Villagers' acceptance of Auroville
The warmth and hospitality
that the local populace has shown in accepting people of different
races, cultures and countries and in allowing the Auroville
experiment to take place in their 'backyard', is truly remarkable.
This ancient legend perhaps explains why the villagers have
shown such tolerance to Aurovilians.
Irumbai is a small
village on the edge of Auroville. The village temple is extremely
old and is particularly associated with the legend of Kaduveli
Siddha, a famous yogi who lived in the area some four to five
hundred years ago. According to the legend, Kaduveli Siddha
was performing harsh penance sitting under a peepal tree in
yogic pose for days. The heat of his body was so intense that
the rain gods suffered, no rains came and the people were exposed
to hardship and drought. The situation was so bad that it finally
came to the ears of the King, who ruled from Edyanchavadi village.
No one dared disturb Kaduveli in his penance as he chanted the
mantra of Eswara, and soon an anthill started to rise up around
him. Finally a temple dancer, named Valli, devoted to the Lord
Shiva, decided to do her best to get the attention of the yogi,
and to rescue the King and his people from the adverse effects
of his tapasya (penance). She observed that occasionally the
Siddha would, with his eyes shut, put out his hands to catch
and consume the falling, withered peepal leaves. So she prepared
some thinly fired apalam (a flat salty wafer made out of green
gram dhal), and started placing them in the yogi's outstretched
hands, as he tried to catch the falling leaves. Soon he started
eating the apalams and getting his taste back. Slowly he grew
fatter until finally the anthill broke and he was once more
exposed to the rays of the sun. Finally he opened his eyes.
Valli was extremely happy and was able to take him back to her
house where she kept him happy, dancing for him and learning
songs for him. Meanwhile the God of Rain was relieved from the
torture he felt from the heat of the yogi's tapasya, the rain
fell in plenty, and the people were happy once again.
In order to celebrate
this event the King ordered a big Puja to be held at Irumbai
temple, which was to be followed by a classical performance
by Valli in which she would act out the cosmic dance of Lord
Shiva, in the form of Nataraja. During the performance, however,
one of her anklets fell off, and she started to lose her balance
and rhythm. Kaduveli, who saw the Lord Shiva in Valli, picked
up the anklet and put it back on her feet. This exposed him
to the ridicule of the King and court for having touched the
feet of a dancing girl, and he was heckled and jeered. Furious,
he invoked the Lord Shiva to come out of his temple and prove
his innocence by causing a rain of stone. Immediately the lingam
in the sanctum sanctorum of the temple exploded, and wherever
its fragments fell became desert. No greenery will grow around
these spots, including a crater at a distance of three kilometres
from the village, still to this day known as "Kaduveli".
The King was suddenly
frightened and begged the pardon of the Siddha, bowing down
to him with all his entourage and pleading with him to quench
the effects of his anger and curse. This appeased Kaduveli,
who, repenting of his anger, said that what was done was done,
but that in the future, people from far-off lands would come
and make the desert land green and fertile again.
Today, there are villagers
who feel that the Aurovilians are the people from far-off lands
mentioned by the Siddha and that the curse is now beginning
to leave them.
This story was put
together by several Aurovilians, based on a tape-recorded conversation
with the temple brahmin at Irumbai.