Lalit, an Architect and Urban Planner, has been living and taking part in Auroville’s planning, development and related learning activities for the last 15 years and worked as a team member on formulating Auroville’s Master Plan.
How do ‘self and society’ learn from and are related to each other, create systems and environments and evolve, is part of his continuous quest. Auroville offers itself as an amazingly fertile playground for observation, reflection, action and research on all such aspects in a very open, networked and interdisciplinary manner. Related article link.
Lalit has been following his keen interest in the field of ‘holistic learning from Auroville’ by organizing various national & and international learning programmes and student study visits to Auroville under the ‘Auroville Integral Sustainability Institute’.
Lalit has also conducted ‘Study Abroad Programmes’ for post graduate planning students from SURP and Queen’s University Canada on ‘Planning Guidelines for Social Landscape Spaces on Crown (2012)’ and ‘Auroville Sustainability Indicators (2013)’ and ‘Research on Community Participation Framework (2015)’.
His published article on ‘Sustainable Campus Design’ in the Times of India refers to the critical need, relevance, and potential of ‘integrated experiential learning’ in present times. Article link .
At present, he is also working on the start-up phase of a ‘Center for Design & Environment (CODE)’ in Auroville envisioned as a learning and resource center covering the wider domain of ‘Holistic Habitat’.
Photography is another passion which has clicked to him.
Manoj is passionate about the evolutionary yoga psychology and transformational practice of Sri Aurobindo. He started exploring integral yoga in 1989 right after graduating as a production engineer. He did post-graduate studies in Product Design from the National Institute of Design (NID), Ahmedabad, in 1993. After a short period of working as a professional design consultant, he quit the profession and joined Auroville in 1995 to explore integral yoga and collective evolution.
He has co-founded Telos (www.telos.org.in) focusing on integral education based on integral yoga. He also makes 3D motion graphics videos to share the vision and work of Sri Aurobindo (www.sopanam.org). Besides education and film making, he is actively involved in building software for Auroville and loves information technology and its role in building communities, collective self-awareness, and creativity.
He enjoys teaching, sharing integral yoga, making videos and designing software.
As a child, she was an academically bright student involved in many extra-curriculars. Inwardly, she was alone with a rich inner life. She would write poetry, spend hours sitting alone, listen to the sound of the rain, explore inner realms and dance. It was clear that she was interested in the phenomenon of human psychology and inner life. Further, at 6 she began to be aware of the world around her. She would look outside the car and wonder why is it that she is in a car whereas some others are begging. Thus, at 6, she decided not to take up a normal job but to do something for society.
As she grew up, concerns about her career, getting into a reputed college etc. hung around the clear inner calling. At each step, she tried following her heart while 'building a career'. After high school, with a sense of idealism, she wanted to learn about psychology and use it as a basis for social development. With this plan, she pursued BA (Hons) Psychology from Lady Shri Ram College (LSR) and MSc in Social Policy from the University of Oxford.
However, soon, the reality began to hit her. The limitations of the education system & scientific paradigm became clearer. Degree in social policy felt like a band-aid solution. She could see something is fundamentally off. Her first conclusion was that it is the economic system that is the unquestioned elephant in the room. Soon, she realised that the basis of the current economic system is human psychology.
Her degree in psychology at LSR did not equal to a profound and deep understanding of life and human psychology. Thus, in 2015, she came to Pondicherry to study Integral Psychology at the Indian Psychology Institute (IPI). At IPI, finally, she began to receive answers to the questions she was seeking. She realised that things that bothered her are symptoms of the human consciousness undergoing evolution; that the solution lies in connecting to the inner self, and use it as a basis of contributing in the world.
After spending a year in Pondicherry, she came to Auroville. For her, coming to Pondicherry was like coming home and coming to Auroville was like finding her true workplace.
Sheetal has been a seeker of his “True Home” ever since his father’s early death propelled him into a deep enquiry around life, death and the purpose of existence. After obtaining his engineering degree from the University of Pune, he moved to USA allured by the promise of an upwardly mobile life in the West.
While studying in business school at Chicago, serendipitous encounters with guides from different wisdom traditions reawakened a shift within from seeking profit and pleasure towards seeking purpose. Paradoxically it was in the West that he truly developed a deep affinity with the spiritual teachings from the East.
After completing his studies, Sheetal went on an open-ended pilgrimage for a few years, finally going back to Pune in 2007 and transforming his family home into the Urban Ashram which was a kindergarten of sorts for spiritual toddlers like himself.
After a decade of facilitating learning workshops, yoga classes, talks, music events, retreats, and community events at Urban Ashram, Sheetal received an inner calling to shift base to Auroville and deepen his yoga practice amongst the birds, bees and trees.
Sheetal is inspired by St Francis' quote "It is in giving that we receive" and has served in generosity based projects such as Service Space, Moved by Love and Giftival. He is most passionate about the potential of songs, stories and stillness to inspire change and curates an online newsletter called Maitri Tunes.
Francesco was born in Italy in 1988. Since very young he practiced several kinds of sports. From 2003 to 2008 he was snowboarding at a professional level, thanks to which he travelled around the world for competitions.
Besides his passion for sports, he has always been interested in philosophy and spirituality. This interest and few fortunate coincidences brought him to discover Sri Aurobindo and the Mother’s work, which then led him to Auroville.
In 2008 he quit his snowboarding career as well as his studies on education at the University of Torino and moved to Auroville, where he started working with kindergarten level children. Soon after he discovered ATB and he got trained in it directly by the creators of the method. Since then he has been deepening his knowledge and widening his practice of ATB by giving classes in the schools of Auroville to more than 200 children between age 3 and 11 as well as facilitating workshops and training for adults in several countries such as Italy, Spain, USA, and Argentina.
Francesco is also a certified Somatic Movement Educator graduate from the Ingle Institute of Somatic Education. He studied Hypnotherapy, Silva Method, Psychosynthesis and had been practicing Iyengar yoga for several years.
After being in the corporate world as a Software Engineer for 2 ½ years, Surya quit his job in pursuit of his inner calling. He is deeply passionate about making music and aspires to become a musician. Educating and raising awareness on porn addiction and healthy masculinity are things he cares about and is currently working on. Surya participated in Swadharma 8 in 2020, after which he had been remotely volunteering with Swadharma and now, since February 2021, he has come to Auroville and is working with the redesigning work of Auroville's website, alongwith volunteering for Swadharma and allied courses.
Surya manages the Swadharma Application Process and manages the Swadharma Bulletin (a monthly newsletter by the Swadharma Alumni).
His facilitation style is gentle, awareness-based, yet meticulous and detailed.