- Planned as an international experimental town-ship, Auroville was inspired by the evolution-ary vision of SRI AUROBINDO and founded by Mirra Alfassa, known as the MOTHER. The name Auroville has the two meanings: “city of dawn,” from the French aurore (dawn), and “city of Aurobindo,” for the theorist who inspired its foundation.Auroville was inaugurated on February 28, 1968, in a ceremony attended by representatives from 124 nations and all the states of India. In a gesture symbolic of human unity, a boy and a girl from each nation and state poured a handful of soil from their homeland into a lotus-shaped marble urn near the center of the city-to-be. Auro-ville has been endorsed by three resolutions of the UNESCO general assembly and recognized as an international trust by a unique parliamentary act of the Indian government. Auroville welcomes people from all parts of the world to live together and explore cultural, educational, scientific, spiri-tual, and other pursuits in accordance with the Auroville Charter.The idea for Auroville began in the Mother’s thinking as early as 1952, when she called for an international center of education. She wrote: “A synthetic organization of all nations, each one occupying its own place in accordance with its own genius and the role it has to play in the whole, can alone effect a comprehensive and progressive unification which may have some chance of enduring.” She continued, “The first aim then will be to help individuals to become conscious of the fundamental genius of the nation to which they belong and at the same time to put them in contact with the modes of living of other nations so that they may know and respect equally the true spirit of all the countries on the earth.”Naturally, the Mother’s internationalist ideal, embedded in the statement, was firmly joined with her understanding that communal and indi-vidual progress must proceed simultaneously. She imagined in this international center that the individuals would all be in search of their highest spiritual development, while they worked toward collective “unification.” When in 1956 the Mother finally experienced the “Supramental manifesta-tion on earth,” which Sri Aurobindo and she had anticipated, she understood that this was the beginning of a new order on Earth. Her notion of Auroville then was of a place where this new order could take concrete form in an international community with a charter and vision like none before.In 1972 the Mother wrote in regard to her “dream” of Auroville:There should be somewhere upon earth a place that no nation could claim as its sole property, a place where all human beings of good will, sincere in their aspiration, could live freely as citizens of the world, obeying one single authority, that of the supreme Truth, a place of peace, concord, harmony, where all fighting instincts of man could be used exclusively to conquer the sources of sufferings and miseries, to surmount his weakness and ignorance, to triumph over his limitations and incapacities; a place where the needs of the spirit and the care for prog-ress would get precedence over the satisfac-tion of desires and passions, the seeking for material pleasures and enjoyment.There are four principles in the Auroville Charter. In summary, they ask that each resident see himself or herself as a servant of the “Divine Consciousness,” that Auroville will be a place of unending education, that Auroville will be a place where the past and the future meet, and that Auroville will be a site to realize “Human Unity.”The ideals for an Aurovillian emphasize the INTEGRAL YOGA, the creative development of each person as a unique point of the Divine, and the synthesis of the yogas of knowledge, love, and work. Auroville’s organization and administra-tion are perhaps the most free and unbounded of any similar township on Earth (it is a flourishing community of about 3,000). It is a measure of the success of this experiment in self-governance (fully supported by the Indian government) that Auroville has several citations from the United Nations for its land use and ecological work. The world’s largest solar kitchen provides meals. In support of the Mother’s belief that the age of reli-gions is past and is to be supplanted by a spiritual age beyond religion, the Auroville Charter states pointedly, “No religions.” Except for the stunning hemispheric Matri Mandir (Mother’s temple), no sign of any religious symbol or building can be seen in Auroville.Further reading: Alan and Tim, The Auroville Handbook (Auroville: Abundance, 2003); Auroville, the First Six Years: 1968–1974 (Auroville: Auropublication, 1974); Robert N. Minor, The Religious, the Spiritual, and the Secular: Auroville and Secular India (Albany: State Uni-versity of New York Press, 1999); Satprem, trans. The Mother’s Agenda. 10 vols. (Paris: Institut de recherches évolutives, 1979–91).
Encyclopedia of Hinduism. A. Jones and James D. Ryan. 2007.