An endeavour of Indian and Terrestrial Importance
As per Gilles G.’s personal understanding
1. The earth’s need
Our planet earth is facing a fast developing multi-facetted global crisis, which is threatening to devastate huge parts of its environment and kill millions of its inhabitants (humans and others).
The main facets of this global crisis are: global warming, loss of biodiversity, mass migration, increased gap between rich and poor, increased religious, cultural and social tensions, financial collapses, civil unrests, wars, etc. Dealing with the effects of all these events will become increasingly challenging.
This crisis is mainly due to the facts that the earth’s population is five times what it was in 19001 and that the means humanity developed have become a lot more destructive to our natural environment, while our level of consciousness didn’t rise that fast at all.
On 4.10.1958, in a talk, Mother spoke at first of money and then of this looming catastrophe:
In the universe there is an inexhaustible source of energy that asks only to be replenished; if you know how to go about it, it is replenished. Instead of draining life and the energies of our earth and making of it something parched and inert, we must
know the practical exercise for replenishing the energy constantly. And these are not just words; I know how it’s to be done, and science is in the process of thoroughly finding out – it has found out most admirably. But instead of using it to satisfy human
passions, instead of using what science has found so that men may destroy each other more effectively than they are presently doing, it must be used to enrich the earth: to enrich the earth, to make the earth richer and richer, more active, generous, productive
and to make all life grow towards its maximum efficiency. This is the true use of money. And if it’s not used like that, it’s a vice – a ‘short circuit’ and a vice. But how many people know how to use it in this way? Very few, which is why they have to be taught. What I call ‘teach’ is to show, to give the example. We want to be the example of true living in the world. It’s a challenge I am placing before the whole financial world: I am telling them that they are in the process of withering and ruining the earth with their idiotic system; and with even less than they are now spending for useless things – merely for inflating something that has no inherent life, that should be only an instrument at the service of life, that has no reality in itself, that is only a means and not an end (they make an end of something that is only a means) – well then, instead of making of it an end, they should make it the means. With what they have at
their disposal they could … oh, transform the earth so quickly! Transform it, put it into contact, truly into contact, with the supramental forces that would make life bountiful and, indeed, constantly renewed – instead of becoming withered, stagnant, shrivelled up: a future moon. A dead moon.
We are told that in a few millions or billions of years, the earth will become some kind of moon. The movement should be the opposite: the earth should become more and more a resplendent sun, but a sun of life. Not a sun that burns, but a sun that illumines – a radiant glory. (Mother’s Agenda)
This ongoing global crisis is also about the conditions in which so many of our fellow human beings live – not even speaking of all those whose main daily preoccupation is surviving.
Earth needs a place where men can live far 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. (Mother, 20.9.1969)
This global crisis is clearly due to the insufficient level of our consciousness (individual and collective). Obviously, it won’t be able to solve the problems it created.
Consciousness has been evolving since it appeared on earth and it will continue to evolve.
Humanity is not the last rung of the terrestrial creation. Evolution continues and man will be surpassed.
It is for each individual to know whether he wants to participate in the advent of this new species.
For those who are satisfied with the world as it is, Auroville obviously has no reason to exist. (Mother, 8.1966)
In 1940, Sri Aurobindo wrote in the postscript chapter to his “The Life Divine”:
At present mankind is undergoing an evolutionary crisis in which is concealed a choice of its destiny; for a stage has been reached in which the human mind has achieved in certain directions an enormous development while in others it stands arrested and bewildered and can no longer find its way.
Therefore the human race imperatively needs “a step in evolution”. In the message Sri Aurobindo wrote for All India Radio on the occasion of India’s Independence, (15.8.1947) he said:
… on this day I can watch almost all the world movements which I hoped to see fulfilled in my lifetime, though at that time they looked like impossible dreams, I can observe on this day either approaching fruition or initiated and on the way to their achievement.
He then spoke of these “impossible dreams”. The fifth one was:
A step in evolution which would raise man to a higher and larger consciousness and begin the solution of the problems which have perplexed and vexed him since he first began to think and to dream of individual perfection and a perfect society…
2. Sri Aurobindo and the Mother’s decisive action with regard to evolution:
In his biography of The Mother, Georges van Vrekhem wrote:
“For the first time in known history the Godhead has, for Its intervention in the evolution, been embodied in a ‘complete,’ double-poled Avatar, containing the initiating and the creating aspects of Its being in a male and female body.”
In one of his letters, Sri Aurobindo wrote:
Avatarhood would have little meaning if it were not connected with the evolution…
Indeed, Sri Aurobindo and Mother’s main endeavour was pulling into their bodies and hence into the terrestrial atmosphere a new and higher consciousness which is beyond the mind, and was therefore termed “supramental” by Sri Aurobindo. Mother said that a first manifestation of this “supramental” consciousness took place on 29.2.1956 and, soon after, she wrote:
The manifestation of the supramental upon earth is no more a promise but a living fact, a reality.
This seems to be the reason why, early 1965, Mother felt that the time had at last come for launching a successful Auroville.
Note that acknowledging Sri Aurobindo’s and Mother’s avatarhood and their evolutionary achievement were never part of Mother’s condition for being accepted as an Aurovilian. She also didn’t want Auroville to become a new religion, or to give such a feeling.
3. “Auroville is meant to hasten the advent of the supramental reality upon earth.”
The above sentence is the first of a hand-written message from Mother to UNESCO. It expresses clearly Auroville’s function within Sri Aurobindo and Mother’s evolutionary labour.
In order to enable Auroville to perform this essential function, Mother did the following:
a) She invited the youth of the world to the “great adventure” of Auroville telling them:
I invite you to the great adventure.
It is not a question of repeating spiritually what others have done before us, for our adventure begins beyond that. It is a question of a new creation, entirely new, with all the unforeseen events, the risks, the hazards it entails – a real adventure, whose goal is certain victory, but the road to which is unknown and must be traced out step by step in the unexplored. Something that has never been in this present universe and that will never be again in the same way. If that interests you… well, let us embark. What will happen to you tomorrow – I have no idea. One must put aside all that has been foreseen, all that has been devised, all that has been constructed,
and then… set off walking into the unknown. And – come what may!
(Mother, 10.7.1957, CWM, Vol. 9, p. 146-52)
Her initial conditions were: 1) not being satisfied with the world as it is, 2) being convinced in the essential unity of mankind and 3) having the will to collaborate for the actual realisation of that unity. She added more conditions later.
Sri Aurobindo needed his Ashram to be a symbolic representation of humanity’s diversity. As Auroville’s population is a lot more diverse, these words apply even more to it:
It is necessary or rather inevitable that in an Asram which is a “laboratory” […] for a spiritual and supramental Yoga, humanity should be variously represented. For the problem of transformation has to deal with all sorts of elements favourable and unfavourable. The same man indeed carries in him a mixture of these two things. If only sattwic and cultured men came for the Yoga, men without very much of the vital difficulty in them, then because the difficulty of the vital element in terrestrial nature has not been faced and overcome, it might well be that the endeavour would fail.
(Sri Aurobindo, Letters on Himself and the Ashram, p. 600.)
Ours is a problem of world-change. People here are an epitome of the world. Each one represents a type of humanity. If he is changed, it means a victory for all who belong to this type and thus a great achievement for our work. But for this change a
constant will is required. If that will is there, lots of things can be done for the man.
(Talks with Sri Aurobindo, as noted by Nirodbaran, Vol. 1, p. 5.)
To know more on this very important point, read ‘Annexure 1’: “On the hidden link between the Universe, the Earth, India and the disciples”.
b) She assigned to the Aurovilians two collective aims which are so high that they have never been achieved anywhere: “An effective human unity” and “Peace upon earth” and said that the latter would be achieved through the former. She thus put them under extreme pressure to effectively transform themselves and their environment.
c) She asked the Aurovilians to build the Matrimandir at Auroville’s centre as a living symbol of Auroville’s aspiration for the Divine and hence as its central and cohesive force. She assured its architect that she would turn Matrimandir into a very powerful centre. Its presence at the centre of Auroville and its power are meant to have a very favourable effect on the Aurovilians effort to transform both themselves and their environment.
d) She wanted Auroville to be as free as possible to develop in its own way, which is why she didn’t want any government or any other outside organisation to own and/or manage Auroville. She even spoke of Auroville being granted some extra-territorial status.
The first sentence of the two most reproduced quotes on Auroville make clearly this point:
“There should be somewhere on earth a place which no nation could claim as its own…” (Mother, “A Dream”, August 1954)
Auroville belongs to nobody in particular. Auroville belongs to humanity as a whole.2 (Mother, Auroville Charter, 28.2.1968)
Mother wrote in her hand to Smt. Kailas Jhaveri (then Auroville’s UNESCO liaison):
We must be very careful that UNESCO does not want to take the direction of the whole affair because it would no more be a Divine creation but a human realisation… (Mother, 6.3.1968, Kailas’ file)
to hand over the management of Auroville to any country or any group, however big it may be is an absolute impossibility. (Mother, 1970, Kailas’ file)
Ideally, Auroville should be allowed to develop along its own way and not according to any existing framework (legal, administrative, etc.) of any country. This need is expressed in the following hand-written answer from Mother to a letter from the eminent jurist Nani Palkhivala3 who had asked for the kind of information most large donors (Government and others) would request:
All these questions prove that you expect Auroville to be a continuation of all that has been done up to now.
Auroville wants to be a new creation expressing a new consciousness in a new way and according to new methods. (Mother, 18.8.1969)
But, Mother was, of course, also realist:
For my part, I wanted it [Auroville] to grow like that, spontaneously, with the full play of the unexpected. But then, you are confronted with all the rules and regulations: we are in a country [India] – we should do it on a desert island! But that no longer exists on earth, there isn’t any island left that doesn’t belong to a nation – we are caught, bogged down. Anyway, we’ll muddle along as best we can. It’s an attempt, that’s all. (Mother, 25.10.1967)
4. Achieving Auroville’s aim of “Human unity” requires 3 simultaneous transformation:
a) The individual transformation of the Aurovilians so that we become ONE in the Divine because then, and then only, will our ideal of human unity be achieved. This requires finding one’s inner being, identifying more and more with the Divine presence within and
becoming willing servitors of the divine consciousness.
b) The transformation of Auroville’s social environment so that it becomes increasingly favourable to the individual transformation of the Aurovilians.
c) The transformation of Auroville’s physical environment so that it becomes increasingly favourable to our individual transformation and to that of our social environment.
Mother wrote on the need for the first 2 of these 3 transformations as early as in 19124 and again (40 years later) in 19525 and explained twice that they need to take place side by side.
Since the environment reacts upon the individual and, on the other hand, the value of the environment depends upon the value of the individual, the two works should proceed side by side. (Mother, CWM, Vol. 2, pp. 47-48.)
At that time Mother was not yet speaking of building a new town for this more ideal society. By adding this need, she added the need to transform an existing environment so that it is able to host up to 50,000 Aurovilians in favourable conditions… This third transformation obviously has to take also place side by side with the other two. Building a new town and filling it with people without waiting for the other two transformations to take place simultaneously would make this society unmanageable.6
The quality of a social and physical environment depends on the level of consciousness of the people living there.
This erring race of human beings dreams always of perfecting their environment by the machinery of government and society; but it is only by the perfection of the soul within that the outer environment can be perfected. What thou art within, that outside thee
though shalt enjoy; no machinery can rescue thee from the law of thy being.
(Sri Aurobindo, Bulletin, 11.1954)
On 8.6.1951, Pavitra, then the Ashram’s General-secretary, wrote to his friends, the Raymonds7 on the Sri Aurobindo International Centre of Education, which Mother was then launching:
It is a works which will develop slowly, from within to without, like all works of Sri Aurobindo and Mother.
Two men, who enjoyed very easy access to Mother, Roger Anger and Satprem, said almost the same thing in two distinct interviews in 1973: “The point is not building a new town but building a new man”. Unlike construction, evolution takes time to take place. A “group soul” has been emerging and becoming stronger in Auroville along the past five decades. It needs some more time to become stronger and manifest itself more convincingly. Patience is required.
5. On the Aurovilians individual transformation.
The Aurovilians’ individual yoga is to unite with the Divine presence within, which will enable them to succeed in their collective yoga: transforming their environment (social & physical).
Since long it was the habit to govern through division and opposition. The time has come to govern through union, mutual understanding and collaboration. (Mother, 6.10.1969, Gazette Aurovilienne, 4, 3-4)
The true spirit of Auroville is Collaboration and must be more and more so. True collaboration paves the way to divinity. (Mother, hand-written, 24.10.1972)
When we have to work collectively, it is always better to insist, in our thoughts, feelings and actions, on the points of agreement rather than on the points of divergence. We must give importance to the things that unite and ignore, as much as possible, those that separate. Even when physically the lines of work differ, the union can remain intact and constant if we keep always in mind the essential points and principles which unite, and the Divine goal, the Realisation which must be the one unchanging object of our
aspiration and works. (Mother, undated, CWM, Vol. 14, p. 313)
6. On the transformation of Auroville’s social transformation
The five main programs of this social transformation are: a) An integral and unending education, b) An economy based on the communist system BUT taking into account people’s inner reality,8 c) An organisation based on a simple framework so that people and things are able to find their receptive place naturally. Decisions made by the highest consciousness available, d) an evolving membership policy, e) an evolving policy regarding relation with non-Aurovilians within Auroville and via the Medias.
Progressing in any of these fields requires some progress in our individual transformation. In turn, progress in any of these fields will make our individual transformation easier.
In 1971, Mother sent to Auroville the following letter from Sri Aurobindo to Dilip Kumar Roy – to say that it is very wrong to advertise Auroville instead of informing people about it:
“…I don’t believe in advertisement except for books, etc., and in propaganda except for politics and patent medicines. But for serious work it is a poison. It means either a stunt or a boom – and stunts and booms exhaust the thing they carry on their crest and leave
it lifeless and broken high and dry on the shores of nowhere – or it means a movement. A movement in the case of a work like mine means the founding of a school or a sect or some other dammed nonsense. It means that hundreds or thousands of useless people
join in and corrupt the work or reduce it to a pompous farce from which the Truth that was coming down recedes into secrecy and silence. It is what has happened to the ‘religions’ and it is the reason of their failure.” (Sri Aurobindo, Letters on Himself & the Ashram, p. 71.)
Mother was then asked explained the difference between informing and advertising:
“In publicity, to make the ideas comprehensible, one lowers them while we keep our teachings at the height where they are to be understood. We do not diminish the value of the thing so that it may be understood by all. We keep it at its height so that those who
can understand may do so. The teaching should be kept at its maximum height. The selection then takes place of itself. It is the comprehension which makes the selection.” (Mother, Mother India, Oct. 1971, p. 590.)
7. On the transformation of Auroville’s physical transformation
- Building a new town is NOT one of Auroville’s AIMS; it is a MEANS of achieving its aims.
- Auroville’s physical environment needs to be such that it is able to host up to 50,000 inhabitants and, as said, to do so in an environment which is favourable to the individual transformation of the Aurovilians and to that of their social environment.
- Auroville’s planers need to plan as little as necessary in advance in order to remain always very plastic in fast evolving circumstances and so as not to “fall behind universal progress”.
- Auroville needs to secure its campus so that, like all other large research and educational institutions it is able to develop and protect its own social and physical environment. While securing it, its good relationship with its village neighbours shouldn’t be spoiled.
- Auroville “must be a town for studies – studies and research on how to live both in a simplified way and in a way such that the higher qualities have more time to develop… I want to insist on the fact that it will be an experiment: it’s to make experiments – experiments, research, studies.”
- If Auroville wouldn’t express and embody a new and higher consciousness, it would have failed its mandate. Mother wrote in her hand “Auroville – the town of the future” and “The city the earth needs”. The real needs of the earth have become a lot clearer in the past half century. Auroville has to provide examples of how to solve as many facets of the ongoing multi-facetted global crisis as possible. In particular:
o Auroville has to provide an example of a living embodiment of an actual human unity – starting with a harmonious community life between people of extremely different backgrounds at almost all levels.
o Auroville has to provide a viable example of sustainable development and of what Mother considered to be “true living”. (Read her words page 1 of this document.)
o The quality of Auroville’s outer face will depend on the quality of the values expressed and embodied in it substance. It never works the other way around.
o Auroville has to illustrate that “nothing is more beautiful than a harmonious simplicity.”
o Auroville has to provide an example of a paradigm of BEING at the service of the Divine, instead of the paradigm of HAVING which is increasingly prevailing all over the world – though the earth doesn’t have enough resources for all the wants of its population.
This extremely ambitious program has never been attempted anywhere in the world.
On 6.9.1961 (that is, years prior to Auroville’s launching), Mother issued this message to the Sri Aurobindo International Centre of Education, which applies even more to Auroville as it is even more ambitious:
We are not here to do (only a little better) what the others do.
We are here to do what the others cannot do because they do not have even the idea that it can be done.
We are here to open the way of the Future to children who belong to the Future.
Anything else is not worth the trouble and not worthy of Sri Aurobindo’s help.
(Mother. CWM, Vol. 12, p. 111.)
Auroville’s achievements in many of the fields “the earth needs” are already well-known and widely appreciated, which is among the reasons why so many people come to learn from it. The prevailing freedom to discover one’s swadharma and living by it attracts also a lot of people.
If Auroville remains allowed to develop IN ITS OWN WAY, it will be of Indian and Terrestrial importance and lots of dedicated researchers and research institutions from all over the world will be very interested in joining or collaborating in its researches, experiments and studies.
Our present difficulties are, in my view, due to the following facts:
- We, Aurovilians, have failed to explain briefly and clearly to Aurovilians, to the government and to other outside parties, what Mother’s Auroville is actually about.
- Instead of keeping too much to the forms of Sri Aurobindo and Mother, we, Aurovilians, need to keep ourselves open to new outpourings of their spirits.
The error of the [Ramakrishna] Mission is to keep too much to the forms of Ramakrishna & Vivekananda9 & not keep themselves open for new outpourings of their spirit, – the error of all “Churches” and organised religious bodies…
(Sri Aurobindo, Autobiographical notes and other writings of interest, pp. 177-79)
Dogmas belong to religions and Mother did NOT want Auroville to become another religion.
That’s what I am afraid of: that people will make dogmas with the creation of Auroville. (Mother’s Agenda, 8.2.1969)
…You will say one day, “Mother has said this, Mother has said that…” and that is how dogmas alas, are made. (Gazette Aurovilienne, 2, 5 & 5, 3-4)
* * *
1 In 1900, British India had a population of 240 M. In 2022, India, Pakistan and Bangladesh have a combined population of 1,800 M – that is, 7.5 times that of 1900.
2 While drafting this founding document, on 7.2.1968, Mother confided to Satprem: “There, that’s the material fact. Auroville belongs… I didn’t put “to no country” because India would be furious. I put “belongs to nobody” – “nobody” is a vague term which I put precisely so as not to put “to no human being” or “to no country”. And I put “Auroville belongs to humanity AS A WHOLE”, because it is the equivalent of nothing! Because we cannot come to an agreement all together, it’s impossible! I did it on purpose.” (Mother’s Agenda)
3 N. Palkhivala had been asked by Navajata (obviously with Mother’s approval) to chair an “Auroville Committee for Maharashtra” consisting of very eminent personalities from this state to try and raise funds for Auroville.
4 CWM, Vol. 2, pp. 47-48.
5 CWM, Vol. 12, p. 39.
6 When, during the late 1960’s, Mother was speaking of Auroville being built very fast she was hoping that many conditions would be met – in particular that she would remain in her body. On 10.3.1972, she told Rijuta: “if Auroville must be built, not only do I have to remain in my body but the body must become strong.” Twenty months later, she left her body. During the following 10 years, Auroville came very close to being destroyed, but it has been saved and has been developing fine since then. Auroville has been and will remain a miracle in the making.
7 Antonin Raymond is the architect of the much-admired Ashram guesthouse: “Golconde”.
8 Communism as it has been imposed on entire countries has been (and still is) a nightmare.
9 Sri Aurobindo was known to have the highest regard for Sri Ramakrishna and Swami Vivekananda.