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Villages around Auroville

Auroville Village Action Group

March 13th 2005 –
Human Unity at Our Doorstep

This year in Auroville, for the first time Aurovilians presented courses in their areas of expertise as part of the “Winter Integral Studies Program”. Under this banner, Auroville, the Villages and Human Unity classes continued through January, February and March on a weekly basis. The first class was held just after the Tsunami struck, and met by the Tsunami Relief headquarters. Bhavana, who started Village Action in 1983 and was starting this class, first described in excited and proud tones how Auroville had responded with immediate refuge for the villagers affected by the Tsunami. Her colleagues who were supposed to be teaching this class with her were out in the fishing villages, managing the relief work, she explained. Then she proceeded to explain the early history of Auroville and the villages to the gathering -- people who were interested in Auroville's relation to the villages, largely Aurovilians and Newcomers, but also guests and volunteers.

The course rambled along, at a weekly gathering under the trees, usually from 10-15 people. First the students were introduced to the realities of Auroville's early years, how the villagers and Aurovilians had shared the spirit of a new future, and the gradual development of the existing relation with the villagers, which includes well-integrated and not-so-well integrated Tamil Aurovilians, successful and unsuccessful entrepreneurs, satisfied and unsatisfied employers and employees, and the poor whom we will always have with us. Gathering near the Tsunami Relief office, where Bhavana was so pre-occupied she sometimes had to be pulled out from under a mountain of paperwork to join the course, the immediacy of Auroville's relation with the villagers was clear.

Departing from the camaraderie of the circle under the tree, every other week students would go out into a nearby village – sometimes to visit a project like the Mohanam Cultural Centre, or travel to a far-away village where the life is still agrarian and bucolic.

Sivaraj, a Tamil Aurovilian, invited them to his herbal forest, and Srini, a local dramatist and filmmaker, presented his videos about the Village Action programmes. David introduced the concept of “Spiral Dynamics” which suggests a consciousness approach to understanding the differences between us humans -- replacing “us and them” with a spectrum of possibilities, and comparing it to Sri Aurobindo's description of the Fourfold Personality. On visits to “AVARC” the Village Action Resource Centre they met the village women who are running their savings and credit programme there.

That's where Jim, a volunteer from the USA , got inspired. Sitting in a circle with the village women, and hearing them speak up so confidently and so full of hope and promise, he felt more Aurovilians should have the experience. Roping in Anbu, the Coordinator of Village Action, and Namu, the office manager, he pulled off a successful get-together on a lovely Sunday morning. Nearly a hundred women from the villages and about 50 Aurovilian guests and members met together – shared songs and dances and juggling, answered each others' questions in circles, and ate up a great meal prepared by the women and Village Action's watchman who's also a great cook.

Pictures are worth a thousand words: so visit the photo album and enjoy.

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