What if we told you that there’s a city with no laws, no religion and no racism? A town where everyone is treated equally. This place exists in the South Indian state of Tamil Nadu. The place is called Auroville and there are people from almost every country living here in harmony.
An ideal township right? In theory, it’s the perfect town to live. But, nothing is perfect in real life. Let’s look at all the facts about the mysterious township. Everything from its history, Rules and how to get an admission there.
“At present mankind is undergoing an evolutionary crisis in which is concealed a choice of its destiny”. These are the words said by Sri Aurobindo. His ideas are envisioned by MiraAlfassa which led to the conceptual township.
With everything that’s happening across the globe- pollution, terrorism, corruption, the people thought of doing something to preserve mother nature. For that, they had to become something else. And there is a place on Earth dedicated to this transformation, that place is called Auroville.
Sri Aurobindo was one of the leaders of the movement against British imperial rule in India. For the fear of getting arrested he took refuge in Puducherry, now a union territory in India. The loneliness in refuge turned him to a spiritual life which led to the foundation of Aurobindo Ashram. A community focused on yoga practices. The community had grown and slowly turned into a spiritual ashram.
Sri Aurobindo was the first to call Mirra as ‘The Mother’, later her followers started calling her the same. After Sri Aurobindo died in 1950. His close spiritual collaborator MiraAlfassa, a French national from Morocco gathered followers to keep a legacy alive. She claimed it would be spiritual, universal and not based on any religion or any ethnicity.
Auroville was founded on 28 February 1968 as a new city that was planned to accommodate 50,000 inhabitants. On that day, youth representing 124 nations and all the Indian states came together to inaugurate the township and receive its charter (principles).
Thus, Auroville, meaning city of the dawn (derived from the French word aurore), a model universal township aimed at bringing human unity was set up. Today, Auroville is managed by a foundation formed by the Indian government.
1. Auroville belongs to nobody in particular. Auroville belongs to humanity as a whole. But to live in Auroville, one must be a willing servitor of the Divine Consciousness.
2. Auroville will be the place of an unending education, of constant progress, and a youth that never ages.
3. Auroville wants to be the bridge between the past and the future. Taking advantage of all discoveries from without and from within, Auroville will boldly spring towards future realisations.
4. Auroville will be a site of material and spiritual researches for a living embodiment of an actual Human Unity.
One of the main attractions of Auroville is the Golden dome shaped structure situated in the centre of the township, the Matrimandir. The word literally translates to Temple of The Mother.
It is a centre of spiritual significance for practitioners of yoga in the middle of Auroville, established by The Mother. MatriMandir is said to be the soul of the city and is situated in a large open space called Peace.
The structure is covered with golden discs which reflect sunlight giving the dome its characteristic radiance. Amazingly, it took a total of 37 years to complete the construction of the mandir. It was finished only in 2008.
There are over 2,000 people living in Auroville as permanent members of the community. While, many other visitors, guests and locals residing in the area.
Auroville is supposed to be a moneyless community, with everybody’s needs provided for, but that didn’t work out fully. There are some socialist elements such as some degree of affordable, universal healthcare, as well as a common dining area where members of the community may choose to have subsidized meals.
Auroville was also meant to be a rather equal society. But, as with any other place, there are those who are well-off and those who struggle; there are mansions and there are shacks.
Aurovillians are mainly engaged in diverse activities in the fields of agriculture / greenwork, education, health care, village-outreach, commerce and administration. Most of them are volunteers who contribute to the township in the form of money or their skills.
One of the major contributions of Aurovillians is the development of ecology. Sound agriculture without the use of pesticides and poisonous chemicals, along with most modern technology in agriculture is practised at the township.
External Pressure and Accusations
Though Auroville always claims that money is not a determining factor at the township. But, to become Aurovillian is not easy; A great deal of money is required for proof of economic self-sufficiency as well as a down-payment on allotted accommodation.
In early 2018, crores of taxpayer money was poured into preparations for the fiftieth anniversary celebrations. Indian prime minister Modi faced some harsh questions about what the place is giving back in return for the generous state subsidies for so many Westerners.
A lot of Auroville is really to attract Europeans. And most come loaded. They spend leisure time away from 1st world problems. Furthermore, Auroville is a very private community. There have always been accusations of many Civil Rights violation but nothing was ever confirmed.
Auroville is said to be a place with no race and religion, you can practice any religion. Yet, you can’t find many black people in the community and the number of Muslims living in Aurovillile is very low.
Though it is claimed that all the works done at Auroville are volunteered but on close look, one can find that most of the real work is being done by working class Indians. From serving, housekeeping, cleaning and so on for which they are drawing salaries.
Despite several allegations against Auroville, the township represents real hope for the future of humanity. This is the only meaningful place on earth where all people can come together irrespective of their caste and creed.
With ever increasing issues like pollution, terrorism, social hatred among people. Places like Auroville provide a feeling of optimism that humanity is not lost. The project has been steadily growing in size and scope for over 30 years now and continues to do so with increasing momentum
How to Reach
Airport The nearest airport is Pondicherry International Airport. Although you can take a direct flight to Pondi; it would burn a hole in your pocket. The better economical option would be to book a flight to Chennai airport and then hire a taxi/bus to reach Pondicherry
Chennai Central Railway Station
Take a local train from Park Town Station (available at walking distance from Central Station) for Guindi. Get down at Guindi Station and take a bus for Pondicherry from across the road. Ask the driver to drop you at the Auroville junction on the ECR Road.