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Dawn of a new consciousness

The principle of unity in diversity is the basis of life in Auroville. Is this not the lesson we need today to live in harmony, asks ANNE GILBERT.

Auroville... catering to the global need for spirituality.

IN January last year, a team of Aurovilians held an exhibition at the India Habitat Centre, New Delhi. The exhibition was titled: "Auroville — the city the Earth needs." I was a member of the team. One might well ask how we could make such a bold statement about Auroville. We believe that this statement — made by the Mother (the founder of Auroville) — is true.

Tremendous suffering and upheaval mark humanity's short history on the earth. One would have expected the growing body of scientific knowledge and discovery to raise the quality of human life. However, this has not been the case; there is still fear, suffering and violence everywhere. But a greater fear is now looming, one that is life threatening. It comes with the growing global awareness that our human activities are not only threatening us but also the web of life on earth.

But there is also the history of the human quest for beauty, truth and excellence and man's enduring aspiration for the Divine. It would seem that man is ever trapped between the forces of light and darkness, dharma and adharma, freedom of the spirit and the prison of the mind. This is the ageless battle of Kurukshetra.

Sri Aurobindo, in his Thoughts and Aphorisms, states: "There are four very great events in history, the siege of Troy, the life and crucifixion of Christ, the exile of Krishna in Brindavan and the colloquy with Arjuna on the field of Kurukshetra. The siege of Troy created Hellas, the exile in Brindavan created devotional religion (for before there was only meditation and worship). Christ from his cross humanised Europe, the colloquy at Kurukshetra will yet liberate humanity."

Kurukshetra is not just the ancient battle of the Mahabharata, it is timeless and continues in history. The two armies, the Pandavas and Kauravas, are archetypal symbols. They represent the opposing forces of life, the forces of light (the Pandavas) and their antithesis the forces of darkness (the Kauravas). The divine charioteer, Krishna, speaks to man in every age, it is the eternal colloquy between man and his soul.

In the countdown to 2000, there was a tremendous projection of hope that the new century would herald the dawn of a new era of global prosperity. However, two years later, hope is changing to cynicism. But this is judging events and causes by their outward appearance. The tremendous invisible forces that precipitate events and causes into action are not taken into account. "All life," says Sri Aurobindo, "is the play of universal forces." Last year's turbulence could also be seen as the rubric forces of the cosmic dance of Kali, crushing beneath her feet all that had to go — the baggage of the past, the worn-out belief systems and prejudices. Kali is preparing the ground for the New Consciousness.

There are evident signs of the emerging New Consciousness. It can be felt in the growing global need for spirituality and finds expression in literature and art forms. The New Consciousness is the Truth Consciousness and unity. The formation of coalitions to find permanent solutions for global problems is one sign as is the global demand not to repeat past patterns to resolve these problems but to address instead the deeper psychological roots of conflict. It is the prayerful longing of people everywhere for universal peace and fraternity.

Dr. Mary King, Professor of Political Science at the University of Washington D.C., human rights campaigner and writer, is a member of the Auroville International Advisory Council. At the end of a talk she recently gave in Auroville titled "Post September 11", a member of the audience asked for her feelings on the future. Her reply was that many areas of world affairs gave cause for grave concern, but nevertheless, there were two signs of hope — first, the new dialogue between the Prime Minister of India and the President of Pakistan; second, Auroville. About Auroville, Mary King said that as a result of September 11, more people would want a change of world order and that many would look to see if the Auroville experiment offered a new direction for future.

The aim of Auroville is human unity. Auroville is a unique experiment; it is a collective endeavour by people of various cultural backgrounds, age and levels of consciousness to build a new city. It is a new city because, unlike any other city, it does not have as its prime focus a political, economic or social agenda. The guiding principle of Auroville is spiritual. It is the people living here who are building the city, and it is evolving naturally through their spiritual experience and their efforts to find unity.

Another unique feature is that the development of Auroville has not been at the expense of the bio-region. The villagers of the surrounding area have also grown and prospered as Auroville grew.

Auroville came of age when in 1998 the European Commission recognised it as an urban centre. With this status accorded to it, Auroville became eligible to apply to the commission for grants. A project proposal from Auroville was recently endorsed in Brussels for a two-year partnership of the European Commission with Auroville in an Asia Urbs programme. The cities of Venice and Cologne will also be partners in this project. As a part of this programme, Auroville hosted an International conference (February 25-28). This conference brought together representatives from 28 cities of the European Union and 30 from India. The conference was entitled "City Networking for a Sustainable Future and Human Unity".

Auroville as a city-in-the-making is entering a new phase of development. For the first three decades of Auroville's existence, the focus had to be on fundamentals, the land, housing, education and industry; now the attention turns towards the city and the future. For more than 30 years, Aurovilians have lived close to the land. They transformed a stretch of barren denuded earth into a fertile landscape and then enjoyed living in their earthly paradise. But the Garden of Eden is the past — the city is the future. There are few empty spaces left now, the human species have over-populated the earth, and science, technology and our numbers have reduced the world into a global village. It is essential for our future that we find harmony with the other and with the environment. But first we have to find that harmony within ourselves.

The principle of unity in diversity forms the basis of the collective life of Auroville. It is because this is an essential principle of human unity that Auroville is necessary for the earth. To further understand and develop the principle of unity in diversity, work has begun on two exciting research projects in Auroville. One is the International Zone where the research focusses on the discovery of the genius or soul of the nations that have a well-defined culture and the other is the Centre for International Research in Human Unity project (CIRHU).

Human Unity and the New Consciousness are great spiritual ideals. Ideals are necessary to life in order to set our goals and direction. A form of economic unity is now emerging and will become more of a reality in the fast growing global market place. But this is an artificial and fragile unity, it is only a unity founded on an inner spiritual and psychological basis that will be real and lasting, and this unity belongs to the New Consciousness. Auroville is the body formed on earth to realise a true Human Unity and be a centre for the New Consciousness. The pale light that glimmers now on the edge of the night sky at dawn heralds the coming of the New Consciousness. Another name that has been given to Auroville is the "City of Dawn".

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