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Vérité, 30 September 2001

Bhavana DeeThe following text is from a personal letter by Aurovilian Bhavana Dee who is coordinating the Village Action groups and activities in Auroville´s bioregion since years.
The letter was sent to a circle of friends and supporters, and its scope and vision may be interesting to our readers as well.



When I wrote the last time I was off to a meditation retreat, a time out of time, as one might call it, containing many reflections on time itself. Before getting to the Vipassana centre, I stopped at Hampi, a site in central India where the river Tughambadra flows and beside it lie the ruins of the capital city of the great Vijaynagar empire.


HampiThe bouldery landscape consisted of mountains of enormous stones - said to be the oldest stone in the world, where the Earth had first pushed up its head out of the primeval sea. So amazing to contemplate their tenaciousness - how long those whirling atoms and electrons have been holding together, with the conviction of being stone. Looking down on the wrinkly flesh of my arm, I knew those atoms and molecules would be fickly off to new adventures, new bodies, long before the boulder on which I lay and the one leaning against it which gave me shade, would part. On the hilltops and in the riverbeds stones lay perched atop others in positions which seemed to defy gravity - like pebbles left behind by playing giant children - how did they get there? Later scrambling along the piles of huge stones through which the river flows, I saw the process happening beneath my feet. I noticed how the stone was fissured, how a huge boulder, just like a smaller stone when you hit it with a sledge hammer, cracks into many pieces with the outside pieces falling away, leaving one or more pieces which balance.

Slow explosion..

And then the perception began to dawn on me that as we walked and talked along the river flowing over and around the rocks, swirling and carving the stone like modern sculptures, and then suddenly rushing giddily into a craggy pile and disappearing not to appear again for half a kilometer - how different time is for that fluid element than for the stone - that incessant flowing of the water…. I realized that the stones are also flowing - these precariously balanced rocks are also in motion, but very very slow. We walked and talked within a slow explosion - or landslide. The impression of parallel worlds was so strong….

Parallel worlds

Life in Auroville is also an example of parallel worlds, but we take them for granted also. AVAG and its work in the villages sometimes seem completely outside the life of Auroville. My life in the community Vérité, with its emphasis on meditation and study of Integral Yoga, becomes more and more encompassing. The village loudspeakers intrude their reminder of chaos and clamor, we zone out the intrusion and allow it to be background. Luxurious houses are built in Auroville, and new public buildings; gardens are watered, and trees grow greenly, the Visiting Committee of eminent educationists come from Delhi and are delighted to find what progress we are making in our research on progressive education, child-centered, innovative, creative. We live in the beauty and calm we have co-created with Nature, troubled by our quarrels and falls from grace.., while at our side, the villages lie in what is now a progressive squalor.

Progressive squalor

Kottakarai VillageThe days of grinding poverty are now over, for the nearby villages at least.. TV antennas sprout from roof tops - and many a roof is now of reinforced concrete, not palm thatch - with details of the domestic architecture obviously coming from Auroville. We can see a granite lintel here, a sloping buttress with inset concrete ring there, the occasional ferrocement roof channels. The main streets sport shop after shop that cater to the daily needs of not only villagers but also Aurovilians and the many guests and visitors. By now, most all villagers look well dressed, well fed, -- if one takes a surface glance. We can take a moment to rejoice in the progress.

But behind the façade of relative prosperity, swarm the bevy of problems which face the poor everywhere - the perennial scarcity of money to fund the newly rising lifestyle, the dysfunctional and quarreling family life, with drunken husbands and fathers introducing violence and abuse, the oppressed women and children, the politics of force and brutality, the shallow show of prestige and reputation and maimed traditions, the predominance of superstition and blind belief, stubbornness and fixed ideas.

Daily challenge of real human unity..

Auroville and Aurovilians lead their lives, looking hopefully toward a new world, a new species, a new consciousness, or looking to the daily dozen of family and work duties and challenges, or looking back at the world they've left behind in cities of this or another continent. They meet the villagers at work, where they come as the reliable accountants, managers, cooks and housemaids; as the not-so-reliable tradesmen, 'workers', carpenters, electricians, contractors; as children collecting money for their cricket clubs; as friendly shopkeepers, and as thieves in the night breaking in and running off with tape recorders and laptops. Aurovilians are committed in their Charter to Human Unity, and they find the task of working together, organizing themselves in so many committees and working groups challenging enough -- with the multitude of languages, the range of types and temperaments and social backgrounds - they rarely look at the challenge to Human Unity presented each morning with the arrival of their 'worker'. What is Human Unity in the face of his or her problem that it rained last night and the roof is leaking - not only did they get no sleep but now his/her child is sick… And if the Aurovilian is running a workshop, it's not just one 'worker', it can be hundreds..

Co-planning Auroville´s future

Auroville Village Action Group is about being a collective response to the issue of Auroville´s commitment to Human Unity. As a branch of Auroville, it looks at these problems from a broad view. It works in a methodical and thorough way to extend a sympathetic regard from Auroville to the villagers, not with charity, but with help to help themselves. Especially now, since the Auroville Master Plan has officially included the nearby villages in the plan for Auroville´s overall development, it is particularly crucial that the AVAG programs -which get women, youth, leaders and parents together in clubs and groups, so they learn to organize themselves and plan and act for their village development- are preparing them for participating constructively and intelligently in the master planning of the future, around Auroville and in the bioregion.

Contact: bhavanaauroville.org.in  


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