Town hall of Auroville
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Auroville (City of Dawn) is an experimental township in Viluppuram district in the state of Tamil Nadu, India, near Puducherry in South India. It was founded in 1968 by Mirra Alfassa (also known as "The Mother") and designed by architect Roger Anger. As stated in Alfassa's first public message about the township, "Auroville is meant to be a universal town where men and women of all countries are able to live in peace and progressive harmony, above all creeds, all politics and all nationalities. The purpose of Auroville is to realize human unity."
Auroville was founded as a project of the Sri Aurobindo Society on Wednesday 28 February 1968 by Mirra Alfassa, "The Mother". She was spiritual collaborator of Sri Aurobindo, who believed that "man is a transitional being". Mother expected that this experimental "universal township" would contribute significantly in the "progress of humanity towards its splendid future by bringing together people of goodwill and aspiration for a better world." Mother also believed that such a universal township will contribute decisively to the Indian renaissance (Ref. Mother's Agenda, Vol. 9, dt.3.02.68). The Government of India endorsed the township, and in 1966, UNESCO also endorsed it inviting the member-states to participate in the development of Auroville. UNESCO re-endorsed Auroville four times more in the course of the last 40 years.
In the inauguration ceremony attended by delegates of 124 nations on 28 February 1968, Mother gave Auroville its 4-point Charter setting forth her vision of Integral living:
- Auroville belongs to nobody in particular. Auroville belongs to humanity as a whole. But to live in Auroville, one must be the 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.
In the middle of the town is the Matrimandir, which has been acclaimed as "an outstanding and original architectural achievement". It was conceived by "The Mother" as "a symbol of the Divine's answer to man's aspiration for perfection". Silence is maintained inside the Matrimandir to ensure the tranquility of the space and entire area surrounding the Matrimandir is called Peace area. Inside the Matrimandir, a spiraling ramp leads upwards to an air-conditioned chamber of polished white marble referred to as "a place to find one's consciousness". The surface of the dome has 56 kg of Gold, which was sandwiched between as thin sheets. At its centre is a 70 cm crystal ball in a gold mount which glows with a single ray of sunlight that is directed on the globe from the top of the structure. According to Mother, this represents "a symbol of future realisation."
Matrimandir is equipped with a solar power plant and is surrounded by manicured gardens. When there is no sun or after the sunset, the sunray on the globe is replaced by a beam from a solar powered light.
Radiating from this center are four "zones" of the City Area: the "Residential Zone", "Industrial Zone", "Cultural (& Educational) Zone" and "International Zone". Around the City or the urban area, lies a Green Belt which is an environment research and resource area and includes farms and forestries, a botanical garden, seed bank, medicinal and herbal plants, water catchment bunds, and some communities.
Government, belief system
Auroville is governed by the Auroville Foundation through an act of the Indian Parliament. The Ministry of Human Resource Development appoints the Governing Board who, in turn, appoints the key committees such as the Funds and Assets Management, the Budget Co-ordination, l'Avenir (city planning authority). The Foundation, thus fully controlled by the Indian Government, currently owns about half of the total land required for the township. The remaining lands are being purchased whenever funds are available.
Society and population
Although originally intended to house 50,000, the actual population today (December 2013)is 2,305 (1,763 adults and 542 minors), coming from 50 nationalities, 990 of whom are of Indian origin. The community is divided up into neighborhoods with English, Sanskrit, French and Tamil names like Aspiration, Arati, La Ferme, and Isaiambalam.
Instead of paper and coin currency, residents are given account numbers to connect to their central account. Visitors, however, are requested to get a temporary account and an Aurocard (a debit card).
Residents of Auroville are expected to contribute a monthly contribution to the community. They are asked to help the community whenever possible by work, money, or kind. "Guest contribution", or a daily fee payable by the guests of Auroville, constitutes a part of Auroville's budget. There is a system of “maintenance”, whereby those Aurovilians who need can receive from the community a monthly maintenance which cover simple basic needs of life. Auroville's economy and its overall life are of an evolving nature and there are ongoing experiments to reach closer to the vision.
Although the Government of India owns and manages the Auroville Foundation, it only finances a small part of Auroville's budget, which is mainly formed by contributions from Auroville's commercial units which contribute 33% of their profits to Auroville's Central Fund, and by donations. There are guest houses, building construction units, information technology, small and medium scale businesses, producing and re-selling items such as handmade paper for stationery items, as well as producing its well-known incense sticks, which can be bought in Auroville's own shop in Puducherry, or are sold around India and abroad. Each of these units contributes a considerable part of their profits to the township. Over 5,000 people, mostly from the nearby localities, are employed in various sections and units of Auroville.
Other activities include afforestation, organic agriculture, basic educational research, health care, village development, appropriate technology, town planning, water table management, cultural activities and community services.
Auroville is composed of a cluster of properties some 12 km north of Pondicherry. It can be easily reached via the East Coast Road (ECR) which connects Chennai and Pondicherry. The visitor centre and Matrimandir can be reached by travelling 6 kilometres (3.7 mi) westwards from the signposted turnoff at the ECR. Turning east leads directly to Auroville's private beach called Repos, several hundred metres away.
It is included in the sub-humid tropics and situated on a plateau region with its maximum elevation of 32 mtr above sea level located in the Matrimandir area. The annual rainfall average is 1.200 mm mainly from the SW monsoon (June to Sept.) and NE monsoon (Nov to Dec) with a dry period of approx 6 months. The average maximum temperature is 37.2° C (89.96°F), average minimum 20° C (68 °F).
Communications and media
The Auroville website provides open as well as restricted forums for various projects, interests, organizations and outreach which make up the life of the community. The opinions expressed in these publications are not necessarily those of the community at large. Auroville radio website provides a lot of recordings and daily news covering events in Auroville. Auroville has a small 'OutreachMedia' team to regulate visits of journalists and film/video makers. Their aim is to ensure that all journalists and filmmakers get official, up-to-date information and representative footage from reliable sources.
Films about Auroville
At present, any filming within and about Auroville requires permission from the Government of India. The procedure to obtain this permission is outlined here: http://www.auroville.org/journals&media/outreachmedia.htm. Many filmmakers visit Auroville and there is a wide range of films available. To name a few:
City of the Dawn full length, 80 min version, 2010: http://www.cultureunplugged.com/play/7703/City-of-the-Dawn
Auroville, the outline of a world full length, 25 minutes, 2009 https://vimeo.com/20071836
And there are six 30 min videos on Auroville by Russian filmmakers. https://vimeo.com/vashuk/videos
Interesting Auroville topics can also be seen on AurovilleTV http://aurovilletv.org
and the films about Auroville screened at the biennial Auroville Film Festival: http://aurovillefilmfestival.org/films-2013-about-av/
In May 2008, the BBC produced a 10-minute Newsnight film about Auroville, which was aired on TV. A short version was aired on Radio 4's "From Our Own Correspondent". It also appeared on BBC On-line. The reports contrasted the idealism of its founders with allegations by some people that the community tolerates pedophiles, especially in a school that Auroville has established for local village children. Auroville filed an official complaint to the BBC that the report was biased, untrue and contravened BBC editorial ethical guidelines. After thorough investigations nothing was found. In order to protect children in the Auroville area from child abuse, the city instituted an Auroville Child Protection Service which is in action ever since. At the time the BBC report somewhat damaged Auroville's reputation.
- "Roger Anger as architect". Boloji.com. Retrieved 2012-01-26.
- "Auroville founded by Mira Richards". Architectureweek.com. 2005-11-16. Retrieved 2012-01-26.
- "Mirra Alfassa as other name". Auroville.info. Retrieved 2012-01-26.
- "The Auroville Foundation Act (1988)". Education.nic.in. Retrieved 2012-01-26.
- "Auroville News & Notes No.251". Retrieved 2012-01-26.
- Huggler, Justin (2005-08-18). "Universal City: No Drink. No Drugs. No Politics. No Religion. No Pets... So Is This Utopia?". The Independent (London). Retrieved 2007-10-21.[dead link]
- "Official census of April, 2008". Auroville.org. Retrieved 2012-01-26.
- List of neighbourhoods.
- "Forbes India". Business.in.com. Retrieved 2012-01-26.
- Auroville Journals & newsletters
- News & Notes 10 March 2012 
- BBC Two (22 May 2008). Indian town's sex abuse claims. Retrieved on: 21 June 2008.
- BBC News (24 May 2008). Local concerns over Indian utopia. Retrieved on: 21 June 2008.
- Abundance Publications. The Auroville Handbook.Pondicherry: All-India Press, 2007.
- Auroville – Development Perspectives 1993–1998 – An Invitation To Participate, Typoscript, Autoren/Hrsg. Auroville Development Group, Bharat–Nivas, Auroville 1993, no ISBN
- K.M. Agarwala (Hrsg.): Auroville - The City Of Dawn, Sri Aurobindo Center New Delhi 1996, no ISBN
- Auroville References in Mother's Agenda, Auroville Press, Auroville, no Y., no ISBN
- Jerome Clayton Glenn: Linking the Future: Findhorn, Auroville Arcosanti, published by Hexiad Project/ Center on Technology and Society, Cambridge, Massachusetts 1979, no ISBN
- Anupama Kundoo: Roger Anger, Research on Beauty, Architecture 1953-2008, JOVIS Verlag Berlin 2009, ISBN 978-3-86859-006-7
- Peter Richards: Experience!Auroville – Guide Book for Guests and Visitors, Pondicherry 2000, no ISBN
- Savitra: Auroville: Sun-Word Rising – A Trust For The Earth, published by The Community of Auroville, Auroville 1980, no ISBN
- The Auroville Adventure – Selections from ten years of Auroville Today, published by Auroville Today, Auroville 1998, no ISBN
- The Auroville Experience – Selections from 202 issues of Auroville Today, November 1988 to November 2005, published by Auroville Today, Auroville 2006, no ISBN
- Mira Alfassa: Die Mutter über Auroville, Auropublikations (Hrsg.), Sri Aurobindo Ashram Trust, Pondicherry 1978, no ISBN
- Renate Börger: Auroville – Eine Vision blüht, Verlag Connection Medien, Niedertaufkirchen 2004, 3. veränderte Aufl., ISBN 3-928248-01-4
- Alan G. (Hrsg.): Auroville – Ein Traum nimmt Gestalt an, o.O. (vermutlich Auroville/ Pondicherry) 1996, 1. dt. Aufl., o.ISBN
- Michael Klostermann: Auroville – Stadt des Zukunftsmenschen; Fischer Taschenbuch Verlag, Frankfurt/M., Februar 1976; ISBN 3-436-02254-3
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