What you find out when you get your first acquaintance with the idea of the IZ is
brief and somehow puzzling.
The Mother said that the city is to be planned with four zones: Residential, Cultural, Industrial and International.
The nations of the world should participate in its creation by building and supporting the cultural pavilions of their countries in the International Zone.
If one tries to find out what was actually said by the Mother it will be discovered
that her recorded statements on the International Zone of Auroville are very few indeed.
All information can be put out in a couple of sentences. In brief, each country is to build and maintain “a pavilion of their culture and ideal” (1966) so that “the whole will
represent all cultures on Earth” (1972). “Cultural pavilions” are to have their own gardens
(1965), as each country “has a particular way to relate to nature and its own way to
express beauty” (1972). It also could include “a sort of small museum or permanent
exhibition of the achievements of the country” (1965), “and in the pavilion, there will be
a kitchen from that country” (1967), “and the pavilion should be built according to the
architecture of the country represented”, so “it should be like a document of information”
All this is rather clear and simple and sounds like a description of pavilions of
some international exhibition. But we have to keep in mind that the Mother had never
given any particular directions for the building of the International Zone and the
pavilions. These statements, – made in a rather childlike joking manner, - sound like
hints, initial directions, questions. According to Roger Anger Mother refused to give any
detailed descriptions of the Zone, as aurovilians would have to discover it themselves.
But then one may recall it’s not the first time one hear of the national pavilions.
Mother in 1952 has mentioned pavilions of cultures in her articles on International
University Centre1 with the idea of human unity as one of the main guiding forces. The
pavilions were thought of as parts of this Centre, the main aim of which were to prepare
those who “will be able to work for the progressive unification of the mankind and be
ready at the same time to embody the new force which is descending to transform the
Earth”2. The first aim of the pavilions was “to help individuals to become aware of the
fundamental genius of the nation to which they belong and at the same time to bring them
into contact to the ways of life of other nations”3. She also writes there on the souls of
nations as spiritual realities guiding their destinies. And also, most important, on the idea
which could serve as a basis for the unification of the human race and “therefore has to be as high and as wide as possible”: “This higher idea is to give men the conditions of life they need in order to be able to prepare themselves to manifest the new force that will create the race of tomorrow”
Educational Centre in Pondicherry didn’t become really international. The pavilions there were never built. But the idea of University later expressed itself in Auroville.
Talking to Roger Anger, the architect of Auroville, Mother mentions “The University of Human Unity”. She says that “the permanent university will be the key to Auroville’s raison d’être. It must be a leap forward; so that it can hasten the advent of the future, of a world of harmony, beauty and union.”5 It seems that Mother talks about the same University with the same pavilions.
Another aspect is added by Roger Anger, the architect of Auroville.
According to what he understood from the Mother, pavilions besides being expressing the ‘souls’ of the countries should also express the input the countries made to the evolution of humanity.
1 CWM (Collected Works of the Mother), vol. 12, On Education, p. 39-47
2 CWM, vol. 12, On Education, p. 40
3 CWM, vol. 12, On Education, p. 41
4 CWM, vol. 12, On Education, p. 40