Sweat is running over my face. The sun stands high over the horizon. Heat of the noon. Twenty minutes ago I took a right from the main road to Pondicherry and drove via a village road to Auroville. I heard from Auroville the first time in Varanasi. “A-U-R-O-V-I-L-L-E – look on Google, you will find it. And you will like it…!” And now I am here. My car is parked at the parking lot of the visitor center. It is strange that this place has a visitor center I thought. “I want to stay here for a while and might do volunteering as well. Can you recommend me a place” I asked a lady in an office for housing of Auroville. “Try the solitude farm. It is only less than 15min walking from here.” That sounded good. I wanted to go there by my car but for entering Auroville you have to pass a security checkpoint where they ask for entering permission. To get permission for entering Auroville with the car I need an accommodation. So I had to leave me car and walk while it was incredible hot. I arrived in the Solitude Farm and ask for the owner. Krishan was very busy and told me “There are now a lot of things to do for me. We have already some volunteers so there is no need. Sorry. But try the Youth Center! They will love your car” I left a little bit disappointed the farm and walked 30 minutes to try my luck again. Meanwhile the heat was hard to stand. Later I always hitchhiked with motorcyclist for those distances. Eventually I was successful in the Youth Center. They let me stay for a small donation and for helping once in a while doing some stuff at the property. I now had to take my car into Auroville which wasn’t easy at all.
The vision of Auroville
In the year 1914 the French woman Mirra Alfassa – later only called “The Mother” – met in Pondicherry the freedom activist and later Yogi Sri Aurobindo. It was an encounter which changed her life. She saw in Sri Aurobindo from the first moment her grand teacher and decided to stay in the Ashram (meditation center) from 1920 to the rest of her life and discussed with Sri Aurobindo many philosophical questions. The main topic was the future evolution of human being where the human which is connected to material things ever since is developing to a human which mainly focuses on the spiritual life. It should be the surrender to the divine but not following a religion. For this development it was necessary to create an appropriate place. A place “which no nation can define as their own property” and where “needs of the mind […] are more important than the satisfaction of wishes and passions”. The idea of Auroville was born.
In the following years The Mother was confronting together with Sri Aurobindo their pupils with their ideas in the Ashram in Pondicherry. Many encounters with The Mother changed the life of the pupils. The dream of Auroville was becoming real and a suitable place was found as well. It was possible to buy cheap but very dry land ten kilometers from Auroville while some pioneers from Europe started their way to India. In 1968 was the laying of the foundation stone. Youth representatives from 124 countries and 23 Indian states brought soil from their land which should symbolize the human unity. Auroville became real.
The development Auroville
The pioneers of Auroville were mainly busy with transforming the cheap but dry land into a habitable and agricultural usable area. But this also meant mainly one thing: Planting trees. Following the plan of Auroville the future city should be divided into four sectors: The cultural sector (schools, sport centers, centers for art activities), the international sector (pavilions of the different nations and people to appreciate the diversity of cultures), the industrial sector (agriculture and production) and the living sector. The center was planned as a place to discover the way to the divine – the Matrimandir. The whole area should be circular and have a diameter of 2.5 square kilometers. Money shouldn’t be used inside Auroville and should be only there in connection with the outside world for the retention of Auroville.
One week in Auroville
While I was waiting for permission to enter Auroville with my car a man with a motorcycle passed by, looked around and came back to me. “I have to ask you this. I saw the number plate. Did you really come all the way down from Germany to India?” asked the man with Austrian accent. This is one of the most impressing things of my journey. With the car you always attract attention and I meet nice people. But it is sometimes also tiring to tell the same story again and again which only differs in the months and miles I drove. But I can understand it. I think I would also ask the same questions. The Austrian guy was Manu who moved from Vienna together with his wife and two kids to Auroville. He invited me to his house for a tea to shorten the waiting time. A friend from Israel was already there. Both shared the opinion that Auroville is the best place in the world to raise children. And Manu should know that right. He was born in Afghanistan and tried to escape together with the family the first time without success from the Russians and later successfully from the Taliban.
After this impressing encounter I went back to the car and the road was now open for me. I found a nice shadow place in the Youth Center to stay in my car and I could use the wash rooms and the kitchen for free. The best thing was the little workshop. The property of the Youth Center is covered with forest where they built tree houses and other funny attractions. Everything was built by the young people of Auroville and they needed tools for that. Tools which I could use to enhance my car with a small kitchen with table and a shelf for my spices.
I was very happy with the place and started after I arrived in the Youth Center for a little walk. I passed the center of Auroville – the Matrimandir. The building was like a spaceship which landed here from another world in this beautiful, silent and green park. I walked through the park and enjoyed the silence and the peace which was enriched with the setting sun. After a while I decided to see the spaceship from the inside. They started to build the Matrimandir in 1971 and finished with the help of many European volunteers and locals from the surrounding villages almost 23 years after they started. It is the “soul of Auroville”. It was designed as a place for concentration to find the inner consciousness. But it shouldn’t be under any circumstances a religious place.
For finding the path to the divine in the inside of the energy center you need absolute silence. Therefore visitor needs a visitor pass and can only enter at certain times. It is the same already for the park around but the guard must be sleeping when I strolled in. Meanwhile the woman at the entrance to the building explained me the situation. But after we chatted for about 15min she said “Okay I make an excuse for you. I explain to you how you should behave inside and then I let you in.” I eventually entered the building and had to take on some white socks first. It was very quiet and I could hear water dropping somewhere inside. Then I walked a spiraled pathway to the upper part of the cupola. It was really like walking in a futuristic spaceship. The inside was illuminated by indirect lights. There was a special but hard to describable aura in the room. It was very peaceful. Then I entered the heart of the Matrimandir: The Inner Chamber.
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