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An Idea Called “Auroville”

About the universal township in Pondicherry, India


Matrimandir at Auroville

The glorious Matrimandir

Photo: Subhamoy Das

Auroville or the 'City of Dawn' was founded by The 'Mother' on February 28, 1968 as an international cultural township. Auroville was developed with the aid of funds received from different organizations in India and abroad as well as from grants received from the Central and State Governments of India, and the UNESCO, as a project contributing to international understanding and promotion of peace.

View Auroville Photo Gallery: A Virtual Tour

The Origin of the Auroville Idea

About the origin of Auroville, The Mother said: "For a long time, I had had a plan of the "ideal city," but that was during Sri Aurobindo's lifetime, with Sri Aurobindo living at its center. Afterwards ... I was no longer interested. Then, we took up the idea of Auroville again (I was the one who called it "Auroville"), but from the other end: instead of the formation having to find the place, it was the place (near the Lake) that caused the formation to be born…"

As she conceived Auroville, it would be "an attempt to achieve on earth a slightly more ideal life." In 1965, she put the project of Auroville in perspective: "Auroville wants to be a universal town ... where men and women of all countries will be able to live in peace and progressive harmony above all creed, all politics and all nationalities, straining to realize human unity. It was three years later, in February, 1968, that Auroville was founded.

The Purpose of Building Auroville

One of the main aims of the Auroville experiment was to create model where material and spiritual solutions to the difficulties of humanity can be constructively researched. In Mother's own words: "Earth needs a place where men can live away from all national rivalries, social conventions, self-contradictory moralities and contending religions; a place where human beings, freed from all slavery to the past, can devote themselves wholly to the discovery and practice of the Divine Consciousness that is seeking to manifest. Auroville wants to be this place and offers itself to all who aspire to live the Truth of tomorrow."

The Auroville Foundation Act

In view of the serious difficulties which had arisen with regard to the management of Auroville, the management was vested in the Central Government of India for a limited period by the Auroville in 1980. Auroville was able to develop in the following eight years along several important lines with residents carrying out developmental activities. For the purpose of encouraging, continuing and consolidating the activities of the township, the Auroville Foundation Act was filed. This Act of the Indian Parliament received the assent of the President of India on September 29, 1988.

The 4 Cornerstones of the Auroville Charter

"Auroville wants to shelter people happy to be in Auroville. Those who are dissatisfied ought to return to the world where they can do what they want and where there is place for everybody," The Mother said. The Auroville Charter clearly states:

  • 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.
  • Auroville will be the place of an unending education, of constant progress, and a youth that never ages.
  • 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.
  • Auroville will be a site of material and spiritual researches for a living embodiment of an actual Human Unity.

3 Things Auroville Wants to Achieve

The Mother was clear: "For those who are satisfied with the world as it is, Auroville obviously has no reason to exist." Auroville, she said, "is a center of transformation, a small nucleus of men who are transforming themselves and setting an example to the world. This is what Auroville hopes to be."

  • Create Universal Peace and Harmony: To be a universal town where men and women of all countries are able to live in peace and harmony, above all creeds, all politics and all nationalities.
  • Live Sri Aurobindo's Ideals of Human Unity: To be the first realization of human unity based on the teaching of Sri Aurobindo, where men of all countries would be at home.
  • Take Human Beings to a Higher Consciousness: To hasten the advent of a new and higher consciousness called "supramental" reality upon earth. Sri Aurobindo believed that human evolution has reached the highest that the intellect could lead us to, and a still higher potential remains to be achieved.

The golden dome temple of Auroville called the 'Matrimandir' or the temple of the Mother is one of the unique things that helps people in achieving these ideals. The Mother calls the inner chamber of the Matrimadir "a place … for trying to find one's consciousness."

Auroville Fast Facts

  • Location: Pondicherry, India
  • Best Time to Visit: March to October
  • Weather: 20°C - 38°C
  • Nearest Railhead: Villupuram (50 km)
  • Nearest Airport: Chennai (135 km)
  • Local Language(s): Tamil, Hindi, English, French
  • Telephone Code: +91 413
  • Best Place to Stay: Auroville guest houses
  • Current Population: 2,300 (approx., 2013)

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