Ever heard of the phrase – ‘a global village’? Nah! Don’t let your mind’s eye visualize a symbolic 21st century globe at the helm of which sits a tiny, fat policeman proudly bearing the US flag. Think again. Think a little deeper. Nada? Well then, ever wondered why always juxtapose ‘village’ with global and not ‘town’ or ‘city’? Right, a large chunk of you probably have an answer for that going something along the lines of – the rural having an infinite capacity to celebrate bonding, relationships in ways the fast-paced urban life can never comprehend, let alone offer.
If you love to have your ideas challenged, or are a cynic looking for optimism, then Auroville is the place you need to see. Wait, scratch that.
Auroville is not a place to “see” on a day trip from Pondicherry. It is a place to stay and soak in the spirit of doing the things you really love.
The idea behind Auroville
On a basic, descriptive level, Auroville is an experimental township in Villuppuram district in the state of Tamil Nadu, India, near Puducherry in South India. To humanity at large, a borderless world can only exist in the man-made realms of commerce, defense, etc. Cannot this term broaden its horizons to include interconnection of hearts, sharing of space? It is this utopian vision that Auroville seeks to convert to a concrete reality.
This is reflected in the statement of Mirra Alfassa, co-founder of the Auroville project- “Auroville is meant to be a universal town where men and women of all countries are able to live in peace and progressive harmony, above all creeds, all politics and all nationalities. The purpose of Auroville is to realize human unity.”
The founding meet: Divinely ordained?
The ‘City of Dawn’ was the brainchild of years of spiritual collaboration between Shri Aurobindo Ghosh and Mirra Alfanssa, beginning with their first meeting in March, 1914. It is said that, the dream of Auroville had been lying dormant in Mirra’s subconscious for years and that she often had visions of an Asiatic man adorned in a ‘vision dress’ who would be aiding her in making that dream a reality.
When she met Shri Aurobindo, she is said to have frozen and exclaimed on seeing his dhoti-“It’s the vision dress!”
From what I could make of all the spiritual jargons that moulded the idea of ‘Auroville’, the purpose was to create a space for the evolution of man, the birth of a new consciousness – Supramental Consciousenss, an amalgamation of spiritual and material life that would enable humanity to transcend its limitations.
Laying the foundation
The commencement of this unique experiment on 28th February, 1968, was marked by a ceremony that witnessed youth from 124 countries place a handful of soil from their respective countries in a raised marble urn. Thereafter, the visionary Charter of Auroville, centered on 4 key principles were read out, which the AIR broadcast in 16 languages.
The Galaxy Plan
In 1965, Mirra, popularly known as the ‘Supreme Mother’ sketched a version of what the universal city should look like. This sketch bore a semblance to a flower with each of the four petals representing various zones. Her chosen architect Roger Anger added impressive inputs to shape what is called the ‘Galaxy layout’-
- Matrimandir: Rising from a colossal open space called ‘Peace’ at the centre of Auroville, is a monumental golden orb- the soul of the city. The Mother defines it as a “symbol of the Divine’s answer to man’s aspiration for perfection” and as “the central cohesive force” for the growth of Auroville.
- The Zones: From the spiritual focal point- the Matrimandir, there radiates the defining zones of the city- Industrial, Residential, Cultural and International each serving a constructive purpose for the community’s welfare.
- The Green Belt: Forming the boundary of the city is a green cover comprising forests, farms and settlements for those thriving on green work.
Of consensus and spirituality
Keeping with its objective of realizing the harmonious progress of humanity, Aurovillians place their faith on dispute settlement and decision making in the process of deliberations to achieve consensus. These they believe are crucial tests for the community’s multi-cultural fabric- a more ethical alternative to traditional institutions of governments and courts.
A special feature of this community is its emphasis on spirituality-its righteous attempt to draw on the pure essence of religion, where there’s no place for religious hardliners.
Redefining economy and aspirations
Auroville is a place that prods the individual to introspect and transform work into an expression of creativity, thereby eradicating compulsions. Here, one can find people taking up professions contrary to their qualifications such as a mathematician becoming a doctor, a doctor becoming a teacher, etc.
In a world consumed by monetary influence in all domains, Aurovillians are working to realize the Mother’s dream of a cashless economy where individual worth and not money, would be the sovereign lord. They say that people working there are either self-maintained or maintained by the community.
So, if you are struck by the awe-inspiring ideals at the essence of Auroville, then go explore the minutest details of this multinational community of humans and for humans. Fall into the embrace of this Paradise on Earth!!!