Auroville (City of Dawn) is an experimental township in Viluppuram district in the state of Tamil Nadu, India near Puducherry in South India, whose stated purpose is to realize human unity in diversity. It is a popular tourist destination, and has been described as a “New Age metropolis conceived as an alternative exercise in ecological and spiritual living.” The township starkly stands out from the surrounding traditional Indian villages and farms. Auroville is a small town 6 km north of Pondicherry.
Auroville, ‘the City of Dawn’, is one of those ideas that anyone with idealistic leanings will love: an international community dedicated to peace, harmony, sustainable living, and ‘divine consciousness’, where people from across the globe, ignoring creed, colour and nationality, work together to build a universal, cash-free, non-religious township and realise good old human unity.
This town was a vision of The Mother from the Sri Aurobindo Ashram at Pondicherry. She envisioned an international town where unity will be celebrated and all will have a spiritual vocation. At this time, the city has about 1,500 people from over 35 different nationalities, from which about one third are Indians (more than 15% are French and another 15% are German).
It began in 1968 with the realization of the inspired vision of Sri Aurobindo, an Indian philosopher whose teachings are the foundation of Auroville’s goal of achieving human unity and realizing the future of humankind. We will relive the original journey to a desolate, barren region in southern India by a handful of people. Many of those original settlers are from the US. Frederick, who still lives in Auroville, shares the unimaginable hardships undertaken to transform a place unsuitable for human life into a tropical, self-sustainable township.
This may be one of the only times in history when people settled in an area where they first had to provide everything essential for human existence including water, the means to create shelter and the ability to grow any type of food. Today that handful has grown to 2,000 people, representing 40 countries, living together for the common good. The ties that bind the residents are the teachings of Sri Aurobindo as well as the founder and spiritual leader of Auroville, referred to as The Mother. Both are long since deceased but the community carries on with their vision intact.
The people of Auroville are our story. They have undertaken incredible initiatives including extensive use of solar energy, an emphasis on organic farming and the positive influence they have with the impoverished villages that surround them. Our cast includes a musician who leaves his native Canada in 1968 at just 16-years-old, and somehow finds his way to Auroville. And Alok, who at 41 years old, was raised in Auroville. After 40 years of development it’s time for the world to hear their stories of progress, setbacks, and their role as an evolving example to the world.
The Past. The Beginning. Auroville 1968:
If there is a blueprint for the future of mankind, perhaps some attention should be given to a social experiment, 40 years in the making, in the small community of Auroville, India. Cracked earth and a hot dry wind are all that exist on a 2-kilometer square patch of barren desert near the southeastern coastline of India; a fitting foundation for an ambitious plan to transform mankind’s realization of its future.
An extensive collection of photos from this time period will illustrate the story of Auroville’s beginning as we hear from Frederick, one of the city’s original settlers. This may be one of the only times in history when people settled in an area where they first had to provide for all the essentials of human existence including water, the means to create shelter and the ability to grow any type of food. On that hot day in 1968, a caravan of 5,000 people from 124 countries around the globe could be seen approaching on dusty roads as far as the eye could see. Here, where nothing grew and no one lived, they gathered to commence the experiment known as Auroville, literally the “City of Dawn”.
Unity Through Diversity:
Auroville is 2,000 people from a multitude of social and religious backgrounds, choosing to live together not by conforming to an accepted normalcy, but through embracing their differences. This is the uniqueness that is Auroville – achieving unity through diversity. It is this quality that most embodies their role as an example to the world.