FRIDAY REVIEW

Auroville... a deeper experience

The galaxy model of the town plan for Auroville. — Pics. by Pino Marchese.

The galaxy model of the town plan for Auroville. — Pics. by Pino Marchese.  

THE FIRST two lines of the Auroville Charter read: "Auroville belongs to nobody in particular. Auroville belongs to humanity as a whole."

The Mother, founder of Auroville, wrote the Charter. What could she have meant when she wrote that this place, Auroville, belongs to nobody in particular?

The Mother never intended Auroville to be just another city. She meant Auroville to be much more than that. She created Auroville to embody the vast spiritual vision of Sri Aurobindo, which is the realisation of human unity. And it is this vast spiritual ideal that cannot be limited to one small place, for this must belong to humanity as a whole.

Auroville is being built through the effort and aspirations of the people who live in Auroville and the local people of the bioregion. Private funding, project funding and grants from governments and organisations all over the world, including the Government of India are financially supporting the building of this future city. The permanent residents of Auroville, now numbering nearly 2,000, come from all over the world too, including India and local villages of the bioregion. Membership of Auroville is not automatic; it is subject to an entry procedure that includes a two-year newcomer period.

Every week 2,000-3,000 people visit Auroville. These visitors come from all the States of India and all parts of the world. Some people want a longer visit and take a room in one of the many guesthouses. And there are others who return regularly to Auroville, staying for an even longer period of time. These long-term guests involve themselves in the daily life of the community, participating in work, study groups and other activities. They are seeking a deeper experience of Auroville.

What could this deeper experience of Auroville be? Well, the Mother wanted Auroville to be a collective experiment towards a higher human consciousness. She wanted it to be a place for experiments. Aurovillians are challenged to find through experimentation the higher approach in every field of human activity - in work, organisation, attitudes, our relationships with each other, etc. It is this collective experiment that makes Auroville unique, and could be the deeper experience that the long-term guest to Auroville is seeking.

The long-term guest has the opportunity to experience something of the subtle workings of Auroville, which often appears loose and chaotic on the surface. Auroville does not have a conventional hierarchical structure, there is no president or boss here, nor are there courts of law or policemen inside Auroville. A decision is reached through consensus, which can be a lengthy process, but nevertheless progress has been made. This is an important fact, because it means that this progress has come not through law and enforcement but through the conscious will of the people, and when we consider the multi-cultural fabric of Auroville society, that progress is a miracle.

A gathering around the Auroville symbol in flowers.

A gathering around the Auroville symbol in flowers.  

In Auroville there is no private ownership of land or property. This information is given to all who express an interest in joining Auroville. They are told that they can take over an already existing property or build a new one, but the property will be an asset of the Auroville Foundation. It will be theirs to live in so long as they live in Auroville, but should they have to leave for whatever reason, then that property will become the responsibility of the Auroville Foundation. All land bought on behalf of Auroville by either the community or by a community member becomes also the property of the Auroville Foundation.

The Auroville Foundation is a body corporate appointed by the Central Government of India under The Auroville Act, September 29, 1988, to be responsible for all the assets of Auroville. The Auroville Foundation has a Governing Board, consisting mainly of distinguished Indian citizens. The body of adult residents, the Residents Assembly is, as per the Act, responsible for day-to-day management, and the International Advisory Council has been instituted to monitor and encourage the progress of Auroville. Through the Auroville Foundation Act, the Government of India ensures that the residents of Auroville are allowed the freedom to grow and develop activities and institutions for the fulfilment of the aspirations and programmes envisaged in the Charter of Auroville. Since its very beginning, Auroville has had the continual support of the Government of India, a privilege for which the Aurovillians are immensely grateful.

The industrialist, J.R.D. Tata, who described himself as an internationalist and a world citizen, had a great interest in Auroville. There are various international organisations that assist Auroville, and which spread its ideas and ideals. One such organisation is Auroville International, which has centres in many parts of the world. The members of this organisation are people who choose to stay in their countries, but who wish to give their support to the Auroville experiment. The International Zone is one of the four Zones of Auroville.

The Mother's vision for the International Zone is to have countries with a well-defined culture build a national pavilion there. These national pavilions will seek to express at the highest level the spirit and culture of the country they represent in form and activities. They will be centres for research and education into the various cultures of the world and their aim will be to encourage a deeper understanding of our shared humanity.

The Centre for International Research in Human Unity (CIRHU) is a great futuristic project under way in Auroville. CIRHU plans to develop a new international centre which will focus on conducting and promoting research, training and exchange programmes in the field of human unity, evolution and in related themes of knowledge and culture.

In the context of the present global situation, Human Unity may seem a lofty goal, something for the future but unattainable for the present. However, with all the means of communication at our disposal, the world has become a global village, and these developments make unity among the peoples of the earth more desirable and attainable. But, a very important point that must be recognised also is that Human Unity cannot just be imposed on people from an outside body, be it the global market or a new political order. A real and sustainable human unity can only come about through the conscious will of the people, and this implies a change of values and attitude. To facilitate this change in consciousness, the Mother created Auroville. This is what makes the Auroville experiment unique; it is an experiment that is surely necessary for the future of humanity.

ANNE and ANNEMARIE

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