The ground floor was a circle from about 100 square meters. 12 columns where in a circle in the room and surrounded the center where a crystal looking lighting artifact was placed. Between the columns and the walls were pillows for sitting. I went down to sit on the pillow and looked around. The whole room was completely white that no sound could come through. There were seven other people in the room – immerged in meditation. After a while my thoughts could decouple from this unreal environment and I lost myself in the infinity of the room.
I tried after this experience later the days two times to enter the Matrimandir – without success.
Encounters in Auroville
I want to tell you something about two encounters in Auroville. Pranay (a guy from Mumbai I met in Varanasi) gave me the contact of Anandamayi. We agreed on meeting for lunch in the Solar Kitchen. It is a community kitchen in which they cook with steam coming from the boiled water from the solar panels of the roof top of the building. Anandamayi is a little bit older than me and was born in Auroville. Her father came from France to Pondicherry and met in the Ashram of Pondicherry her mother. Together they became later one of the first inhabitants of Auroville. Anandamayi told me many things about Auroville. Even if it is a small community (2500 inhabitants) Auroville is facing the whole problems of a country itself. How can we produce self-sustaining energy? How can we separate and dispose waste. How can we integrate newcomers to our community? How can we provide sufficient accommodation? How do we finance the community? Which role plays money in Auroville? How can we manage to resign all materialistic things and putting our focus towards the dedication to the divine while facing all these problems? While having this conversation I asked myself whether the experiment Auroville failed. In Auroville are many solar and wind power plants but how can you finance this (expensive) technology? It is clean everywhere (and it is India…), waste is separated and as much as possible recycled. Plastic bags are banned. They dig the rest of the garbage in the ground. Is this sustainable? The wooden cottages from early times are hard to spot. More and more big buildings can be found in Auroville. The architect could be experimental. But who built a building has only the living rights and not the ownership of the building. But some wealthy people from Europe already saved a nice spot in Auroville. Their broadminded donations are helping the community to survive. But isn’t that against the vision of Auroville? The tourism plays an important role for financing the project. Many products from the artist are sold to the tourist and the incomes from the guest houses are going to the money pot of the community (some new “Aurovillian” must gave their room for a tourist in peak season though). But some Aurovillians are feeling like being in a human zoo.
I had a long conversation with Anandamayi. She invited me for lunch and told me that every inhabitant gets food in the Solar Kitchen for free. It is the base together with some monthly fixed income for everybody for playing a part in the community. But this only works in the bubble of Auroville. If you want to get out it already looks difficult concerning the financial part.
Some days later she invited me to the barbeque she was having with her friends. We were sitting in a forest community in the shadows of the trees eating tasty salad and watching the kids playing. While I was interested about the life in Auroville the others were interested in my journey. Everybody of her friends seemed to be very happy and I wondered how I must be to live here forever…
Rochssana und Morton
Rochssana and Morton are both from Germany and managed to hitchhike the whole way to India. Within several months they came via Iran and Pakistan to India. They don’t carry that much and the most valuable things in their backpacks are their stories and experiences. Since eight months they are living in Auroville. They were working some months in a project where they also met several Aurovillians. Now they are working on their second travel book after they published the first one about hitchhiking in South America. We had some nice long conversations. After more than 18 months in India both are having a critical opinion about the country and also about the project Auroville which they see as failed. When I was talking with travelers everybody only found good words about the country. But I shared the opinion with Rochssana and Morton that you see a country with different eyes after being sometimes also out of the touristic areas and being together with the simple people for example from the countryside. I think that critical opinions towards a culture are not so much often told and it needs some courage too. Because at home you want to show everybody how nice the life is right now…
My personal conclusion about Auroville
I only spent one week in Auroville and for sure it is to less to judge about the project (which therefore I am not going to do). With my encounters I got some insights into the community and their visions and ideas. There are some big achievements in connection with Auroville which came up the last years and which can be used as a role model. Within fifty years they transformed a desert-like landscape to a small tropical oasis. Rain water of the monsoon is therefore not spilled into the sea without any use. They created some learning models in schools which aren’t follow the pure reciting of knowledge and which focuses more the free deployment of the mind and gaining knowledge by themselves. The intensity of cultural offers in such a small community is amazing. The awareness for a peaceful living together and a sustainable life is bigger than nowhere else. It is truly a bubble in India and in the world which ends at the garbage fields outside from Auroville.
I didn’t go to the spiritual level in Auroville. This is (until now) not my field of interest. But there are some very interesting thoughts which I kept in my mind. And I think it was the same for some other visitors of Auroville because some of them never returned home.
It was a very interesting experience for me and I would be happy if some of the concepts of Auroville can be found somewhere else in the world. Maybe I can already help whit telling people about the project. I wish a lot of energy to the community of Auroville to keep facing in their journey the challenges of the life in a bubble while not losing their vision.
I for myself put after a week the key in the ignition lock. The car starts with a reliable sound. My journey continues as well. I will head towards south until it is impossible to continue.