An insider account of living in Auroville

Anu Majumdar’s new book goes back to the early struggles of founding the township and its journey thus far

September 27, 2017 10:12 pm | Updated 10:12 pm IST - Puducherry

A meeting of two great minds in March 1914 in this city would go on to mark an evolutionary step in consciousness and the birth of Auroville.

When they met, Sri Aurobindo, the Indian visionary and leader of the independence movement who had sought refuge in this then French dominion to escape arrest by the British and, Mirra Alfassa, later known as the Mother, the wife of a French politician, were already advanced on the path of yoga.

And their spiritual collaboration set the stage for the founding of Auroville as a unique universal township a few decades later.

Auroville: A City for the Future (HarperCollins India) authored by Anu Majumdar which is being launched on Thursday not only presents an insider account of the founding of the City of Dawn and the early struggles but also explores the question as to whether Auroville resonates with the Mother’s vision 50 years hence, the material and spiritual challenges and what signposts mark it unambiguously as a city for the future.

Challenges, experiments

The book, in fact, is a first-hand account by someone “who has lived the adventure for thirty-six years” and it explores not utopia but a living laboratory: a city being forged by many challenges, many experiments and a dream.

The book recounts “the caravan style days” in the early sixties when a city of the future was envisioned as rising from the red earth as a place belonging to none in particular but to humanity as a whole (During the Auroville inauguration in 1968, youth from 124 different nations and 23 Indian states, deposited a handful of their native soil into a marble-clad urn at the amphitheatre adjacent to the Matrimandir).

Human unity

Auroville came into existence with just two things: a Charter and a City plan, welcoming people from around the world to create a new life beyond national rivalries, social conventions, self-contradictory moralities and contending religions — a project to realise human unity through a change of consciousness.

Charting the journey from those pioneering times, Ms. Majumdar interweaves individual stories along with the Mother and Sri Aurobindo’s expansive vision, giving readers an insider’s perspective into what is an extraordinary and ever evolving experiment.

Anu Majumdar was born in Allahabad. Discovering Sri Aurobindo while in college in Kolkata was a life-changing experience which led her to Auroville in 1979. She has worked in different areas including the Matrimandir construction site and as a dancer-choreographer with the Auroville Dance Lab. At present her interest lies in the city as a conscious organism for change.

Ms. Majumdar’s earlier books include Refugees from Paradise & God Enchanter, (fiction), Island of Infinity & Infinity Papers (YA), as well as two collections of poetry, Light Matter and Mobile Hour.

Aurovilian Deepti Tewari will launch the book. The author will also be in conversation with Kripa Borg and Mandakini Gupta.

Venue: Unity Pavilion, Auroville. Time: 4.30 p.m. to 6 p.m.

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