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Bhavana Dee De Cew



Born 13 September, 1943 in upstate New York, Bhavana (then Dee) left the US in the mid- 1960s for what she called “the university of the road”, arriving in Auroville in 1971.
She lived in Aurobrindavan, Fertile Windmill, and Bliss, started leather and crafts units, and worked at Matrimandir. In 1983, Bhavana founded Auroville Village Action Group, pioneering the development work that, for her, was essential to manifesting the dream of Auroville. Besides fundraising and administrative work, Bhavana helped many young Tamilians develop their skills, remaining available to them for counsel throughout her life.

Shifting to Vérité in 1993, she helped develop the Integral Learning Center, cheerfully attended to guests, and held daily meditation and Savitri reading. She also introduced many to Vipassana through organizing retreats.

Over the years, Bhavana represented Auroville in India and abroad, and served in various working groups. Most recently, she was a trustee of Village Action and Animal Care and executive of AIP and Vérité Guest House.

Diagnosed with cancer in January, Bhavana accepted it as Yoga, exploring conventional and alternative treatments while preparing for a conscious transition. Bhavana died on 11 May, 2011 in the community she loved and served joyfully for 40 years, and was buried in Vérité’s “wisdom tope” under the words that meant everything to her: Love and Oneness.

My Wish for What I Want My Loved Ones to Know


Know that I love you, and that I know you love me. Love and Oneness is all there is to know... Please forgive me for whatever I may have done to hurt or harm you, intentionally or unintentionally. And know that I also go holding no grudge or blame. Dying is not so bad for the dying one, it’s much harder on you survivors. Please take care of yourselves and let this experience deepen your sense of the meaning of life. You can cremate or bury me, according to what is easier and more convenient. Don’t make a big fuss over the funeral, but a simple ceremony that celebrates the transition and gives others a chance to contemplate the phenomenon is a good thing. Please let this be a part of a life lived at the service of our planetary evolution.
Written by Bhavana in her Auro Five Wishes (Living Will document for Aurovilians)


I had the privilege to see Bhavana a last time on the last day or nearly so when she was quite well. The new alternative medicine she had begun to take seemed to have given a small unexpected reprieve and, when I entered her room, she was truly radiant.
She was surprised at the improvement and was wondering about what it meant but still very much prepared to go as was yet the most probable outcome. She reminded me of Serge, who I was particularly close to, during his final journey and who I felt had also this true fearlessness about death.

I began to work more closely with Bhavana about 6 years ago, at the time of the 2004 Tsunami. After a few months, she asked me to become a trustee of the Village Action Trust. Our collaboration was quite easy and I have no memory of any clash between us, although on that last day, when I was just saying that, she mischievously corrected me and laughingly said that I had scolded her on two occasions, and added that she did not mind as she felt it was the effect of some tension in me. I have only a vague recollection of possibly such incidents.

What had been quite remarkable for me in our work together was that Bhavana, who had founded Village Action, was not at all possessive about it. She was always very open to suggestions and easily prepared to change course if you could convince her. After all, she had shown very early her lack of possessiveness.

When she came to Auroville in 1971 as a young woman of 28 years, her strong vitality and enthusiasm made her create various enterprises, particularly in leather craft, and she was quite successful at it. But when she felt the need to move on to other endeavours, she gave the small units to the young Tamil men whom she had trained and who had become valuable assistants. To some of these now no longer so young men, she was like a mother and remained in close contact with them and their families. Her preoccupation with our neighbours was very deep and that led her to create Village Action in 1983, where she was soon joined by two talented social workers, Anbu and Moris, who are still very central in the present day work of Auroville Village Action Group (AVAG), with now more than 4000 women and nearly 1000 men, organised in Self Help groups, from many nearby villages. It stands very much as a living legacy of Bhavana’s work.

I have quite a few other memories of Bhavana —or Dee as we knew her before she became Bhavana Dee. There was always a natural sympathy between us which made our then not so frequent encounters pleasant moments.

I remember long ago, when I was working in the food processing unit towards the end of the seventies— a time of severe budgetary restrictions for Auroville — Bhavana would come and do her famous ragi/kambu/red rice idlis for the community. What these idlis lacked in the expected fluffiness was indeed compensated by their highly nourishing value! Bhavana’s fortitude has touched me deeply and I marvelled at the clarity, simplicity and joyfulness of her last message. I knew she was a very earnest doer of yoga but still she went beyond any expectation I could have had.

I think she was as true an Aurovilian as our complex natures allow us to be. I sincerely believe that Mother had a truly good servant in Bhavana. It feels just right that she remains in Verité. She deeply liked this community life and participated fully in the various aspects of Verité and, I believe, was truly close to her Verité brothers and sisters. The ceremony Saturday morning was as simple as she had wanted. It felt good. I only wondered if she would not have laughed at our long faces. Cheer up, I think she would say: we are One. On that last day, I kissed and hugged her, which we rarely did before.

I will remember her parting words: “See, it is good to hug Frenchmen, they usually wear these good perfumes”… And she laughed and laughed… And yet she knew she was most probably facing death, not necessarily easy, very soon. Such was Bhavana. Alain Bernard From SAIIER Outreach School Board came to the same branch of the Banyan where I got perched. We chirped together learning the native folk lore. We laughed together walking through the banks of age old irrigation tanks under the shade of Palmyra trees. We Distributed awards to the participants of sports in life sharing the same platforms decorated with mango leaves and marigold flowers. But while I was looking at the East for the Cultural Dawn You started receiving the paintings from the West to bridge all the spheres.

You are a great planner, writer, evaluator, researcher and much more.


(written by Meenakshi)



Visit also: Contemplation , Consecration , The Verite' experience

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