroville, through its residents and educational centres and activities, in particular. They are offered freely, and everyone is welcome to benefit from them as they feel appropriate.
Activities of the year
The work of Savitri Bhavan is carried on in 4 main areas: Outreach Activities, which include 10 regular weekly classes and courses as well as special events such as exhibitions, musical offerings, workshops and orientation sessions; the collection, creation and arrangement of Learning Materials in 5 collections, each of which has its own purpose; Publications of journals, books and booklets as well as DVDs; and Research Projects aiming to provide new materials for use in the other 3 areas.
Savitri Bhavan holds ten regular weekly courses throughout the year:
Other programmes organised by Savitri Bhavan this year included:
Visits of Auroville School Groups:
- On February 4, 2015 Chitra brought 20 children from Deepanam School, and Shraddhavan answered their questions about Savitri Bhavan
- On February 17, 2015 Lisbeth brought 18 children from Transition School, and Loretta gave them a talk about Sri Aurobindo and the Mother
Monthly Full Moon gatherings: 12, with an average participation of 10
- Meditations on Savitri : Book One – The Book of Beginnings in the Picture Gallery, April and May;
- Meditations on Savitri : Books Two and Three in the Picture Gallery, June to October 2014
- Meditations on Savitri : Books Eight to Twelve in the Picture Gallery, December 2014 to March 2015
- Glimpses of The Mother in the upstairs corridor and then the Hall, Feb. to Nov. 2014;
- Sri Aurobindo: A Life Sketch in Photographs in the upstairs corridor from Aug. 2014 to March 31 2015
- Meditations on Savitri : Books Four to Eight – a special exhibition in the Ashram Exhibition Hall, February 17-24, 2015, sponsored by Havyavahana Trust
Large numbers of visitors saw these exhibitions at Savitri Bhavan; 1500 people are estimated to have visited the one at the Ashram.
Film Shows: 37 in total, with an average participation of 15
- December 18, 2014 – ‘Gregorian Savitri’: a passage from Savitri sung in Gregorian chant style by professional musicians from Australia, Dr. Kim Cunio and Heather Lee (audience of about 100 people)
- January 31, 2014t – Ney recital by Tugay Basar on traditional Turkish flute (audience of about 50 people)
- March 15, 2015 – Ladislav Brozman, solo violin performance (audience of about 50 people)
Special Events and Presentations:
- ‘Remembering Professor Arabinda Basu’ with a film on his life and work, and a special lecture by Dr. Aster Patel; July 20, 2014 (audience of about 60 people).
- Preview of a film in preparation on Sri Aurobindo’s Integral Yoga created by Manoj P. and others; November 20, 2014 (audience of about 30).
- ‘Living with Savitri’: The 5th Dr. M.V. Nadkarni Memorial Lecture, given by Dr. Premananda Kumar, with Book Release of The English of Savitri by Shraddhavan; February 19, 2015 (audience of about 120 people).
- Talk on Vedastad Institute of Integral Yoga in the Netherlands, by Mrs. Atie Heuver; March 6, 2015 (audience of about 10 people).
- Two presentations by Franz F. on The Eternity Game created by Medhananda and Yvonne Artaud; (March 6 and 20, 2015) attended by about 20 people on each occasion.
- Savitri Study Camp on Book Three, The Book of the Divine Mother (August 6-12, 2014; 25 participants, 12 from Auroville and Pondicherry, 13 from other parts of India who were accommodated in the Savitri Hostel). The daily programme consisted of two guided study sessions each morning, with time for individual study in the afternoons using the resources of Savitri Bhavan, and a film programme each evening.
- Spandan, Intensive Introductory Sanskrit Workshop led by Dr. Sampadananda Mishra of the Foundation for Indian Culture in Pondicherry (October 20-25, 2014 with 24 participants from Auroville).
- Special programme for a group of Integral Yoga instructors from the Netherlands which, besides many other activities in Auroville and Pondicherry mentored by Ashesh Joshi, included 9 one-hour intensive study sessions on Book Seven of Savitri, The Book of Yoga, led by Shraddhavan and extending throughout the month of January 2015
- In the course of the year, Ashesh Joshi led 52 half-day workshops introducing the Integral Yoga of Sri Aurobindo and the Mother
Other classes and events:
- April to June 2014: Ancient voice exercises for singing OM led by Kayananda on Saturdays
- October 4, 2014 onwards: weekly Basic English Course by Buvanasundari for Tamil Aurovilians.
- November 6, 2014 onwards Sanskrit Mantras chanting twice a week in the Hall
- November 17, 2014 – The Mother’s Chair was placed in the Hall for silent concentration
- January 6, 13 and 20, 2015 – Savitri reading by Dutch group via Skype
- February 7, 24 and 31, 2015 – Savitri reading by Russian group
- February 28, 2015 – An event for Russians on Education organized by Roza Tuh.
- March 12, 2015 – Inaugural concentration for the Auroville Retreat group was held in the Amphitheatre of Savitri Bhavan. For this occasion a special 30-minute recording of music and messages from the Mother about Auroville was compiled with the assistance of Ruben Berlanga.
- May 9, 2014 by Ashesh Joshi for a group of seekers from China.
- July 22, 2014 by Ashesh Joshi for a group of seekers from China.
- October 8, 2014 by Ashesh Joshi for a group of seekers from China.
- November 13, 2014 by Shraddhavan for a group of students and faculty from Gothenberg University, Sweden.
- November 23, 2014 by Dhanalakshmi for Auroville Tamilnadu Seminar.
- February 5, 2015 by Helmut for architecture students from Manipal.
- February 11, 2015 by Ashesh Joshi for a group from Germany.
- March 21, 2015, by by Manoj Pavitran for a group of young Indian entrepreneurs.
Other programmes hosted at Savitri Bhavan this year included:
- 5 ‘Welcome’ programmes for Newcomers organised by the Entry Service on April 9, August 27, October 14, December 17, 2014 and February 11, 2015 )
- 7 3-day early morning Pranayama workshops of one hour each led by JV Avadhanalu in July, August, November, September and October 2014 and 2 in January 2015.
- An Interactive Workshop on Intuition, led by Gordon Korstange on March 4, 2015.
The University of Human Unity offered the following advanced seminars from January 22 to March 15, 2015:
- The Vedic Gayatri Mantra in the context of the original Yoga of the ancient Rishis: Vedic philology and philosophy (8 nos. 1-hour sessions presented by Nishta Muller)
- The Philosophy of Consciousness: Hegel and Sri Aurobindo: (8 nos. I-hour sessions presented by Rod Hemsell)
- Music – Self-Expression: music theory (7 nos. 2-hour sessions presented by Ladislav Brozman)
- Savitri Reading (15 nos. 2.5 hour sessions presented by Rod Hemsell)
Visits of Student Groups: (824 students in all)
- July 18 2014 – Govt. Polytechnic, Pondicherry – 55 students
- August 22, 2014 – MAM School of Architecture, Trichy – 75 Students)
- October 8, 2014 – Aayojan School of ArchitectureJaipur – 139 students
- November 17, 2014 – School of Architecture, Kottayam – 34 students
- December 20, 2014 – IIT Karagpur – 40 students
- December 17, 2014 – Design Institute of Kottayam – 20 students
- January 7, 2015 – From Nasik – 40 students
- January 12, 2015 – From Vadodara – 60 students
- January 16, 2015 – From Vadodara – 60 students
- January 29, 2015 – From Gwalior – 80 students
- February 9, 2015 – IIT Roorkhee – 18 students
- February 5, 2015 – from Manipal – 6 students
- February 21, 2015 – from Mumbai – 80 students
- August 23, 2014 – 65 students from Indira Gandhi Women’s College, Tindivanam.
- October 8, 2014 – 20 students from Sri Aurobindo School, Hyderabad.
- November 13, 2014 – 15 Social Sciences students and faculty from the University of Gothenberg, Sweden.
Activities by language
Each year we aim to include activities in all the four languages of Auroville: Tamil, French, Sanskrit and English.
Tamil: This year, in addition to the regular weekly classes on Savitri led by Bhuvanasundari and Sudarshen at Savitri Bhavan and in Arul Vazhi school, a research project in Tamil was conducted by our team-member Dhanalakshmi, who focussed on translating into Tamil a collection of talks by the Mother to Huta, entitled Mother, You said So … . These fascinating talks were noted down from memory by Huta in the course of her 18-year collaboration with the Mother, and her notes were corrected by the Mother herself for publication. It is hoped that this new resource for Tamil seekers can be published in the course of 2015-16.
Sanskrit: At the request of interested Aurovilians, Dr. Sampadananda Mishra of the Foundation for Indian Culture in Pondicherry was invited to conduct an intensive workshop in Sanskrit for beginners. The workshop was held from 20-25th Oct. 2014 and attended by 24 enthusiastic Aurovilians, Newcomers and Volunteers. After the workshop was over, several of them decided to continue a regular programme of Sanskrit chanting from 7-8 am on two mornings per week at Savitri Bhavan. The interest generated by this workshop was such that it is hoped that in 2015 Dr. Mishra will give another one, targeting Aurovilians who would be interested to share what they have been learning in Auroville and Outreach schools.
French: The House of Mother’s Agenda, housed at Savitri Bhavan since 2006, holds regular programmes for listening to the Mother’s recorded Agenda talks three times a week, and Gangalakshmi is always willing to meet Francophone visitors and Aurovilians to share her understanding to the teachings of Sri Aurobindo and the Mother. In 2014-15, French newcomer Beatrice Baldacchino initiated a research project into the Mother’s Entretiens, her twice-weekly talks in French to the teenagers of the Ashram school from 1951 to 1959, in many of which she shared guidance on ‘La Science de Vivre’ or ‘How to Live’: on sleep and dreams, eating, studies, sports, relationships with friends and family, attitude to progress, and so on. In this way she could widen her own knowledge of the Mother’s teachings while preparing a compilation that could later be offered as a bi-lingual publication, and as a course to young people here in Auroville.
English: Most of the activities of Savitri Bhavan are held in English. One of them is the weekly ‘English of Savitri’ course, which aims to assist people who are interested in approaching Sri Aurobindo’s revelatory epic poem Savitri – a legend and a symbol, but would like assistance in understanding his complex and suggestive poetic language. Transcripts of these classes have been serialised in issues of the journal Invocation : Study Notes on Savitri for several years now and have been appreciated by readers around the world. This year saw the release of the fully revised and edited transcripts of the sessions covering all the five cantos of Book One of the poem, The Book of Beginnings, in the form of a 526-page hard cover book and as an e-publication.
Other highlights of the year included:
Sharing Sweet Memories of Professor Arabinda Basu
On July 20, 2014 a gathering was held at Savitri Bhavan in memory of well-loved and respected Aurobindonian scholar, Professor Arabinda Basu (1918 to 2012), in the presence of his assistant Mousumi Mukherjee and his son Robert as well as about 50 others. Dr. Aster Patel gave a talk entitled Sri Aurobindo … the Transition of our Times. For the occasion a small film about Arindam-da, as he was known to many in the Ashram and around the world, was prepared with photographs and film clips from the Savitri Bhavan archives.
Savitri Immersion Camp: Book Three, The Book of the Divine Mother
The recording of Arindam-da’s talk on ‘The Pursuit of the Unknowable’ came to light in the course of research for the film about him, just in time to become part of the materials shared with participants of the Immersion Camp on The Book of the Divine Mother which was held from August 6 to 12, 2014. There were 25 participants in all, 12 from Auroville and Pondicherry, the others from further afield. Two group study sessions led by Shraddhavan were held each morning; in the afternoons, the participants were able to individually explore study materials that had been prepared for them, and special films were shown in the evenings.
Book Seven, The Book of Yoga
Another workshop, on Book Seven of Savitri, was held for 12 instructors from an Integral Yoga centre in the Netherlands from January 6 to 27, 2015. It consisted of 9 sessions led by Shraddhavan. The first session gave an overview of Books One to Six of the poem, then each of the cantos of Book Seven was explored in turn in a series of seven sessions. The concluding session gave a summary of Books Eight to Twelve. All the sessions were recorded, and supplementary study materials were provided to the participants.
5th Dr. M.V. Nadkarni Memorial Lecture
This year’s lecture was given on February 19, 2015 by noted scholar Dr. Prema Nandakumar, who as a young woman was the first person to write a doctoral thesis on Sri Aurobindo’s epic. Her book A Study of Savitri has been reprinted several times since the Mother arranged for its first publication in 1961. Her fascinating talk was entitled Living with Savitri and the text was published in the latest issue of Invocation.
Collaboration with Havyavahana Trust : two books and an exhibition
Huta D. Hindocha joined the Ashram as a very young woman in 1954 and was trained in painting and drawing by the Mother from 1956 onwards. In 1961 the Mother asked Huta to take up the project of illustrating selected passages from Sri Aurobindo’s Savitri in the form of oil paintings. The series of 472 paintings entitled Meditations on Savitri was created by the Mother and Huta together from 1961 to 1966, and exhibited in the Ashram in February 1967. A later series of paintings, illustrating the Mother’s comments on the poem, entitled About Savitri, was created from 1969 to 1971. In 2001 all these paintings, along with others by Huta and a mass of related materials, were entrusted to Savitri Bhavan. Since then the team has been collaborating with Huta and the Havyavahana Trust which was created by her to publish the treasures she received from the Mother. During Huta’s lifetime she took all major initiatives in this work and we only had to follow her directions. After her passing at the age of 76 on November 17, 2011, Savitri Bhavan team members have been assisting the Trustees in various ways connected with the collection. In February 2015 this work reached a culmination with the appearance of two handsome publications, produced with the assistance of Savitri Bhavan team members. Meditations on Savitri : Book One, The Book of Beginnings, contains magnificent reproductions of all the 127 paintings illustrating the first book of the poem. About Savitri Part One is a long-awaited reprint of the Mother’s comments on Canto One of the poem, The Symbol Dawn, illustrated by 32 paintings by Huta. Both these publications appeared in time to be displayed as part of the first exhibition of Huta’s paintings held in the Ashram since February 1967. For this the Savitri Bhavan team prepared the display of 132 Meditations on Savitri paintings illustrating Books Four to Eight of the poem, as well as a few sketches of the Mother, her handwritten messages, and other related materials, which were shown in the Ashram Exhibition Hall from February 17-24, 2015.
The year saw a remarkable expansion in all areas of activity at Savitri Bhavan, which is reflected in the individual reports. This was gratifying and encouraging, but put strain on the team.
It is hoped that the impetus and progress of the current year can be maintained and built upon, without undue strain on the team-members. For this additional human resources are being sought, such as skilled personnel to maintain and expand the collections of learning materials. In particular the Trustees of the Havyavahana Trust are relying on the continued and expanded collaboration of the Savitri Bhavan team in making the work done by Huta under the Mother’s guidance and inspiration more widely available to the general public in the form of books and films.
The growth and achievements of Savitri Bhavan, which are widely recognized and appreciated in Auroville and elsewhere, are due we feel, first and mainly to the Sanction and Blessings of Sri Aurobindo and the Mother for the aims of the project, and secondly to the sincerity and dedication of the team which has grown up here over the last 16 years. We hope that this may be an inspiration and model for other centres in Auroville and elsewhere.
- Savitri Bhavan - Learning Materials (annual report)
- Savitri Bhavan - Publications (annual report)
- Savitri Bhavan - Research Projects (annual report)
- House of Mother’s Agenda (annual report)
Savitri Bhavan - Learning Materials