Who is building Auroville? (26-05-2007)
A four-word question, which can be variously asked: skeptically, accusingly, religiously, candidly, meditatively, searchingly, suspiciously, dismissively, humorously…
Whichever way it is asked, it is a very interesting question.
As one ponders its correct answer, one is faced with a kind of ladder: not a hierarchy in the rational sense, but rather an inspirational or dimensional ladder, or chain. And a little silence is required to identify its several rungs, or links.
Number One = the Supreme (the Divine, the Lord, That) is building Auroville.
Number Two = the Mother (the Mahashakti, the Consciousness-Force) is building Auroville.
Number Three = the Universal Forces (the Energies, the Powers at play) are building Auroville.
Number Four = here it is puzzling, as there seems to be more than one sort of agents, namely the Aurovilians, the donors and the well-wishers, who are building Auroville.
Number Five = the local Tamilian population is building Auroville.
If one contemplates the symbolic image of the snake biting its tail, the two ends meeting, one realizes that, between the Supreme and the Tamilians building Auroville, are intermediaries, agents, instruments.
Yet, and here comes a seldom heeded viewpoint, the situation in Auroville after 39 years of existence is such that these several thousands physical persons who are building the physical Auroville in and with their bodies, still have far less rights and benefits than the few thousands physical persons who function in Number Four.
Agents of Number Four, directly or indirectly, in physical terms, are the bosses.
In societal terms, an Aurovilian is defined as a ‘willing servitor of the Divine’, while a Tamilian worker or employee is there to earn a living. However, one of the stated aims of Auroville being to realize ‘a progressive human unity’, a rather large and baffling contradiction appears.
The physical Auroville is located in the lap of a large Tamilian population; the territory of Auroville is bordered by and overlaps that of 5 villages whose residents number more than 10 times the Aurovilians.
Granted, the growth of Auroville has had positive consequences for the welfare of its neighbors and there are areas of development where mutual collaboration has evolved.
But the unheeded viewpoint, which stems from a range of rather terrible ironies, sees a great need to be more genuine and straightforward; it will ask plain questions.
For instance: how come we in Auroville have not been able as yet to take the simple decision, arising from the essential awareness of joint destinies, to channel half the funds into the neighboring villages for their harmonious development?
Or, how come we in Auroville have not yet seen the essential decency of providing those long-time ‘workers’ with rights of access to such collective facilities and services as the library, the beach or the Inner Room of the Matrimandir?
Or else, to come closer to one of the specific ironies, how often do we take the trouble to absorb the feelings of, say, a man born in Alankuppam, whose father has sold the family land to Auroville in the early years, who has worked 15 or 20 years continuously for Auroville day in and day out, the father of 3 children all now in their teens, who earns 120 rupees a day and has to manage the needs of his entire family, who through his work and service in Auroville has watched, observed, experienced infinitely more than he can ever say, for whom the Mother is since childhood a living presence, and who is, due to his status as a ‘worker’, liable to be bossed and ordered and checked by a twit of a newcomer just landed from Ohio, Noirmoutier or Valencia, who has no knowledge whatsoever of Sri Aurobindo’s works, nor the least understanding of the spiritually based culture of India?
Or, for that matter, by a much younger man who grew up across the street from his family home and has recently managed, being single, well-connected and somewhat fluent in English and computer use, to sail through the obstacle course of the admission process and is now quite imbued with the sense of his superior status?
There are so many such unresolved misunderstandings woven in our daily collective experience, which we go on ignoring, relying rather on the smiling resilience that is innate to the people here and on the Grace that protects Auroville.
But the viewpoint here asserts that, should we do the decent thing – profoundly practical -, there would be far less confusion in the motivations for joining Auroville and far more mutual respect, understanding and support all around.