Auroville

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Auroville
town
Town Hall of Auroville.jpg
Inuksuk at Auroville
Auroville is located in Tamil Nadu
Auroville
Auroville
Coordinates: 12°0′25″N 79°48′38″E / 12.00694°N 79.81056°E / 12.00694; 79.81056Coordinates: 12°0′25″N 79°48′38″E / 12.00694°N 79.81056°E / 12.00694; 79.81056
Country India
State Tamil Nadu
District Viluppuram
Population (2014)
 • Total 2,345
Languages
 • Official Tamil
Time zone IST (UTC+5:30)
PIN 605101
Telephone code 0413
Vehicle registration TN-16,PY-01
Website http://www.auroville.org/

Auroville (City of Dawn) is an experimental township in Viluppuram district mostly in the state of Tamil Nadu, India with some parts in the state of Puducherry in South India.[1] It was founded in 1968 by Mirra Alfassa (known as "the Mother") and designed by architect Roger Anger.[2][3][4] As stated in Alfassa's first public message in 1965, she states that, 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.[5]

Etymology[edit]

Auroville (City of Dawn) has its origins in the French language, "aurore" meaning dawn and "ville" meaning city. Additionally, it is named after Sri Aurobindo (1872 - 1950).[5]

History[edit]

At its Annual Conference in 1964 and with Mirra Alfassa as its Executive President, the Sri Aurobindo Society in Pondicherry passed a resolution for the established of a city dedicated to the vision of Sri Aurobindo. The Mother 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).

Site[edit]

A site, approximately 20 square kilometres of barren wasteland, some 10 km north of Pondicherry and 5 km from the coast was chosen for the city.[5]

Inauguration[edit]

The inauguration ceremony attended by delegates of 124 nations, was held on Wednesday 28 February 1968. Handwritten in French by the Mother, its 4-point Charter set forth her vision of Integral living:[6]

  1. 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.
  2. Auroville will be the place of an unending education, of constant progress, and a youth that never ages.
  3. 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.
  4. Auroville will be a site of material and spiritual researches for a living embodiment of an actual Human Unity.

The Matrimandir[edit]

The Matrimandir, a golden metallic sphere in the center of town.

In the middle of the town is the Matrimandir, which 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".

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.

Legal Status and Government[edit]

Prior to 1980, the Sri Aurobindo Society, Pondicherry, legally owned all of the city's assets. In 1980, the Government of India passed the Auroville Emergency Provision Act 1980 under which it took over the city's management. The change was initiated when after the death of the Mother in 1973, serious fissures in the day-to-day management developed between the Society and the city's residents. The residents appealed to Indira Gandhi, then Prime Minister of India for an intervention. The Society challenged the Government's action in the Supreme Court of India. The final verdict, upheld the constitutional validity of government’s action and intervention.

In 1988, after the verdict, a need was felt to make a lasting arrangement for the long term management of Auroville. The city's representatives along with Sh. Kireet Joshi, then Educational Advisor to the Union government met for consulations with the then Prime Minister, Rajiv Gandhi. Later that year, the Auroville Foundation Act 1988, was passed by the Indian Parliament. The Act stipulated the vesting of all movable and immovable assets of the city in a foundation, known as Auroville Foundation[7] and the creation of a three-tier governing system: the Governing Board; the Residents' Assembly and the Auroville International Advisory Council.[8] The highest authority is the Governing Board selected by the Government of India. Consisting of 7 individuals, they are all prominent Indians in the fields of education, culture, environment and social service. The second authority is the International Advisory Council whose 5 members are also selected by the Government. These are chosen from amongst people who have rendered valuable service to humanity in the areas of Auroville’s ideals. The Resident's Assembly consists of all official residents of the city.

The Auroville Foundation, headed by a chairmen, is an autonomous body under the Ministry of Human Resource Development.[9][10] The HRD ministry appoints the seven members of the Governing Board and the five members of the International Advisory Council. There is also a Secretary to the Foundation, appointed by the Government of India, who resides and has an office with supporting staff in Auroville.[11] The Foundation currently owns about half of the total land required for the township. The remaining lands are being purchased whenever funds are available.

Chairmen[edit]

  • Karan Singh - former Union Minister (1991 - ?)
  • Dr. M.S. Swaminathan - renowned agricultural scientist
  • Dr. Kireet Joshi - former Special Educational Advisor to the Government of India

Belief System[edit]

Auroville should be at the service of Truth, beyond all social, political and religious conviction. Auroville is the effort towards peace, in sincerity and Truth.[12]

Society and population[edit]

General evolution of aurovilian population.[13]

The township was originally intended to house 50,000 residents.[1] In the initial 20 years, only about 400 individuals from 20 countries resided in the township. In the next 20 years, this number rose to 2,000 individuals from 40 countries. Today, its 2,487 residents (1854 adults and 633 children) come from 49 countries with two-thirds coming from India, France and Germany.[13] The community is divided up into neighborhoods with Tamil, English, French and Sanskrit names like Aspiration, Arati, La Ferme, Auromodel and Isaiambalam.[14]

Courtyard of the Tibetan Centre, Auroville
Dalai Lama's seat, Tibetan Centre, Auroville

Demographics[edit]

The following is the breakup of the population (as in May 2016)[13]

Nationality Number
Indians 1048
French 364
Germans 232
Italians 146
Dutch 91
Americans 83
Russians 66
Spaniards 52
British 47
Swiss 39
Israelis 38
Belgians 34
Koreans 34
Swedes 25
Canadians 24
Ukrainians 20
Australian 15
Austrians 13
Japanese 12
South African 12
Chinese 12
Argentinian 9
Hungarians 7
Slovenes 6
Mexicans 5
Nepali 5
Brazilians 4
Latvians 4
Belorussians 4
Tibetans 3
Ethiopians 3
Sri Lankans 3
Bulgarians 2
Moldovans 2
Icelanders 2
Colombians 2
Rwandese 2
Irish 2
Czech 2
Filipino 2
Danes 5
Taiwanese 2
Ecuadorians 1
Egyptians 1
Algerians 1
Finns 1
Iranians 1
Kazakhs 1
Lithuanians 1

Population graphs[edit]

Evolution of Aurovilian population.[15]

Surrounding villages[edit]

Auroville works closely together with the surrounding villages, where mainly Tamil people reside, via the Auroville Village Action Trust under which many different projects including the villages fall. The biggest one under the trust is the Auroville Village Action Group (AVAG), which has programs for women empowerment, education and financial support mainly and is also selling its own products in the name of AVAL, Surya and Kudumbam as social enterprise work.[17] Other activities falling under the trust are the Life Education Centre, the Auroville Industrial School, Mohanam cultural centre, Auroville Health Services, Deepam school for handicapped children, Thamarai community centre, Martuvam Healing forest, and the Reach for the Stars! program enabling higher education for village youth.[18]

Economy[edit]

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.[19]

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.

Location[edit]

Auroville Main Road
Auro Beach

Auroville is composed of a cluster of properties some 12 km (7.5 mi) 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 km (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.

Climate[edit]

It is included in the sub-humid tropics and situated on a plateau region with its maximum elevation of 32 m (105 ft) above sea level located in the Matrimandir area. The annual rainfall average is 1,200 mm (47 in) 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 32.2 °C (90.0 °F), average minimum 20 °C (68 °F).

Communications and media[edit]

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.[20] 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[edit]

At present, any filming within and about Auroville requires permission from the Government of India.[21][22] 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.[23]
  • Auroville, the outline of a world, full length, 25 minutes, 2009.[24]
  • Auroville - A Dream of the Divine (part 1 and 2), full length, 20 min in two parts, 2003.[25][26]
  • There are six 30 min videos on Auroville by Russian filmmakers.[27]
  • Interesting Auroville topics can also be seen on AurovilleTV,[28] and the films about Auroville screened at the biennial Auroville Film Festival.[29]

Controversy[edit]

In May 2008, the BBC produced a 10-minute Newsnight film about Auroville, which was aired on TV.[30] A short version was aired on Radio 4's "From Our Own Correspondent". It also appeared on BBC On-line.[31] 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 investigations, although a few inaccuracies were identified, Ofcom did not uphold the complaint.[32] In order to protect children in the Auroville area from child abuse, the city instituted an Auroville Child Protection Service which has been in action ever since. At the time the BBC report somewhat damaged Auroville's reputation.

Gallery[edit]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b Auroville in brief Official website.Updated 30 March 2016. Retrieved 28 May 2016
  2. ^ "Roger Anger as architect". Boloji.com. Retrieved 2012-01-26. 
  3. ^ "Auroville founded by Mira Richards". Architectureweek.com. 2005-11-16. Retrieved 2012-01-26. 
  4. ^ "Mirra Alfassa as other name". Auroville.info. Retrieved 2012-01-26. 
  5. ^ a b c Auroville, the Fulfillment of a Dream by Lotfallah Soliman. UNESCO Courier. January 1993 Retrieved 28 May 2016.
  6. ^ The Auroville Charter: a new vision of power and promise for people choosing another way of life Updated 25 October 2014. Retrieved 28 May 2016.
  7. ^ Auroville Foundation Act 1988 Teacher Education, Department of School Education and Literacy, Ministry of Human Resource Development, Government of India. Retrieved 28 May 2016.
  8. ^ The Auroville Foundation Act - 10 Establishment and incorporation of the Foundation Teacher Education, Department of School Education and Literacy, Ministry of Human Resource Development, Government of India. Retrieved 28 May 2016.
  9. ^ "The Auroville Foundation Act (1988)". Education.nic.in. Retrieved 2012-01-26. 
  10. ^ "Auroville News & Notes No.251". Retrieved 2012-01-26. 
  11. ^ The Auroville Handbook 2013 page 14
  12. ^ the Mother on Auroville, page 2, published 1999 Sri Aurobindo Ashram Trust
  13. ^ a b c d e f g h i Census – Auroville population May 2016 Official website for Auroville Retrieved 28 May 2016 Cite error: Invalid <ref> tag; name "pop" defined multiple times with different content (see the help page).
  14. ^ List of neighbourhoods.
  15. ^ "Census - Auroville population November 2014". www.auroville.org. Auroville. Retrieved 25 December 2014. 
  16. ^ a b c d e f g h "Data table about Auroville residets and new comer + graph". https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/. Lionel Scheepmans. Retrieved 25 December 2014.  External link in |website= (help)
  17. ^ "Auroville Village Action Group (AVAG)". Auroville. 
  18. ^ "Auroville Village Action Trust". Auroville. 
  19. ^ "Forbes India". Business.in.com. Retrieved 2012-01-26. 
  20. ^ Auroville Journals & newsletters
  21. ^ News & Notes 10 March 2012 [438]
  22. ^ "Information for the Press and Media". auroville.org. 
  23. ^ "City of the Dawn - Watch Documentaries Online - Promote Documentary Film". cultureunplugged.com. 
  24. ^ Auroville, the outline of a world (India, Documentary). Vimeo. 
  25. ^ AUROVILLE - A Dream of the Divine (part 1of2). YouTube. 24 July 2009. 
  26. ^ AUROVILLE - A Dream of the Divine (part 2of2). YouTube. 24 July 2009. 
  27. ^ Jenya & Anya Vashuk’s Videos. vimeo.com. 
  28. ^ "Videos from Auroville". AurovilleTV. 
  29. ^ "films 2013 – about AV". aurovillefilmfestival.org. 
  30. ^ BBC Two (22 May 2008). Indian town's sex abuse claims. Retrieved on: 21 June 2008.
  31. ^ BBC News (24 May 2008). Local concerns over Indian utopia. Retrieved on: 21 June 2008.
  32. ^ http://stakeholders.ofcom.org.uk/binaries/enforcement/broadcast-bulletins/obb157/Issue157.pdf

Bibliography[edit]

English Titles
  • 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
  • Jessica Namakkal, European Dreams, Tamil Land: Auroville and the Paradox of a Postcolonial Utopia, in Journal for the Study of Radicalism, Volume 6, Number 1, Spring 2012, pp. 59–88 (Published by Michigan State University Press)
German titles
  • 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., no ISBN
  • Michael Klostermann: Auroville  –  Stadt des Zukunftsmenschen; Fischer Taschenbuch Verlag, Frankfurt/M., Februar 1976; ISBN 3-436-02254-3

External links[edit]