Sunday, July 3, 2011
Auroville - an Utopia
Auroville is a commune that is set up 14 kms North of Pondicherry in Vizhupuram district. Auroville, meaning the ‘City of Dawn’ was visualized by Sri Aurobindo Ghosh and his French Disciple Mirra Alfassa(popularly called The mother). Sri Aurobindo visualized this as a place where people of all races and religions could live freely as citizens of the world in harmony.
The highlight of this commune is the the design of ‘Matri mandir’ which is a meditation hall. It is shaped like a golden golf ball with its circular plate like patterns. The lower hemisphere consists of stairs leading you to the upper hemisphere.You are given clean and sparkling white socks to wear and you enter The upper hemisphere which is dressed in pristine white upholstery( I’m not able to recall but I think it is something like the dhurries). The centre of the hall has a huge crystal ball triple the size of a foot ball and directly up above in the ceiling is an opening which allow sunlight to fall on the crystal and illuminates the whole meditation hall. Absolute silence is maintained here all you can hear is the sound of your own breath. You don’t have to subscribe to their teachings to soak in the calmness of this place, but yes you are given an entry pass with a small write up on how to conduct within.
But wait, there is another high point or uniqueness to this place. That it believes and practices environment development. Today many laboratories and research institutions are working on innovative technologies which are environmentally viable for today’s warming world and Auroville is a part of this quest for a sustainable future.
20 years back this place was a plateau of canyons carved with running rain water which drained into the nearby Bay and had a few cashew and mango trees but with lot of hardwork and research of auro followers it has turned now into a bio-region worth emulating by the rest of the world – all in a span of 20 years. Lots of greenery through afforestation, water conservation practices through recycling of waste water,recharging ground water and harvesting rain water.
Organic farming is practised using natural manure, buildings are constructed using the principle of natural architecture using bio-degradable materials like mudbricks,ferro-cement,flyash clay, bamboo and are designed for flow of natural air and light. Energy is harnessed through the various solar panels and so less electricity is used. Even wind energy is tapped though on a minor scale. Your laptops will run on wi-fi enabled by solar energy.
The central part of this place is closed to vehicles like cars and mostly you will find people using cycles and electric mopeds. Even in the day to day life,they follow simple green practices which leave a huge impact on the long run in our environment.
The bio-degradable wastes are reused as compost for their organic farming, eco-sanitation, community recycling and reuse of old and unwanted items, using old newspapers to make crafts and jewelery which are then sold in auroboutiques, community schedules like having tea at the same time at all auroville offices. Since the tea production is in bulk, less fuel energy is used in the preparation of tea. Simple practices like these are effective in saving energy in the long run, discouraging and replacing plastic bags and spreading green messages and making every inhabitant and nearby villagers aware of the environment.
You can find many foreigners and Indians living here. They are followers of this spiritual cult and leave their cushy jobs in the field of engineering, medicine, architecture, law etc and go back to their work or country after a break of two years or so. They subscribe and contribute to the above principles on environment. It is nice to see these westerners wear Indian clothes and cycle around the place and practise Indianess like yoga, meditation etc.,
They have lots of auroboutiques selling auroproducts like jewellery, jute, handmade paper, dry flower crafts, aromatic products all these are famous world over(but expensive).
Auroville has absorbed and blended the goodness of old and the new and is emerging as a model centre for the rest of the country and the world.
Worth emulating its spiritual and environment practices to cool the globe.
Pic courtesy: Flashnews