Auroville (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,
Town hall of Auroville
|State||Tamil Nadu and Puducherry|
|• Official||Tamil, English and French|
|Time zone||UTC+5:30 (IST)|
|Vehicle registration||TN-16, PY-01|
Auroville wants to be a universal town where men and women of all countries are able to live in peace and progressive harmony, above all creeds, all politics and all nationalities. The purpose of Auroville is to realize human unity.— Mirra Alfassa
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:
- 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.
- Auroville will be the place of an unending education, of constant progress, and a youth that never ages.
- 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.
- Auroville will be a site of material and spiritual researches for a living embodiment of an actual Human Unity.
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".
Matrimandir is equipped with a solar power plant and is surrounded by manicured gardens. When there is no sun or after the sunset, the sunray on the globe is replaced by a beam from a solar powered light.
Radiating from this center are four "zones" of the City Area: the "Residential Zone", "Industrial Zone", "Cultural (& Educational) Zone" and "International Zone". Around the City or the urban area, lies a Green Belt which is an environment research and resource area and includes farms and forestries, a botanical garden, seed bank, medicinal and herbal plants, water catchment bunds, and some communities.
Legal status and governmentEdit
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.
In 1988, after the verdict, a need was felt to make a lasting arrangement for the long term management of Auroville. The city's representatives along with Sh. Kireet Joshi, then Educational Advisor to the Union government met for consultations with the then Prime Minister, Rajiv Gandhi. Later that year, the Auroville Foundation Act 1988, was passed by the Indian Parliament. The Act stipulated the vesting of all movable and immovable assets of the city in a foundation, known as Auroville Foundation and the creation of a three-tier governing system: the Governing Board; the Residents' Assembly and the Auroville International Advisory Council. The highest authority is the Governing Board selected by the Government of India. It consists of seven prominent Indians in the fields of education, culture, environment and social service. The second authority is the International Advisory Council whose five members are also selected by the Government. These are chosen from people who have rendered valuable service to humanity in the areas of Auroville's ideals. The Resident's Assembly consists of all official residents of the city.
The Auroville Foundation, headed by a chairman, is an autonomous body under the Ministry of Human Resource Development. The HRD ministry appoints the seven members of the Governing Board and the five members of the International Advisory Council. There is also a Secretary to the Foundation, appointed by the Government of India, who resides and has an office with supporting staff in Auroville. The Foundation currently owns about half of the total land required for the township. The remaining lands are being purchased whenever funds are available.
- Karan Singh – former Union Minister, 1991
- Dr. M. S. Swaminathan – renowned agricultural scientist
- Dr. Kireet Joshi – former Special Educational Advisor to the Government of India
Society and populationEdit
The township was originally intended to house 50,000 residents. In the initial 20 years, only about 400 individuals from 20 countries resided in the township. In the next 20 years, this number rose to 2,000 individuals from 40 countries. As of May 2016, it has 2,487 residents (1854 adults and 633 children) from 49 countries with two-thirds from India, France and Germany. The community is divided up into neighborhoods with Tamil, English, French and Sanskrit names like Aspiration, Arati, La Ferme, Auromodel and Isaiambalam.
The following is the break-down of the population (as in May 2016)
Evolution of Aurovilian population:
1. General evolution of Aurovilian population
2. Evolution of Aurovilian population for six nationalities
3. Evolution of Aurovilian population for six nationalities
4. Evolution of Aurovilian population for six nationalities
5. Evolution of Aurovilian population for six nationalities
6. Number of nationalities in Auroville from December 1999 to November 2014
7. Auroville population by category of age (2010-2014)
8. Gender in Auroville (2014).
9. Auroville population by nationality (2014)
10. Auroville population by communitiy (2014)
11. Auroville population by seniority (2014)
12. Auroville population by working place (2014)
13. Auroville population by function (2014)
14. Auroville population by status (2010-2014)
Auroville works closely together with the surrounding villages, where mainly Tamil people reside, via the Auroville Village Action Trust under which many different projects including the villages fall. The biggest one under the trust is the Auroville Village Action Group (AVAG), which has programs for women's empowerment, education and financial support, and also sells its own products in the name of AVAL, Surya and Kudumbam as social enterprise work. Other activities falling under the trust are the Life Education Centre, Auroville Industrial School, Mohanam cultural centre, Auroville Health Services, Deepam school for handicapped children, Thamarai community centre, Martuvam Healing forest, and the Reach for the Stars! program enabling higher education for village youth.
Instead of paper and coin currency, residents are given account numbers to connect to their central account. Visitors are requested to get a temporary account and an Aurocard (debit card).
Residents of Auroville are expected to contribute a monthly contribution to the community. They are asked to help the community whenever possible by work, money, or kind. The "guest contribution", or a daily fee paid by the guests of Auroville, constitutes a part of Auroville's budget. There is a system of "maintenance", whereby those Aurovilians in need can receive from the community a monthly maintenance which cover simple basic needs of life. Auroville's economy and its overall life are of an evolving nature and there are ongoing experiments to reach closer to the vision.
Although the Government of India owns and manages the Auroville Foundation, it only finances a small part of Auroville's budget, which is mainly formed by contributions from Auroville's commercial units which contribute 33% of their profits to Auroville's Central Fund, and by donations. There are guest houses, building construction units, information technology, small and medium scale businesses, producing and re-selling items such as handmade paper for stationery items, as well as producing its well-known incense sticks, which can be bought in Auroville's own shop in Puducherry, or are sold around India and abroad. Each of these units contributes a considerable part of their profits to the township. Over 5,000 people, mostly from the nearby localities, are employed in various sections and units of Auroville.
Other activities include afforestation, organic agriculture, basic educational research, health care, village development, appropriate technology, town planning, water table management, cultural activities, and community services.
Auroville is composed of a cluster of properties some 12 km (7.5 mi) north of Pondicherry. It can be easily reached via the East Coast Road (ECR) which connects Chennai and Pondicherry. The visitor centre and Matrimandir can be reached by travelling 6 km (3.7 mi) westwards from the signposted turnoff at the ECR Bommayapalayam. Turning east leads directly to Auroville's private beach called Repos, several hundred metres away.
It is included in the sub-humid tropics and situated on a plateau region with its maximum elevation of 32 m (105 ft) above sea level located in the Matrimandir area. The annual rainfall average is 1,200 mm (47 in) mainly from the SW monsoon (June to Sept.) and NE monsoon (Nov to Dec) with a dry period of approx 6 months. The average maximum temperature is 32.2 °C (90.0 °F), average minimum 20 °C (68 °F).
Communications and mediaEdit
The Auroville website provides open as well as restricted forums for various projects, interests, organizations and outreach which make up the life of the community. The opinions expressed in these publications are not necessarily those of the community at large. The Auroville radio website provides a lot of recordings and daily news covering local events. Auroville has a small 'OutreachMedia' team to regulate visits of journalists and film/video makers. Their aim is to ensure that all journalists and filmmakers get official, up-to-date information and representative footage from reliable sources.
Films about AurovilleEdit
- City of the Dawn, full length, 80 minutes, 2010
- Auroville, the outline of a world, full length, 25 minutes, 2009
- Auroville - A Dream of the Divine (part 1 and 2), full length, 20 minutes in two parts, 2003
- Spiritual journey... Auroville (Духовное путешествие... Ауровиль), six 25 minute videos on Auroville by Russian filmmakers, 2013
- The India Trip full length, 49 minutes, from the National Film Board of Canada, 1971
- Interesting Auroville topics can also be heard on Auroville Radio, and the films about Auroville screened at the biennial Auroville Film Festival.
By occasion of the 50th anniversary of Auroville on 28 February 2018 the Indian President Ram Nath Kovind sent a message to the community in which he called Sri Aurobindo "one of modern India's greatest sages". He also wrote that Auroville "represents humanity's aspiration for peace and goodwill" and that it is "a unique symbol of human unity."
Prime Minister Narendra Modi visited the Sri Aurobindo Ashram and Auroville on 25 February 2018. After a meditation in the Matrimandir and participation in some functions he gave a speech in the Sri Aurobindo Auditorium. He referred to the Auroville Charter and basic principles of life in the community. Then he said, "Indian society is fundamentally diverse. It has fostered dialogue and a philosophic tradition. Auroville showcases this ancient Indian tradition to the world by bringing together global diversity." At the end of his speech he expressed his wish that Auroville may continue developing and supporting new and creative ideas for India and the whole world.
European Media on AurovilleEdit
By occasion of the 50th anniversary, Deutschlandfunk (DLF), a national public service radio broadcaster, sent a staff member to Auroville for reporting on progress in the experimental city. Moreover, there were also reports by the German Christian journal Chrismon, the Schweizer Radio und Fernsehen (SRF), the British Guardian and the French Le Monde.
DLF had already reported earlier about the project. In a broadcast dated 18 September 2016 Sonja Ernst gave an introduction to the subject, mentioning that nation, gender, religion or money should not play any role in this place and that it should belong to humanity. Visiting the Solar Kitchen at lunch hour, Ernst describes the scene there as looking like "a huge multi-generation-project". As for money, she mentions that Aurovilians receive a kind of basic income, but that many of them feel it is insufficient and therefore earn some more money through various jobs.
Gerhard Richter followed up with his report on 28 February 2018 in a broadcast of DLF Kultur. Richter comments that Auroville with its population of 3500 is no more a village now, but rather a small city. Richter also reports about the functioning of Auroville and notes that as in the research and development department of a company Aurovilians test what might be helpful for a future humanity, and mentions significant contributions in the field of afforestation, alternative energies, healing, education, ecological farming and construction technology.
Chrismon has published its article on 21 February 2018. The author, Jörg Heuer, offers a report on life in the small city with the help of three members of a family, who represent three generations. He accompanies a teenager with German roots and describes her life style with smart phone and social media etc. and mentions that, like many other youngsters, after completing her education she would like to go out and discover the rest of the world.
Heuer also gives a comprehensive overview of numerous kinds of sports practised in Auroville including tennis, football, basketball and volleyball, as well as cultural activities with theatre, music and yoga groups. He writes that internationally recognized school-leaving qualifications may be acquired and that 5000 jobs have been created for the inhabitants of the surrounding villages. After a brief stay in the community, Heuer concludes "that there is hardly a place on earth which would be better suited for finding yourself." 
Schweizer Radio und FernsehenEdit
The report by Christina Caprez, dated 25 February 2018, focusses on various aspects of the project. She notes that Auroville should not be envisaged as a kind of Communist paradise. "Although money and status should not play any role, there are obvious differences in the standard of living." Thus, wealthy newcomers who are accepted as members, may finance large houses which belong to the community but can be used by them lifelong. She also mentions that all farms and companies are required to offer one third of their net income to the community, but that some of them refuse to do so and that no sanctions are possible. Nevertheless, she writes Auroville "remains a magnet for aspirants from all over the world."
Caprez states that the attraction of the place is based on a loose kind of synthesis: "The ideas of a man from the East and a woman from the West are united here, Protestant diligence combined with Hindu community spirit." The journalist says that with this concept Auroville may be successful for another 50 years.
Ian Jack, writing Online for the Guardian on 5 May 2018, refers to the Sri Aurobindo Ashram and calls the meeting of Sri Aurobindo and the Mother "a historic moment that produced a famous partnership and, in their case, a brand of spiritual thought that has attracted followers ever since." The author visits Auroville and notes that "plastic waste is now a ubiquitous feature of the Indian landscape". He writes that this can also be observed along the lanes "that lead to the Mother’s most extraordinary creation, the ‘international-universal’ settlement of Auroville." He reports about the cycle paths, solar kitchens, reforestation schemes, windmills and the Matrimandir. Finally, sitting in one of Auroville’s cafes, he notes that "not a scrap of plastic could be seen."
The French newspaper Le Monde has reported several times about Auroville since 1972. In the current article, dated 2 March 2018, the Delhi correspondent Julien Bouissou gives a brief summary of the history and current status of the place. He notes that Aurovilians have not celebrated the birthday with a large bonfire, parade or dance and music, but preferred to assemble around a “Prayer for the Waters of the Earth” or an exposition on divine flowers. The French journalist continues to describe Auroville as a place that attracts travellers in search of spirituality as well as backpackers.
Bouissou refers to the Mother and her ideal of a humanity released from the grip of materialism, and points out that while at an early stage many newcomers came to stay in the city for the rest of their lives, the current trend is that “volunteers” spend some months or years there and then return home. He reports about Aurovilians doing their shopping in a cooperative supermarket without making any payment, and writes that at a time when people all over the world dream of a Smart City, Auroville focusses on sustainable development through various environmental projects.
BBC child abuse investigationEdit
In May 2008, the BBC produced a 10-minute Newsnight film about Auroville, which was aired on BBC Two. A short version was aired on Radio 4's "From Our Own Correspondent". It also appeared on BBC On-line. The reports contrasted the idealism of its founders with allegations by some people that the community tolerates pedophiles, especially in a school that Auroville has established for local village children. Auroville filed an official complaint to the BBC that the report was biased, untrue and contravened BBC editorial ethical guidelines. After investigations, although a few inaccuracies were identified, Ofcom did not uphold the complaint.
In order to protect children in the Auroville area from child abuse, the city instituted an Auroville Child Protection Service which has been in action ever since.
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- "Roger Anger as architect". Boloji.com. Retrieved 2012-01-26.
- "Auroville founded by Mira Richards". Architectureweek.com. 2005-11-16. Retrieved 2012-01-26.
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- Mother's Agenda, Vol. 9, dt.3.02.68
- The Auroville Charter: a new vision of power and promise for people choosing another way of life Updated 25 October 2014. Retrieved 28 May 2016.
- Auroville Foundation Act 1988 Teacher Education, Department of School Education and Literacy, Ministry of Human Resource Development, Government of India. Retrieved 28 May 2016.
- The Auroville Foundation Act - 10 Establishment and incorporation of the Foundation Teacher Education, Department of School Education and Literacy, Ministry of Human Resource Development, Government of India. Retrieved 28 May 2016.
- "The Auroville Foundation Act (1988)". Education.nic.in. Archived from the original on 12 February 2012. Retrieved 2012-01-26.
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- The Auroville Handbook 2013 page 14.
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- Census – Auroville population May 2016 Official website for Auroville Retrieved 28 May 2016
- List of neighbourhoods Archived 5 June 2008 at the Wayback Machine..
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- "Forbes India". Business.in.com. Retrieved 2012-01-26.
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- News & Notes 10 March 2012 
- "Information for the Press and Media". auroville.org. Archived from the original on 30 November 2013.
- "City of the Dawn - Watch Documentaries Online - Promote Documentary Film". cultureunplugged.com.
- Auroville, the outline of a world (India, Documentary). Vimeo.
- AUROVILLE - A Dream of the Divine (part 1of2). YouTube. 24 July 2009.
- AUROVILLE - A Dream of the Divine (part 2of2). YouTube. 24 July 2009.
- Jenya & Anya Vashuk’s Videos. vimeo.com.
- Bill Davies (1971). "The India Trip" (Documentary). National Film Board of Canada. Retrieved 2015-03-22. (49 min 30 s)
- "News from Auroville". Auroville Radio. Retrieved 13 August 2017.
- "films 2013 – about AV". aurovillefilmfestival.org.
- New Delhi, January 23, 2018. See http://www.outreachmedia.auroville.org
- AVI News 2/2018, Auroville International Deutschland e.V., Berlin, pp. 6–9.
- Mother India, Pondicherry, Sri Aurobindo Ashram, June 2018, pp. 57-58. For the quotation, see p. 57
- DLF on Auroville September 2016
- DLF on Auroville February 2018
- Chrismon on Auroville February 2018
- Chrismon Video on Auroville February 2018
- SRF on Auroville February 2018
- The Guardian on Auroville May 2018
- Le Monde articles on Auroville
- Le Monde on Auroville February 2018
- BBC Two (22 May 2008). Indian town's sex abuse claims. Retrieved on: 21 June 2008.
- BBC News (24 May 2008). Local concerns over Indian utopia. Retrieved on: 21 June 2008.
- Abundance Publications. The Auroville Handbook.Pondicherry: All-India Press, 2007.
- Auroville – Development Perspectives 1993–1998 – An Invitation To Participate, Typoscript, Autoren/Hrsg. Auroville Development Group, Bharat–Nivas, Auroville 1993, no ISBN
- K. M. Agarwala (Hrsg.): Auroville – The City Of Dawn, Sri Aurobindo Center New Delhi 1996, no ISBN
- Auroville References in Mother's Agenda, Auroville Press, Auroville, no Y., no ISBN
- Jerome Clayton Glenn: Linking the Future: Findhorn, Auroville Arcosanti, published by Hexiad Project/ Center on Technology and Society, Cambridge, Massachusetts 1979, no ISBN
- Anupama Kundoo: Roger Anger, Research on Beauty, Architecture 1953-2008, JOVIS Verlag Berlin 2009, ISBN 978-3-86859-006-7
- Peter Richards: Experience!Auroville – Guide Book for Guests and Visitors, Pondicherry 2000, no ISBN
- Savitra: Auroville: Sun-Word Rising – A Trust For The Earth, published by The Community of Auroville, Auroville 1980, no ISBN
- The Auroville Adventure – Selections from ten years of Auroville Today, published by Auroville Today, Auroville 1998, no ISBN
- The Auroville Experience – Selections from 202 issues of Auroville Today, November 1988 to November 2005, published by Auroville Today, Auroville 2006, no ISBN
- Jessica Namakkal, European Dreams, Tamil Land: Auroville and the Paradox of a Postcolonial Utopia, in Journal for the Study of Radicalism, Volume 6, Number 1, Spring 2012, pp. 59–88 (Published by Michigan State University Press)
- Mira Alfassa: Die Mutter über Auroville, Auropublikations (Hrsg.), Sri Aurobindo Ashram Trust, Pondicherry 1978, no ISBN
- Renate Börger: Auroville – Eine Vision blüht, Verlag Connection Medien, Niedertaufkirchen 2004, 3. veränderte Aufl., ISBN 3-928248-01-4
- Alan G. (Hrsg.): Auroville – Ein Traum nimmt Gestalt an, o.O. (vermutlich Auroville/ Pondicherry) 1996, 1. dt. Aufl., no ISBN
- Michael Klostermann: Auroville – Stadt des Zukunftsmenschen; Fischer Taschenbuch Verlag, Frankfurt/M., Februar 1976; ISBN 3-436-02254-3