When Mirra “The Mother” Alfassa founded Auroville, she stated, “Auroville is meant to be a universal town where men and women of all countries are able to live in peace and progressive harmony, above all creeds, all politics and all nationalities.” Moreover, she wrote, “The purpose of Auroville is to realize human unity.” More accurately, Auroville is a grand experiment in attempting to bring the utopian ideals of the ’60s into fruition in a real, living, breathing community. Located in Southern India, the township boasts 2000-plus residents who live mostly in harmony, on a limited budget, taking part in a constant set of experiments in economic solidarity. For many, the idea of individual property has been abandoned altogether.
Understandably, the results have been mixed. The economic base is limited, and farming efforts have not always been successful. Politically, consensus-based decisions have often proved to be an obstacle to effective, timely decision-making. Still, the example is pretty fascinating, and Auroville represents a unique vision for community. Perhaps what fascinated me most initially though was the architecture. Designed by French architect Roger Anger, Auroville’s design plan was rather ambitious, looking to house upwards of 50,000 residents. At the heart of its spiral design lies its centerpiece, the Matrimandir, a massive golden sphere that serves as a center for meditation and the practice of integral yoga. Keep reading to see more, and learn more about Auroville.
A Dream, from Auroville:
There should be somewhere upon earth a place that no nation could claim as its sole property, a place where all human beings of goodwill, sincere in their aspiration, could live freely as citizens of the world, obeying one single authority, that of the supreme Truth; a place of peace, concord, harmony, where all the fighting instincts of man would be used exclusively to conquer the causes of his suffering and misery, to surmount his weakness and ignorance, to triumph over his limitations and incapacities; a place where the needs of the spirit and the care for progress would get precedence over the satisfaction of desires and passions, the seeking for pleasures and material enjoyments.
In this place, children would be able to grow and develop integrally without losing contact with their soul. Education would be given, not with a view to passing examinations and getting certificates and posts, but for enriching the existing faculties and bringing forth new ones. In this place titles and positions would be supplanted by opportunities to serve and organize. The needs of the body will be provided for equally in the case of each and everyone. In the general organisation intellectual, moral and spiritual superiority will find expression not in the enhancement of the pleasures and powers of life but in the increase of duties and responsibilities.
Artistic beauty in all forms, painting, sculpture, music, literature, will be available equally to all, the opportunity to share in the joys they bring being limited solely by each one’s capacities and not by social or financial position.
For in this ideal place money would be no more the sovereign lord. Individual merit will have a greater importance than the value due to material wealth and social position. Work would not be there as the means of gaining one’s livelihood, it would be the means whereby to express oneself, develop one’s capacities and possibilities, while doing at the same time service to the whole group, which on its side would provide for each one’s subsistence and for the field of his work.
In brief, it would be a place where the relations among human beings, usually based almost exclusively upon competition and strife, would be replaced by relations of emulation for doing better, for collaboration, relations of real brotherhood.
To learn more about Auroville, check out Journeyman Pictures’ documentary, Auroville, here.