Dick Batstone passed away quietly on Saturday the 2nd April after a long illness.
Dick, from the U.K., was a seeker from a young age. He stayed in the Ashram between 1959 – 60 and wrote a beautiful little book – Passage to More than India – about his experiences and meetings with The Mother which were a turning point in his life. He sent soil for the inauguration of Auroville and visited in the early 1970s, returning a number of times afterwards, latterly with his wife, M.E.
In the 1970s, he was one of the founder members of Auroville International U.K. He gave many talks about Auroville and organized events to raise funds. At a critical time for the community, he was one of the first people in the West to come out in support of the Aurovilians in the conflict with the Sri Aurobindo Society. For many years, he was also the U.K. distributor for Sri Aurobindo’s and The Mother’s works and related books on the Integral Yoga.
Dick loved books, at one time he was a bookseller and his house was full of them. On his last stay in Auroville, he visited the new library. In a wonderful gesture, he decided to donate thousands of books from his precious collection to the library. After a nerve-wracking journey by sea, in which they seemed to visit most of the ports and customs-houses of the world, they finally arrived in Auroville over a year ago, and are now on the new shelves specially purchased for them.
Dick was an original – quiet, urbane, with the quizzical, understated humour of a man who has deep compassion for others and a lively sense of the beauty of the world. A man with whom one could spend a comfortable evening, the companionable silences stretching through the hours – for Dick often seemed most comfortable in other, rich, interior worlds – or broken only by simple remarks that would reach deep into the soul.
He was a gentle, modest soul who touched everybody who met him with his devotion to The Mother and his unswerving support of Auroville. In later years, he and M.E. were always happy to welcome Aurovilians to their beautiful house in Malmesbury, England.
Dick was almost the last of an older generation of U.K. devotees who were touched by Sri Aurobindo, The Mother and what Auroville represented for the world, and who brought an indefinable Englishness – polite, refined, yet very deep – to their sadhana.
Dick was also a poet. After his first meeting with The Mother, he wrote about the experience:
This is what time has led to –
A chair set before a patterned cloth
And a still, frail woman
Who smiles and has the eyes of God…
Those who knew him well will miss him very much.