Goupi has been offering massages in Auroville for thirty years.
““Come at five and bring your body”, Goupi tells someone who wants to have a massage. It is not easy to make a booking with the humble Frenchman who is generally dressed only in shorts. He is often fully booked, and when he is working in his pyramid-shaped capsule – “I built it like this because of the special vibration it gives”- he does not pick up the phone. Even those who have an appointment may have to wait for over an hour. “A body is a being with consciousness and sometimes it needs more attention than expected,” explains Goupi.
Goupi originally studied Tibetan Buddhism in France . When he was a youngster, he wanted to live in the Himalayas . But then he came across some writings about Sri Aurobindo and all this changed. At the age of 24 he set off to Pondicherry where he met The Mother. The year was 1966. Goupi was allowed to stay in the Ashram where he taught French at the Ashram school. At that time he was called Guru Prasad, but later people started calling him ‘Goupi' for short.
Two years later, in May 1968, Goupi revisited Paris . There he met Mother's son André and assisted him with the task of playing Mother's recorded talks for French devotees. When he returned to Pondicherry , The Mother was very interested to hear about the student revolution in the Quartier Latin. “She wanted to hear it directly from me,” recalls Goupi. He lived in the Ashram for eleven years.
Goupi had been present at Auroville's inauguration ceremony on February 28, 1968. Later, while still living in the Ashram, he helped in the tree planting work in Auroville. In 1977 he decided to move to Auroville.“At that time everybody seemed tense and tired, and I felt there was a great need for massages.”
Goupi's interest in massage was encouraged by his guru Biren-da, a masseur in the Ashram. Biren-da, whom Goupi loved as an elder brother, passed away a few years ago, but a photo in Goupi's capsule keeps the memory alive. It was Biren-da from whom he learned to “talk to the body”.
What does ‘Talk to the body' mean? Goupi explains: “First of all you must get rid of the idea that you are giving the massage. I prepare myself by being quiet. Then I put my hands and heart on the other body and listen to its needs. Finally I let Mother do her work”.
For many years Goupi has done nothing but give massages – from eight in the morning often till seven at night. “This work has taken more and more of my time,” he says. “Sometimes I even ‘do' ten bodies a day.”
Goupi feels he is Mother's instrument. “She does the actual work, that's why I am never tired,” he says. While massaging one can listen to his constant chants of “Aum” or “Jai Ma”, which he says keeps him in continuous contact with Her.
Some years ago Goupi read the book Somatics written by Thomas Hanna, a German who lives in the US . Hanna had been sick and was told he needed an operation which he refused. Instead he started to do special exercises adapted from Moshe Feldenkreis' techniques, which cured him. “These somatic exercises have to do with awareness,” says Goupi, who now includes them in his own massages, together with some of the Feldenkreis techniques.
Goupi has had remarkable results. Sixteen years ago, Christel from France had a terrible car accident in which she broke her neck in two places. Her spinal cord was also compressed and she could only move her head. After surgery and physiotherapy she was able to use her hands again, but the doctors in France gave her no further hope. They told her that she had to get used to living in a wheelchair. Then Christel heard about Goupi from a friend, and began coming to Auroville every year for five months at a time to be treated by him.
Now Christel can bend and move her legs, and can even walk in a swimming pool; further improvement is expected. All this, she says, she owes to her “body brother”. “The strength of Goupi is his endless giving to others,” she says. “He is totally in the present, and is always positive. This I have not found in France . He also makes you aware of each part of the body, and how one has to go through all its resistances.”
Now and then Goupi takes apprentices, “for it is nice to share”. One of them is Romain, who is also effusive about Goupi's positiveness and energy. “He cuts through the patient's discouragements.” Romain feels that Goupi's method of “talking with bodies” is therapy for the masseur too.
Goupi is happy living in Auroville. “The dream of The Mother has become true and real. For me, life here is a realisation of how to live differently on the planet. I am grateful that Auroville exists.”