Thursday, November 30, 2006

Pondicherry (I love that name so much!)

Chika's Blog Monday November 27, 2006 Pondicherry-the beautiful former french colony of India!
I'm back!!! gosh have i missed writing good stories here.... So, if you're wondering what i've been up to this weekend or before that, go get your drink or whatever it is that you eat when on the internet, cos i'm about to take you on another wonderful adventure in Incredible India!~!
So, my flatmate and i, a swedish girl and another friend, a german decide to head of to the east coast of india, a place called pondicherry (i love that name so much!), a former french colony of india. We set off by bus at bout 10:50pm friday night the 24th and arrive in Pondy by 5am in the morning. We didn't realise how close it was to Bangalore, so we figured we'd arrive at bout 7:30am, which by then would be daylight enough to find our way around wrong we were... in 6hours, we were awakened by the bus conductor shouting some words, in a language i know not!
So, we got down from the bus, and spotted a nearby joint or whatever, where there were a couple of old men reading the morning paper by 5am, dressed in their traditional attire, called the lungi (not sure of that spelling)!! -its basically just a cloth wrapped round their waist, that goes down to the leg, but they usually fold it in 2 to aid movement, so it stops just above their knees! kinda weird. Anyways, we asked to sit down there so that we could pore through the lonely planet and decide on which hotel or guest house to stay for one night.
Now, for those of you that haven't heard bout the Lonely planet, let me divert a lil and brief u on the purpose of the lonely planet. It is a travel book, infact its not just a book, it's a bible! i have never in my life seen any book like this, that gives such indepth info from the prices of hotel rooms to cabs, to restaurants, best things to see, and what not to see...infact, we rely so much on this book, that if u go to a place and it's not in the lonely planet, then it's not worth going to.
We got a rickshaw, then started our 1hour search for a hotel to stay. As this time of the year is monsoon in Pondy, we expected to be able to find a place quite easily, but once again, we were wrong. Pondicherry is a getaway from the hassles of busy city life...the atmosphere is so relaxing, the peopel laid back, and the food to die for! As were drove down to the hotel, we got a chance to take in the beauty of the environment, interconnecting boulevards, with french colonial houses beautifully painted and well mapped streets, spotlessly clean.
To our dismay, there were no rooms available! so, we sat in the rickshaws and dialled the numbers of all the hotels in the lonely planet, only to be told that they were fully booked! eventually, we ended up in a hotel recommended by our rickshaw driver...which turned out to be aight...except for when it was time to check out! that in itself is another story...i'm getting there though.
Not to drag the story for too long, we spent our saturday going to the paradise beach, but we had to go on a boat trip to get to the beach through the back waters! it wasn't as exciting as it sounds, but the scenery was beautiful regardless.
After that, we went to buy our return tickets back to bangalore for sunday night, only to be told that all tickets were sold out! we sat at the travel office contemplating whether to get on the night bus of the same day back to bangalore as that was our only option, the travel agency got a call, and someone cancelled 3 tickets!! can u imagine our luck.
We then went to treat ourselves to some good french cuisine, and then a beauty spa for a facial, which i absolutely enjoyed! Later on in the evening, we met up with a friend of a friend who's from Pondy, and he took us to an amazing hotel where we had a buffet dinner, and i must mention that this was the best buffet i'd ever had in my entire life!! the food was delicious!!! consisting of south indian non-vegetarian dishes, with french cuisine, all for a very affordable price by the way.
We were bursting by the time we finished the 3course meal, and then we headed for a walk by the promenade. Unfortunately, Pondy has a beach that is devoid of sand, and only rocks that lead right down to the strong waves and currents of the sea,so there was no getting close to the water. Interestingly though, Pondy was hit by the tsunami that occured in 2004, so i felt strange to be in a place that was hit by the tsunami, though only certain parts were hit,and not the entire city...
I have to mention at this point that indians never fail to live up to expectations of getting just that extra cash out of the hands of as we tried to check out of our hotel, we faced a major crisis that resulted in yelling and curses and bitter words exchanged, including the security being called to prevent us from leaving the hotel...we were asked to pay twice the amount of our room for spending an extra 4hours in the room, can you imagine??!!! in the end, we paid the original amount plus another half of the amount, due to the incompetence of the hotel staff and misinformation given to us, but not without us bearing our minds and lashing our tongues at the manager and even the owner of the restaurant!
Finally, the highlight of our trip was going to Auroville...a place created by man as an experiment of Human unity. Auroville is about 12kms from Pondy, and is a project aimed at human unity, whereby different nationalities co-exist in harmony regardless of race. Needless to say that the entire place felt spooky and unreal to me. It seemed like something right out of a spielberg movie or for those who have watched the movie - The beach. Anyways, auroville has about 35 nationalities of people from all over the world, living in a forest!! it was a project founded in 1967 by a french lady of half turkish, half egyptian descent, who was called "The Mother". They basically occupied a barren land, grew loads of trees to discourage de-forestation and then the aurovillians as they call themselves, live in houses entirely from the contribution of followers of this project. The entire "project"is based on donations from members worldwide.
Every single item or product in auroville is made by auroville, from clothes to bags to incense et al. Even more interesting is the water they drink which is called Dynamised water - that is, water that has been treated through a 6step process, which seems normal until the 6th process where gems or flowers are utilised as the final process depending on the purpose for which the water is needed. Also, the water has to be stored ina special plastic tank, and music is played to the water to give it a peaceful state - apparently evident in the crystal as stated by "the people".
The atmosphere in auroville is not a welcoming one, and everything seems weird and distorted in a strange's hard to explain, only better felt. Also, the largest crystal lens in the entire world is found in this village, made entirely from gold...used as a meditation point for the aurovillans and only they have access to the inside of this maginificent structure. Tourists have to settle for a view of the exterior only. As for the aurovillans way of life, most of them are in live-in relationships with their partners, teenage kids dating each other and more or less exchanging partners!
I sure was glad when we got out of that place, after having a nice dinner though! So folks, that's my story of this weekend! hope u enjoyed it see y'all soon for another round! Posted by kaka at 13:31 Permanent Link Comments (2)

Sunday, November 26, 2006

Sri Aurobindo Society Newsletter, November - 2006

News from Puducherry (formerly Pondicherry)
Upcoming Events
17th and 20th November 2006 - Maha-Samadhi of the Mother
The Mother
The Mother left her body on 17th November 1973. Her body was laid in the Samadhi on 20th November. The Mother's room will be open for darshan for devotees on 17th November 2006. Here is what the Mother once wrote about Herself:
"I am French by birth and early education, I am Indian by choice and predilection. In my consciousness there is no antagonism between the two, on the contrary, they combine very well and complete one another. I know also that I can be of service to both equally, for my only aim in life is to give a concrete form to Sri Aurobindo's great teaching and in his teaching he reveals that all the nations are essentially one and meant to express the Divine Unity upon earth through an organised and harmonious diversity."
When pressed about the details of her physical life, this was Her brief reply:
"Do not ask questions about the details of the material existence of this body; they are in themselves of no interest and must not attract attention. 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. That alone matters."
24th November 2006 - Siddhi Day
24th November 2006 is a very significant day, especially for the devotees of Sri Aurobindo and the Mother, as it marks the 80th anniversary of the Siddhi Day - The Day of Victory -, the descent of the Sri Krishna Consciousness or the Overmental Consciousness into the physical. This was the first decisive step towards the Supramental Manifestation which took place in 1956.
About this event Sri Aurobindo later wrote in a letter:
"The 24th November [1926] was the descent of Krishna into the physical…. The descent of Krishna would mean the descent of the Overmind Godhead preparing, though not itself actually, the descent of Supermind and Ananda. Krishna is the Anandamaya; he supports the evolution through the Overmind leading it towards his Ananda."
The 24th November 1926 is also the day when the Sri Aurobindo Ashram came into being. It is therefore the planting of the seed which has how grown into a huge and mighty banyan tree with a presence all over the world.
And this is what the Mother once explained to the children when she was asked why She and Sri Aurobindo created the Ashram at Puducherry:
"My child, that is why the Ashram was created... because, in France, I was always asking myself: How can one find the time to find oneself ? How can one even find the time to understand how to become free? So then I thought: a place where material needs will be sufficiently provided for, so that if one truly wants to become free, one can do so. And the Ashram was founded on this idea, not on any other -- a place where people would have enough to live on so as to have time to think of the True Thing."
Annual Seminar of the Women's Council - 2006: "Progressive Friendship with the Divine"
The Women's Council of Sri Aurobindo Society welcomes you to join its annual Seminar, on the theme of 'Progressive Friendship with the Divine', to be held at the Society's Beach Office at No.1, Rangapillai Street, Puducherry, on 21, 22, 23 November 2006. All interested, both women and men, are welcome to participate. For information and accommodation, write to The Secretary - Women's Council Sri Aurobindo Society, Puducherry - 605 002, mentioning the type of accommodation required and in what range.
The Mother's room opens for general Darshan on 17 November and Sri Aurobindo's Room on the Siddhi Day i.e. 24 November. You can plan your stay in Puducherry from 16 to 25 November 2006 to avail of both Darshans and the Seminar in-between.
Dr. M.V. Nadkarni's forthcoming Series of Talks
The Society will organise two study camps by Dr. Mangesh Nadkarni at its Beach Office hall: 1. From 26 November to 4 December 2006 on Sri Aurobindo's "Essays on the Gita" 2. From 23 February to 5 March 2007 on Sri Aurobindo's "Savitri"
As usual there will be two sessions daily 9:00 to 10:00 am and 10:30 to 11:45 am. The talks are open to all.
Recent Events
7 - 14 October 2006: Mini-Camp for Teacher Trainees from the University of Lucknow
Vijaybhai, interacting with the Group
The teacher trainees, wrapt in listening
A group of 30 teacher trainees from the educational dept. of the University of Lucknow visited Puducherry from 7 to 14 as part of their educational tour. After a brief introduction to the Ashram and to the education at the Ashram school, the principles of the integral education were discussed in detail. Many points related to the way education and teacher-training were currently imparted, also came up for discussion. Over the days, the group was also taken to visit some of the dept. of the Ashram and Auroville.
Dr. Sampadananda Mishra's Visit to Arunachal Pradesh and Assam
Inauguration of the 3-day teacher training programme
Dr. Sampadananda Mishra of Sri Aurobindo Society, Puducherry, was invited as a resource person to conduct a three-day training programme for the Sanskrit teachers of the Vivekananda Kendra Schools of Arunachal Pradesh and Assam. Teachers from twenty-six schools came to participate in the training programme. Most of them were postgraduates in Sanskrit with B.Ed. The following topics were discussed in detail during the programme:
Importance of Sanskrit and its relevance to our day to day life • Sanskrit Alphabet • Sanskrit Chandas • How to teach Sanskrit grammar in an effective and interesting manner • Conversational Sanskrit • How to make Sanskrit classes vibrant and activity oriented • Ways and means to popularize Sanskrit in youths of modern time
Dr. Mishra, interacting with the teachers
Apart from the above topics, many other issues related to the syllabus of their schools were also taken up for the discussion. Addressing to the participants on the final day, Dr. Mishra in his speech put emphasis on discovering new and effective methods of teaching Sanskrit. He made it clear in the meeting that for achieving anything good one needs to do hard work and one needs to have sincerity and patience.
With the school students, learning the basic Sanskrit vocabulary
On 10 October Dr. Mishra also addressed the students of class nine and ten of the Vivekananda Kendra School, Jayarampur, Arunachal Pradesh, and explained to them about the beauty of Sanskrit language by giving many examples. He also taught them a basic vocabulary of Sanskrit words to be used everyday. At the end of the session the students were found identifying the parts of the body and names of the weekdays in Sanskrit.
Some Special Days in November - December 2006
1 December 2006 - Gita Jayanti
Sri Krishna & Arjuna
The Gita Jayanti, or the birthday of the Bhagavad Gita, which is celebrated throughout India, falls this year on 1 December. Traditionally it is held that on this day Sanjaya started narrating to King Dhritarashtra the dialogue between Sri Krishna and Arjuna, and thus made the glorious teaching of the Lord available to the people of the world, for all time. The unique place of the Gita among the great scriptures of the world and the relevance of its teaching in our day-to-day life is brought out in the luminous words of Sri Aurobindo:
"The peculiarity of the Gita among the great religious books of the world is that it does not stand apart as a work by itself, the fruit of the spiritual life of a creative personality like Christ, Mahomed or Buddha or of an epoch of pure spiritual searching like the Veda and Upanishads, but is given as an episode in an epic history of nations and their wars and men and their deeds and arises out of a critical moment in the soul of one of its leading personages face to face with the crowning action of his life, a work terrible, violent and sanguinary, at the point when he must either recoil from it altogether or carry it through to its inexorable completion. "…The teaching of the Gita must therefore be regarded not merely in the light of a general spiritual philosophy or ethical doctrine, but as bearing upon a practical crisis in the application of ethics and spirituality to human life."
News from Branches and Centres
News from Abroad Nairobi (Kenya) - 3rd Anniversary of Sri Aurobindo's Relics
Hoisting of the Mother's flag
Members, collaborators and friends of the Sri Aurobindo Society, Nairobi Centre celebrated the 3rd Anniversary of the Enshrinement of Sri Aurobindo's Relics at the Sri Aurobindo Bhavan on 13th July 2006.
Musical recital "Samarpan"
The Mother's flag was hoisted at the Bhavan in the morning at 8 a.m., followed by prayers. In the evening an hour's musical recital "Samarpan" was offered to Sri Aurobindo and the Mother. Dhruv Bhatt and associates started the recital with "Om Namo Bhagavate" and ended with "Om Anandamayi, Chaitanyamayi, Satyamayi Parame" and the entire congregation joined in reciting this Mantra. About one hundred and thirty people attended the programme. Prasad in the form of dinner was served after the recitation. The book "Aim of Life", along with a bouquet of white and red roses, was presented to all.
Other Programmes: On 19th August 2006 a member of the Nairobi Centre was invited by the United States International University, Nairobi, to participate in the Congregation assembled for the Graduation Ceremony. About six hundred students graduated on that occasion. More than five thousand people were assembled at the venue Kasarani Stadium. The United States International University extended their gratitude to the Society for their fine gesture.
On 26th August 2006 the Nairobi Centre presented the deluxe set of collected works of Sri Aurobindo and the Mother to the Kenya National Library. Four senior representatives of Kenya National Library visited the Sri Aurobindo Bhavan and received the volumes.
On 7th October 2006 five members of the Nairobi Centre presented 11,000 booklets in 11 different titles to Kenyatta National Hospital - the largest national hospital of Kenya. One of the members of the Society gave a brief introduction on the contents of the booklets after reading out the Mother's Morning Prayer. These booklets will be distributed in the provincial Branches of the hospital throughout Kenya.
Shri Gopal Bhattacharjee's Visit
The International Secretary of Sri Aurobindo Society, Shri Gopal Bhattacharjee, visited the Society's Centres in Germany and the U.K. during August and September 2006. In Weinheim, Germany, there was a public function on 19th August 2006 where he gave a talk on "Sri Aurobindo and His Relevance in the Present Day Happenings of the World". From Weinheim, where our Centre is situated, he visited Heidelberg and Fortsheim mainly to meet devotees and friends.
In U.K., besides visiting the Society's Centre in Harrow, he also visited Kent and Oxford where he had group meetings. At the Harrow Centre he delivered two talks on 26th August and 9th September 2006. The subjects were "Relevance of Sri Aurobindo in the Modern World" and "Savitri" respectively. A popular weekly "The New World" published two articles on Sri Aurobindo and the Mother during his visit. This magazine also published an interview with Shri Gopal Bhattacharjee on the teachings of Sri Aurobindo.
News from India
Sri Aurobindo Society Hindi Zonal Conference
Two-day annual conference of Hindi speaking States
The annual conference of Sri Aurobindo Society (Hindi Zone) was held on 7th and 8th October 2006 at the Society's Branch at Noida, U.P.
Chief Guest Shri Shivraj V. Patil, Hon'ble Home Minister, lighting the lamp
The inaugural function on 7th October was presided over by His Excellency Shri T.N. Chaturvedi, Governor of Karnataka. Shri Shivraj V. Patil, Hon'ble Home Minister, was the chief guest. Shri Hari Shankar Singhania, President, JK Organisation, and Dr. Abid Hussain, former Indian Ambassador to USA were the guests of honour. About 300 persons attended the inaugural function, including various distinguished persons such as Dr. L.M. Singhvi, former Indian High Commissioner to U.K., Shri B.P. Singhal, ex-Member of Parliament, and Shri Mahesh Prasad, IAS (Retd.).
His Excellency Shri T.N. Chaturvedi, Governor of Karnataka, speaking at the inaugural session. Also seen on the dais (from left) Shri Om Prakash Dani, Chairman, Noida Branch, Dr.Abid Hussain, Former Indian Ambassador to USA, H'ble Home Minister Shri Shivraj V. Patil, Shri Hari Shankar Singhania, President J.K.Organisation, Shri Vijay K. Poddar, Chairman, HIndi Zone & Dr.Suresh Chand Tyagi, Secretary, Hindi Zone
Specific sessions were organised on different aspects of Sri Aurobindo's teachings. The first session was chaired by former Chief Justice of India Shri R.C. Lahoti. Padma Shri Dr. Shyam Singh Shashi was the key speaker. The subject was "Sri Aurobindo Ka Samaj".
On 8th October 2006, the second session on "Atimanas - Swarup aur Avirbhav" was chaired by Shri Vijay K. Poddar, Chairman, Sri Aurobindo Society Zonal Committee (Hindi). The main speaker of the session was Dr. Devaki Nandan Srivastav. His Excellency Shri T.N. Chaturvedi, Governor of Karnataka, also participated in this session.
A view of the audience
The third session, on "Bharat ki Niyati aur Bhumika", was chaired by Dr. Suman Kochar and Shri Kaivalya Smart was the key speaker. The concluding session was chaired by the Chairman of the SAS Zonal Committee (Hindi) Shri Vijay K. Poddar.
More than 100 delegates from U.P., Uttaranchal, Punjab, Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Rajasthan, Delhi, Bihar, Jharkhand and Haryana participated in the conference. The conference was organised by the office bearers of the Noida Branch, lead by Shri Om Prakash Dani, Chairman of the Branch.
Aurangabad (Maharashtra)
Sri Aurobindo's Birth Anniversary: The Aurangabad Centre celebrated the 134th birth anniversary of Sri Aurobindo on 15th August 2006. The programme started with prayers and bhajans by Shilpa and Shweta. As it was also the occasion of Janmashtami, Prof. Ramesh Dhoble gave a talk on one of the chapters from the "Essays on the Gita". After the talk, there was collective chanting of "Hymn to Durga", followed by collective meditation. After the meditation, Darshan Day cards were distributed to all.
Essay competition for students underway
Essay-writing Competition & Antarnad: An essay competition was organised by the Centre on the occasion of Sri Aurobindo's birth anniversary in the month of Aug. 2006. 95 students from 12 different schools and around 35 students from various colleges participated. The following topics were given for the competition:
1. Sri Aurobindo - His life and mission 2. If there were no exams… 3. India: As I dream
On 24th Sep. 2006 the Abhipsa Youth Wing of the Centre conducted a half-day workshop "Antarnad" for the same students at the Vivekananda College. The first session of the workshop was "Goshti Manachya" - "Interesting Aspects Of Mind". Dr. Madhushri Sawaji, a medical practitioner, conducted it. She is also very actively involved in different projects for the education of children. She narrated several small incidents related to different aspects of human mind in a very interesting manner and made it easy for the students to understand.
Dr. Chhaya Mahajan, a noted writer and Head of English Dept., Mahila Mahavidyalaya, conducted the second session "Improving Writing Skills". She guided the students on imagination and expression. She highlighted the importance of good writing and how to improve it. Both the sessions were interactive. All the students actively participated and were very happy to get satisfactory answers to their queries.
This workshop was followed by a prize distribution function of the essay competition. Dr. Saralatai Nagraj from Amrawati, an eminent speaker on "Savitri" in Marathi, and Shri Gyanprakashji Modani, a noted industrialist, distributed prizes to the winners of this essay competition. All the participants were given a certificate of participation. Members of the Aurangabad Centre and guardians of the students were also present for both the functions. Now the Centre is planning to organise more such workshops on a regular basis.
Thiruchirappalli (Tamil Nadu)
Exhibition on "Spiritual significance of flowers"
The Thiruchi Centre celebrated their 3rd anniversary on 7th and 8th October 2006. On 7th October an exhibition was organised on "Spiritual Significance of Flowers", in which about 250 varieties of flowers were displayed and a display of photographs and books in which rare photographs of Sri Aurobindo and the Mother were exhibited. The exhibition was inaugurated by Dr. Jayabal, Chairman, GVN Hospitals. About 1000 people visited the exhibition.
Workshop on "Future Education" under progress
On 8th October a workshop on "Future Education" was held in the forenoon. Dr. A. Rajendran, Head Master, KAPV Hr. Sec. School, Thiruchi, conducted the workshop. About 30 students from various schools and colleges in Thiruchi participated. In the evening a public meeting was arranged. Shri S.M. Krishnan, Scientist, CECRI, Karaikudi, presided over the meeting. Shri K. Ananthakrishnan, Secretary, Sri Aurobindo Society, Coimbatore Centre, delivered a special address. Shri K. Thamilvel, Secretary of the Thiruchi Centre, read out the Annual Report.
Chennai (Tamil Nadu)
Shri Pradeep Narang, Chairman, Sri Aurobindo Society, Puducherry, visited the Society's Branch at Chennai and participated in the collective meditation on Sunday the 15th October 2006. He spoke on "Life and Death" as revealed by Sri Aurobindo and the Mother. The talk was attended by about 200 devotees and members.
Vellore (Tamil Nadu)
The Vellore Centre arranged a lecture by Shri N.V. Balu of the Anna Nagar Centre, Chennai, on 4 October 2006 on the "Duties of the Devotees of the Mother". They also arranged Shri Balu's talk on 5 October 2006 on "Aim of Education" as envisaged by the Mother at the Govt. High School, Wallajah.
Mussoorie (Uttaranchal)
Seminar on "India in Sri Aurobindo's View" by the Mussoorie Centre
The Mussoorie Centre celebrated their anniversary on 17 September 2006. On this occasion they organised a seminar "India in Sri Aurobindo's View". Shri Bhan Singh Chauhan, Chairman of the Centre, talked about Sri Aurobindo's spiritual message and His fight for the independence of India as a revolutionary Yogi. The seminar was also addressed by Shri S.C. Tyagi, Chairman of the U.P. and Uttaranchal State Committee of the Society, and Dr. Suman Kochar, Secretary of the Madhya Pradesh State Committee. Shri L.K. Srivastava, Chairman of the Dehradun Branch of the Society was also on the dais.
Visakhapatnam (Andhra Pradesh)
The Visakhapatnam Centre organised a lecture on 3 Sept. 2006 by Shri K.R.L. Narasimha Rao, Chairman of the Society's Jaggayyapeta Centre, on "Relevance of Sri Aurobindo's and the Mother's Teachings Today". Shri T.V. Ramana Rao, Chairman of the Visakhapatnam Centre, presided. Prof. K.V. Ramana, former Vice-chancellor of Andhra University, Dr. Y. Parthasarathy, former Dy. Chairman of VPT, Prof. A.V.R. Shastry, Dr. A. Prabhavathi, Dr. Rajeshwari Sankaran and Shri G.K. Raju were among those present in the large gathering.
The Centre also organised a one-day seminar on 15 October 2006 on "Vision of Sri Aurobindo and the Future of India". Inaugural address was delivered by Prof. K.V. Ramana, former Vice-chancellor, Andhra Pradesh, and the keynote address by Sri K.V. Rao of Sri Aurobindo Society, Vijayawada. Shri KRL Narasimha Rao of Sri Aurobindo Society, Jaggayyapeta, spoke on "Life Divine in Action" and Shri K. Venkateswarlu, editor of the magazine 'Akhila', and Shri P.C. Swaroop, State Youth Coordinator, spoke on youth education. Shri D. Venkateswara Rao summed up the proceedings and the seminar ended with a question & answer session. About 75 persons participated in the programme.
Godavarikhani (Andhra Pradesh)
The Godavarikhani Centre organised a lecture-cum-interaction programme on "How to bring up a Child" on 14 October 2006 at Sri Venkateswara Vidyaniketan High School, Godavarikhani. Shri Ganta Narayana, Chairman of the Centre, delivered a talk on the subject and interacted with the parents and teachers. 26 parents, 30 teachers and 150 students participated in the programme. The Centre proposes to hold such programmes weekly in selected high schools and colleges.

home about the site 15th August the mother sri aurobindo about sas sas activities onlife, online calendar sas & you the ashram centre of education auroville pondicherry sitemap what's new related links archive feedback audio "Om namoh bhagvate..."

Friday, November 24, 2006

This sacred space has the shape of a golden flower

Impressions of Auroville: The pioneers of consciousness. Marc Luyckx Ghisi March 2005. published in "Auroville today" in april 2005. Posté par Marc Luyckx à 22:18 - Auroville - Commentaires [0] - Rétroliens [0] - Permalien [#]
Between February 20th and February 28th 2005, I had the pleasure to be invited to Auroville as Member of the "Auroville International Advisory Council". Here are some impressions, for all of you who have never been there.

Can you imagine a city where the average citizen you meet in the streets, after a short moment of contact, may be speaking about the necessity to take distance from one’s ego in order to go towards one’s deepest self where a spark of the divine has to be discovered? Is it possible to imagine a city, which is since already thirty years in the process of being constructed around the aim of raising the level of consciousness of Humanity?

You would probably say that this is pure utopia. And you are totally right. I would even go further saying that this is radically impossible. And I would add a quotation from the French philosopher Pascal (17th century): "Man is neither an angel neither an animal. However the irony is that when he tries to become an angel, he behaves like an animal." Because the very project of raising the level of Humanity's consciousness is basically aiming at transforming human nature, lifting human nature to another level.. All people of common sense will agree that this project is crazy, totally impossible...

And yet this city exists, and I have visited it. And am still in a state of shock. After a lot of difficulties, as if fate was against this visit, I finally managed to arrive in Auroville on February 20th, 2005. Auroville is being constructed a few kilometres inland from the sea, north of Pondicherry, in the south-east of India. The city has been founded on February 28th, 1968.

In the years since then the first pioneers succeeded in transforming the desert area into a sub-tropical forest full with birds. Access roads look more like forest roads than city entrance highways. There isn’t even a sign board on the main entrance road. One rather has the impression of entering a construction site! And it is a construction site, but what kind of construction site!

It is a very authentic human construction site, but also a spiritual builder's yard! In this place the shadow is proportionate to the intensity of the light and energy. Indeed, there are problems and defects in this city and the Aurovilians don’t shy away from openly discussing them. The growth of the city is too slow. There are too few citizens (1800). There are many disagreements with regard to the city's future and to what the priorities are. Some residents criticize fellow citizens as being profiteers, or betraying Auroville's ideals. Others consider that the local, Tamil villages are not yet well enough integrated into the city..

And yet, despite all these defects, it is a unique place of individual and collective spiritual growth. This is the reason why the shadows are so visible, as they are proportional to the light and to the energy radiating from the place. The fact that those flaws and problems and challenges are so openly discussed has deeply reassured me. I had been afraid to encounter a sort of angelic pretension that everything was OK, and that there was no problem, possibly because everybody was already at another level of consciousness! This ‘angelism’ would have been indicative of a false spirituality.., and, potentially, of a sectarian movement. What it boils down to, one of the residents told me, is that if you are not deeply, profoundly serious about this spiritual research and growth, both at the personal and collective level, you won’t make it here, you just won’t stay here, you will leave..

I have been deeply impressed by meeting with residents who lived for thirty or forty years in the city. When listening to them, one gets the sense of the very genuine, widening experiences they have gone through, and of their persistent determination to build this city and to work on themselves. And one realizes that without this they, indeed, just wouldn’t have found the stamina to stay, and would have left one way or the other..

At the level of my own intellectual and spiritual reflection with regard to the actual paradigm shift towards transmodernity, I got the surprise of my life by discovering this very first transmodern city. Yes, the Aurovilians are in perfect accordance with everything I wrote in my book[1]. I now can say: "Transmodernity exists; I have seen it in this city." Although it was the first time I was visiting Auroville, I had a distinct feeling of being at home. And I think that this impression was also shared by the Aurovilians that I had the joy to meet. There was from both sides the strong impression of recognition, of being on the same wavelength. Amazing, fascinating and very stimulating indeed.

Coming back in Europe, the contrast is not so much the drastic change of temperature: (- 45° Celsius!). No, the real contrast is the level of energy, which is so much higher in Auroville. I have seen this energy sparkling in the eyes of Paolo, a young boy, whose parents recently decided to join Auroville. He was full of internal joy. He told me that he was happy to be, for the first time, in a school he was enjoying. His creativity was bursting. He told me that he had learned to have a real contact with ponies, to familiarize with them, to have a real, living understanding with them.. This boy was touching and beautiful. Here in Brussels, I keenly sense the difference of energetic level. Residents of Auroville do not feel their energy level. But the foreign visitor does. This entire town despite all its shadows is at a higher energetic level. It’s an extraordinary realization..

This very audacious project, this ‘superhuman’ project, could not be but launched by two beings of an exceptional spiritual power: Ms Mirra Alfassa, called "Mother" (1878-1973) and Aurobindo Ghose, called "Sri Aurobindo" (1872-1950). They consecrated an important part of their lives and certainly of their extraordinary spiritual energy, not to fly off alone at the heights of infinite contemplation, but to transform and raise the level of human consciousness. And Auroville is possible precisely because of the energetic breakthrough that these two beings achieved, individually and together. Auroville is like the incarnation, the materialisation of this spiritual victory they won for the sake of Humanity.

At the personal level, one of the strongest experiences for me has been the visit to the ‘Matrimandir’, this sacred space in the centre of the city, which has the shape of a golden flower. >From the moment I entered that unique place, I sensed a very exceptional energy that didn’t correspond to any religious or other place I visited in my life. I had the impression to be flooded by and connected with an enormously powerful cosmic energy. I had the inner sensation of being visited, connected, cleansed, energized. I was, briefly, transformed by something absolutely beyond my understanding. I have lost the control of my life.. , a bit.

I will return twice a year, probably in February and in August (end). There will be possibilities to organize trips for those interested. [1] "Beyond modernity, patriarchy and capitalism: the reenchantment of society" published in French, in Paris L'Harmattan, 2001. English edition not yet published.

Thursday, November 23, 2006

Jyotipriya's Oriental Research library

Main Page » COMMUNITIES » .. LA Sri Aurobindo/EastWest Cultural Center » Projects Ongoing and Present Projects of the Center by Debashish on Tue 06 Dec 2005 01:29 AM PST Permanent Link
3rd Sundays of each month:
The Center has instituted a karma yoga program for each third Sunday of the month for volunteers to work collectively for the upkeep and maintenance of the various projects of the Center. The karma yoga session begins with a meditation and readings/discussion to focus on the right inner and outer attitude to works seen as yoga. Please check the Center’s schedule of events
At the present stage the resources and activities of the Center need more space and call for an expansion of the property. Such an expansion can be achieved either through relocation or rebuilding. We seek your goodwill and contributions to make this possible.
Other property-related projects include:
Upgrading of furniture.
Changing the carpets.
Ongoing projects of house maintenance, room cleaning, etc.
The garden provides us with ongoing projects of maintenance and renovation. Both in front and behind the building, the garden areas have been designed by Richard Alexander, a professional landscape architect whose voluntary services for the Mother have transformed with beauty the Center's surroundings. The upkeep of these areas is in the care of Dorian Schneidman, whose painstaking care in planting, watering, fertilizing and weeding is a day-to-day labor of love. The plants, mostly perennial, some annual, have been selected and arranged keeping Mother's Messages in mind. They include the principal varieties of hibiscus marked for the twelve powers of the Mother at the Matrimandir gardens and a Mother's mandala garden, with the petals now filled in with perennial succulents and other vegetation showing the colors of Mother's symbol. Entering through the sweet, fragrant jasmine arch at the front gate and following the garden paths to the very back is an uplifting experience preparing one's entry into the Guru's Atmosphere.
The Center is on the lookout for a regular gardener to help with the maintenance and upkeep of the garden. We have also been rethinking the garden so as to make it more inviting.
Gardening help from anyone in the L.A. area would be appreciated and funds towards planting and upkeep are always a necessity.
Inventory and Accounting:
The mundane functions of maintaining an updated inventory and keeping updated accounts have always been tedious and time-consuming affairs, but in some ways central to the material sadhana of the Center. Arriving at an intergated inventory and accounting system has always been a dream of the center. Today we are the closest we have ever been to achieving such a system, thanks to Keka Chakraborty who has written a customized accounting and inventort system for the Center. We are presently in the process of transferring operations to this software. Projects for the future which we hope will piggy-back on this system are: (1) a barcode scanning system for point of sales entries; and (2) a web-based income tracking system for online sales. Seetarama Sarma is looking into some of these options.
India Operations:
Import/Export activities of books and gifts from the Sri Aurobindo Ashram, Auroville and other locations in India plus printing, storage, transcription, recording, editing and multimedia authoring activitiess are sought to be facilitated by setting up new operations for these functions based at the ashram. For this we seek to set up a branch of the East-West Cultural Center in Pondicherry which will draw its members from Center members and friends such as Amrita Banerji (now in Pondicherry) and Pravir Malik as well as ahram residents interested in aiding in and benefiting from the activities of the Center. The Center also seeks to purchase one or two apartments in the ashram area so as to operate a small guest house and an office space for its India operations. Donations are sought for these expenditures.
The Center houses a number of precious materials, establishing the historical link with the physical lives of Sri Aurobindo, the Mother, many ashramites who have had close connections with us and Jyotipriya. These materials include letters, notes, photographs, unpublished and out-of-print literature, signed books and photos and objects used by the above-mentioned people. Archiving tasks include the care, preservation and display of these rare articles. Under archival functions also is the Stamp Collection project, inspired by the Mother's stamp collection and the department in charge of this function at the Sri Aurobindo Ashram. We have stamps for exchange and are always in need of contributions towards archival supplies.
The Cataloging of Lecture and Music Tapes::
Organization, cataloging, digitizing and transcribing of the tape and minidisc recordings of the Center's study group sessions on Savitri, The Life Divine, The Practical Guide to the Integral Yoga and The Mother, talks given by visitors to the Center, plus all the music tapes from the Center's various concerts. File drawers and labels were purchased and Carol, Dorian, Dr. and Mrs. De, Debashish, Mark and Anie pitched in to help put them in order according to month, date and year for easier accessibility. Some of the tapes and minidiscs have been digitized and were temporarily offered through internet radio via the Center's web-site. Presently, studies at the Center are recorded by Ron Anastasia directly on the Center's iMac computer system and are in the process of being uploaded for "podcast" through the web portal SCIY (pronounced sky-y), now accessible at:
The Center houses Jyotipriya's Oriental Research library, a collection of valuable and rare books on Sri Aurobindo and on Indian Studies. An ongoing project to catalog these books on computer is in progress, headed now by Mahesh Krishnan. Our aim here is to be able to make this computerized catalog eventually available on the internet. At the same time, the library is in the process of expansion, trying to incorporate selectively from the explosion of scholarly publishing on South Asian Studies that has occurred in the last decade. Then there is the work of preservation and book-binding, for which we have to seek outside help.
The Center has also acquired an ink-jet color copier. Since ours is a reference library, copies may now be made in-house for necessary reading material, for a small fee.
Any contributions towards the library are welcome.
Book and gift-shop and mail-order sales:
The Center houses a small book and gift-shop, carrying a large selection of books from the Sri Aurobindo ashram and gifts such as calendars, photos and prints of Sri Aurobindo and the Mother, ashram incense, wearable art, art cards from India, Indian Classical music CDs, jewelry etc. These items are also mail ordered and distributed to other retailers. Ongoing projects of shipping, purchasing, marketing, improving displays etc. are in process, for which we are always happy to have both manual and financial help.
We organize U.S. tours and local concerts for Indian Classical and devotional musicians, following the criteria of (a) Devotion, admiration and/or discipleship to Sri Aurobindo and the Mother; (b) Expression of both high level of perfection and creative originality; (c) Power to raise the consciousness; (d) Spirit of service to the Divine. An interchange with the world of Music is thus set up, which has enriched our lives with the beauty of the gandharva worlds and the lives of the musicians with the divine influence of Sri Aurobindo and the Mother. Several of the musicians hosted by the Center have gone on to visit the Sri Aurobindo ashram and offer their music there. Organizing tours and concerts and hosting the musicians are ongoing projects. The work includes public relations, publicity, clockwork co-ordination, concert arrangements and hosting. Sales of musical tapes and CDs are an offshoot activity of these music programs. Sangeeta Shankar (violin), Tarun Bhattacharya (santoor), Vishwa Mohan Bhatt (slide guitar), Partho Bose (sitar) and Shantanu and Durba Bhattacharya (vocals) were some of the musicians who have performed for the Center this and the last year. We have also started Indian classical music classes being offered by Suman Laha (instrumental), Nabendu Bhattacharya (vocals) and Arup Chattopadhyay (tabla).
The Center has purchased some high-quality playback and recording equipment, to be used for concerts as well as meditation and other recorded music. Donations to offset these and other necessary purchases will be welcome.
The Center continues to invite guests steeped in the insights of Sri Aurobindo and the Mother to share their consciousness with us and with other groups in the U.S. Prof. Madhusudan Reddy, Dr. Maheshwari. Prof. Manoj Das, Prof. Arabinda Basu, Dr. Mangesh Nadkarni, R.Y. Deshpande and many others have all been invitees of the Center, who have come to the U.S. and imparted their special quality and knowledge to different groups here. Aster Patel, Ananda Reddy, Jerry Schwartz, Mira Nakashima and William Greaves were some of the eminent speakers we invited this and last year. Co-ordination and hosting activities support these tours. To make it possible for us to continue bringing speakers as part of Mother's global "exchange program", we seek your financial help for our Speaker's fund.
The computers at the Center are at the heart of much of its action. Established in 1991, on a modest scale, through a grant from the FWE, the main computer system has grown in power to take primacy in the multifold co-ordination and publicity activities in process. Making flyers, designing book, tape and CD jackets, and laying out the web site are all carried out from this computer. On the hardware side, the computer equipment is cared for and upgraded by Ashok Bose. Much more can be done through help from those who can use the graphics and WWW design capabilities of the computer. Funds for computer upgrades are also always necessary.
At present, to supplement the original computer system, a color laser printer has been purchased along with a new iMac computer and a new Fry's computer. The earlier central computer has been upgraded with a new motherboard and peripherals by Ashok Bose and Raghu Banerji. Donations to offset these costs are welcome.
Re: EWCC Projects. Savitri classes now on SCIY by rjon on Tue 06 Dec 2005 05:00 AM PST Profile Permanent Link Wow! I had no idea so much was going on at the Center. Thanks so much Debashish, for posting this detailed project summary. Btw, I've now uploaded to Audioblog all of the digital recordings of your Savitri classes we've been making on the iMac G5. They're all streamable on SCIY. You can view them at: Debashish's Savitri classes Next step is making them available as podcasts on Apple's iTunes site, which I'll be working on today and tomorrow. ~ ron

Sunday, November 19, 2006

The giant-domed Matrimandir at Auroville

The Tribune HOME Sunday, November 19, 2006 The French connection Puducherry (aka Pondicherry) has many attractions and should be marketed more aggressively as a tourist destination, writes Maj-Gen Himmat Singh Gill (retd)
Driving past the open-air theatres screening films, it is a three-hour run along the East Coast road to Puducherry.
The orderly rows of casurina trees along the beach remind me of the well spaced out armies of yore when they must have stood silently in row upon rows facing each other in impending battle, and the odd lanky tennaimaram trees that provide the tari drink that flit by as we head for the salt flats a few miles away, seem so much out of place in this otherwise beautifully manicured landscape.
At Naravakkam, salt mounds along the roadside glisten in the sun, water from the sea is well pumped out from the subsoil and helps many make a livelihood. It is not difficult to appreciate the merits of a commodity whose presence on the dining table is taken for granted by North Indians who have never seen a salt flat in their lives.
The French Consulate General along the Rue De La Marine
The Bay of Bengal which we drive along is dark, sullen, choppy and angry. What a contrast with the placid Arabian Sea that one encounters at Kanyakumari at the tip of the Indian land mass. In India, even nature is at its diverse best. After a meal that one can term ‘local’ in every manner, kanjee which is boiled rice water taken with sambhar and buttermilk, we drive into Pondy where the French flag is about to be lowered over its Consulate General along the Rue De La Marine.
When the French arrived here in 1673, this was but a small weavers’ centre and the seafarers quickly built the factory and the fort. The new town quarters of Pondicherry were built in 1694 and the local museum brings to memory the rich past of the Pre-Christian era, the Indo-Roman trade links that came to light from the Arikamedu finds, the hey-day of the rich cultural spread of the Pallava, Chola and Vijayanagar empires. The artistic stamp of the 300-year-old French architecture and design still survives in the old buildings and churches that dot the countryside.
Alongside, in small villages and quiet roadsides, lie temples dedicated to Vinayaka who has more than 70 temples dedicated to him alone.
Today, all religions and their places of worship coexist peacefully in this quiet sanctuary and are coupled with other interesting sights that one can look up including the home of Tamil poet-patriot Subramaniam Bharathi who arrived in what was then under French possession as a fugitive in 1908 from British India. It becomes clear that the Puducherry air even today radiates a spirit of freedom not found in many other parts of the country, much to everyone’s regret.
Pondy town is a mix of old and new, where few acknowledge that they understand English or French. In spite of the bustle and noise of an Indian town, French open-air roof-top restaurants like Rendevouz with their exquisite wines and appetisers remind one of the outskirts of Paris or Saigon in the late 1960s.The policeman with the flat-topped French headgear outside the Secretariat, a somewhat forlorn Dupleix’s statue, and old buildings with high windows, double shuttering in cane-netting and the flowery lime plaster scrolls, are all reminders of an era that will last some more decades. The beaches littered with dirty wrappers and paper, one-way traffic snarls and noise levels as high as in Sabzi Mandi in New Delhi’s Azadpur market, are the tell- tale signs of a somewhat more familiar culture.
There are two institutes in Pondy that gladden the heart and make any visitor’s trip an experience worth remembering. The Institut Francais De Pondicherry, which Nehru visited in 1955, is a storehouse of historical record and research where Hindu priests sit diligently translating manuscripts written on palm leaves in Sanskrit into English, French and Tamil.
Subjects as diverse as our ancient culture and civilisation, temple and statue lists, desi medicines, and the history of Indian religions, are researched here by the French, and possibly they are doing a better job of it than some of our leaders who create unnecessary controversies about our heritage and history.
Auroville launched in 1968 by the Mother in cooperation with many nations and nestling just across the Pondy border in Tamil Nadu, provides the perfect picture of serenity and calm with its 2000-odd nationals from across the world living life peacefully in quiet communes, practicing the art of Sri Aurobindo’s spiritual exercise-cum-yoga in a world that they do not renounce but become a part of.
The giant-domed Matrimandir, the Divine Tree and the large, open, dry woodlands surrounding them are home to countless motorcycle-riding foreign couples that ride past in an eternal state of happiness living a life of hard physical activity and personal discipline. Does today’s disturbed youth need more cities like this, is a question that one must ask.
I ran into Ornella Scardina an Italian student from near Rome who was visiting Auroville but found very few of our own young students, except a few locals perhaps who one had expected to come calling to such distinctive institutions and townships.
Casting a last look at the aged tree that guards an entrance to Auroville, I cannot but help feel what the Union Territory of Puducherry urgently needs is an attractive packaging of its ancient ethos and culture if Indians from the North are not to miss Puducherry altogether on their tourist roadmap.

Friday, November 17, 2006

Auroville is not a retreat but their primary home

November 12, 2006 Servitors of the Divine Consciousness: In Jan '06, I visited Auroville for the second time (first in '96), but my interest was still purely anthropological. Yet again, Auroville—a township in Tamil Nadu founded in 1968 by the Mother (Mirra Alfassa), a French collaborator of Sri Aurobindo Ghose and a great believer in his teachings—struck me as an immensely audacious and, in many ways, a naively idealistic experiment.

The Mother had dreamed of a place where "all the fighting instincts of man would be used exclusively to conquer the causes of his sufferings and miseries, to surmount his weaknesses and ignorance, to triumph over his limitations and incapacities ... where the needs of the spirit and the concern for progress would take precedence over the satisfaction of desires and passions." Auroville aspires to be such a place, "a universal town where men and women of all countries are able to live in peace and harmony, above all creeds, all politics, and nationalities. The purpose of Auroville is to realize human unity." Today it is home to 1800 people (700 Indians) from 35 countries in over 100 settlements.

At the city's heart is a place for silent meditation, the Matrimandir ("Temple of the Mother"), which the Mother deemed the "soul" of Auroville. The plan calls for setting up four zones—Cultural, International, Industrial, Residential—radiating out from the Matrimandir, with a wide "Green Belt" around the city. For various reasons (including shortage of funds to acquire the requisite land, despite help from private donors, NGOs, and GOs), the realization of these goals has been slower than expected.

For members, Auroville is not a retreat but their primary home, where they and their families live, work, and play. Visitors are restricted to the visitor center and a walkway to the Matrimandir. Prospective members can stay for a week and sample the life of the community. Membership is by invitation from the Auroville Entry Group. New regulation requires that members pay for themselves for the first two years, effectively shutting out those with limited means (the Indian membership has reportedly stagnated since this regulation).

The task of running Auroville is overseen by various working groups. Major community decisions are taken collectively by the Residents Assembly, rarely without animated debate. Authority and bureaucracy are hated words. Assets are held by The Auroville Foundation—no one owns real-estate or earns an income; food, education, healthcare, entertainment, sports, etc. are free. A long-term goal (bucking a salient historical trend many associate with human progress) is to completely eliminate the use of money within its borders.

Many ideals at Auroville derive from Sri Aurobindo's vision, whose ashram (religious retreat) at Pondicherry is now an international study centre. The purpose of man, he claimed, is to transcend his lowly form of consciousness. Yoga is a technique not for personal liberation but for cooperating with the cosmic evolutionary urge destined to take mankind ahead to a higher, supramental stage of consciousness. Though generally progressive, his vision also betrays a muddled view of natural evolution. He brandishes the word "divine" all too often. Even the Auroville charter requires members to be "willing servitors of the divine consciousness." Too bad if you not only fail to see a "divine consciousness" around you, but see no need for it to live a moral life. Despite its many dubious foundational ideals, however, only the most cynical would dismiss the age-old quest for self-knowledge, meaning, and growth that must inspire many individuals who join Auroville.

Aurovillians research and practice environmental regeneration, organic farming, renewable energy, building technology, handicrafts, and various small scale industries (offset printing, graphic design, food processing, electronics, garment manufacture, etc.), all with an overarching desire to live lightly on earth. Though their research is rarely at the cutting edge in any given field, Auroville is perhaps unique in running so many projects in parallel and exploring their synergies. Strong emphasis is placed on artistic pursuits. Aurovillians also assist neighboring Tamil villages with infrastructure development, healthcare, and education; their emergency relief work after the Dec 2004 tsunami was exemplary. To an outsider, the idea of Auroville may evoke the Jewish Kibbutz, the American Peace Corps, and an Indian ashram, all rolled into one. Posted by Shunya at 12:49 AM in Culture, Travel

Auroville had the best of human resources

An Officer's Diary: Getting to Know Auroville C.K. Gariyali (ChennaiOnline) by rjon on Wed 11 Oct 2006 04:19 PM PDT Permanent Link Oct 12, 2006 ThuViya - Purattasi Down Memory Lane: An Officer's Diary Getting to know Auroville 1983
In 1983 when I took over as the District Collector of South Arcot District, great tension existed between Shri Aurobindo Society which runs the Ashram in Pondicherry and its own creation ‘Auroville’, situated in neighbouring South Arcot District.
One of my early roles was to diffuse this tension so that everybody could get on with the business of doing constructive work for which they came to Auroville.
Within Auroville two groups had been formed. One pro-Ashram and another pro-Auroville. The pro-Auroville group wanted to cut the umbilical cord with the mother institution and administer its activities independently as its constitution envisaged.
On the other hand Ashram was reluctant to give up control over the International City with its extensive land and other resources. Hence, it was supporting a pro-Ashram group within Auroville. The situation had become so bad that both the groups were frequently clashing. The matter had progressed from fist fighting, to beating, to assault, to damaging of valuable properties. Several criminal cases were registered on both sides. All constructive activity had come to a halt even before it began.
At the same time there was an idealistic group within Auroville who wanted to arrive at a solution and try to achieve the ideals laid down by the ‘Mother of Pondicherry’ who had conceptualised Auroville.
I also had an idealistic view of the Ashram and Auroville and the actual state of affairs came as a rude shock to me. There were over twenty criminal cases pending in different courts in South Arcot. Aurovillians had to literally attend the courts every day. There was enormous waste of time and energy. They were not allowed to leave the country due to pending criminal proceedings. They could also not engage in any developmental activity for which they had come leaving their own countries.
The problems were deep seated and required a lot of disentangling by various bodies including Government of India. In the circumstances the best help I could give was to obtain an assurance of good behaviour and a consensus to find the solutions to problems by peaceful means. On this basis I was willing to drop all the cases which each group had registered against the other; and help them to get on with their lives and work.
It was a calculated risk but it worked. Had it failed I would have been held responsible for dropping the criminal cases against people undeservingly.
I had the full co-operation of Mr. Ozha, a retired IP (Indian Police) officer who had just been appointed the administrator of Auroville by the Government of India. He did a lot to normalise the situation in Auroville. To young and passionate youth, he acted as an affectionate and restraining father. He often put his foot down apart from maintaining the democratic nature of the Auroville administration.
In this way I came close to a lot of idealistic young men and women. Many of them later participated in the community development programme for South Arcot District.
Auroville had the best of human resources. It had architects and computer engineers, horticulturists, agronomists, soil specialists, irrigation engineers, doctors, teachers, craftsmen and women and so on. Tremendous work was done by them for conserving the soil and for constructing low cost check dams. They grew hybrid mangoes and other fruit varieties.
They promoted gobar gas and other non-conventional sources of energy, experimented with low cost housing. They taught weaving, furniture making, leather work, jewellery making and knitting to the villagers. They even assembled computers with the help of uneducated youth. The variety of activity was immense. It ranged from breeding horses to running health care programmes and schools.
I tried to channelise their energy to the neighbouring village in Markanam block. A lot of appropriate technologies were transferred to other parts of the district.
We also granted a lot of assistance under trycem programme (training for employment to village youth) to Auroville to train rural youth. Nearly all of them found employment in the workshops of Auroville itself. Many of them have now become Aurovillians and are an integral part of the International City. In addition Auroville was officially made an agency for promotion of Gobar gas in the district. Many soil conservation and minor irrigation projects in the district were granted to Auroville for execution.
I was immensely impressed by a Frenchman called André who ran a workshop called ‘New Creations’. He taught crafts to village youth. Later he got involved in teaching traditional sculpture, and wood carving to the village youth. Master craftsmen were invited from Kallakurichi to come and live in Auroville. André developed an excellent ‘School of Arts and Crafts’. For the first time crafts were taught to the children of non-sthapathy (non-sculptor) families including dalit children.
Even today ‘New-Creations’ is a very important institution of Auroville. André later married a young Tamil woman from a neighbouring village who used to work in New Creations. During a recent visit I met the family. Now they have two daughters and have been living happily all along.
I also saw that Auroville was lush and green with mango and other fruit trees. The ‘Temple of Mother’ (Matri Mandir) was almost complete. The whole place looked delightful and most of the quarrels seemed to have been forgotten.
Some years ago an inscription was found on the wall of an ancient temple in Auroville saying something like this: ‘Once upon a time this dry and arid place was a tropical forest. It would again become lush and green when people from different parts of the world will come here and work together’. I am sure ‘Mother’ would have known about this inscription when she conceptualised Auroville.
The prophesy in the inscription has come true. Today Auroville has representatives from almost all parts of the world. It is truly an ‘International City’. The ‘Mother’s’ dream has come true. More Articles Re-published on Oct 5th, 2006 Posted to: Main Page .. India AUROVILLE .. Av news & press

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Gnostic Centre’s workshops

Foundation Course for Facilitators Ameeta Mehra 15th August 2005 to 15th August 2006
The year long course ended with 5 days at the Himalayan centre of Sri Aurobindo Ashram (Delhi branch) at Nainital. The group comprised of the students, the facilitator (Ameeta Mehra) and two external examiners (Dr. Debashish Banerji and Dr. Kavita A. Sharma). The five days were taken up by final presentations by the students followed by extensive feedback by the facilitator and the examiners, and an individual viva, followed by the giving out of grades for the presentation and for the written dissertation. The time was also spent in preparing for the workshops that each student will facilitate in the coming months - these workshops will be open for registrations soon, and will be advertised on the Gnostic Centre’s website in the coming weeks. (A detailed report will be published in the next issue.)