Events in Auroville over the last year have been deeply traumatic for many in the community. Destruction of forests and buildings, groups of unknown men brought in and intimidating residents, systematic and comprehensive takeover of administration, censorship, withholding of visas; the list is long and grim. Yet all of this is perceived by many as a trial, the revelation of deeper issues within Auroville’s social fabric in need of addressing and which are a part of the community’s evolution, an invitation for change and progress.
Despite these adverse times, the community has manifested itself, showing courage and determination. People gathered to witness these painful events, to stand for their values, yet remained faithful to the spirit of fraternity, advocating for peace and dialogue despite sometimes violent actions and provocations directed at them. They denounced these actions which went against all that Auroville had been created for. A day and night vigil has been carried out over the last nine months by residents to hold a key administrative office, in an act of peaceful resistance against the illegitimate seizure of community assets.
Innovative community processes have been carried out, offered as genuine answers and ways forward, bringing to light new forms of collective channels and upholding Auroville’s principles of social experimentation. The Dreamweaving initiative, a novel approach in collective town planning, yielded harmonious solutions and a heightened yearning for participation, further cultivating the spirit of collaboration. Calls for dialogue and synthesis of conflicting views are regularly issued, though often unheard or ignored by the Secretary of the Auroville Foundation and her small group of collaborators. Residents’ Assembly meetings are regularly held, the community keeping itself informed and aware of the situation, a pulse for the body of Auroville.
Aurovilians have rallied through unprecedented levels of participation in decision-making processes, appointing new people to take charge of fundamental aspects of organisation, and clearly standing together against violence and the takeover of the community’s mechanisms of self-governance. The outcome of these processes were ignored, and announcements of the voting results were censored from the main internal communication networks, bypassing basic democratic channels. To ensure the voice of the Residents’ Assembly is heard and upheld, residents and their Working Committee approached the Hon’ble Madras High Court and India’s National Green Tribunal – matters that are still currently being heard and discussed legally. Dire times compelled many to reach out to the external Auroville fraternity, to inform and spread the call for support from national and international friends and well-wishers.
The Auroville family drew closer together in spontaneous gatherings, reaching out to each other in solidarity and celebration, appreciating moments of simple joy during hardships. Potlucks took place with hundreds of participants, meetings and debates, rousing singing events and festivals – all embodiments of what truly defines a community, beyond planning and organisation. As often in history, adversity further lifted a sense of kinship among friends, neighbours, even simple acquaintances, and strengthened the existing care for one another.
Auroville is greater than its geography, its residents. It is intimately connected with the bioregion and they stand together, working as a whole. It is part of India, the nation which willingly accepted this experiment and continues to support its realisation, an unparalleled welcoming from a sovereign nation which the inhabitants of Auroville deeply appreciate and aspire to honour. The idea of Auroville is international: it has spread and still does, upheld by friends and supporters working from afar to help it manifest, and supported five times by UNESCO through formal resolutions. The dream of human unity lives on, the binding principle which calls out, remains the ideal which guides collective and individual action, as intended by its founders.