Another letter sent to the chairman of the Governing Board following the meeting of Nov. 7th [read the event]
Dear Honourable Thiru R.N. Ravi, Governor of Tamil Nadu and chairman of the Governing Board,
“The one who plants trees, knowing that he will never sit in their shade, has at least started to understand the meaning of life.” By Rabindranath Tagore a very close friend of Sri Aurobindo.
Thank you for visiting Auroville on the 7th of November. Many of us were unsure how the meeting would develop but we did wish to have been able to ask you questions and convey to you our deepest aspirations and concerns of the moment.
When Auroville first began in 1968, the soil was a barren, desert-like piece of land with only one banyan tree and a few palmyras. This was the only vegetation for miles. Stretching from the canyons down into the Bay of Bengal, the land was completely eroded, not even farmers could use.
Days and nights were spent by some good willing servitors of the Divine Consciousness to make this land habitable again by understanding the land, creating bunds to prevent the water runoff and soil erosion thus enabling plants and trees to grow creating shade and a cooler climate for everyone. Through this afforestation work, Auroville has become world renown.
I don’t believe anybody living in Auroville here today is against development and the persistent narrative that green work is by its nature anti-development is incorrect and misleading. Well managed forests and green spaces are an integral part of the city that Auroville wants to be.
The IAC, the GB and Aurovilians need to wake up to the fact that only 25 % of the master plan’s greenbelt has been bought and that the land prices have skyrocketed or have been bought by private land estate developers. It’s too late to talk about a Master plan UNLESS the govt of Tamil Nadu protects this area, with a NOVEL PLAN in its entirety and doesn’t let anyone buy any land within this designated area. Land exchange without prior consultation and agreement with the Residents assembly is not at all the solution and will only create more division.
According to facts and figures over the past 40 years, 30 % of the forest cover the world over has been cut down. Tamil Nadu continues to remain the most urbanised and fast-growing state in India. The vegetal cover acting as a protective buffer zone for the regulation of the temperature is gone, the exposed spaces heat up drastically. We have to wake up to this reality and save whatever forests we have not only for the earth itself, but for the survival of the human species.
Of course, we understand that some trees need to be cut but the pattern in which development has been pursued over the last months is detrimental to the long-term health of Auroville and the bioregion. The forests in Auroville are mostly in the green belt, and what has been planted in the Master Plan area will be transformed into forested parks, according to the Galaxy concept. Darkali and Revelation are excellent examples of that, which shows “landscaped” areas but also wild forest.
We find there’s not much respect and consideration for the work done because actually forests help with pollution control, they recharge the water aquifers, they regulate the temperature, they create soil for farming etc. Forests are our ally. I quote Sir David Attenborough: “Forests are a fundamental component of our planet’s recovery. They are the best technology nature has for locking away carbon and are centres for biodiversity. The wilder the forests are, the better they are absorbing carbon from the atmosphere.’’
Our forests are very unique, most of the evergreen trees are perfectly adapted to our environment in terms of being cyclone, drought and water surplus resistant. The seeds mostly come from remnants of sacred groves from the surrounding areas. We remain shocked at all the destruction and environmental damage that has been done over the last months.
The green cover is why Auroville is so attractive to Indians who live in big metropolitan cities. Because it’s green. Green elevates and calms the soul. It is because a city is green that one becomes more relaxed and yes more spiritual. Development, in this modern day, has to be done hand in hand with nature. To restore stability on earth today, amongst others, the standards of living need to be raised and there needs to be more green jobs available.
Most of the trouble on our planet is due to bad planning and human error and unfortunately in Auroville too. Moreover, to instil fear on our visa situation and economy and internal functioning is against unity, and it certainly cannot be called collaboration. We aspire for human unity yet all we do is create more and more division.
For flowers to grow they need the right conditions, so it is for humans. Auroville is for humans to grow into something more noble and more Divine and unite with their souls and their true nature. If we are to work harmoniously together, we need to have the right conditions and then our differences can be a source of innovation and creativity, where we can become our best selves and create a beautiful society.
A good friend wrote, someone who only got a 3 months visa: “A city governed by the principles of the Charter, a city where its citizens exemplify diversity united around one spiritual goal, that is Sri Aurobindo and the Mother’s gift to the world and that we believe is the city the earth needs. That is the city we are committed to serve, to build and …to plant.“
Our goal is to become yogis, seekers of the Truth. Falsehood, greed for power and money has no place in Auroville.
In India all sages and rishis even the Buddha took refuge in nature, or just found bliss under a tree.
Thank you, Spiritual India, thank you Government of India for hosting Auroville, thank you Sri Aurobindo for enlightening our minds, thank you sweet Mother for your infinite and timeless love. And a big thank you to all the sages, seers and saints for paving the way from darkness to light.