Tuesday, August 8, 2017

the city of the dawn

In a previous post about Whittier, Alaska, I mentioned that I have a soft spot for unusual places. One of these places happens to be a lifelong source of fascination to me.

Back in the sixties, 1968 to be exact, a group of 5,000 like minded individuals broke ground on a social experiment that still continues today. With the support of 124 nations, they created a community in Puducherry, India that seems like it might be a cult -- except for one thing that is essential cults everywhere -- they have no leader.

Auroville (also known as The City of the Dawn) was at one time the magical brainchild of the late Sri Aurobindo and his counterpart the late Mirra Alfassa. During Sri Aurobindo's life, he established an ashram that surrounded his practice of integral yoga. Mirra Alfassa (also known as The Mother) took the ashram one step further by buying up land to create a functional city of total acceptance.

As state on their website,  there goal was simple; 
“The purpose of Auroville is to realise human unity – in diversity. Today Auroville is recognised as the first and only internationally endorsed ongoing experiment in human unity and transformation of consciousness, also concerned with - and practically researching into - sustainable living and the future cultural, environmental, social and spiritual needs of mankind.”
Auroville is a bizarre place, with structures that remind me of the city models used in Logan's Run or Star Wars. There at dome houses, curling layouts, and geodesic structures with weird plotting that rejects the usual grid structured city.

Within Auroville, there are citizens from all over the world that come from all walks of life -- regardless, of religion, culture, language, profession, race, or age.

There seems to be mysterious application process to be accepted as a permanent resident in Auroville. This involves many interviews, a two year period where you live and work (for free) in Auroville, other process I'm not entirely sure I understand, then you donate money in exchange for housing (or the ability to sustainably build housing).

Technically, there is no money or government in Auroville. The donation in exchange for something called an Aurocard is supposed to resolve exchanges within the city. However, not many follow this rule and still ask for cash donation exchanges or bartering. And even though there is "no government" there are many councils and groups of people jumbled together to make decisions or for fill tasks. 

The largest blight on the life of Auroville is the crime that bleeds in from outside villages into Auroville. The city has to contend with people from places like Kuilapalayam harassing woman or even attacking. But, lets face it much of India is dangerous and stricken with poverty. Most of the peace obsessed denizens (and visitors) are easy targets for the maligned.


Besides the fact that Auroville seems to be a unique mix of maverick spiritualists and solar powered retreats, they also are trying to do something more. That "more" is valuing acceptance and "progressive harmony". Is it radical? Yes. But, I can respect anything that is based on a creed like this;
  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.