Tuesday, February 27, 2007

She wanted money to be no barrier, all to have health care

It had been so hectic and stressful, but as soon as we got into Auroville, we just felt a kind of calm. Guest services scrammed and finally found us very cheap accomodation in the community that we were originally going to stay in, Vikas.
So, Auroville is a difficult place to sum up. Sri Aurobindo is an Indian philosopher/political actor. He was educated in the West and after political persecution by the British, and spending time in jail, he moved to French ruled Pondicherry and started an ashram, which still exists. "The Mother," a French woman with supposedly divine powers, was his spiritual and personal other half, and they worked closely until Aurobindo died. They both wrote many books, and the mother wrote in the 50s, an article called, "A Dream," where she set out her vision of humanity, and called for a particular place in which her dream could be realized. She wanted money to be no barrier, all to have health care, where individuals could practice whatever spirituality they wish, and that there could be a place on earth where "human unity" could be realized. So Auroville was built in the 1960s, and she supervised its beginning development, in land 12 km from Pondicherry. It has evolved a lot, and developed, and Aurovillians are perfectly aware that human unity has not been realized yet. But it is definitely an experiment in building a truly international community.
Auroville only has 2000 inhabitants, but has over 80 different communities. Some run organic farms, some oversee visiting students (there is actually a UW group there now studying sustainability, community, and spirituality), some do art or dance or pottery, some have built forests, some are scientists experiementing with alternative energy and sustainable community development. Some people work with the interspersed Tamil villages, and organize trainings and community skills. The list continues.
To learn more about Auroville, we did a three day "introduction" on bikes, with 10 other visitors. Ross and Mira took us around the various communities, teaching us about Auroville, its economy, the process of joining, their experiences, etc. We visited an organic farm, a couple schools and learned about the teaching philosophies, we visited artists and a gallery exhibition. It was slow paced, but I learned a lot, and understand much better how Auroville functions, and why people are so drawn to it. We had plans to see so many cities before meeting Dave on Friday, but we ended up staying 8 nights there. We just felt good and calm in a way neither of us have felt since being in India. There is a peacefulness in Auroville, and it was nice to just ride bikes, and be in a clean environment, and eat wonderful food. Oh my god, the food was good. So many restaurants and bakeries. Pan o chocolat, and real bread, and crepes, mashed potatoes, apple pie, and cheesecake even. It was a self indulgent week, but I really needed it. I feel so well rested and better able to take on India again. I journaled a lot, and slept well, and was outside the whole time (we stayed in a "capsule", a thatched hut on 15 foot stilts). I just needed an escape from India for a bit. But the last couple days we were there, while enjoyable, I felt antsy to get on the road. I wanted to eat Indian food again, and enjoy the chaos. Sometimes you just need some distance and a break to put things into focus. Despite all the bad, I'm so grateful I'm in India, and I want to get the most out of it.
We spent our last day at the beach on the Bay of Bengal, which was pretty wonderful despite my major backside sunburn... Then we went to the Matrimandir, Auroville's non-religious place of peace, where people can meditate, or pray, or just be silent. It has been under construction for nearly 35 years. It's a large gold leafed orb thing, with an inner chamber for "concentrating," 12 meditation petals, and a huge Banyan tree for just being quiet and doing whatever. They also have gardens, a nursery filled with orchids and tons of other tropical plants (which "The Mother" renamed with spiritual names), and an amphitheater for special events.
Auroville is a pretty unique and fascinating place. We met some wonderful people. Although I don't feel that draw that many have, people wanting to live there or have spiritual connections, but I feel like I have learned a lot. I feel like it was a great environment for me to think about my own life and my future, and to perhaps reasess the kind of life I want to live. I don;t think I'll ever become an Aurovillian, but I feel like I will take some lessons from them, for sure. If you are interested, they have a website: www.auroville.org.in February 27 5:52 AM Add a comment Trackbacks (0) Blog it nikkiinindia.spaces.live.com

A portrait of love, care, sincerity, ceaseless work and spiritual luminosity

Book Review TAMIL The Mother PREMA NANDAKUMAR VARAM TARUM ANNAI: Pa. Su. Ramanan; Vikadan Prasuram, 757, Anna Salai, Chennai-600002. Rs. 50. The Hindu Tuesday, Feb 27, 2007
SHE WAS born Mirra Alfassa in France in an affluent family, was drawn to Eastern religions, came to Puducherry in 1914, met Sri Aurobindo and collaborated with him in the yoga of transformation. When Sri Aurobindo experienced a spiritual descent he withdrew into seclusion in 1926. From then onwards he concentrated on his yoga and writing of the epic, Savitri. Mirra Alfassa took over the day-to-day running of the Ashram and became the spiritual guide of the sadhaks who converged upon Pondicherry in search of illumination. Henceforth she came to be known as the Mother. When Sri Aurobindo entered mahasamadhi in 1950, she continued to inspire his disciples who were now spread all over the world.
During the 53 years the Mother lived in Puducherry, Sri Aurobindo Ashram expanded triumphantly under her direct guidance as she established an international centre of education and inaugurated the global township of Auroville. This is a very brief introduction which carefully avoids hagiology and presents a portrait of love, care, sincerity, ceaseless work and spiritual luminosity. Appropriately placed photographs and an excellent get-up make the monograph a dependable guide to the Aurobindonian world.

Monday, February 26, 2007

The essence of the philosophy of Sri Aurobindo

by Anju Mohan Sunday, April 23, 2000
The Future Vision of Sri Aurobindo by Om Poorna Swatantra. Sringara Prakashana, Chikkanayabanahally, Karnataka. Pages 154. Rs 125.
THE life of Sri Aurobindo embodies the motto of his teachings: To bring God to the world and to raise the Earth to heaven and thereby to lead man to perfection, truth, life and work." "The Future Vision of Sri Aurobindo" brought out to mark the 125th birth anniversary of Sri Aurobindo, contains papers by most of the prominent writers on Sri Aurobindo.
Om Poorna Swatantra is a research scientist of life in the line of Sri Aurobindo. "Swamiji", as, he is affectionately called by his friends, is the founder of Sri Swatantra Yoga Niketan, The New World Centre and New India Movement and New World Movement in New Delhi. He endeavours to evolve a new life and create a "new world" through the application of the principle of integral consciousness and the embodiment of the light of the supermind.
Sri Aurobindo had evolved the technique of transforming matter into spirit, the conscious energy, by treating it with the supermind. The A’tman, thereby awakens its soul and radically changes its core and constitution and opens the gates of a new world. Om Poorna Swatantra endeavours to use this new form of supramental spirituality, which has become an imperative need for human survival and future super-human evolution.
On August 15, 1947, Sri Aurobindo celebrated his birthday which coincided with the birth of free India. In his message he speaks about his dreams of which the first of a free and united India had been partially realised. India was free though not united, as the old communal division into Hindus and Muslims had hardened into a permanent division of the country. His dream of a resurgence and liberation of the peoples of Asia and a return to its great role in the progress of human civilisation is yet to be realised.
The book throws light on various aspects of the integral vision of Sri Aurobindo. It speaks of the nature and constitution of life and the world in all its aspects — individual, social, political, educational, spiritual, religious and global. It refers to the emergent evolution, in which a new type of super human beings can appear. These human beings , the avtars, embody a new emergent property, they are a new principle of being and consciousness and manifest a higher and deeper principle of organisation. He forms the nucleus around which the new organisation will crystallise.
The book also talks about the future, the agitated youth, India’s role in the world, the cultural nihilism, problems and solutions. It has effectively brought out the essence of the philosophy of Sri Aurobindo.
Appendix I puts forward the thought of some of the greatest spiritual authorities in India like Ramana Maharishi and J Krishnamurti with relation to Sri Aurobindo’s concept of Truth. This book is an attempt to change the materialistic approach of the mankind, which can only lead to its annihilation. Great thinkers, who were influenced by Sri Aurobindo’s thoughts, have spoken eloquently of his philosophy. Their attempt is noteworth.
Appendix II deals with the visions of Sue Sikking and others, who without having had any direct contact with Sri Aurobindo, authenticate the truth and action of the supermind, which establishes the validity of his vision. The essence of the book is invigorating, however they are quite a few avoidable typographical errors.

Saturday, February 24, 2007

Millions on earth adore Her. Who is this Mother?

The New Vision Friday, February 23, 2007 On The Mother I
The 21st day of February 2007, was the birthday anniversary of The Mother, Mira Alfassa, the spiritual collaborator of Sri Aurobindo.The Mother was born in Paris on 21 February 1878. She was named Mirra, and she grew up in Paris where she spent the first part of her life. Her parents had settled down in France a year before her birth.In her early years She was conscious of the special purpose of Her life, of Her mission on earth. From the age of five she became conscious that she was not of this world and did not have a human consciousness. At this age she began her spiritual discipline, her sadhana.She came in contact with Max Theon and Madame Theon around 1905-6. She met Sri Aurobindo at Pondicherry on 29th March 1914. She left Pondicherry in February 1915 and proceeded to France and Japan. Later, on 24th April, 1920, She returned to Pondicherry for ever.
OOOOSri Aurobindo, whom millions throughout the world have already regarded as an Incarnation of the Divine Consciousness, had specifically pointed out that ' the One whom we adore as The Mother,' also descended and became manifest before us on earth. He referred to Mira Alfassa, and millions on earth adore Her. Who is this Mother? What is this Principle of the Mother? How is this Principle related to the Supreme? The Ultimate Reality is the Infinite and One Existence-Consciousness-Bliss, whom we have termed as the Brahman, the Divine, God etc. He is the Supreme Divine, the One, Indivisible, Infinite and Pure, who has three aspects, the Transcendental, the Universal and the Individual. In the Transcendental mode, He is the Source of and is also above all manifestation, all the Universes, all the worlds. As the Supreme, He bears the eternal consciousness in Him, above all Time and Space. The Supreme Divine is the Existence-Consciousness-Bliss, as I have already told. He is. He is Existence, eternal existence, and can even become Non-Existence, beyond the apprehension of any manifested existence. In the Universal mode, he is one with the Universes, though He is above them and is their Creator.
I am not speaking of any religious narration of creation, like that of creation in six days etc. As the Supreme, who is both Impersonal and Personal, He is the Source of all that is, of the this Universe, or rather the Universes. He has no form, no shape, and simultaneously, He is the Source and Creator of all forms and shapes. He ha become all this Universe, or rather all these universes. He is the Manifestation and the One who manifests. It is His Will that manifests and is manifested. The entire Manifestation is He, and it is His Leela, Play. He is both beyond it, and within it, and in each atom, in each living being. And He is also the Individual, Personal God. All the Avatars are but His Individual Manifestations.“The Supreme is with His Creative Force, the Mahashakti, whom we call the Divine Mother. They are One and Indivisible, and yet They are Two in Manifestation and even above Manifestation.” [The Psychic Being in The New Horizon]
OOOOAlmost all the followers of Sri Aurobindo and the Mother know the following that Sri Aurobindo has said on the Mother :“The One whom we adore as the Mother is the Divine Cobscious Force that dominates all existence, one and yet so many-sided that to follow her movement is impossible evn for the quickest mind and for the freest and most vast intelligence.”Sri Aurobindo has further said :“Her embodiment is a chance for the earth-consciousness to receive the Supramental into it and to undergo first the transformation necessary for that to be possible.”That is why She is so valuable for the mankind and for the earth. “She is the golden bridge …,” says Sri Aurobindo in Savitri. She is the Force that enables Man and the earth to leap beyond and pass over the gulf of difference between Mind and the Supramental Consciousness, between Darkness and Ignorance and Falsehood on the one hand and on the other hand Light and Wisdom and Truth.She is the golden bridge, the wonderful fire.The luminous heart of the Unknown is she,A power of silence in the depths of God;She is the Force, the inevitable Word,.....To heal with her feet the aching throb of lifeAnd break the seals on the dim soul of manAnd kindle her fire in the closed heart of things.[Savitri : Sri Aurobindo]
OOOOthe Mother said :“Throughout all this life, knowingly or unknowingly, I have been what the Lord wanted me to be, I have done what the Lord wanted me to do, I have done what the Lord wanted me to do. That alone matters.”She has also said :“Since, the beginning of the earth, wherever and whenever there was the possibility of manifesting a ray of Consciousness, I was there.”And She has also shown us the Way, the most sublime Way of the Child in us, in all of us :“You have to aspire, you have to reject; but the best is if you can keep me in your heart, if you love me, then you will have to do nothing. I shall do all for you.”That is the best Way.And let us remember always what She has told us to march ahead towards the Goal, towards the New Horizon :“Let us advance always, without stopping, towards an always more complete manifestation, an always more complete and higher consciousness.” Barin 23-2-2007 [Written on 21-02-2007] Posted by Barin at 4:01 AM 0 comments Labels:

Modern Technology, Ancient Wisdom

A Visit To The City Of Tomorrow Friday 23 February 2007 First published in International Travel News. Reprinted by permission. guest post by Beverly Shaver
The core of the experience for visitors to Auroville, a remarkable some 30-year-old “utopia” in the south of India, is a reinforcement of faith.
Auroville wants 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.
Here is living proof that dying environments can be restored, diverse people can live and work together in harmony and a sustainable community can combine the most advanced technology and science with deeply spiritual living.
In February 2001, I found myself in Madras at the conclusion of three bemused weeks on an air pass in India. One goal remained unfulfilled: to see for myself the unique community some 100 miles south of Madras of which I’d read so much.
Many of my former students, I knew, had gone to live and work there for extended periods; a few had remained.
A community born from the philosophy of Indian spiritual leader Sri Aurobindo, Auroville has been endorsed by the United Nations, subsidized by the government of India and hailed by such luminaries as the Dalai Lama, the late Indira Gandhi and anthropologist Margaret Mead.
From Humble Beginnings
When the first settlers arrived in the ’60s, what they found was an arid, badly eroded, overgrazed 12-square mile tract of largely nonproductive coastal plateau.
Many wondered how they could possibly survive there. But thanks to years of hard work and passionate commitment, the community is now home to over 1,000 inhabitants representing 22 nationalities and scattered over 80 small communities.
Over two million trees have been planted in a staggering effort that has transformed the Auroville landscape.
There are rolling acres of waving grasses, casuarina pine trees and jackfruit, cashew and mango orchards. Dams, reservoirs, terraces and bunds have been constructed to raise the water table, provide water for irrigation and prevent soil erosion during monsoons.
I arrived at the town after a grueling 4-hour trip by public bus from Madras and was welcomed at Bharat Nivas, the impressive visitors’ center.
Modern Technology, Ancient Wisdom
Wandering about the settlements, I saw a breathtaking diversity of housing ranging from huts of woven palm fronds and bamboo to graceful stucco-and-wood cottages and jaw-dropping spaceship designs in poured concrete, as well as earth-fired, postmodernist studio residences.
Everywhere there was evidence of sophisticated aesthetics and venturesome innovations. Many houses were equipped with photo voltaic panels, and over 30 windmills provided power for pumping water into the various settlements.
The town has two small “free” stores, which invite donations and distribute freely to residents whatever has been received. In some 30 handicraft units scattered around the settlements, skilled workers manufacture and export incense, apparel, leather articles and many other items that are sold in two Auroville boutiques.
All Aurovillians who are engaged in activities that generate income skim off the top what they require for their own needs and for the business and donate any surplus to a common fund that supports those whose jobs don’t bring in rupees.
All permanent residents who don’t have outside sources of income are provided with a subsistence diet, shelter and a modest allowance for incidentals.
I learned that in 1988 the Indian government created the Auroville Foundation, which established a governing board of nine persons to monitor affairs at Auroville.
Auroville has benefited over the years from UNESCO grants and contributions from worldwide private philanthropies.
The Spiritual Center
The defining moment of a visit to Auroville is the introduction to the Matrimandir (a Sanskrit word meaning “dwelling place of the mother”). It is located at the geographical center and it is also the spiritual center of the town.
Here, close to a venerable banyan tree flanking a wide, shallow amphitheater, is an astounding sight: an enormous sphere, supported by four pillars, seeming to emerge from a crater in the ground, like consciousness emerging from matter.
This awesome structure was conceived by Mirra Alfassa Richard, the disciple and chief administrator of Sri Aurobindo’s Ashram Society, usually referred to by society members as “the Mother.”
The Matrimandir was planned by her as “the living symbol of Auroville’s aspiration for the Divine.” It was to be a place for concentration, “for trying to find one’s consciousness.” There was to be no dogma, no religious rituals, no flowers, no incense, no music.
There was to be no dogma, no religious rituals, no flowers, no incense, no music.
Throughout the year, Auroville residents as well as hundreds of visitors come to the Matrimandir to meditate and to experience spiritual renewal. Inside the great sphere, the inner meditation chamber is lined with white marble.
In the center of the intense whiteness of the chamber is a large crystal globe. Sunlight pierces a vent in the roof above and is transmuted by the sensational translucent globe into a rainbow of delicate pastels.
I found myself there, sinking into the profound silence, aware of a powerful tug into a wordless dimension of feelings and heightened sensitivity.
A Restoration Of Balance
Later, over tea at Bharat Nivas at a table with four Aurovillians, I tried to speak of the unutterable peacefulness and radiance of that chamber and the bewitching effect it had on me.
Conversation with the four confirmed the certainty that these are no tie-dyed, crystal-dangling free spirits. Their comments — friendly, candid, rueful — indicated that they consider themselves tough pioneers and rugged individualists in a living laboratory, dealing with real, pressing and pivotal concerns affecting the entire planet.
They were deeply aware of the Mother’s vision and its imperatives; “Earth needs a place where men can live away from all the national rivalries, social conventions, moralities and contending religions.”
As to Auroville’s inner dynamics as measured against the Mother’s lofty prescriptions, its residents confessed some shortcomings.
There have been some major conflicts when one working group felt the activities of another were inconsistent with its vision of the community. To date, they said, these confrontations have been between radical environmentalists and others more interested in modern technology and urban planning, but no challenges have proved irreconcilable.
As I left Auroville, I felt strangely exhilarated.
The elation was linked, I realized, to renascent hope. Having lasted well beyond the 15-year shelf life of the average visionary utopia, Auroville indisputably raises the possibility that people — in this case a bewildering national and ethnic mix — can reinvent community and point the way to a sustainable planetary civilization.
To visit Auroville is to regain a sense of how nurturing and hospitable to diverse life-forms and human civilization our Earth can be. For more info visit www.auroville.org

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Sri Aurobindo's Autobiographical Notes and Other Writings of Historical Interest

From: "SABDA Sri Aurobindo Ashram" mail@sabda.in
A new book has recently been published entitled Autobiographical Notes and Other Writings of Historical Interest, containing notes, letters, telegrams, and public statements written by Sri Aurobindo. To understand its history one needs to look back more than fifty years. In 1953 several parts of this current work, including most of the notes from the section “Corrections of Statements Made in Biographies and Other Publications”, some of the letters to the Mother and Paul Richard, and the message of 15 August 1947 were published in Sri Aurobindo on Himself and on the Mother, Volume I of the Sri Aurobindo International University Centre Collection.
When the Sri Aurobindo Birth Centenary Library was published in 1972 Volume 26 On Himself: Compiled from Notes and Letters contained Parts One and Two of the 1953 book plus a large amount of new material. At just over 500 pages, On Himself consisted of “Part One: Sri Aurobindo on Himself” (439 pages) and “Part Two: Sri Aurobindo on Himself and on the Mother” (68 pages). Volume 25 of the SABCL was titled The Mother with Letters on the Mother and Translations of Prayers and Meditations and contained Part Three of the 1953 book along with a large number of additional letters. Both these books were reprinted several times after 1972.
With the decision to publish The Complete Works of Sri Aurobindo came the task of reviewing and organising all the material collected for the volume meant to replace On Himself. Much related material had been published since 1972, about 90 pages in the Supplement to the SABCL and over 200 pages in other books and journals such as Champaklal’s Treasures, the Bulletin of the Sri Aurobindo International Centre of Education, and Sri Aurobindo: Archives and Research. New material had also been discovered and it was evident that there would be just too many pages for a single volume. Some of the material from On Himself easily migrated to other volumes: the 130 pages of letters on poetry went into Letters on Poetry and Art (CWSA, Vol. 27) and “Part Two: Sri Aurobindo on Himself and on the Mother” will be included in The Mother with Letters on the Mother.
As the remaining 300 pages of On Himself and the vast amount of new material to be included consisted of both documentary pieces and Sri Aurobindo’s letters, it made editorial sense to have two new volumes, arranged by type of material. One is Autobiographical Notes and Other Writings of Historical Interest (available now in a soft cover edition and in the near future as Vol. 36, CWSA), and is made up of 600 pages of documentary materials. The other, Letters on Himself and the Ashram, will consist entirely of letters written to his disciples between 1927 and 1950 and will be more than 800 pages long.
Some readers will be familiar with some of the material as it has appeared in previous books and journals. However, more than 100 pages of documents and letters are being published here for the first time. These include: information supplied to King’s College Register; a few corrections of statements made in biographies; some letters written while Sri Aurobindo was employed in Baroda; some letters to political and professional associates, letters to public figures, some early letters on yoga, some messages on the integration of the French settlements in India, letters to the editor of Mother India, and some statements and notices concerning the Ashram. See the write-up below for more details on the contents of the volume.
NEW PUBLICATIONS To order any book, click on the title, which will locate the book in our online catalogue. Next, add it to the shopping cart. You may then proceed to pay by credit card online. Autobiographical Notes and Other Writings of Historical InterestSri Aurobindo ISBN: 978-81-7058-827-6Publisher: Sri Aurobindo Ashram Publication Department, Puducherry Binding: Soft Cover Pages: 612 Price: Rs 190
This book consists of notes, letters, telegrams, and public statements written by Sri Aurobindo at various times. It includes approximately three hundred pages of material not included in the SABCL edition: well over a hundred pages are published here for the first time and the rest were previously published only in journals or as parts of different books. Of the material already published in the SABCL edition and included in this new book, half is from the now-discontinued volume Sri Aurobindo On Himself and the other half from Letters on Yoga and the Supplement volume, which was never brought out as an independent book. Most of the rest of the letters from On Himself, written by Sri Aurobindo after 1927 and touching on the subject of himself and his sadhana, will be included in a new volume entitled Letters on Himself and the Ashram.
This documentary volume is divided into four parts: autobiographical notes, which consist primarily of things he wrote to correct statements made by others about him; letters of historical interest, mostly written before 1927 to family members, political and professional associates, people interested in his yogic practice, and public figures; public statements on Indian and world events; and public notices concerning his ashram and yoga. It contains a detailed table of contents and nearly sixty pages of editorial notes, containing information on the people and historical events referred to in the texts. mail@sabda.in

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Joya Mitter never stopped dreaming

SAIC > Elders > Joya di - a life sketch.
Joya Mitter dedicated all she was and all she had - her life as her death - at the feet of Sri Aurobindo and the Mother. Sri Aurobindo Institute of Culture holds every year, in Joyadi's loving memory, a concert on her birthday. Joya Mitter nee Ghosh was born on 2nd February 1936 in Shyampukur, in North Kolkata. Her father was Sri Baidynath Ghosh and her mother Smt. Niharkana Ghosh. She had an elder brother Aloke. She belonged to an orthodox family where religion was a way of life and not mere ritual. Thus, from her very childhood, she developed a deep affinity towards the Divine. Her favourite deity was Lord Krishna.She attended Duff School and took her graduation from Bethune College in Botany. In the latter part of her life, she also did her Post Graduation in English and took a degree in Education. She was married to Sri Rathindra Kumar Mitter, a civil engineer, on August 5, 1954, at the age of 18. Ranjan, their only child, was born a few years later. She firmly believed that bringing up a child was an art and she groomed her son accordingly. She was a dedicated daughter-in-law, wife and mother.

As a child, she learnt dancing, specially Rabindrik and also singing. After marriage, she pursued her interest in painting, and took courses in Indian Painting and Fine Arts at Govt. Art College. She also completed her training in music and won a Gold Medal from Gitabitan. Adept at the sitar and the piano, she was fond of flowers and took a diploma from Wafu-Kai School of Ikebana. Apart from her artistic bent she excelled in mundane activities like cooking and specialised in Indian, Chinese and Continental cookery.In Baruani, Bihar, her husband's workplace, she started a dancing school for local children and staged Rabindranath Tagore's "Dakghar" and other plays successfully. Later on, she duplicated this experiment at her thatched country house in Madhyamgram. She had an inborn feel for architecture and this manifested itself there. She was very fond of gardening and agriculture , and grew many types of roses in her garden in Barauni as also vegetables, paddy etc.
A chance trip to Pondicherry in 1953 where she was personally blessed by the Mother had far reaching consequences which were to be realized at a later part of her life. In the early sixties, she met a senior Sadhak of Sri Aurobindo Ashram, Pondicherry - Sri Pradyot Kumar Bhattacharya. Through him, she renewed her contacts with the Ashram and developed an inner resolve resolve to serve The Mother.In 1971-72, Joya di was in the middle of the Sri Aurobindo Birth Centenary Celebrations in Calcutta and various districts of West Bengal. In 1976, Pradyot da asked her to look after the developments of Sri Aurobindo Institute of Culture in Regent Park, Calcutta.
Her Contribution: Joyadi's predecessor at the Institute, Sri Arun Tagore had just established a small nursery school called Arun Nursery in the Institute premises, in 1972, with four students. From this grew, in later years, The Future Foundation School, which has come to be regarded as a premier school in South Kolkata. In 1979, Joya di took over and the number of students then was twenty. Years of sincere, single-minded and hard work bore positive results. The school grew in size and stature. As the number of students increased, the need for a proper accommodation was felt. A true lover of nature, Joya di would do nothing that would spoil the idyllic, sylvan surroundings. She modelled the school in the style of the "Gurukul" of ancient times. Thatched huts amidst bamboo groves with uneven slabs of stepping stones to reach the classrooms was the outcome of her ethnic look. Every year a new cottage was added to accommodate the growing number of students.
From 1984, Joya di was running from pillar to post to secure a No-Objection Certificate from the West Bengal Government which was difficult to obtain. She was also trying to get the school affiliated to the Council for the Indian School Certificate Examination, New Delhi. A provisional affiliation was obtained for ICSE (Class X) in 1986 and for ISC (Class XII) in 1990. First batch of ICSE and ISC students appeared in 1991 and 1993 respectively.Today, The Future Foundation School is a fine blend of the ancient and the modern. The place not only boasts of sylvan surroundings, it has cottages on one hand and a three-storied building which houses the middle and high school; it is replete with two computer labs, its own web-site and internet. From a mere 10 students the strength has risen to 1200(approx.) with 60(approx.) teachers, some of whom have been around since the school first started.
As Founder Principal of the School, Mrs. Mitter had a unique style of functioning. She firmly believed that example is better than precept. Her tastefully decorated office was open to all.Teachers were free to discuss the minutest details with her. Her charisma and magnetic personality have been the basis of an informal principal-teacher, teacher-student relationship. According to the teachers, Joya di did not interfere in the classroom activities of the teachers but through this attitude she imparted a greater sense of responsibility among all teachers. Students and teachers realized, thanks to their beloved Principal, that work is joy and a job can be turned into a mission if head and heart work in unision. She has shown that the job of a teacher is to to make the student of today a noble citizen of tomorrow.She had never learnt to say "no" to a challenge. Joya di had a keen aesthetic sense and never left any work half-done. She not only took personal interest in all the activities of the school but was capable of motivating everyone around her and was instrumental in bringing out the best in them.
In Joya di's life, there was a pervading sense of beauty and she tried to instill in every student the appreciation thereof. Her energy level was boundless and she was never short of innovative ideas. In a decade and a half of her association with the school she infected students and teachers alike with an enthusiasm that was hard to resist. Joya di took the classroom beyond the desks and black-boards to nature, tradition and culture.All through her life, Joya di made an immense sacrifice in her personal life to realise and fulfill the ideals of Sri Aurobindo and The Mother. Rathin Mitter, her husband, was her constant support and has always been there to lend both financial and mental support.Joya di was the Honorary Principal of the School and Honorary Secretary of Sri Aurobindo Institute of Culture, which is a non-profit organization.
Simply and tastefully dressed in a bordered white saree, Joya di used to cut a motherly figure that belied her magnetic personality and professional prowess. She was a mother, friend and guide and a visionary who looked forward to change, a creative genius and above all, a principal par excellence.Besides the school, Joyadi carefully nurtured Shakti Center, a cultural school for women. From the likes of Uday Shankar down to Sanjukta Panigrahi, Madhuri Mukherjee to Roma Mondal, Maya Mitra to Kalyani Roy etc., the Institute boasts of a wide array of cultural talents among its teachers. There were once-in-a-lifetime cultural concerts at regular intervals and the best of India like Pt. Birju Maharaj, Pt. Jasraj, Ustad Ali Akbar Khan, Ustad Amjad Ali Khan, Pt. Ravi Shankar, Pt. Hari Prasad Chaurasia and many more cultural luminaries of the current generation considered Sri Aurobindo Institute of Culture their second home. A few years ago Joyadi founded Galerie La Mere, a tastefully done up art gallery where art transcends the commercial and becomes a way of life. Here too the best of artists like K.G. Subramanyam, Paritosh Sen, Ramananda Bandyopadhyay, Jogen Chowdhury, Uma Siddhanta, Niranjan Pradhan, Wasim Kapur and many many more have exposed their work. The list of notables is endless. Joyadi set up a medical consultation unit "Health & Healing", with the support and participation of many eminent doctors of Kolkata, within the ambit of Sri Aurobindo Institute of Culture. Concerned with the upliftment of women, she also set up production-cum-training units in incense, spices, handloom etc at a separate centre in Boral.
Joyadi's other major contribution was the identification and commemoration of all the sites in Kolkata where Sri Aurobindo had lived and worked, with the co-operation of the Calcutta Municipal Corporation and the encouragement of Prof. Nisith Ranjan Roy. She commemorated all these sites through marble plaques. Joyadi's last great contribution was the unearthing of many sensitive materials and documents pertaining to the famous Alipore Bomb Trial of 1908-09 and their preservation in Alipore Court for all posterity. She also set up a unique gallery on Sri Aurobindo's life, "Sri Aurobindo Parichay". Joya di was effusive, caring, vigorous and possessed of an untiring zeal and dedication. She was a perfectionist to the core. Her life's mission is best summed up in the following lines of The Mother:
Let beauty be your constant ideal.
The beauty of the soul
The beauty of sentiments
The beauty of thoughts
The beauty of the action
The beauty in the work
So that nothing comes out of your hands, which is not an expression of pure and harmonious beauty.
Joyadi passed away on 24th July 1999. It was her first and last illness that lasted for a brief ten months. She never stopped working, she never altered her routine and she never stopped dreaming. Her spirit will always continue to inspire.

Monday, February 12, 2007

And this time, I really enjoyed Auroville

Auroville, Third Time February 2 2007 Filed under: Back in India — Joelle @ 11:29 am
I just left Auroville this morning after a third visit.
At first I had been quite confused by Auroville. My first visit had left me without having seen much but the visitors’ centre, and adjoining touristy shops and facilities. I’d seen the Matrimandir from outside, because my guest pass didn’t allow me access inside, and I’d sat under the nearby banian tree, geographical centre of the city. I took part in a dance session and met with the new-agey side of people there. Without a scooter or cycle, the distances were too great to explore the things in-between the centre and the beach, where I was staying.I got the impression of a triumphant and living utopia in 3D, complete with thousands of space cadets each building or propagating their own version of utopia, in a kind of striclty organised chaos with added human ingredients - creativity, certainly, and failings too.
My second visit was different as I got a taste of inside. I met people who had lived there for a long time, and because of new rules, got admitted inside the Matrimandir, physical heart of the experiment - or so I thought, because of the importance placed by the official tourist board’s spin on the Mother’s vision and the Matrimandir.All the while, in between and during visits, I heard tales of dissatisfaction with the admin side of things, the rules and laws. But I saw happy people too, freely giving shape their vision.
I was trying to figure out what went on there, so I could conveniently put Auroville in a little box in my mind, but without success. So I edged on the negative side of opinion, “something not feasible”. The on-goign experiment still eluded me.
The third visit presented me with yet another version of Auroville. Again, we stayed on the beach in a hut on stilts, which adds to the pleasure of going for a holiday there. I was there with Laxman, and Dominique, a friend from Belgium. We had scooters to go round and visited friends, and explored the different communities.
We visited working artists, beautiful houses and constructions, an ugly block of flats, a great concert, friends and more friends, an organic garden farm for the second time, I took part in the first half of a Bhuto workshop while Laxman and Dominique found someone to fix a puncture…
And this time, I really enjoyed Auroville. One of the Aurovillians gave me a key, when I told him I couldn’t figure what the place was about: he said, it’s an on-going experiment, but regarding the people there, it’s also a practice ground for opinions. Suddenly putting Auroville in a box didn’t matter. I accepted that there are as many Aurovilles as there are inhabitants and visitors. Then all I could see was the creativity that made the place spring to life, and the creativity of its inhabitants. The problems were the same as problems everywhere, as problem in an art studio.
This time I came away from Auroville refreshed and truly inspired. I look forward to visiting again, and see it under yet another light. Perhaps I’ll take part in something - and in the mean time, allow my own creative side to blossom.

Auroville is a social experiment started in 1968

Home Morgalogue and the tales of Johnny Foreigner …Thu 8 Feb 2007 Croissants and Poppadoms Posted by Morg under India
This week I have been living in the strange, minature world of ‘French India’. I’m not entirely clear on the history, or why the Brits let them keep it at all, but the French clung on to a tiny capsule of territory around the city of Pondicherry until 1954. Unlike the British colonial sites however, the French don’t really seem to have left. Police still wear red kepis hats, people play boules, there are boulangeries galore, street names have largely resisted the re-ethnification process thats working its way through the country. And in a way that seems particulary French to me, French tourists flock to visit ‘the French part’ of the country and compalin about how crap the crepes are (no joke - I overheard a 10 minute moan about the flour used). We clearly have very a different relationship with our ex-colonies.
There’s not a huge amount to see in Pondicherry. Inland it’s India - shops, dust and chaos - though as you get closer to the beach the roads organise themselves into a neat grid around wide streets and (grubby) whitewashed French buildings. In the centre is a Parisian park complete with mini Arc de Triomphe. There’s obviously some money in town as it’s maintained to European standards with classy uplightling on the trees and statues. What really got me though, was how European everyone was behaving. Indians sitting still, few large groups, strolling, discoursing … promenading. After a while India started to look out of place in this French world. I sat in this park, opposite a traditional Dravidian sculpture that had been lit like an exhibit as if to say “Look, they have these in India. strange aren’t they ?”. I walked through a small fair with candyfloss and a rickety old ferris wheel and into an Indian classical music recital. Really disorientating. Part of me longed to pop up the coast and visit Rob in Hossegor, as if I’d stepped through some TGV wormhole. Anyway, I didn’t hang about. The real point of coming here was to visit the truly ‘out-there’ town of Auroville.
Auroville is a social experiment started in 1968 by a French woman known as ‘The Mother’ under the guidance of her partner/guru Sri Aurobindo. Putting my natural resistance towards cults and ’spiritual doctrines’ to one side, the project is inspiring. The town eventually plans to house 50 000 (at present 1700) living sustainably along lofty prinicples of their own making - an example alternative to the infectious Western model. To quote from their website (www.auroville.org): “Today Auroville is recognised as the first and only internationally endorsed (by UNESCO and Govt. of India) ongoing experiment in human unity and transformation of consciousness, also concerned with - and practically researching into - sustainable living and the future cultural, environmental, social and spiritual needs of mankind.”
So what does that mean ? Well, on one level, as a traveller it can look like an eco-friendly holiday village in the forest with a beach. A boozeless, slightly French Glastonbury. Everyone zooms from yoga class to dance workshop to organic farm to party on scooters or motorbikes along little dirt tracks through the trees. Occasionally you find yourself in the middle of a Tamil village, all cows and chickens, who are more than used to the sight of you. Contemporary European gallery spaces, offices, dance studios and concert halls with communal cafes can be visited. Classes in everything from Vedic Mathematics (I almost went for you Brian) to meditiation can be attended. A film club show arty movies by Werner Herzog and the like can be discussed in a plush cinema. Guesthouses are among residential communities with wacky names like ‘Aspiration’, ‘Halcyon’ or ‘Revelation’ each with a slightly different social structure or ideology - communal eating, self-sufficiency, music etc. I’m in ‘Celebration’ (Waaa-hoo). Travellers come here, wax lyrical, do little and end up staying for months. It’s a cosy bubble.
While we may not be Aurovillians, the calibre of traveller attracted seems to be high. Generally older, experienced and keen to learn something new. My main chums are 40 year old Israeli who’s family have let him off for a month, a dour, Dutch music producer who is recording a vibrating stone instrument made locally and a bunch of retired market traders from around Bath and Bristol. The last lot make me laugh. I’ve met so many people from the West Country who really surprise me. What is it about that area ? Is it really any surprise Glastonbury ended up there ? They were some of the first wave of travellers who came out to Goa by bus in the 60’s with nothing but a few pages of photocopied maps. They rented old Portuguese mansions and stayed on and off for years looking around India. Adventurous times. They can talk, unpretentiously, about gurus and ahrams they’ve lived in, yoga and spiritual revelations and still with both feet on the ground, make a living trading anything from antiques to second hand clothes at markets and festivals all over England. And retire at 50. Canny is not even the word. Romany perhaps.
The real Auroville, the world of the slightly distant Aurovillans, is a big subject that no doubt takes time to pin down. It’s not a wild and crazy place but neither does it seem to be a refuge for burnt-out hippies. There’s alot of systems to master on arrival which I guess are testament to a functionally different society. I keep being drawn towards the economics of the place as a test of it’s ‘realness’. Where does all the money come from ? Is it really self-sufficient ? One of th biggest underlying concepts of the place is the concept that all property belongs to Auroville, which in turn belongs to no-one. They are also aiming to become as close to ‘cashless’ as possible. Everyone is expected to work 5 hours a day doing something meaningful for the community (of your own choice) and a large prcentage of profits from any commercial activities also go to Auroville. Each person is then looked after with ‘maintenance money’ and the vast array of services and facilities. Their aim is to de-link work from income, the idea being that if you do good work that you enjoy, it’s good for the soul and the community at large.
This is where all the spiritual side comes in. In the centre is a giant golden golfball set amongst gardens and an ampitheatre. Inside is a huge marble meditation chamber. A shaft of light is channelled through a beachball proportioned crystal in the middle. This is the ’soul’ of the city. Most people are ’spiritual’ in some way though they don’t seem to bang on about it too much. It’s all very much about YOU. ‘Inner work’ is respected by the community. I suppose Ghandi had a similar vision of the perfect society - if people can elevate themselves then the rest is really a case of logistics.
The marriage of Sri Aurobindo and ‘The Mother’ it is said, repesents the East-West spirit of the place. It’s certainly true from what I’ve seen so far, that India (and the East) has historically always been fascinated with the idea of spiritual perfection wheras the West has been obsessed with a perfectly organised society. It does seem to be the case that we now have cities without souls and they have no town planning !
I’m not sure what I make of it. I’m glad somone is trying to prove there is a better way to live and demonstrating it is the only way. But all societies I’ve lived in where everyone ‘thinks the same way’ suffocate me after a while. Chamonix and endless snowboard chat for one. I like places that are contradictory and dysfunctional. And why does creative freedom often produce the shittest art ? Some of the avant-garde nonsense I’ve seen here would have you in stitches. Photos to come. That said … as a place to disappear for a year and work on a idea (Rob, Brian, Andy …) let me remind you of the major plus point: It’s beautiful, relaxed, cheap as chips and provided your work serves humanity, they will support you to do it. Hmmmmm ….. I’ll get back to you on that. I’m off for an organic lunch. 8 Responses to “Croissants and Poppadoms”
Sarah Says: February 8th, 2007 at 4:30 pm You almost sound like a convert. I’m sure they could make good use of your skills. I love the way that people from the West Country don’t feel the same pressure to be “successful” as the rest of us. There is nothing wrong with working in a coffee shop at 30, as long as you can pay your weed tab. Did you hear about this place before you left or on your travels?
Aryadeep Says: February 9th, 2007 at 4:09 pm Pleasure to read your notes on Auroville.If you could put the words “the marriage” between inverted commas, it would better convey the meaning. For then it would mean“collaboration” or “association” , but not marriage as generally understood.
Having lived in Auroville for 15 years, may I offer an observation? Auroville is people’s movement!People… the overwhelming majority touched by the vision and yoga of new evolution expounded by Sri Aurobindo and the Mother, and as its consequence, a new creation upon earth, came here to buid a new ciy as a starting point. It was a higly eroded area then. So when these early settlers came, each took up what s/he thought needed to be done or ccould do. Some took up land reclamation, some village development, some education, some initiated small manufacturing units and developed them over the decades, some looked into services for the functioning community, some got involved in community administration, some focused on what you called “giant golden golfball”. There never was a central body or managing director asking people what they should do. And secondly, there never was a big donor or a big funding agency or the government offering huge sums of money to build the place. And this situation continues even today after 39 years. That’s why I call Auroville people’s movement. That to build such “a giant golden golfball” which many regard as the one of the most outstading gifts of the post-independent India to the world, and to reclaim a vast barren plateu, to secure goodwill and cooperation of majority of surrounding population, and to found in seed form the activites of a universal township in course of a single generation without any major source of funding is astonishes even to me who lives here and works to secure the remaining land for the emergence of this township.
May I end with a quote with which the Mother ended an article written decaded before the conception of Auroville? : “…a new creation beginning with a model town and ending with a perfect world.”
Morg Says: February 9th, 2007 at 10:48 pm Well, you heard it here readers.
I can’t say your pedantry has upped my estimation of the place Aryadeep. This blog has a readership of approximately 20 of my close friends and family. I don’t know how you found it - given that I posted this yesterday I assume you are screening the internet for this sort of thing … which is a little creepy. Maybe I’m over-reacting but it feels a bit Orwellian.
I know it’s the web … and you are fully entitled to correct me on those points. But I repeat what I said at the end of my post - in my perfect town, people are allowed to THINK what they want.
I’m just baffled that you took the time to do this. Is this Auroville policy ?
Aryadeep Says: February 10th, 2007 at 4:18 pm On reading your blog on Auroville, I just felt like sharing some of my latest views and thinkings on Auroville, Morg. No intention to up your perception. But I am definately interested in the development of his place. And when i came across your article, I read it with interest and found it worthwhile to spare time.
How I came across your e-diary? Just by chance. Once a while in a month, I peep into one of those Google Alerts on Auroville while checking emails and yours came up unexpectedly.
“in my perfect town, people are allowed to THINK what they want.” -
Decades ago, a visitor from the west, seeing the Mother’s pictures everywhere in the Pondichery Ashram and her authority, asked her, “Is this not dictatorship?’ She noded and said, “Benevolent dictatorship.” You are not forced to live or think in a particular way but you willingly choose to illuminate your thinking in a certain light. The emphasis is on going beyond “thinking” to a place within oneself where even most contradicatory thinkings and opinions and views find their rightful place and synthesis, a beautiful synthesis at that, I would add. I can quote several words of the Mother, including the Charter of Auroville in suppor to this (and in the process, make you gruble further!). But instead, I am choosing to post here an interview of an oldtimer with many skills. It is from Auroville Today, October 06 issue. Perhaps you might enjoy it, as I understand from the earlier commentor that you’re a man with many skills.
With a smile and friendly feelings!
My main pretext is to have fun”- as told to Joanna
Johnny is unique. Playwright, actor, carpenter, singer, architect, builder, teacher, tree-planter, farmer, odd-job man, since coming to Auroville in the early 1970s he seems to have done it all. Recently Auroville Today asked him to share his thoughts on a wide range of topics.
“I initially came to visit my runaway family. Jan, my first wife, left Sydney for Auroville with our child, when he was three because I was such a hopeless case. Almost as soon as I arrived in Auroville I fell in with a group of young Tamil men building bamboo houses. In every village you’d have a group of men, or several groups of men, who were house-builders. There was one particular Tamil guy, whose name was Ramu, who was roughly the same age as me. He felt like a Tamil version of me. He had a really good comprehension of geometry, which is actually unusual in a village.
At that time there were about hundred and fifty people in Auroville, many of them trying to build houses without really any experience. I had experience with building things with my hands. So I suddenly found that I was fully employed as exactly the sort of architect I enjoyed being, which was a bamboo-and-rope architect.
Fertile was the first reforestation camp in Auroville. The idea was that you would have a camp and you would plant in the area you could reach and water from a single well, and than you would move on, leaving a watchman, and set up another camp. But that didn’t happen, because Auroville wasn’t purchasing land fast enough. Moreover, we suddenly had four children and other children were attracted to our children, and we suddenly had a kid’s community here. There used to be a huge, three-storey bamboo house here stock full of children!When we first came we had really no knowledge of afforestation, and all we wanted was shade. And so we planted any possible tree we could find. We didn’t know what to plant. As you can imagine, a lot of them died. Paul Blanchflower, who lived here for ten years, brought the know-how. He has a degree in tropical forestry or re-forestry. So he and a group of really qualified botanists that Auroville now contains put together the current planting policy – to replant the initial tropical evergreen forest that existed here when we came. But if you look at Fertile forest as it stands now, it is just higgledy-piggledy, the exotic and indigenous mixed together. You wouldn’t consider it to be very good reforestation, whereas the quality of reforestation that goes on now in other parts of Auroville is, I think, among the highest quality in the world.
When we first came we had a lot of trouble keeping what we planted from being cut and traded off as firewood. Many times I had to wrestle with a guy with a sharp axe in his hands over trees. And they are tough guys. It’s totally the other way round now. We don’t cut green timber at all but we are constantly cutting this Australian acacia, the Work tree, that grows rampantly all through Auroville. We cut them in the forest and we leave the branches lying, and sometimes the villagers won’t even take them away!
The Tamil people
I live here with this young Tamil guy, Elumalai, who’s a Tamil Aurovilian. He first came here when he was fifteen. When he married, his wife didn’t want to come to live here. I mean, when you look at the situation in a village and the situation in Auroville, you can see that Auroville is very encouraging for men, with motorcycles and volleyball and nice jeans and cell phones. But the women aren’t interested in that. What the women like is the support of other women that you have in a village, especially when you have children. Of course, you do have Tamil families living in Auroville and Tamil women happy here, but it takes a particular type of a Tamil women that likes to live in Auroville because it requires a sense of social adventure.
Elumalai doesn’t actually sleep in Fertile but he’s here at six o’clock in the morning and only goes at six o’clock in the evening. I can leave Fertile for up to four months at a time and when I come back not only is everything correct and in place but everything’s improved. He’s a special guy with a very special skill. I couldn’t do without a guy like that. And it’s the same with all these guys really. Once you get to know them, and get to work with them, you realize that.
Because the thing about the Tamils is that they have a sort of ethics: if they enjoy what you give them to do, then they do it really well and they don’t really care how much you pay them. But if you ask them to do something they don’t enjoy doing, they won’t do it very well and they want a lot of money for it.
India is very much a culture built on people doing what they like to do, even if it’s living on the street. I know that people decry poverty in India but the irony of poverty is that it contains a lot of very simple pleasures that a lot of people miss out on by living on the twenty fourth storey of a skyscraper somewhere, with a flat screen television.
Organic architecture
I was originally schooled in what was called organic architecture in the 60s and 70s. The understanding then was that you acted in a way that was invisible in nature. Even in an urban context it never drew attention to itself, it always tried to fit in with the environment.When I came here we tried to make a low impact on nature. We had no right to take electricity or food or services from India . My personal feeling is that it’s possible to be autonomous, which means as much as possible you generate your own needs and also deal with your own waste. All our toilets are composting and we have a motorcycle but we try to only use it for bringing building materials; mostly we travel by bicycle or bullock cart. I also like to use low-key building materials, because it employs villagers. People don’t realize, when they are putting up a concrete house, the impact of cement on the Indian environment.
The village as a model for Auroville
I think a village is a wonderful institution. We have this Western arrogance, we come to India with a solution to all their problems, when in reality they have a solution to our problems because they know how to live together. Actually in many villages they deal with their own problems, they don’t involve the police, the government at all. Like in our local village, Mathur, they never go to the police. Every dark moon they have a meeting in a temple, I’ve been to it several times, where they deal with any sort of social unrest in the village, theft, adultery, violence etc.
Politics in Auroville
What would I change in Auroville? There’s no point in having any idea about change if you aren’t prepared in some way to facilitate it yourself. Each of us has limited energy anyhow, and by the time you are my age you know what you can and can’t do. And you know what you enjoy doing and what you don’t enjoy doing. My general philosophy, and this is what I’m constantly preaching to the kids, is that you fix as your horizon the world as you want it to be.
And the world I want to live in is one where people make a much lighter imprint on the planet than huge concrete buildings and exploitative situations. So everything I do is in that direction. I’m not trying to change people at all, I’m simply trying to build a world I enjoy being in. And my main pretext is to have fun. It sounds very self-centered but I think if enjoyment is the prime concern in your personal life, a shared enjoyment with your children and other children and people in a community, it’s going to help make a joyful community. If people are constantly dealing with stressful problems and regulations, than you’re definitely going to end up with a lot of worried people and a slightly paranoid community.
Politics, frankly, I look upon as a form of theatre. And I think theatre is essential not only as an entertainment but as a form of dealing with collective psychology. I do respect the skill of somebody who can deal with complex problems and who is able to comprehend a problem and somehow calm people down. That’s not a definition of a Western politician, but it’s sort of a definition of an Auroville politician. Because Auroville’s politics is functional. It’s a group of people who are honestly and earnestly trying to solve problems in the community.
For many years all the politics in Auroville was completely voluntary. And so you had to want to do it. Now if you are part of a group that meets regularly and tries to deal with problems that aren’t yours personally, you receive a maintenance. And so you take it a bit more seriously, you say “We’d better make some serious decisions here”. And it can often reach a point when people take themselves much too seriously…
Auroville doesn’t really work by force. It’s like a river, it follows the easiest course. Despite the fact that there are very adamant and militant people here, everyone respects each other to some extent. There is a lot of hot air about authoritarianism, what you should do and shouldn’t do, but it gets down to live and let live.
I can have a major conflict with somebody over some issue. But then I can sit down with them and say ‘ok, ok, let’s agree that at least what we are after is this. You do it your way, I do it in my way, but let’s at least agree that we are heading in the same direction’. Of course, it might take a bit of talking to get to that point…
If you have a centralized authority it disenfranchises the individual. And so if you have somebody who takes it upon him to tell you what you have to do with your land, or your house, or your field, or your whatever, than he’s taking away your rights as an individual to think intelligently about your situation or to think collectively about your situation. This is important because as a community we’ve reached a critical point. We’re around 1800 people now, and that’s an interesting number which requires a certain technology to resolve problems. What we are trying to do now is to develop a slightly more complex management system in Auroville. And it’s quite fascinating watching all these different groups trying different approaches. The encouraging thing for me really is that no matter what’s happening, the awareness of what’s happening is growing.
Of course, when you’ve got a small community of people whose main goals are self-sufficiency and solar panels, then you are going to have a harmonious and autonomous community. But as soon as you start to get to the next level, when you start crochet workshops, carpentry workshops and get computer manufacturing, then you are going to have very different sets of demands and criteria. But they are all just a part of a growing society. It’s like a broad mind. A broad mind, for me, is one that can accommodate major contradictions. What you don’t want is a totally fanatical mind that says: “I’m only this and I won’t even think of being anything else!”
The broader we become socially, the more successful I consider we are because we should accommodate more and more diverse people.
Spirituality
It’s not something I think about very often. But I’ve always been fascinated by the concept of finding yourself. For example, my only way of dealing with somebody who is mentally deranged is to relate to the being inside that I know, the part which I would consider to be the spiritual soul of that person. In a community like Auroville – because you have access to time and space, and you do have absolutely freedom to do what you like, money is not a constraint, really – you have a freedom here to become whoever you want to become. And I think the natural tendency is to become who you are. The thing that you see in children and the thing I like in working with children is that they know who they are. They might not be likable, but they are who they are.
I don’t really see spiritual growth as a separate thing. I believe it has very much to do with your personal development of who you are. Auroville is a terrific opportunity not just for spiritual growth on an individual level but spiritual growth in terms of consideration and cooperation and relating to the rest of the community.
In Sri Aurobindo’s writings, there is a volume of work which is mostly about The Life Divine, which is actually a guide for the spiritual sadhak. That’s information that you don’t approach simply out of curiosity. If I am having some sort of spiritual difficulty, I suddenly find that that sort of literature speaks directly to me, to my need for spiritual sustenance. I have been in situations when I felt like on the borderline of sanity, and then I found that if you reach into these spiritual teachings, they are an incredibly powerful food.
Everyday life in Fertile
I don’t think I’ve done the same thing two days running. At the moment I’m doing theatre with the children, I’m building playgrounds outside Auroville, and this is all just voluntary work. The only regular thing in my day is a good cup of tea, ten o’clock, and a good solid breakfast based on grains we grow – I like the old traditional fermented grain breakfast that the villagers like called kuzhu.
I enjoy all the different aspects of this life. It’s enjoyable to farm, to plough, to harvest, to thresh, to deal with grains, every stage of this process is totally enjoyable. It’s such a land of opportunity. As soon as one thing finishes there’s the next one waiting, it’s like a chain effect, things just keep coming. At the moment we have taken on three other children in the community, who are having problems fitting in, so I do some schooling with these children until 10 o’clock in the morning. Then I do some woodcarving for a few hours. At the moment there’s also some plumbing to be done. The minute it starts to rain we’ll start planting trees again, we’ve got an idea to plant a whole field behind Jana’s house with trees that attract different sorts of butterflies. This is her dream. She knows every butterfly that is specific to a different tree.
At full moon we used to take a group of children and climb a hill somewhere around Gingee. Or we’d go to the beach.
On weekends I do have something of a routine. On Saturday I always make this dosai, idly mix. On Sundays I bake all day – biscuits and bread and cheesecake and whatever we can put together. Because Sunday is an open day when people come, it’s always totally different depending on who turns up.
I haven’t been to Australia in four, five years, my feeling is that it’s much more productive for my children to come here than for me to go there. When they come here they are relaxed and they can view life from a little bit of a distance, whereas when I meet them in Sydney, I get five minutes between coffee and telephone and their work: it’s just a major distraction what goes on in a modern society. I had a laptop for a while, but I gave it away, it became too much of an imposition on my life. We used to have a small television set and watch Tamil movies sometimes at night, but I gave up on that also. Frankly, by the time you get through a normal day here, it will be nine o’clock at night and you are exhausted and it’s enough to sit around a fire and talk with whoever might come by.And that’s my definition of a pleasant lifestyle.
Aryadeep Says: February 10th, 2007 at 4:33 pm
“a bit Orwellian”?
Stay here for a year or two, take active part/interest in some work/activity, try to understand the vision and the views behind the project, and, in all probability, you will change your opinion. Let me quote just one: A question was put to the Mother “What are the rules and regulations for life in Auroville?” She replied,”Thank god, there are none. So long as there are none, there is hope.”
Were is Orwellian here?
Scrimbobalicious Says: February 10th, 2007 at 7:12 pm
Hey Morg,
It’s saturday afternoon. Football focus has just finished. Scotland play Wales at Murrayfield in a couple of hours. That twat Jeremy Guscot’s on tv spouting guff on how great England are. There’s snow melting around the daffodil buds in the garden. It’s proper parky outside. I’d planned on sorting suff out around the house. Perhaps I still will, but I thought I’d procastinate with a random meander around the web, then thought to check here, to see how it’s gaun.
Sounds like you’re having a real eye opening experience, but then you’ve always gone into stuff with in the right frame of mind to allow that. I was expecting to read about temples, urchins, fatigue and food poisoning, some of which is mentioned above, but it’s great to read about things with more depth. It’s so Morg and I love it.
Amazing that Aryadeep has entered this blog. It strikes me that if Auroville has 1700 inhabitants and he/she has lives there now, and you are still there……you’ve got a good chance of meeting…or is that to be avoided….? That’s what’s a little bizarre about web culture particularly forum culture (which this isn’t but you know..). The inference is that everybody is physically distant on the net, and can only come together in an anonymous virtual space. But you (not You - one) could be sat in a net cafe tapping away to somebody in the same room without ever knowing….
You and Aryadeep have probably passed in the street! Sheesh, don’t mean to spook you!
keep up the good work.
Guy Says: February 11th, 2007 at 6:13 am
Just keep writing Morg, I, for one, am loving it.
Guy
PS: Spoke to Bill today - he may even have web access soon, never mind his own toilet.
morg Says: February 11th, 2007 at 9:31 pm
My apologies Aryadeep, if I was still in Auroville I would have been really interested to have met you. Next time maybe.
I was just surprised to see a comment from someone I didn’t know, and now I re-read it, misread the tone of your post. I took your ’suggestions’ to be ‘corrections’ and thought you were doing a PR job on my blog. Hence my Orwell ‘thought police’ references.
Of course I don’t find Auroville itself Orwellian … As I hope I’ve been able to convey, regardless of how Auroville may or may not suit me, I think it’s a great thing that you are all doing. I wish you the best of luck with it.
I guess I just don’t want to have to defend my observations to the wider world (too much). I’m not a journalist, I’m just a guy on holiday and this is my dispatch home to people who know that I’m far from perfect. I do my best to keep it interesting for them, I also can’t really afford to spend any more time pondering over it … so most of the time I have to accept that it’s going to be rash, optinionated and misinformed info at best. And I wouldn’t want it any other way.
Anyway, maybe I should write some kind of disclaimer to this effect for the future.
Well, I really enjoyed your article. Sounds like Iain did too, so that’s good. Thanks for that.
Sarah … when’s the big day ?Guy … So my Dad is going to make an appearance. Watch out ! Hope you’re well mate. Take care all.

These two were visionaries that gave many insights into the human potential & planted many seeds for a brighter future here on Earth

Auroville, South India : 6km north Pondicherry Auroville : a visionary eco-city in the making!

Editor's Pick AwardOur Editors awarded this journal entry for providing relevant information, plus photos or reviews that may be useful and inspiring for other travelers. from India Ohh India Trip Date: Jan 23 '07 Location: Auroville, India Author: Adrian B
Auroville. An experiment in living, inaugurated in 1968 & now 39 years into its evolution. Not really a big commune, but more of a small conscious city of 2,000+ 'Aurovillian' residents & many guests passing through for short & long-term visits. Auroville is diverse, spread out over many square miles & hard to understand at first glance. Even after 10 days here I feel I have only seen a small portion of the area. It consists of many smaller individual communities or what could be called eco-villages, cooperative living, organic farms, sustainablity projects, & also commercial infrastructures such as bakeries, restaurants, & shops with locally made products. There are always many workshops & courses throughout the year teaching sustainbality, permaculture, healing arts/massage, dance, yoga, & other very interesting topics. It is kind of like being back in college for me, but exactly the stuff i'm interested in learning now. My first days here were spent settling in & getting comfortable with this new scene. Everything is very different. You have to register & get a guest card, leave a money deposit to get a credit account for Auroville, & use this account number at restaurants, internet cafes, & the grocery stores-the idea being a futuristic city where you don't use cash. The food served at some places is mostly grown on these farms & therefore extremely local. I volunteered at 'Solitude' farm, planting lettuce & watermelon, & was treated afterwards with a lunch that was 90% from their farm! Can you say 'Frrrreeeesh'!
The health food store here "Pour Tous" has some amazing products, many made here in Auroville, like the 10 element cookies, mango bars, & organic produce. At first, I felt displaced & confused about Auroville, even with it's good food, workshops, & interesting places. The community did not seem in unity. I saw many people walking around that were too serious, pretentious & over-flowing with New Age know-it-all attitudes & egos the size of Texas. I did not see enough smiles, happiness, or even just neutral open-minded types. I saw people frowning & scowling driving too many stinky loud gas guzzling cars, motorcycles, & scooters & not enough electric cars, bicycles & smiles that a true visionary city should have in abundance! Since then, I've let go of judgements & learned that this Auroville is what it is NOW, & like other cities, it is in a constant state of growth & evolution. So what, people are not perfect here either. This is not yet a city of enlightened humans living in harmony with Divine Mother (Indian name for God/Goddess/Creator /Great Spirit/Brahman/Allah).
Maybe in the future, one hundred years or more....who knows? This is still just the beginning process unfolding... like a teenager, confused & going through puberty, or is Auroville still a baby going through growing pains & suffering from the loss of her Mother? Mother, not to be confused with Divine Mother, is the founder of Auroville. A french visionary yogini & special friend of Sri Aurobindo, famous South Indian guru & author of many profound books from the early 1900's. I have no doubt that these two were visionaries that gave many insights into the human potential & planted many seeds for a brighter future here on Earth. They initiated a way of life known as Integral Studies, involving Integral Yoga, Integral Meditation & philosophy that teaches to advance the evolution of humankind to what they called the Supramental state. As for Auroville, it is what it is, & if you let go of the judgements & see what good is happening here, you can enjoy this place even more.

Me at Matrimandir futuristic dome! View more photos My original intentions were to do volunteer work 3-4 hours a day on an organic farm here. I found the perfect farm, Solitude,
& so far have worked two days 9-12:30pm planting lettuce & watermelon. Afterwards they treated us with an amazing meal
that was 90% from their farm...now that's eating locally.. .literally footsteps away! No potatoes shipped from Idaho, no rice flown over from Japan. This kind of local eating, one part of the microbiotic diet (read more online), can do wonders for the world by saving tremendous fuel & carbon burning, but most people are not aware of this idea. They walk into Safeways & buy 90% non-local specialties, & believe me...i've been one of the crowd. It's how we were raised! I love those New Zealand gala apples....sweet & yummier than my BC & Washington apples in the backyard. But at this point in the 'Earth game', it's all about being the change you want to see in the world. Being the change. Walk your talk. Do we want to support our local organic farmers & make those prices go down over the next few decades? The trick is getting the mainstream to think & act this way.

Matrimandir Golden meditation dome, very Star Trekky sci-fi kinda building! View more photos And what will happen when peak oil really does drive prices for everything on the shelves up to unaffordable rates? Will the
items that don't need oil to transport, the locally made items, be the same price? I think so. Let's start shifting our consumption habits now & get more prepared for the inevitable shift! Tomorrow, I go to volunteer again at Solitude. I would be doing
everyday but I found a few important workshops that I joined.
I have begun studying Polarity Wellness 5 element massage/bodywork privately with Mikael at the Quiet Healing Center. I missed the 5 day workshop that happened so I'm doing 6 private lessons & learning as much as I can in this short time. Basically using the elements of Earth, Water, Fire, Air, & Ether for applying pressure & movements for a unique bodywork therapy.

Indian kids taking shower in public the Indian way...& having way too much fun as well! View more photos I've also been doing the 5 element dance workshop Mikael does once a week. The prices are incredible here! I payed
200 rupees ($5) for a two hour private lesson to learn the massage. You can study a variety of things here such as Thai massage, Watsu, Reiki, etc., for way cheaper then back home. Oh yeah, Watsu. Water shiatsu. In a swimming pool, you get gently massaged & brought into deep states of relaxation. I did one Watsu & was so thoroughly relaxed afterwards that I
couldn't walk for half hour. Sat down & meditated by the pool til I came back to Earth.
Today. I had the absolutely most incredibly tasting papaya as of yet! Superb natural organic fresh local sweetness! Wowsers!

Our beach hut at Reve Guesthouse for first 3 nights, $4 day. View more photos That's it. That was my day.
No really, I did more, but that was my favorite moment. I did 2 hours of yoga in the morning & and after had the biggest cry in many months. Crying about my mom's suicide & the anger, frustration, sadness & grief i've felt. I havn't realized how much anger, & to my surprise guilt, I have been holding in. Anger that has been with me probably since age 10 when my mom first
tried to commit suicide & ended up in the mental hospital for 2 years. Anger at the psychiatrists & pharmaceutical industry that tried & failed at curing her bipolar (manic depression) & diabetes. Anger that this only lonely child has lost his mother for good. Angry at the fact that I couldn't do more to help. Actually I have been guilty that I could not cure my mom & find the right healing for her. I know, that sounds wierd...I actually thought I could heal my dis-eased mommy. My astrologer said this is in my chart though. I am the wounded healer archetype (Chiron in the North Node) that is a healer, but one that attracts deep wounds that need healing & integration. I have also held guilt over how my mom's actual death happened, as it was not a simple suicide, but drawn out over 9 days. She tried to overdose on her diabetes medicine, insulin, which put her into a coma by the eight hours or more time it took for her to be found & brought to the hospital. At this point her brain was completely damaged & if she were to be kept alive with machines & live longer, the experts said she would be a vegetable. Me, being the only child had to make the extremely difficult decision of pulling the plug on her life support & letting her finally die.

Me planting baby lettuce at Solitude organic farm. Amazing farm, read blog for more details on it. View more photos This was not easy for me! I believe in miraculous healing, spontaneous healing, prayer, miracles. Maybe her brain would not have suffered that much damage...I wanted to believe this, but it just was not possible they all said, & it was probably fact. But, maybe she could be healed...I wanted to believe. But, the situation was grim. I had to honor my mom's decision to end her life. It became my choice, in some twisted fate, to have to pull the plug & kill her. My mom & I were so close. I was born on her birthday, April 12th, & we always shared that cosmic connection of sharing the same b-day. After her death, I had to decide all the other issues immediately. Cremation, the type of urn, what type of funeral & plot for the urn. All of this was madness, but I acted like I could handle it all at the time. I have been keeping alot of emotions in since her death & trying to accept the situation. I believe in reincarnation & hope that her next life will be happier & free of dis-ease. I worry about her chosen death by suicide though & the 'hell bardos' that buddhists say one can enter. Is my dear mom trapped in that scary place, or, like my Catholic family thinks, is she in heaven? Or reborn? So much left to Great Mystery, one really never knows being mere human.

My favorite chill hang out place at Quiet Healing Center (spa resort). Nothing like a hammock nap! View more photos So, I surrender to the unknown, I let go of this pain & suffering, & I have faith that everything is as it should be, here & now. All part of the intergalactic puzzle, & our individual karmic roles are intrinsically wrapped up in the outcome of this 'Earth game'.
But ya know, there have been those 3 big questions asked for centuries that still have no definite answers. Who are we? Why are we here? And...where are we going? I guess death of a loved one brings out the philosopher in you. It really makes you realize how precious this life is. I usually don’t open up so much by web writing, but what the heck. better than keeping this all inside to myself all the time!
As to Auroville, I am leaving in two days. I may come back some day. My 3 weeks fly by way too fast here. Probably because I was so damn busy going to workshops, cooking fantastic healthy meals with my friend Shinobi, going to the free cinema, getting massage, dance classes, working at the farm, going to the beach, crying & processing emotions, etc. Definitely not a boring place!

Auronagar somewhere in Orissa

The Mother formed and gave approval to Auroentreprises on 1971, with Her Blessings for it, to be registered in Orissa. Auroentreprises is an endeavour to realize progressively the Ideal of the perfect man in a perfect society as visioned by The Mother and Sri Aurobindo.
Auroentreprises aims to create a commercially integrated spiritual society with a view to promote a progressive universal harmony. Auroentreprises may not be a second Auroville. But it will be somewhat similar, as it will be a project in Orissa for local development and for the Future of Mankind. The Dream of The Mother is also the Inspiration for Auroentreprises.
Auroentreprises will form a nucleus township somewhere in Orissa, and it will be named Auronagar. The process for selection and acquisition of land for the purpose has already began and, hopefully, it will be soon finalized.
It is hoped that the followers of The Mother and Sri Aurobindo throughout the world, and all other persons open to Truth and the Divine, will support this project of Auroentreprises wholeheartedly. Barin Chaki 11-02-2007 Posted by Barin at 9:25 AM Labels:

Monday, February 05, 2007

Expressions of Consciousness in Matter

Tamil Nadu - Others Three-day conference Staff Reporter The Hindu Saturday, Jan 13, 2007
PUDUCHERRY: A three-day conference, titled `The Collective Yoga of Man: A World in Process', covering themes such as `Sense of the Collective', `Life-Transforming Process' and `The Changing World of Matter' got under way at Auroville at the Sri Aurobindo World Centre for Human Unity, Bharat Nivas, on Friday.
Auroville governing board member Aster Patel said discussions on life transforming processes were scheduled for January 13. Vladimir will talk on `In search of a new approach to integral knowledge' and Anuradha Choudry on `Relevance of the Vedic sacrifice in modern times'.
Veenapani Chawla's Adishakti will present the "The Hare and The Tortoise" at 7 p.m.
Discussions on "The changing World of Matter" will be held on January 14. Speakers include solar scientist Chaman Lal Gupta, who will speak on "Expressions of Consciousness in Matter" and Ram Sehgal on "Global Markets".