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