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Auroville, the first six years

Auropublications 1974 (oop)

Though this book reads as a brochure on the development of Auroville, it is included here for its historical value. Divided in chapters about communities and the first of AV workshops, the booklet gives a fairly accurate account of the comings and goings of the first citizens, of what it means to start from scratch on a desert with a few palm trees. The first bakings of bread, the start of Matrimandir and other events have been carefully dated and interspersed with short personal accounts.
Anthology - 

The Golden Bridge
Auropublications 1978 (oop)

Essays, diary pieces and attempts at prose mix in a kaleidoscopic view of Auroville and its aspirations. There are contributions by Aurovilians and friends of Auroville; builders at Matrimandir and those who turned their attention to the classics, and study. Some of the pieces read as if they had been written today, treating of the birth of what is to be a city; long-term inconveniences and the need to find alternative approaches, learning to work with them. Still, for the most part of this book dreams and philosophy mingle freely, in what is meant as a 'salutation to the soul of Auroville.
Sun word rising
Private 1980 (oop-ca)

The first chapters of this book are a self-portrait of a western man, which is followed by the writer's first impressions of India and his discovery of Sri Aurobindo, Mother and Auroville. After this the book unfolds in a prosy diary style the first blooming of life in Auroville. As 'Auroville, the first six years', this book reads much as a report of events, but there is more room here for personal experiences, transcribed in prose, which makes the book less a report than a diary. It is a personal account of the growth of Auroville, and at that more than worth reading for those interested in the dawn of the City of Dawn.

The Savitri Legend

Sigo Press, Boston - 1999

After living in Auroville for 21 years, Alan Lithman (Savitra) returned to America in 1990, where he wrote this book. As all of Savitra's books, this is a travelogue that brings us in India. But this time the travel moves into legendary dimensions as it pictures the writer's discovery of Sri Aurobindo's "Savitri" and his realization that this legend runs through all of life, including his own. All of which is narrated in a poetic language leaning to fairytale dimensions.

see also: An Evolutionary Agenda for the Third Millennium New


Ruud Lohman 
The colour of women

Writers Workshop 1986 (oop)

Several of the short stories in this volume are tinted by an atmosphere of desperation, born from a search for identity, a test of beliefs.
A telling metaphor is one from the title story, in which a man who is changed by the love of a woman ends his crisis because of this change by running headlong into a mirror. The search runs through both realistic and imaginative themes and ranges in subject material from the psychological to the mystical. However, most of the stories are well grounded in anecdotal narrative that has live people in it.

A house for the third millennium.

Sri Aurobindo Ashram Press - 1992

In this collection of essays Lohman looks upon Matrimandir as the soul of Auroville. It is through this soul that he meditates on the Mother, Auroville and those who decided to live in Auroville. In doing so he put his fingers on many of the aspects of living in Auroville, a dream meant to come true. As such it reads as part of an autobiography that moves into wider perspectives.
The issue of this book, Lohman's clearest, is not whether we agree with him, but that he had the courage to face all the questions that anybody living in Auroville might come to ask him or herself. In Auroville it is considered by many to be a good book for those who would consider coming to Auroville.

Iniyan Lemurian
Writers Workshop 1987 (oop-ca)

Part prose part essay, this book is about the discoveries of an inquisitive Western mind that knows itself surrounded by Indian reality. In the course of getting his own questions answered, Lohman has interesting things to say about what it means being an expatriate, and at that working for an ideal, Auroville and the building of Matrimandir. Describing the meeting between a western and eastern man in a real life situation, Lohman's scholarly prose reaches into both the Dravidian culture and the writer's quest of building yet another structure for the unity of mankind.

The City and the Oasis

The first part of this book is a metaphor of the sixties, the flower children, and the strange bypath some of us had to go thought to reach here. The second part, the largest, is about a certain ashram. There are visions, contacts with Mother and Nolini, a savage attack against abuse of power, some humor, a satire of certain aspect of life there. The last part, where it gets very surreal, is about AV.
Which is not to say that the book as such is an easy read. We recommend it to those with a knack for the surreal, though those familiar with Auroville may more easily recognize the setting.

Anu M. Legrand 
Parallel Journeys

Magus 1997

As a weaving of language and images, this story is about the weaving of patterns in how lovers meet. A real life story takes the shape of the old Upanishadic tale of Maiteryi and Yajnawalkya.
Or ……. is it the other way around?
The result is a delicately wrought tale and as such a fresh breath alongside the commercial market of life-confession books with a moral. "The story weaves in and out of he Vedic past and the contemporary present, interlinking two strangers on their parallel journeys that bind them closer with each step", as the cover announces. Which is what happens and it is well worth reading how this comes about.
No doubt a major book to have come out of the Auroville community.

Krishna Tewari 
A soldier's voyage to self-discovery

All India Press - 1995

During an active career in the Indian Army, General Tewari encounters seemingly random events leading to the unpredictable outcome of battles. Acquainted with the Mother, Sri Aurobindo and the Ashram, he decides to retire in Pondicherry, to examine his own role in what appeared random. In 1980 he came to live in Auroville, where he started on this autobiographical meditation.
The first part of the book reads as the diary of a soldier. The narrative is detailed, but due to Tewari's aversion to politics the details tend to stand upon themselves, within the realm of soldiering. The second part reflects on the first part and deals with Tewari's self-discovery. All of which is written in a factual, straightforward narrative.

Claude Arpi 
The fate of Tibet

Har-Anand Publications - 1999

"The fate of Tibet" reads as a factual account of this country since the sixteenth century.
It carefully traces all influences of globalization on what was known as the "roof of the world". The result of this is that the Chinese emerged as political rulers, where Tibet has a more religious outlook on government. Arpi's book has a strong historical slant to it and due to its factual presentation the book is a compact glossary of the history of Tibet.

François Gautier
Arise O India
Har-Anand Publications - 2000
And: India's Self denial
Auroville Press - 2001

Historians have long held that India was a melting pot of Western influences and that
she owes many of her achievements through Aryan invasions or the Greek incursions of
Alexander the Great. But more and more discoveries have disproved such theories.

At the dawn of the third millennium there are two giants in Asia: China and India. But
where China chose for communism, India has remained a democracy from the time of independence and the spirit of Dharma has been preserved in this land, in spite of ten centuries of invasions.

In his book François Gautier looks at the history of India and into India's future. He writes
against the background of his studies in Sri Aurobindo, whose visions on India can be traced through quotations. 'Arise O India' is a small contribution to a large topic, yet in its briefness and urgency it may well inspire the reader to read more on the subject. "India's Self-denial" is a condensed version of "Arise O India".

A Western Journalist on India
Har-Anand Publications - 2001

This book contains fourteen articles, which Gautier wrote in the course of his twenty
years of stay in India. The pieces have appeared in 'Blitz', the 'Hindustan Times' and the 'Indian Express' and are presented in book-form as "the story of Gautier's awakening to what he feels is the true India".

They treat mostly of contemporary topics such as minorities, the international media
and India's relations with its neighbouring countries. In many ways it is supplementary to his book 'Arise O India'. What it shares with this book is the writer's urgency concerning his topic, which is the resurrection of the glory that, though presently hidden under many influences from the outside, is India.


Georges Van Vrekhem 
Beyond the Human Species

Paragon House 1998

Also called 'Beyond man' in the European edition, this is a historical account of Mother, Sri Aurobindo and their eventual destined meeting in Pondicherry. It is one out of a large body of such books, but 'Beyond the Human Species' stands out in its research on the topic, taking in account the birth of Auroville and later developments in the Sri Aurobindo Ashram. Apart from solid reading the book is valuable is a good work of reference.

The Mother
Harper Collins India – 2000

Georges van Vrekhem's book will make it very difficult for biographers to come with the next and better book on The Mother. More than in “Beyond Man”, in this book Van Vrekhem is at home in his subject. It is clear from the beginning that he is pre-disposed and that he feels good-will to his subject. However, this has not lead to the enthusiasm of the follower who - through his writing - soars in his devotion over the head of the reader. In this book there is the voice of the historian who has done his research, which makes “The Mother” a well-planned book that has lots to offer to anyone interested in She, who initiated Auroville. Where glimpses in mystical, occult and spiritual realms are concerned, Van Vrekhem proves himself  - more so than in “Beyond Man” - a patient explainer.

Other books by Georges in English:   

Overman – the intermediary between the human and the supramental being (Rupa & Co Publishers)

Patterns of the PresentFrom the perspective of Sri Aurobindo and the Mother (Rupa & Co Publishers)

See also: Profile of Georges Van Vrekhem


Marti - Children and Trees
AV Press and others - 1989/….

First mention in this category goes to a series of environmental books for children, by Marti Mueller and Forrest Corkery. For over ten years Marti and Forrest have written and illustrated booklets for children that have animals and trees for subject. The booklets are in black and white and as such can be used as coloring books. We will give a short summery of the booklets:

A Child and A Tree Is about the importance of planting and protecting trees, and initiating forestation programs. The booklet has also appeared in Tamil.
Mala the Mongoose
This is a booklet about water control and land management through bunding and prevention of soil erosion.
Elephant and Dragonfly
Is about saving the forests as a home for wildlife and the protecting of animal species.
The Secret of the Mango Grove
This booklet is about the diversity of plants in agriculture, the use of harmful pesticides and the role of women in protecting the Earth.
Population is a very instructive picture book about over-population. Designed in a simple black and white format it does not require translation and can easily be copied all over the world.
Indian coloring book
This is a very nice coloring book that combines many of the children and animals that have appeared in the other booklets. The theme is once more: taking care of the earth, animals and trees.
What is a tree?
This booklet has been printed in collaboration with the National Book Trust of India and has color illustrations by P. Chakravarti. It explains the importance of living trees and the use of wood for farmers and fishermen.

For all the above booklets you may contact the Children and Trees project, at the address of Shanta books (see below) or by writing Marti: marti@auroville.org.in 


Agni - Namaste Savitri
Quadra Press 1995

In 342 colour reproductions of acrylic drawings, against backgrounds of grainy surfaces, as obtained by spraying of paint, each painting illustrates a verse of Savitri.
In a large variety of imagery combined with abstract form, the result is a colorful adventure in what are often techniques we would call primitive, as in: within reach of many.

Ireno Guerci - Auroville, A dream
Aaral Graphics 1999

Ireno is a photo reporter with an eye for the uncommon, either in his surroundings or in the composition of what he sees and photographs. 'A Dream' is a book that covers Auroville in its day-to-day aspects very well. As such it shows how the mix of East and West leads to some uncommon views.

William Netter - Log of a journey through Sri Aurobindo's Savitri
n.p.t offset Chennai 1999

Netter wrote three guides for the reading of Sri Aurobindo's 'Savitri. This 'Log' is the fourth and at that a strongly visual approach.
The cantos of the epic have been supplemented by colorful schemes in often mathematical configurations. A semi transparent map for each painting shows the evolution from matter to super mind, as indicated in the painting.

Narada Editions - The Gita of Waste
Auroville Health Centre – 2001

Aurovilians as well as non-Aurovilians have contributed to this delightful book. True, the idea was not to include educational books in this page. But then, there is no denying the wonderful combination of playful text and superbly comical cartoons by the Aurovilian illustrator Emanuele Scanziani. Other publications have come from the team working on this book, title of which speaks for itself. Given the professional quality of the work I would not be surprised if the booklets find a larger market.  

Anthology - The Auroville Adventure
S.A. Ashram Press 1998

In eleven chapters on various aspects of Auroville, this book is a collection of articles from Auroville Today (1988/1999).
I would say that this book tops the list of books on Auroville as of today and is as such worth mentioning here. The articles cover a wide range of subjects on collective issues as well as individual experiences. For sphere one might supplement it with the book of photographs by Ireno (Auroville. A dream) and the result of careful browsing would result in some knowledge on Auroville, without actually having been there.

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