• Daniele Gennara

What is Auroville? ​

Actualizado: 6 de mar de 2019

Before physically entering Auroville we read several articles and watched two documentaries about the city, to see if it was worth a tour. The city is 20 minutes by tuktuk from Puducherry.

What is told about Auroville is one thing and its opposite, it is inconsistent, and very often all the informations are incomplete.

Is it a utopian city where there is no money? Is it a paradise for wealthy Europeans new age? Is it the future, the past, or a future return to the past? Is it a sect?

Considering our love for controversies and countercultures, we decided to spend a week in the city devoted to Sri Aurobindo, but founded by The  Mother, in order to have our own impartial judgment.

Many of the things we had read turned out not to be true.

When we arrived at the Visitor Centre, we headed to Dreamer's café to order two madras filtered coffee and saw a board full of announcements (then we found out that every place has one).

There are so many announcements: they promote activities of any kind, with a good majority towards yoga and its numerous variations; even one announcement presented a 6-day workshop for a learning experience in traditional treehouse construction (and I would have given up everything else to build a tree house).

One of these announcements was titled 'Auroville insight' and promised an introduction tour; we didn't wait a second to write an email asking to participate. 

Lisa answered us with a whatupp message, and we arranged the tour for the next day.

In the end the tour was a 4-hour chat between us and Lisa, which was crucial to understanding what Auroville is. For anyone who wants to visit the city we strongly recommend the same introduction.

We were able to ask Lisa any kind of doubt about it. Her family is from German but she was born and raised in Auroville. She also spent a period outside the city, in the so-called 'normal' world, before returning and devoting herself to organizing tours for tourists, curious people and future inhabitants.

Once back in Puducherry we bought two books to learn more about the subject. Apparently in Italian and Spanish there are not many resources, so we bought two books in english. Andrea has already read them (and I started them).

Auroville: A City for the Future by Anuradha Majumdar, bought in ebook format, which also explains in depth the urban and architectural design of the city of Auroville by, among others, Roger Anger and Piero and Gloria Cicionesi.

Auroville: dream and reality: an anthology, edited by Akash Kapur, bought in paper format because the ebook is currently reserved only for the Indian market, is a collection of multiple sources and authors that describes experiences, aspirations and disappointments in the first 50 years of life of the city. 

Bindu Mohanty's article Background and context on Auroville is perfectly exhaustive. On seven pages it objectively explains the city's economy and politics, as well as its spiritual foundation and its practical difficulties.

Although the foundation of the city with the support of UNESCO dates back to 1968, only "since 1988, by an act of the Indian Parliament, Auroville has the legal status of foundation".

But, as Dennis Bailey writes in Auroville in process, the city "it is not an institution or a project or even a community so much as it is a process, a collective 'thing' process. And it is an experimental process, an experiment in which we human beings offer ourselves as laboratory specimens". 

It is a living laboratory. 

In short, a good reading recommended for all the curious.​