Auroville: between dream and reality

I spent almost one month in Auroville, observing the various activities and communities there. I was volunteering at Sapney Farm (meaning “dream” in Sanskrit), which doesn’t officialy belong to Auroville but is geographically in the middle of it.

The Auroville dream started in 1971 when representatives of more than 100 states put a hand of soil of their country in a big pot, which is still in the middle of Auroville. The purpose was to create a living place without any private property, any money exchange, any religion or social hierarchy, a place dedicated to spiritual growing, where the social position has no meaning anymore, a place to promote peace among all the nations. Millions of pioneers came to make the dream come true…

40 years later, Auroville gathers 120 communities and families representing in total more than 2000 inhabitants and 43 different nationalities. The eroded ground has been replaced by forest by planting more than 1,5 millions trees, schools and health center have been built. Schools are promoting a balanced growing of the children without any exams and marks, but letting them to opportunity to pass official degrees. Health centers are centered on Ayurveda medicine but also use European medicines. Yoga, Thai massages and meditation places are numerous. Auroville is connected to the local electricity service, but also produce some energy thanks to solar panels, windmills and biogas. Many farms are experimenting organic farming and local water treatment systems.

But little by little, traditional houses in bamboo have been replaced by compacted soil construction (containing cement) and motorbikes have colonized the small roads, which have then been cemented also. And while the community is getting bigger, rules are getting stricter and decision harder to take. Money has also become a big issue, as well as the water overconsumption. The phreatic nap is dangerously decreasing and getting infected by salty water, to answer “occidental” needs… Reforestation seems not to be enough to answer this issue…

Today, becoming a permanent resident called « Aurovillien » has become very difficult. I have to have good savings in order to survive during 3 years by yourself in Auroville. Only then the community accepts you, but you still have to build a house on a land which will never belongs to you. And all this time you are paying an allocation to Auroville. Only the Aurovillians working for Auroville are getting some money.

The massive visit of volunteers also represents a source of incomes for the farms, which benefit from free human resources but also some money coming from their contributions. In exchange the volunteer are learning more about organic farming and community leaving. But welcoming volunteer is a hard task, and some farms prefer to work with local Indians workers. They kind of remember the colonial farms… Some other farms are between these two models, which I would defined as followed:

 

 

 

 

 

Stable farms

Evolutive farms

Inhabitants

A majority of permanent people

A majority of short term volunteers

Human resources

A majority of local Indians workers (from villagers nearby)

A majority of short term volunteers

Responsible

A family or a small group of people

A small group of people with long term volunteers

Type of activity

Essentially crops and animals farming

Essentially vegetables and fruits farming, rarely crops

Products use

Transformed and sold to Auroville

Self-consumption

Cultivated surface

Large fields

Small gardens

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