What can I say about Auroville that hasn’t been said on many other blogs or sites? Not much. Auroville is a utopian experiment straight out of the book, with all of the wonder and pitfalls that befall such a place.
I arrived at the visitor center after a 40 minute rickshaw ride there. While I was in watching the video presentation, a woman I recognized from the yoga ashram (super cool and Spanish, her name is Sylvia) came in, so we decided to visit Auroville together. We walked over to the Matrimandir, but alas it was closed while they perform some construction work on it. We perused and purchased some books in the shop, then went to the lovely cafe for a very western quiche and salad.
I was fortunate to spend the evening yesterday with Dipen and one of his friends, Dirk whose parents moved here in the 70s when he was about 12 from Belgium to participate in the grand experiment that was (and is) Auroville. He had decidedly mixed feelings about growing up in this environment. For example, the free spirit ethos of the place in those days held that children needed no formal education, only to be left to experience life and find their own bliss. Of course this caused great problems for Dirk when he wanted to pursue higher education and employment outside Auroville. Also, as with many communities of this sort, there are many infrastructure problems, and although it is meant to be self sustaining many people must bring in income from outside the community. In addition, land prices have shot up, making it ever more difficult to realize the dream of living there. There is of course great income disparity between Aurovillians and of course between Auroville and the surrounding Indian communities.
All in all though, it is hard not to admire the vision of the place that aspires to be the following [quoting from The Mother] :
There should be somewhere upon earth a place that no nation could claim as its sole property, a place where all human beings of goodwill, sincere in their aspiration, could live freely as citizens of the world, obeying one single authority, that of the supreme Truth; a place of peace, concord, harmony, where all the fighting instincts of man would be used exclusively to conquer the causes of his suffering and misery, to surmount his weakness and ignorance, to triumph over his limitations and incapacities; a place where the needs of the spirit and the care for progress would get precedence over the satisfaction of desires and passions, the seeking for pleasures and material enjoyments.