Background / A Dream

(Mira Alfassa, founder of Auroville, 1965)

There should be somewhere upon earth a place that no nation could claim as its sole property a place where all human beings of goodwill, sincere in their aspiration, could live freely as citizens of the world, obeying one single authority, that of the supreme Truth; a place of peace, concord, harmony, where all the fighting instincts of man would be used exclusively to conquer the causes of his suffering and misery, to surmount his weakness and ignorance, to triumph over his limitations and incapacities;

A place where the needs of the spirit and the care for progress would get precedence over the satisfaction of desires and passions, the seeking for pleasures and material enjoyments. In this place, children would be able to grow and develop integrally without losing contact with their soul. Education would be given, not with a view to passing examinations and getting certificates and posts, but for enriching the existing faculties and bringing forth new ones. In this place titles and positions would be supplanted by opportunities to serve and organize.

The needs of the body will be provided for equally in the case of each and everyone. In the general organisation intellectual, moral and spiritual superiority will find expression not in the enhancement of the pleasures and powers of life but in the increase of duties and responsibilities. Artistic beauty in all forms, painting, sculpture, music, literature, will be available equally to all, the opportunity to share in the joys they bring being limited solely by each one‘s capacities and not by social or financial position.

For in this ideal place money would be no more the sovereign lord. Individual merit will have a greater importance than the value due to material wealth and social position.

Work would not be there as the means of gaining one‘s livelihood, it would be the means whereby to express oneself, develop one‘s capacities and possibilities, while doing at the same time service to the whole group, which on its side would provide for each one‘s subsistence and for the field of his work.

In brief, it would be a place where the relations among human beings, usually based almost exclusively upon competition and strife, would be replaced by relations of emulation for doing better, for collaboration, relations of real brotherhood.

Background / Auroville

Since its foundation in 1968, the international city of Auroville is regarded by many as one of the greatest "New Consciousness" projects of our time.

The "dream", a concept created by French-born Auroville founder "The Mother" Mira Alfassa, forms the spiritual foundation. Her ideas are based on the concept of "Integral Yoga" by Indian philosopher Sri Aurobindo, whose companion and co-worker she had been for many years. Integral Yoga aims to create a new consciousness, connecting spiritual and material realities. In Auroville, the idea of Yoga is not limited to certain bodily postures, but stands for an inner attitude to life. The international community project is endorsed by UNESCO, and receives financial support from a variety of different sources, among them the EU, national and international foundations, the Indian, French, German and other governments, as well as numerous public and private organizations and private individuals.

The inhabitans live in over 100 smaller communities scattered all over Auroville, bought gradually by the Auroville Foundation. What was once a badly eroded plateau has now been transformed into a green biotope. Over three million trees were planted, and hundreds of dams built to collect the rainwater. The heart of Auroville is dominated by a giant golden sphere, the trans-religious "Matrimandir", which provides room for tranquillity and meditation. The city is divided into four different zones, reaching out from the "Matrimandir" like arms into a galaxy. Each represents an important aspect of Auroville: The Residential Zone, the Cultural, the Industrial, and the International Zone. The zones are interspersed by parks and green corridors, and the entire city is surrounded by a green belt with woodland, farms, and open countryside.

The 2.200 Aurovilians represent the most diverse spectrum. They come from more than 45 nations with different cultural and religious backgrounds, and each of them arrived with their very own ideas about the new life in Auroville. What they share in common however is their huge idealism, the ability to critically reflect on themselves, and they are all independent and strong characters. Still, they do not really form a homogenous collective, much rather a diverse community, made up from groups and individuals, projects and enterprises; and a collection of a huge variety of lifestyles.

As aspirations are high, and many self-taught individuals are trying their abilities in areas they never properly trained in, many projects are doomed to fail. But the short and simple philosophy of this special place is: Try. Fail. Try again.

Background / Motivation

I first came across Mira Alfassa’s “Dream” in an article in a travel magazine. There I read about Auroville, where people of many different nationalities live together in perfect equality, beyond the boundaries of religion or politics, to create an urban model of human unity and practised international understanding.

Fascinated by such an idealistic vision, I began my research only to find out that Auroville, although the biggest, is not the only such project. On the contrary, all over the world there are many communities trying to find new ways of ecology, economy, politics, and religion for the future.

Many of these international communities share a similar vision, an utopia, an ideal heading towards a different world or a different state of society, each one, however, with a slightly different focus.

As a matter of fact, many people quit these future-oriented communities after a certain time and this kind of community-experiments do often fail. Nevertheless, on my extensive research travels, I self- experienced that they do offer opportunities of necessary change, that they can be a nucleus of a new consciousness and give room to experiment on sustainable forms of life. Auroville left on me the deepest and most lasting impression...

It is certainly not paradise. It rather is life in a test tube, learning from the the daily struggle between ideals and banalities; A magnifying glass, highlighting many of the most urgent questions that society will face in the future. For such a utopian project, India provides the perfect conditions. The land of numerous goddesses and gods, of miracles and contradictions, it has always attracted people following their intuition: Dreamers, pilgrims, and philosophers, artists and vagabonds – but also pragmatics thirsting for a change.

In PIONEERS OF DAWN the “idea of Auroville” becomes a symbol of and is actually synonymous with each individual’s quest in confronting his or her own ideals. And ideals are of vital importance. Ever since the birth of mankind they have shown the way to improving the world. They are a mirror of the highest potential of both, each individual, and the entire world. I would like to encourage people to discover their own unique Auroville within. Moreover I believe that people might actually sense and incorporate the force of a living utopia in their worlds. Utopias demand change and are usually considered to be a sceptical alternative model to the existing world and society, they demand commitment, either to avoid the worst or to make a definite step to the “ideal world”.

And isn’t it about time to become a pioneer of a new consciousness?