Kireet Joshi (1931 – 2014)

Remembering Kireet Joshi.

I don’t actually remember when we first met. He was just always around. I remember him being there in ’73 when the Dalai Lama visited Auroville. One abiding memory is him being there when Mme Zikhova, the Bulgarian Ambassador to India came in the 1980s, bringing Russian icons, books, and 1500 Bulgarian roses. I remember that everyone was in and out of his house while he was writing the Foundation Act for Auroville. That was Kireet the diplomat, the perpetual ambassador, defining the three administrative pillars of Auroville: the Residents Assembly, the International Advisory Council and the Governing Board. (We still don’t really have the International Advisory Council!)

But he is best remembered on a more personal level. For me he was the epitome of patience as a pedagogue. He was a real teacher. He was non-judgmental, patient and kind, and he always had time for me. His patience was rooted in an immortal vision; he had the real long view, and he truly embodied the Mother’s view of what an educator should be.

I used to visit him in the hospice all the time, in the later years, and we would talk politics. I recall one time when my children were there too and my son asked some question about Auroville. His answer was that Auroville was here to bring the whole world together. He was always a unifying force – people should know one another. But it was also the way he interacted with my kids that was a learning experience for me: Stop! Pay attention to the child! I learned from him as a mother.

I think this is what I learned from him the most – patience and kindness – that was it for me, personally. He always made me feel special, always had time. You are not a number, a category, but a living soul. He made you feel valued and ‘seen’; he was similar to the Mother in that respect. At his core … the perfume of that largess … that heart that one also felt with the Mother. Patience; kindness. That’s what I loved about him.

(Matthew Tildesley was in conversion with Renu Neogy.)

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