On the Property of Auroville (12-05-2007)
There are viewpoints that do not have much fun at the moment. They do not find our present conditions, so to speak, congenial.
Such viewpoints arise from a defining experience and have withstood the test of time; they hold a fire that cuts through the ages.
However we are in an era in which, among remarkable phenomena, thrives an elaborate mental cunning: the mind has learnt to argue any position successfully, no matter how untenable it may appear to a more grounded perception.
And so it happens that, sometimes, the only recourse left for those viewpoints to express themselves seems to be that of a very basic logical questioning.
Take, for instance, the matter of whom, which individual or which entity, owns the physicality, the materiality of Auroville.
Who owns the land of Auroville?
The Charter of Auroville states that Auroville ‘belongs to humanity as a whole’.
The founder of Auroville, the Mother, has also stated that Auroville ‘belongs to the Lord… to the Supreme…’
There are two main approaches to these statements.
The first approach acknowledges that ‘Humanity as a whole / the Supreme’ is more than a mental concept: it is a reality.
It follows that, either the statements are truthful, and therefore human entities can only be, at best, stewards and willing servitors; or the statements are not truthful and therefore the whole attempt is merely one of innumerable attempts to elevate or sublimate human effort and quest for meaning, which invariably fall back on themselves.
The other approach, one of ‘healthy skepticism’ regards these statements as, at best, rallying banners to encourage a collective moral effort at some exemplary harmonious living, or, at worse, as just one of those high-strung claims that seem to satisfy the needs of a certain sort of deluded or unbalanced people.
By and large, for many years of Auroville’ physical and material existence, these original statements were taken as a fundamental truth and law.
It followed naturally that no human entity could claim either the right or the capacity to dispose of Humanity’s or the Lord’s property.
But obviously a shift has happened, as we now seem to be in a position to do just that, to dispose of this property as and when we deem it fit. How is that possible?
Have we somehow become such trusted representatives of Humanity / the Lord, that we may now justifiably and all-wisely act in the best interests of Humanity / the Lord?
Or have we come to the understanding that these original statements were figures of speech and that we, in our enlightened pragmatism, have a responsibility to deal with this property in the most sensible ways we can devise?
The thing here is that, the moment we begin to behave as owners, responding in kind to the rule of blind, self-interested market forces, we loose the protection which is accorded to true servitors; the moment we claim to be owning Auroville, its land and assets, we fall from their sacredness.
Land and assets which belong to the Lord, have been acquired or built for the Lord, are invaluable.
But land and assets which are our property are only worth so much: they are robbed of their integrity.