The Indian City Auroville (City of Dawn)

The Indian City Auroville (City of Dawn)

The Indian City Auroville (City of Dawn)

Auroville, A city of Dawn is an experimental township in Viluppuram district mostly in the state of Tamil Nadu, India with some parts in the Union Territory of Puducherry in South India. It was founded in 1968 by Mirra Alfassa (known as “the Mother”) and designed by architect Roger Anger. As stated in Alfassa’s first public message in 1965,

The Indian City Auroville (City of Dawn)
The Mother, founder of Auroville
The Indian City Auroville (City of Dawn)
Town hall of Auroville

Auroville (City of Dawn) has its origins in the French language, “aurore” meanin g dawn and “ville” meaning city. Additionally, it is named after Sri Aurobindo (1872–1950).

The township near Puducherry that was envisaged as ‘belonging to nobody in particular and belonging to humanity as a whole’ is at the half-century mark. For five decades its residents have given up personal wealth and immersed themselves in service to the community. It is as good a time as any to evaluate the successful and not-so-successful results of this experiment in ‘spiritual communism’.

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).

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 establishment of a city dedicated to the vision of Sri Aurobindo. Alfassa was spiritual collaborator of Sri Aurobindo, who believed that “man is a transitional being”. Alfassa 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.” Alfassa also believed that such a universal township will contribute decisively to the Indian renaissance.

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.The inauguration ceremony attended by delegates of 124 nations was held on Wednesday 28 February 1968. Handwritten in French by the Mother, its four-point charter set forth her vision of integral living:-

  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

In the middle of the town is the Matrimandir, which was conceived by Alfassa 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”.

The Indian City Auroville (City of Dawn)
Matrimandir

Legal status and government

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 Mirra Alfassa’s death 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 the government’s action and intervention.

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