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Monday, June 30, 2008

Dictatorial attitude in the Sri Aurobindo Ashram

Annapoorna has left a new comment on your post "If complaints had been dealt with iron hands inste...":

The solution for this type of problems will come only when there are more and more Tusar N. Mohapatras who take up the cause and project it. As has been highlighted by you, the inmates are prevented from approaching any forum by the stringent and dictatorial attitude of the m(d)an(m)agers of the Ashram. Its a shame in this democratic country that the inmates who dedicate their life are denied basic needs of food and shelter if ever they fight against the atrocities of the Trustees in a legalway. Posted by Annapoorna to Aurora Mirabilis at 8:56 PM, June 29, 2008

Friday, June 27, 2008

Where equality and harmony rules among people

Auroville, Pondicherry, Pondicherry, India
Auroville at a glance:
With more and more people talking about globalization, Lalit Bhati, an architect and urban planner, took the first step in creating a world where equality and harmony rules among people, disregarding the part of the Earth they are from, the language they speak or the color of their skin.
For this, he designed a city that will host 50,000 people in which the only rule for those who want to live there will be their desire for a harmonious lifestyle. Auroville would be the model for cities of the future, which should combine the possibilities of the modern age with the delight of great landscapes, nature having an important role in the day-to-day course of life.
Houses and buildings are spiraling around the center filled with green spaces, symbolizing the praises mother nature should receive for allowing us to enjoy its creations. The industrial areas are at the city’s periphery, leaving clean air for the center of the town, where the residential buildings will be located; pollution won’t affect anyone, so this would be one of the best places on Earth to raise your children - away from a big town’s squalor, growing in a natural environment, but still taking advantage of the modern technology. It is located in south India and its construction is only half done, but it already has habitants. They come from almost 35 nations and are of all age groups, from different social classes, different cultures and represent all aspects of humanity. There is still plenty of room for many other residents.

Short-Term Internships at Auroville:
Yes, the going is tough if you are contemplating a permanent residence at Auroville. It makes better sense to put in a short stint and find out whether you fit in. Even if you are not contemplating a permanent move, a short stint at Auroville would definitely broaden your outlook. For students or for those fresh out of university, this may sound particularly appealing.
The Auroville Volunteer, Internships and Study program (AVIS) was launched a few years ago. There is no structured program as such. If you are interested you are required to send an email together with a brief description of yourself, your field of study, and your preferences as regards the fields in which you would like to volunteer.
A list of projects available for which you could be best suited is then sent to you. Contact details of project leaders are provided and you have to get in touch with them directly.
With project leaders being busy, it is essential to plan this in advance. You cannot visit India and then try your luck at Auroville. This does not work, is what I learned from a literature student from London, with whom I swapped views over a cup of coffee. However, if you are lucky, you may get an interesting project in spheres ranging from architecture, town-planning, organic farming, teaching, or even social work that is carried out in the surrounding villages. Source: Mad Architect Tags: , , Current Location: Seattle, WA, USACurrent Music: Rusted Root - Send Me On My Way 2 comments or Leave a comment

Monday, June 23, 2008

Sri Aurobindo completed all work for the evolution of planet earth which has resulted in vast development of materialism

Planes of consciousness By dhriti

The modern technology marvels that we are enjoying are the result of the work done in the mental plane by the Masters for faster human evolution. We can also understand this as Savitri Shakti. Sri Aurobindo completed all work required for this state for the evolution of planet earth which has resulted in vast development of materialism, technology, electrical appliances or you can say these modern life style instruments.

Sri Aurobindo did all his work in the Mental plane when he was in his physical body proving to us again that there is no need to leave our physical body to work in this plane. We just need to be able to over come physical, astral planes to be able to reach mental plane. For our understanding we can think , Sri Auro was able to reflect his works on the highest mental plane. ( I am not saying he worked only in mental plane, but he was an expert in higher mental planes and made ready Supra mental state for entire humanity who are ready to reach higher mental plane).

So using Savitri Shakti he made available Supra mental state for the Humanity...The downside of the Savitri Sadhana is an extensive growth in materialism which made humans more selfish...Filed under Interesting finds, Science, Spiritual Masters, yoga Tags: , , , ,

Sunday, June 22, 2008

The Centre for Indian Studies will continue its frontline comparative research in areas such as philosophy, psychology, etc.

Home > Journals & Media > Journals > Auroville Today > Current issue Archive copies Auroville Experience May 2008
Completing Bharat Nivas
- Carel
With the completion of the Matrimandir the stage is set for the completion of Bharat Nivas, the Pavilion of India

On March 1st, the Auroville Foundation staff moved into the Auroville Foundation Bhavan, its new office nearby the Town Hall. The old administrative offices at Bharat Nivas, from where Auroville was administered for more than 25 years, are now empty, awaiting a new future.
Studying the plans for Bharat Nivas. From left to right: Dhruv, Dr. Karan Singh, Prashant, Meenakshi, Aster and Divya
Bharat Nivas, the Pavilion of India, has harboured almost 40 Auroville units ever since, in 1984, its unfinished structures came into the possession of Auroville. It was the time of the Auroville Emergency Provisions Act. “Auroville received a grant of Rs 1 lakh from the Human Resource Development Ministry to set up a Centre for Research in Indian Culture,” recalls Aster. “It was a large a sum for the Auroville of '84, and we discussed how best to handle it as many units and working groups in Auroville were in urgent need of offices.”
Aurofuture, the Development Group, the Entry Group, the Residents' Service, the Archives, the Library and SAIIER were all in need of space. The library books, stored in cardboard boxes under the Amphitheatre, were disintegrating due to inflowing rain water. “We decided that Bharat Nivas should be opened up to all Auroville,” says Aster. The money was not only used to start the Centre for Research in Indian Culture, but also for makeshift arrangements for many other units. And so the unfinished structures of Bharat Nivas became the administrative hub of Auroville's community life.
With the departure of the Auroville Foundation offices, most of Bharat Nivas has now become available to fulfil its true purpose: to be the Pavilion of India in the International Zone. To assess its importance, we have to go back to February 1971, when The Mother initiated the work on two construction sites: the Matrimandir and Bharat Nivas. “She said that she wanted the Pavilion to be finished by Sri Aurobindo's centenary, in 1972. This calls for a deep reflection,” says Aster.
In 1970, The Mother explained to Prem Malik the main purpose of the International Zone: to demonstrate, at the physical level, the essential unity that exists behind the diversity which manifests itself in the world in the form of different cultures. But, She said, this unity manifests itself only at the spiritual level. For that reason She stressed the importance of revealing the spiritual heritage of each country. In the record of his meeting with The Mother, Prem wrote that “The Mother made a statement that this was the reason why She wanted the Indian Pavilion to be the first to be built, as India was the one country which had an unbroken spiritual heritage and one which could act as an example for the other pavilions to follow.”

The original design of Bharat Nivas was for an auditorium, a restaurant, a school of linguistics, a guest house and pavilions for the different states of India . The Mother wanted the Government of India to provide the funds for building the Pavilion. A grant of Rs 90 lakhs was received. Unfortunately, this money was not used for the purpose for which it was granted and the buildings that had begun – the auditorium, the restaurant and three circular state pavilions – remained unfinished.
“Over the years, various teams of architects studied how to finish the buildings,” says Aster. “The original plans of architect Chakrapani had been badly modified. But as there were no funds and the spaces were not free, little could be done.”
The situation changed in 1994. With a small government grant the auditorium was somewhat renovated. Subsequent grants helped to modify the restaurant building into an art centre, called Kala Kendra; to build Atithi Griha, a students' guest house; and construct the ground floor of the Sri Aurobindo World Centre for Human Unity. This year it became possible to do a first-class renovation of the Sri Aurobindo auditorium and to build Swagatham, a new guest house with facilities for visiting scholars and other senior people.
Plans are now in progress to make a Master Plan for the Bharat Nivas campus in order to integrate all buildings and create a true campus ‘feel'. Two new buildings are planned. One is the Tamil Heritage Centre designed by Auroville architect Poppo. Its construction will start soon on the site allocated to it years ago, as funds have meanwhile been allocated. The second new building is the Centre of Indian Studies, to be designed by renowned Indian architect Balkrishna Doshi. Here, preparatory work has started but the plans are yet to be made. The three unfinished circular pavilions will be demolished when the present occupants have found another location. They will be replaced by a small open-air amphitheatre. The former offices of the Auroville Foundation will be turned into an exhibition space to host a permanent exhibition on India titled ‘The Sense of the Infinite'. An implementation programme for the next 5 years is being worked out under the guidance of B.V. Doshi. “Dr. Karan Singh, on his visit to Auroville on March 30, 2008, discussed the plans with the Bharat Nivas team,” says Aster. “He said that this was the first time he sensed the identity of Bharat Nivas!”

Meanwhile, the purpose of the Pavilion to reveal the spiritual heritage of India continues to be pursued by all the activities that are based there. “The Centre for Indian Studies will continue its frontline comparative research in areas such as philosophy, psychology, new dimensions of spirituality and their correlation with the traditional knowledge of India and the work of Sri Aurobindo,” says Aster. “The seeds of this work were sown as early as 1984 when we started programmes in all these areas and organised exhibitions, lectures and conferences.”
With the financial support of the Government of India, Aster is confident that Bharat Nivas will soon manifest more fully. “The Government has decided to fulfil its commitment made to The Mother in 1971 to provide the funds for Bharat Nivas,” she says. “But also the support of the Auroville community is of the essence. We should all feel the importance of finishing Bharat Nivas, for it holds the key to the flowering of the entire International Zone.”
Carel
Photo credit: Photo Giorgio
Home > Journals & Media > Journals > Auroville Today > Completing Bharat Nivas
Current issue Archive copies The Auroville Experience

Friday, June 20, 2008

The quietness has to be heard to be believed!

The stay…… Ashram’s guest house….The guest house was self sufficient…more than an average house! The furnishers of the room had not overlooked even a small thing. Right from a platform to leave your foot wear , a stand to hang clothes , taut ropes to dry small clothes in the toilet, study table with a draw many of these are not found in some homes and star hotels!?! The others things like cots with stainless white sheets and a cupboard to store …etc.,

That the room was meant for serious study was evident with a neatly folded mat kept on the hanger stand! A room fit for an aspiring sadhak! So every thing in its place… austere .. simple and decent! No TV and telephone! So the inmate gets into the mood or ambience of study/sadhana just by being there! The walls are neat with a lone picture of the Mother..with the words.. 'the world is ready for a change, do you want to help?’

The ashram dining room…. The dining place of the ashram ( a few blocks away from the guest house), is unique in many ways…it is not one big hall but a mansion with many rooms some used as serving bay, dining place, washing area, storage etc., It is amazing how 2000 people are served in orderliness (not at the same time though) and the place isn’t messy at all!!

A lot of experimentation must have gone in to finally evolve a system that has brought in quality both in service and maintenance of the place while in use. The quietness has to be heard to be believed! What also impressed me were the long mats spread dispersed with low stools… and tables and chairs placed appropriately for people who find it difficult to squat.The new comers have to just be observant to quickly fall in line to help maintain the discipline. The food that is served is sumptuous and sattvic in nature to be in tune with the sadhak’s life. One just falls into the routine of eating meditation without much ado! The familiar sight of volunteers serving, washing, wiping vessels (as in ashrams), here , has an uniqueness of its own.

Why pondy? My visit to pondy was in connection with the education camp / workshop held by Sri Aurobindo society. I had no clue as to what was in store for us.. except that we were expected to be familiar with the book ‘On education’, authored by the Mother and Sri Aurobindo.

The sessions were held from 8.30-12 noon and from 3-6pm. They included an hour and half discussion on the principles of integral education and the rest of the day we were made to experience this in practice in simulated class rooms. The group of 60 teachers from all over India were divided into 5 groups of 12 representing the north, south , east, west and the central zones. We named our groups according to the major river of the region. Each group was immersed in activities related to the topic “ INDIA” . We had to perceive India through our senses, art, music, EVS language, art and math.

The facilitators of each theme were young girls around 18-20 years of age, with a pleasing personality. The atmosphere was non threatening , non judgmental in which we had no choice but to give up our inhibitions. There were many in the group who sang, drew and spoke ( public speech in English) , and even danced for the first time. The variety of activity they did for different groups facilitated to locate the participants inner strengths.

What was visible in the facilitators was the authenticity with which they stood before us and the realness they exhibited. All this sent messages to us teachers to feel a classroom of such kind where learning took place spontaneously. The idea was to give us such an experience and compare that with the one we offer our students back at school! It was all learning by doing. As the Mother says... "No words.. ACT”.

The venue of the meet….Living in a place far away from the sea.. it was a privilege that the sessions were held in a hall overlooking the sea. I lost no moments to take in of that as much as possible. When it rained one evening I ran to the terrace to watch the rain on the sea as the clouds engulfed it at the horizon.

FINAL WORD…I call this a spiritual experience as everything .. was important…. Was cared for .. with utmost empathy. There was beauty everywhere. The early morning sky watch, the quiet nature walks, the solemn chanting sessions, the yoga time, the meditating breakfast and lunch sessions set a queer silence inside .. to let absorb everything but yet feel untouched! It is no surprise that the seventh sense of aesthetics was awakened in us all! Posted by Lalitha at 4:59 AM

With faith-based politics, we are witness to an ethical reconciliation between religion and technology

by Rich on Thu 19 Jun 2008 06:53 PM PDT Permanent Link
Born Again Ideology (religion, technology and terrorism) A. Kroker
from Science, Culture and Integral Yoga™ by Rich

We, the inhabitants of post-Enlightenment society might have thought that the current cultural horizon was exhausted by fateful struggles between modernism, postmodernism and posthumanism, but it turns out that the past will not be denied. Out of the ashes of the Book of Revelation emerges a form of faith-based politics which is, in every political sense, the ascendant historical tendency in American public life.

Here, putting on the policy garments of the "culture of life" movement, there waging bitter political combat against the heresy of "same-sex marriage," now opposed to scientific claims concerning stem cell research, allying itself actively with the crusading spirit of American imperialist adventures, dominating the media with faith-based cultural perspectives, the New Protestant Ethic easily sweeps aside secular discourses in the interests of a vision of culture, society and politics which is as cosmological in its theological sweep as it is eschatological in its historical ambitions.

Understood metaphysically, it may well be that the insurgency represented by faith-based politics is the representative political form of what Heidegger's Nietzsche described as the age of "completed nihilism." In this interpretation, power in its mature (nihilistic) phase -- sick of itself, possessing no definitive goal, exhausted with the historical burden of remaining an active will, always sliding inexorably towards the nothingness of the will-less will -- desperately seeks out a sustaining purpose, an inspiring goal, a historical mission. Into the ethical vacuum at the disappearing center of nihilistic power flows a strong historical monism -- the New Protestant Ethic -- that will not be suppressed.

To power's empty formalism, to liberal humanism's (emotionally) ineffective proceduralist ethics, to the empire's cybernetic equations written in violence and in blood across the landscape of imperial wars, the New Protestant Ethic provides a singular historical purpose -- the crusading spirit of evangelical Christianity which is reconstructionist, resurgent, and reanimated -- backed up by the semiotic purity of the foundational texts of the Old Testament. To those who would discount faith-based politics as only the most recent instance of the politics of cultural backlash, it should be noted that this fateful, and entirely original, entwinement of (fundamentalist) religion and (imperial) war technologies in the American mind may well be in the order of a great overturning.

With faith-based politics, we are witness to something entirely unexpected, and for that reason, deeply ominous -- an ethical reconciliation between religion and technology in which the apocalyptic visions of the Old Testament will be future-coded in the power languages of empire politics and networked capitalism. What is now only in its preparatory rhetorical stages as the "culture of life" movement may soon emerge full-blown as the essential life-principle of American, and by imperialist extension world, culture. Arthur Kroker

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Matrimandir looks like a slightly flattened golden golf ball, sitting on a squat tee, waiting for Krishna to putt it into outer space

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Pilgrimage Through India, Installment 1 Jun 18 2008

It’s a humid, lethargic morning here in Auroville, after a sudden rain and a brilliant, solitary flash of lightening passed over rapidly in the night. Like a slowly settling blanket, the heat descends every morning in Southern India, until the cloud-cover breaks and the sun beams through. Finally a breeze begins to arise, cooling the layer of sweat that coats your body day and night.
In this gently forested compound we have stayed for a week, in a community called Verite, just one of the many communities dedicated to their chosen expression of the over-arching goal of Auroville: an experiment in human unity.
But this letter is intended to give you news about us, our travels, not to be an essay on this buzzing hive of visionary controversy and activity. Whereas economic social structures tend to be centrifugal, and will cast you out into the outer darkness if you do not constantly tend and renew your relationship with them, Auroville is centripetal. From our first casual conversation with a young Indian entrepreneur while seeking directions to a guest house, we’ve found a near claim being staked upon us. “You belong” is the message. We feel nearly entwined, as if a thousand stealthy tendrils now lightly hold us – tendrils elastic enough to span continents and years.
Since we’re on the topic, let’s paint the portrait a little further. Auroville was born of a barren landscape, denuded of jungle a century before to dislocate tigers, on a plain outside of the old, elegant French city of Pondicherry, situated upon the Bay of Bengal. Early pioneers, inspired by the visionary activity of Sri Aurobindo’s shakti, a French woman called everywhere the Mother, began roughing it among the scorpions and serpents, creating a community of the future where human unity would be achieved not only on a social/economic level, but primary in a higher consciousness. “Man is a transitional being,” Sri Aurobindo wrote, and the Mother declared Auroville to be an alchemical vessel, an experiment in man’s next steps in evolution.
Fittingly, in the center of the maze of dirt roads, wandering cows, bicycling tourists and villagers walking balancing stacks of firewood upon their heads, is the Matrimandir. At first appearance, I must confess it looked a little post-modern tacky. Designed by the French architect Roger Anger (pronounced Anjay), the Matrimandir looks like a slightly flattened golden golf ball from the distance, sitting on a squat tee, waiting for Krishna to putt it into outer space. It is concrete raised to an artform – a gigantic sphere upon which are mounted hundreds of disks, each disk covered with hundreds of specially fired tiles containing gold. It is, therefore, akin to the Golden Temple of the Sikhs, in its unique way.
The Matrimandir is, therefore, the soul of Auroville. You especially get this upon finally gaining entrance, when any idea of tacky post-modernism falls away and you enter a futuristic, meticulously crafted realm of glowing lights, finely cut stone, and a structure designed to contain an immense centripetal energy, as if a Gothic cathedral had been cast into some Einsteinian matter-bending time-space warp and ended up with all its edges curved inward. Descending in appropriate awe up spiraling walkways, you enter the crown chakra of the space, a white-tiled chamber with mercilessly echoing acoustics, dark except for a single ray of adamantine light falling directly upon a huge crystal sitting enthroned in the center of the room, pillars of milky white rising into the whiteness above your head encircling Her.
She is the Mother, and she is Consciousness.
That’s the conclusion you reach after a few days, at any rate.
So, as you can imagine, this place is pretty seductive. Soon after arrival, Susana began trekking about, knocking at the door of communities and introducing herself, and soon settled into an apprenticeship at a beading factory. Fifteen Tamil women, wreathed in smiles, greeted her upon her arrival and then two of them graciously tried, over several days, to train her hands to work as quickly and precisely as theirs. An ambitious goal from both sides. Yet, how much fun! Susana’s non-verbal communication improved lots and she shared many smiles and laughs as she tried to find her way through the art of beading.
In that strange way the Auroville seems to lie in wait, Susana was detected by Aurovillians interested in her skills as a Holotropic Breathwork facilatator, and she will lead one this afternoon. As if planned by a higher eye, Aurelio, a music therapist in residence at of Verite, had made copies of Susana’s highly specialized HB CD’s five years ago, under the agreement he wouldn’t use them for breathwork. Today, they have resurfaced to fulfill their original purpose.
We’ve been drawn into discussions on the creation of university extension here at Auroville, and the possibilities of getting in at the inception of such a project, mucked out among the dirt, insects, local Tamil villagers, and cantankerous pioneering Aurovillians with their now entrenched corrupt ruling Brahmins, has nearly gotten us packing up our cats and hitting the road for Mother India. You can say each person you encounter here is an entire wealth of a planet: anarchism, the 60’s, mysticism, creativity, crazy personal stories, all in one place. Yes, we belong in some way to this type of tribe and this recognition is such a relief.
But finally, let’s really step back and attempt to give you some news.
We saw little of the exotic color of the country at first. Arriving in the airport after a 24 hour transit to New Delhi, we quickly learned that if we were to travel by train to Chennai, the old Madras, from where we would catch a bus to “Pondy,” we would have to leave that evening, so our dreams of getting a good night’s sleep evaporated as we purchased our tickets for another 30 hour transit.
In fact, we were already exhausted from more than the long flight. In a strange stroke of fate, we missed our plane to India the very day Rob’s grandma got seriously ill and was transported to the emergency room. Meanwhile, Icarita, our beloved snow-white cat had already disappeared some days before. We therefore spent the two days until our rebooked flight departed commuting between the hospital and scouring the community for our walkabout Icarita. Grandma was getting better, yet we had no news about Icarita when we took the plane to India, our energies seriously depleted and in a state of anxiety. We were more than just tired when we arrived in Delhi.
Our glimpse India’s most populated city was mainly of weaving traffic, us gasping and exhaling in relief as if we were on a rollercoaster, and then of the legendary, teeming crowds of the city, cows wandering placidly in their midst. We lay on our backs looking at the fan rotating on the ceiling of our concrete hotel room until the moment came to find our train and board. We made it to the station only to find the teeming humanity seemed even more concentrated there, and upon entering our train found the section without air conditioning, where we would have a single padded pallet without sheets or pillow to sleep upon, similarly jammed. That evening out of Delhi people slept on the floor. We ate nothing and drank little, fearing stomach ailments in a cramped space. We did begin learning quickly about the character of the Indian people, how they through simple gestures transformed their environment into a place of love. The husband who sat up all night carefully laid out a single, clean cloth upon the floor for his wife to rest upon (Susana ended up sleeping with her baby boy at her feet). As the landscape chugged by, the train emptied gradually and we came to realize maybe our choice hadn’t been as bad as we’d feared. Immediate immersion has its benefits. A tip: only buy sleeper train tickets if you earnestly love physical contact, community sharing, heat, plain wind in your face, Indian squat toilets, and mixing it up day and night with everybody else. Otherwise, first class is the right choice.
Arriving in Chennai, our auto-rickshaw driver maneuvered us into renting a ridiculously expensive room for the evening and then asked for additional “happy money” for his services – we showed him the road instead, and found a traditional eatery to finally make an offering to our stomachs.
Having traveled through many different environments, and heard many stories of the unsanitary conditions of India, Robert faced his first banana frond piled with food with trepidation. Now was the moment of gastro-intestinal truth. Would he get laid out with diarrhea and fever like he had in Mexico and Amazonian frontier towns? Instead, the food was so good his stomach chanted grateful thanks for hours afterwards, a warm glow of happiness arising from his midriff. We haven’t been sick yet. Knock on wood.
Chennai led to our first goal via bus: Pondicherry, where the ashram of Sri Aurobindo is located. There we planned to spend a few days exploring before leaving for Auroville. It was stepping out of this whirl of travel in Pondy where Robert finally felt received, and he’s convinced he was welcomed by the elephant in front of the temple of Ganesha, the elephant-headed god which is ubiquitous in the homes, restaurants, schools, vehicles and temples of India. Painted with the same geometric patterns of blessing we had found on the sidewalks before temples, the great beast seemed marvelously compact with its massive, rounding arch of a back, nestled golden eyes in wrinkled pachyderm hide, great snaking trunk gently receiving coins and giving blessings in return. Kindness personified.
He reflected that day that the people of Pondy have something of that same ponderous gentleness, and will actually bless you at the end of halting conversations, accompanied by much head-wagging, just as if a big humid trunk had given you a quick caress.
“How could you not love a country that has elephants ready to give you a blessing in front of its temples?” he asked himself as we continued wandering the street from temple to temple.
These temples are entered through huge gates, surmounted by densely populated roofs of technicolor deities, which open into large courtyards with numerous subtemples. In the center of the temple to Shiva, a lingam sat enthroned in a dark marble chamber, the piped in mantra of the god sounding endlessly. The swamis, as servants of the god, wear only wraps around their waists and move about in an endless choreographed dance of bathing, feeding, massaging, giving to drink, smoking, offering upon damp, aromatic altar stones, festooning, bejeweling and transporting the god in his innumerable representations within the compound throughout the day. Meanwhile, on the ceiling a mechanical drum and horn machine pounds and blares out exotic triumphal marches. The swamis are splendid characters – physical, hairy, masculine, a touch wild in ways that Christian priests are most distinctly not.
Yet at the same time watching the people, the Tamil, at moments we realize that we haven’t a clue what is going on in their minds. Dark enigmas, a completely different people, a truly ancient race whose kingdom was so developed it awed the Roman merchants when they first arrived in 80 b.c.e. Susana sat watching a young local, fancily dressed with cell phone, in a restaurant overlooking the sea, bewildered by the proper usage of a knife wrapped in a napkin: as fork and knife had come to the table wrapped in a napkin, he might have thought it was rather elegant to keep the cover on the knife while eating – locals eat with their fingers, after all. He left his plate unfinished. It was a bewilderment that puzzled her soul. A quietly vertiginous abyss revealed, over which there was no bridge between cultures.
Pondy is a beach town, and our ashram’s guest house was on the third floor of a simple edifice, facing an expanse of ocean patrolled by the local variety of raven, more streamlined than his Northern relatives and with blue-hued wings, fittingly called “craak” in hindi. Almost every day we went for sadhana meditation in the ashram, which offered a contrast to the brassy worship of the gods in the various temples. Each late afternoon, pilgrims and locals line up to approach the white marble tombs of the Mother and Sri Aurobindo and kneel in prayer, their arms extended over the tightly woven tapestries of flowers adorning the saints’ resting place, and then silently arrange themselves to practice unity in consciousness beneath the spreading limbs of the emerald green jacaranda tree that shelters the courtyard. Like the sand paintings of the Tibetans, the flowers on the tombs are a graceful expression of beauty and impermanence which reappear in a new design each day.
There we will leave you, then: standing, hands folded and head slightly bowed, before the tomb of Pondicherry’s premier saints. Until next time, we send you our love from Mother India, Robert and Susana

Roaming the Mind is published by Robert Tindall and Susana Bustos. We lead pilgrimages, acting as a bridge for small groups of people who seek to work deeply with the medicinal plants of the Peruvian Amazon, with the maestro curandero Juan Flores. From Ashaninka ascendence and with over 40 years of experience as a healer, Juan founded this center for traditional healing and learning in deep forest.

Lovely reading in short spurts, but rather forbidding as a whole

These worlds could feel God’s breath visiting their tops; Some glimmer of the Transcendent’s hem was there.
—Sri Aurobindo, Savitri

You might call Aurobindo one of the fathers of New Age thought, in that his influences and background stem from both Western and Eastern sources. He was born in India, educated at Cambridge, a very smart guy; the principle that drives his writings is the belief in an impending spiritual revolution by which mankind will catapault itself into a higher plane of existence, becoming collective entities of pure energy and infinite joy, existing outside the influence of time or space, not unlike all those interstellar beings one runs into all the time on Star Trek.

Savitri is his masterpiece, a thousand-page epic poem, heavily influenced both by John Milton and the Vedic poems, retelling the classic hindu love story of Satyavan and Savitri in the form of an incredibly convoluted, near-impenetrable spiritual allegory. Lovely reading in short spurts, but rather forbidding as a whole. Which attributes suggest to me it would make fine fodder for an I Ching style astrological die roll randomization game.

Were I to interpret the above excerpt in that spirit, I’d say the message is that we are always at the hem of the transcendent, always climbing, never getting to the seam. Which I don’t read as discouraging—merely humbling. We’re human. We’ll transcend when we transcend; it won’t be me that tips the scales. posted by mjd in Reading, Religion, Transcendentalism

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

I cant digest the fact that Auroville is entertaining such unauthorized people

Mohanraj Thangarasu has left a new comment on your post "Tamil culture is very much discriminated against i...":

As a Pondicherrian I cant digest the fact that Auroville is entertaining such unauthorized people like Divakar who is no way had connect with Auroville. The administration should had taken immediate steps to uproot such crime oriented issue before any intrusion of Police.

PS Note: Tusar N. Mohapatra this is the first time i have been to your network of sites. simply awesome. Keep going. I would check out often. Posted by Mohanraj Thangarasu to Marketime at 11:49 AM, June 18, 2008

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Spiritual contentment in quietude of Auroville

When was the last time you felt at peace? Posted on Jun 17th, 2008 by owais
This is in Response to the Questions and Reflections for June 17, 2008:
I think spiritual contentment can enconse oneself into peace. when I was restful into quietude of Auroville
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Auroville belongs to no prince, to no god. No one owns it, place
Posted on Jan 3rd, 2008 by owais

Here is the place which belongs to no prince or nations None owns it. a place for all of us, The world will find joy and beatitude in it. Here the heart will be contented & happy. Will Amarna ever rise from the darkness again? It is February 23, 2006, and I am once again in Auroville.

It is my sixth visit since discovery of this incredibly wonderful community whose motive is nobler, grandeaur and commendable. I know many a number of exquisite, quiescent and beautiful places in India with better amenities and comforts. So what is it that draws me back here again and again since my first visit , which happened by fortunate chance, past 2 years ago. The curiosity to know more, maybe the need to be a part and work for this noblest community. however instead of my having informed to owner of New Creation Corner guest house - Andre babu, ( a french run this guest house to earn his livelihood who settled in auroville by marrying an indian girl past 30 years back ). there is no accommodation available in Auroville said he humbly, and I am forced to stay in a hut of a dweller in village named kuilapalayam within Auroville. This is the tourist season, and Auroville is bursting lavishly.

Films are provided free of charge to Aurofilm by Aliance Francaise in Puducherry

San has left a new comment on your post "Tamil culture is very much discriminated against in Auroville": San said...comment on wordpress from Elodie Pourier

Auroville is the International town. There are many French people that live there. They also need some entertainment, they want to watch French films that show life in France, our life, our cities, our people, adventures, philosophy, art, economy, intimate life, rich people, cars, also crimes like bank robbers, drug traffikers, prostututes, corruption, mafia, and horrible scenes. The French children must know this because they go to Europe when they grow up, and they never come back. Why do they need the Indian culture?

Films are provided free of charge to Aurofilm by Aliance Francaise in Puducherry. But the French government doesnot provide grants to pay for screening of these films. What to do?

In this situation one of ways is to subsidise by 90% the screening of French films from the rent amounts received from the Indian cultural events in Sri Aurobindo Auditorium. The French people are not so rich in Auroville, they can't pay for cinema. Posted by San to Marketime at 7:45 AM, June 17, 2008

Sunday, June 15, 2008

I know of no other such occurrence in contemporary times apart from the Mother’s inspired Act of Seeing in January of 1970

from Lori Tompkins <lotus@saber.net> date 14 June 2008 22:56 subject Fw: [vishaal study group] Statement on Auroville

On June 12th 2008 an Open Letter documenting certain irregularities in the Auroville Matrimandir was sent by Mr. N. Nandhivarman to Mr. Arjun Singh, Human Resources Minister and Dr. Karan Singh, Chairman of the Auroville Foundation. The following link provides the letter and accompanying documentation: http://nandhivarman.indiainteracts.com/2008/06/12/aurovilles-matrimandir-an-eye-opener/

As Convenor of the Matrimandir Action Committee, Patrizia Norelli-Bachelet (Thea) was asked to comment on Mr. Nandhivarman’s letter and its relevance to recent events in Auroville reported in the international media. The following is Patrizia Norelli-Bachelet’s reply:

A Statement from Matrimandir Action Committee

As convenor of the Matrimandir Action Committee, my attention has been drawn to a number of problems Auroville faces of late by certain residents of the Community who have sought my views on possible solutions. More recently I received an Open Letter issued by Nandhivarman to the Human Resources Minister, questioning aspects of Matrimandir operations. Its motivation may be unclear; but, it needs to be reiterated once again, the roots of the problems – unknown to the parties involved – lie in the choices made by the Community itself.

In spiritual circles it is known that the root of any problem must be first sought within, be this on the individual level no less than the collective. In Auroville given its role among the organisations founded by the Mother, it is the group that determines the development by the choices it makes collectively.

In 1974 the community was given a choice which determined the course the project would take thereafter. The decade of the 1970s witnessed the cementing of that choice in the destiny of the fledgling community; from then onward the course the project took was a play-out of that act of choosing. The truth of this statement can be factually verified.

However, to be more precise the very first act of choosing occurred in January of 1970, at the very outset of that fateful decade. This was when the Mother’s original plan of her Inner Chamber was rejected by those involved with her in this matter who pressed for the adoption of a new plan devised by the architects and fully supported by the larger community. Throughout that entire decade attempts were made to encourage a return to the Mother’s original plan, but these were unsuccessful. Far worse, a campaign was embarked upon by those in charge of the construction to convince the world at large that in fact it was the Mother’s original plan with its precise measurements and design that was the model being implemented by the architects.

This was entirely false and even fraudulent. When my attention was drawn to this dubious activity several years ago, I convened the Matrimandir Action Committee (MAC) whose purpose was to inform the public that this was not at all the case. A series of 12 Chronicles were issued (17 January 2003 to 22 December 2005) highlighting each and every change from the Mother’s original in the already constructed building.

Therefore, when I am asked ‘what will happen’, or ‘where does the solution lie’, I can only refer the questioner to our MAC website (http://www.matacom.com/). All the answers are there to be found.

To briefly summarise, the Mother’s original plan was similar to a horoscope – the moment when an infant takes its first breath by which all the circumscribing influences are drawn into the consciousness-being of that soul in evolution. For a project such as a temple, the Rishi is the channel through whom the same act is consummated. Needless to say this is a very rare happening. I know of no other such occurrence in contemporary times apart from the Mother’s inspired Act of Seeing in January of 1970. In the construction of Hindu Temples a similar ‘horoscopic imprinting’ is done when the figure of the Vaastu Purush (the Cosmic Being) is embedded in the site according to precise rules of engagement based on cosmic harmonies. The Mother’s original vision enhanced this ancient practice, carrying it to even greater heights.

Thus, the disciples and architects, and later the builders and the community consciously, knowingly replaced that stamp of a higher destiny with a lesser destiny of ‘mixture’, as cautioned by the Mother at the time. It was then entirely predictable that different ‘laws’ would prevail for the project and not those originally encompassed by the Mother’s plan. Based on those changes alone I have been able to read that Destiny of Mixture through its ‘laws’ as if it were a book.

The very first indication of this lapse into a lesser destiny pattern was when that same community, headed by the very same group that had rejected the Mother’s original plan, called for a Government take-over of the city-project. When this did occur the fate of the project was sealed: the original Act of Choosing had indeed set in motion the destiny as now written in the revised inner chamber, rather than the sacred ‘horoscope’ with its inviolable Laws of the Mother’s original plan.

The lesser pattern was finally completely set in place at the recent inauguration of the revised version of the inner chamber, without, as recommended by MAC, a plaque at its entrance indicating the true position and the changes made, which might have helped redeem something of the ills that were foisted on the project.

Now there should be no complaints at all after this conscious and willed choice by the Community.

Verification of all the above can be found in the Mother’s original plan itself where a singular new shastra is given in minute detail – a ‘science’ contemporary minds cannot replicate because its Laws pertain to a dimension that remains off limits to the present-day scientist.

Thea Convenor, Matrimandir Action Committee 14 June 2008 [7:06 AM 1 comment]

Friday, June 13, 2008

From the road it seems that the sea has gone further down. No one can easily approach the sea

Ode to the Sea and Beach of Pondicherry By Aju Mukhopadhyay

How young were you younger when we were
Attracted to your shore and the wavy water!
Enough had you given us to love you daily
To swim and bathe in you merrily;
Brajkishore dived and crawled deep into your body
School children, local boys swam regularly
Flapping their wings Anita, Swapna and Sushan did share
Dolphin’s snouting and seraphin’s song wafting in the air.
On your beach calm and quiet we walked, O Sea!
Collecting varied shells became unforgettable memory
Witness to umpteen maritime stories
The golden beach told us the tale of fisheries.
There was a pier on the bay ancient
Half a mile long with wide space at the end
Sitting on the benches on sides or surrounding the space
Gave them a sense of living in the sea, a wonderful solace;
Peeping out of its watery grave it reminds us
About the great who had been over it, history to focus;
Sri Aurobindo with disciples enjoyed the moonlit sea and beach
Shyam Sundar reminisced that the Mother with Pranab graced each.
Dredging and shifting and littoral drifting
Gradually narrowed the beach, a precious thing
Stormy and raging sea was the result of terrible Tsunami
Destroying many coastal towns it brought in life utter misery.
After the rise of the sea it receded in depth
Baring the animals which soon returned to health.
Saved by Nature’s tricks, legendary French-Wall and Her grace
Pondicherry finally lost the shore, its sandy gold face;
No scope remained for collecting the shells
No more walking or building the sandy castles.
To save the town, beautify it out of fear and greed
To receive the tourist they became the real spendthrift
They built a parallel road alongside the old promenade
A makeshift toy-beach, grandiloquent fa├žade
With broken, pulverized hills lifted and carried
By modern Hanuman, the techno-giant;
Roads are high up, sea has gone deep down
So that the Tsunami can no more touch the town.
Sea is groaning under camouflaged sandy road
‘Do not swim’- warns the board at the first road
‘Unfathomable Sea!’ and ‘Treacherous in calm’
The ‘Ocean of Time’- Shelly found as it had become.
O Pondy Sea, you too have become the killer of men
Who might have been deceived by the Siren.
Pondy is attractive mainly for you, the Sea!
And for you the Beach! - washed by the waves constantly
Few are the things and sites attractive which are man-made
Alas! The slim and golden beach is at last dead.
The only hope remains that the Nature is protean
And the Time to reckon is eternal.
* * * * * *

From In Celebration of Nature by Aju Mukhopadhyay (c), 2007 Email: ajum24@yaho.co.in

+++

The Coastline Aju Mukhopadhyay

Bay of Bengal, the sea, creating a 22 km coastal border has perennial existence on the eastern fringe of Pondicherry. Sea brought the Romans, Chinese, Portuguese, Dutch, French and the British. Sea invites the tourists and other visitors. Sea is the vast nature, the source of cultural intercourse and commerce.

Union Territory of Pondicherry is not a natural, contiguous territory. It is a historic reality due to French rule. Even far-flung Chandannagar could remain a part of it, had it not merged with West Bengal.

An unusual thickness of the alluvium near Pondicherry indicates, it is said, that it was once an extensive lagoon, silted and uplifted. Beds of peat, at various places below the surface, prove that there has been subsidence. The Pondicherry area is the northern limit of the sediments laid down during the great Cenomanian marine transgression along the east coast of South India as recorded The Gazetteer of India for the Union Territory, referring to an article published in the Geological Society of India in 1965. Several changes took place in the past including changes in the course of the rivers and in the sea shoreline, which has become straight. The coast was flat and sandy.

The old jetty on the sea near the present secretariat, of which the remnants may still be seen peeping through the water like dying masts of a sinking ship, was destroyed by cyclone. This was the port where Sri Aurobindo disembarked from the ship Dupleix on 4 April 1910. After Pondicherry’s merger with India in 1954, a new pier was constructed, which may still be seen standing in-tact. But its structural deterioration was noticed in the course of time. Hence a new sheltered port was taken up for construction on the Ariyankuppam river mouth, which was completed in 1997. It is known as Ariyankuppam Port with more facilities than before, with a new fishing harbour.

But Ariyankuppam remained silted at the mouth. It did not flow into the sea. So an approach channel had to be dug to facilitate movement of burgers and other vessels. It may be partly for this and partly for the whim of the sea that erosion took place for some years denuding the seashore throughout the entire length of the beach beyond the eastern wall of the town. We do not find any perceptible beach even from Light House to the New Port where a beach recreational project like the Maldives Beach was proposed. There is no trace of any project fructifying here like many other projects which do not see the light of the day.

Though not very wide, people enjoyed the beach, bathing in the morning, sitting or walking in the evening, till some15/20 years before. The vastness of the calm sea denoting infinity, glued many on lookers and regular visitors to their seats, dipping them into their philosophic depth. Not that it is no more possible at all; the revival of the beach by nature, but the beach-less-ness, undue crowd and all sorts of hullabaloo on the promenade disturb the calmness of nature, sores the heart of a nature lover. The polluting distillery at the northern end was removed by court order. If it is true that a new entertainment package in the shape of hotel-wine-dance is going to take its place, then not only the surrounding of a natural sea coast but the deeper water below it will be heinously polluted.

A little more commercialism may spoil the game. Seashore may seem to be theatrical hall or market place for which enough spaces are available in other civilized parts of the world. The promenade has been free of vehicular traffic for all the evenings for people to enjoy the seashore. It is good up to that but with many eating options through hawker’s stalls and restaurants lined on both sides of the road and with entertainers on the stage, sweepers with broomsticks around, it is disturbing for those few who know how to drink nature by merging into it, who come simply for walk or to do other things for health, for regaining vigour. It is the duty of the nature lovers to stop the onslaught on nature.

Another disturbing phenomenon is the observation by the Coastal Ocean Monitoring And Prediction System (COMAPS) of the Ministry of Earth Science that the discharge of huge quantities of untreated sewage into the sea in Tamil Nadu and Pondicherry has been regularly polluting it. Reduced level of dissolved oxygen, different bacteria, nitrate, nitrite and phosphate are damaging the marine life, fishes in particular.

Nature has its own symphony, rhythm and cycle. For about eight months, from March to September, littoral drifts carry sands toward the north, as the deeper waves and for about four months the process is partly reversed, partly stalled due to the influence of monsoon. Dredging of sands from the mouth of Ariyankuppam river and sending them through pipelines by the port authority continue for their own purpose, as in many other ports. It may give some health to the beach but nothing is assured. It is said that due to dredging for the port activity some years ago the beach to the north of the port area was lost as the sea erosion became prominent. Coastal erosion due to wind and littoral drifting is a normal affair which regularly happens here as well as at Karaikal. And there are other reasons; global warming has induced the rising of the sea. If it comes closer the erosion of the town would set in.

It may be said that the town was completely saved, barring a little bruise towards the northern end of it, during the last devastating Tsunami in 2004. One of the reasons was the existence of the legendary French brick wall bordering the eastern end of the town and the other one was the divine grace. But there were damages to agricultural land and life and property to some extent towards further north. To save the town and to make up for the lost beech, authorities have constructed giant boulder walls with sand spread over them. A parallel road to the existing promenade has come up for people to walk. But it cannot be substitute for any natural beach. From the road it seems that the sea has gone further down. No one can easily approach the sea. Swimming has been prohibited as some have been drowned. We do not know what will be the reaction of nature in due course for this force-pushing the sea which has a tendency to rise. It may with double vigour enter into other unprotected part of the coastal area.

Restricting any permanent construction within 500 metres of the high-tide line, Coastal Zone Regulation notification was issued in 1991 under the Environment Protection Act of 1986 by the Ministry of Environment and Forest. But due to pressure from various vested interest groups, particularly industries, the rule was amended many times, finally to be renamed by the M.S. Swaminathan Committee in February 2005, as Coastal Management Zone. The committee expanded the coastal zone up to 12 nautical miles into the sea, ignoring the rights of the fishing and other coastal communities and the usual norms of conservation of nature. Sea is the greatest of heritage in coastal areas, not so much the two hundred or less years’ old houses. The onslaught of a proposed newer port with direct berthing facility may create more devastating sea erosion to the northern areas of the port, flashing the fishermen and their dwellings, inundating portions of the town. Fisherman communities, their state organization and other conscientious people have been strongly protesting against such a move.

To conclude, we must add that whatever has happened or happens, if one goes to the end of the last pier it will seem as if the open sea is level with him. The vastness is indeed enjoyable. Some sand also is visible in nearby areas. And the opposite side with back water, curved landscape, island and boats has its own beauty. It may be said that it is the best sea front of Pondicherry. From Pondicherry Environment by (c)Aju Mukhopadhyay, 2007

Thursday, June 12, 2008

The actuality of Human Unity seems a chimera. The difficulties abound

Contact Home 1968 - The global revolt Brief chronicle Events Asia/Australia > India
Forty Years Ago - A township that began with a dream

Sri Aurobindo* had the dream of an inevitable Human Unity and the Mother* had shared his dream of an ideal city.

“There should be somewhere upon earth a place that no nation could claim as its sole property, a place where all human beings of goodwill, sincere in their aspiration, could live freely as citizens of the world, obeying one single authority, that of the supreme Truth; a place of peace, concord, harmony, where all the fighting instincts of man would be used exclusively to conquer the causes of his suffering and misery, to surmount his weakness and ignorance, to triumph over his limitations and incapacities; a place where the needs of the spirit and the care for progress would get precedence over the satisfaction of desires and passions, the seeking for pleasures and material enjoyments....”

The day was February 28, 1968.At 10.30 in the morning on a barren plateau, close to a lone banyan tree, the youth of the world were invited to come and share in this dream and build a city that would become the cradle of a new Humanity. The Mother’s organ music wafted across the devotees from the Ashram and peoples from around the globe who came to witness the start of a new age.

The Charter of Auroville was read by the Mother in French. Thereafter, the ceremony of laying the symbolic earth in the lotus urn was commenced. The first ones to march forward were Kiran-di and Vijay bhai (Poddar). Kiran-di held the Mother’s flag and Vijay bhai carried the symbolic earth from the Ashram. Vijay bhai deposited the symbolic earth and a scroll being the Charter of Auroville into the Urn.

One by one, youth from the various states of India and the countries of the world marched two by two bearing the flag (with name placard) of the state or the country represented, and the symbolic earth. Many countries and states had sent their representatives for the ceremony. Where such representatives were not sent, youth from the Ashram substituted for the country or the state. After the reading of the Charter in French, the charter was read in other languages, Tamil, Sanskrit, English, Arabic, Chinese, Dutch, German, Greek, Hebrew, Italian, Japanese, Norwegian, Russian, Spanish, Swedish.

As the Charter was read in Tamil, Sanskrit and English in the background, symbolic earth was deposited in the Urn by youth representing each state of India in alphabetical order. Thereafter, during the reading of the Charter in Arabic, Chinese etc. (above listed languages) youth representing the various countries of the world (in alphabetical order) deposited symbolic earth in the Urn.

40 years later The city of Auroville is today at the threshold of a new age. Forty years in the making, the symbolic spiritual centre, the Matri Mandir, is now complete. The forests have been planted, water run-off bunded, small communities have taken deeper root, children have been going to school and now their children shout and play in the forests and grounds of Auroville. The first Aurovilians from around the villages have taken on a new role in the building of Auroville. Human challenges are now real and intense.

The actuality of Human Unity seems a chimera. The difficulties abound. Many of the pioneers who came harkening to the first call left due to challenging governance issues. There are new forces, new faces, new energies and new impetus. Peoples are coming, many are returning. (Courtesy: Sri Aurobindo’s Action) by Chandresh Pately

Fikrun wa Fann The cultural magazine aims to contribute to a dialogue between Western and Islamic-influenced cultures. Goethe-Institut India Top Home 1968 - The global revolt Brief chronicle Events Contact © 2008 Goethe-Institut

This is the first of the 100 Questions we will raise for generating awareness about the happenings in Auroville

AUROVILLE’s MATRIMANDIR: AN EYE OPENER
Published on June 12th, 2008 In Uncategorized, Politics Views 9 nandhivarman OPEN LETTER TO HUMAN RESOURCES MINISTER MR. ARJUN SINGH and AUROVILLE FOUNDATION CHAIRMAN DR. KARAN SINGH ON MATRIMANDIR SCAM

The Indian citizen is the Supreme authority in Indian democracy. To empower Indian citizens with powers to act as checks and balances against misuse of power, the greatest achievement, is armoring the Indian citizen with a Right to Information Act. Auroville Foundation is answerable to Indian Parliament; thereby it implies it is bound to answer any Indian citizen. Under Right to Information Act, as per the website of Auroville Foundation, in past three years only one had asked information, but they say that application is disposed of instead of being transparent whether answer is provided or not. All other years only “Nil” is shown against all columns. Hence I had sought information, and awaiting answers, since the stipulated time to reply has not come to an end.

Matrimandir, the temple which is being built from 1971 to 2008, yet to get completed, is one of the main areas, where Indian Human Resources Development Minister Mr. Arjun Singh must focus his attention. We in South India know that one GoldenTemple had come up in Vellore and another in Andhra Pradesh borders, built by Indian God-men. We wonder why the foreign brains which live under the illusion they are superior on Earth had not completed the Matrimandir for nearly 37 years. We suspect corruption. To substantiate our suspicion, we are quoting in verbatim the concerned pages regarding Matrimandir prepared by Institute of Public Auditors of India, as internal audit.

We urge that in Foundation’s website the Reports of Comptroller and Auditor General of India, since Auroville Foundation Act came into existence, should be uploaded, after all this Institution is not for foreigners and by the foreigners. The Chairman must answer, or the Secretary of the Foundation must answer to Indian public, and they cannot shirk responsibility and pass the buck to some foreigner, who is not answerable to Indian Parliament. This is the first of the 100 Questions we will raise for generating awareness about the happenings in Auroville and to ensure Government of India intervenes to effect amendment to Act and initiate corrective measures.
N. Nandhivarman
General Secretary Dravida Peravai
39 Montorsier Street, Puducherry 605001.

3.17 MATRIMANDIR
The Matrimandir, a huge sphere which contains a white chamber in which sun light pours down upon a glass globe, is both the geographical and spiritual centre of Auroville. The Matrimandir is a place of silence and concentration. The Mother approved the model of Matrimandir and the foundation stone there for was laid on the 21st February 1971. The major areas of work on the structure are under completion and attention is being given to the development of surrounding garden and a lake. Completion of main structure alone (sans lake and garden) is scheduled for completion in February 2007. The Matrimandir together with its gardens extends over an area of 28 ha. Mr. Roger Anger a close disciple of Mother has been named by her as Chief Architect of Auroville Town Ship and Matrimandir. It was stated The Mother has explained her vision of Matrimandir to Mr. Roger Anger and Matrimandir is being executed as per her vision.

A perusal of records made available revealed the following:
a) No Master plan based on Mother’s vision detailing implementation and monitoring mechanism, mobilization of resources, time schedule for completion etc. has been prepared for systematic and speedy execution of the project.
b) Before a project is taken up for execution, a project report is to be prepared containing inter alia, i) detailed estimate indicating the nature and volume of work to be done. This should be supported by designs, plans and other related documents. ii) The approximate cost of execution based on the above estimates indicating the cost of the materials to be purchased, labour charges to be incurred and administrative / other incidental expenses. The rates adopted would be supported by schedule of rates prevailing in the locality; and iii) The time schedule for the completion of each activity and the project as a whole.

Once this is prepared, this should be scrutinized by a competent technical authority who would examine its technical viability and its cost effectiveness. After the technical sanction, financial sanction of the nominated authority is to be obtained before the work is taken up.
c) It is observed that no such procedural formalities indicated in (b) above were adhered in the case of Matirmandir.
It is observed that the Matirmandir project cost would work out to several crores of rupees. A sum of Rs. 26.60 crores has been spent on the project to end of March 2005.
d) In spite of the huge volume of work and cost involved no detailed procedure has been laid down for preparation of estimates, getting technical and financial sanctions, fixing norms for calling for tenders/quotations and placing of purchase orders for procurement of materials, etc. The system of maintaining Measurement Books to record, measure and check measure the work done, which is a requisite in the execution of civil works is also not in vogue.

On 26th August 2003 the Matrimandir core group appointed a Consultant Engineer for Matrimandir Project and decided that henceforth all work proposals should be presented to the core group after they are approved by the Consultant Engineer. The Consultant Engineer desired that all work proposals sent to him for approval should be accompanied by:i) sketches/drawings approved by Shri Roger Anger, Chief Architect or site architects.ii) detailed estimated quantities of various items of workiii) detailed financial estimates supported by enquiries, quotations etc.The Consultant Engineer also named three site engineers for the project.
In July 2004 a cost estimate for completing the remaining works of Matrimandir building structure at cost of Rs.506 lakhs was prepared. It could not be ensured whether the approval of Consultant Engineer was obtained after following the above procedure laid down by him as the relevant records were not made available for verification.
It is observed that there was no provision in the estimate to incur expenditure on “Water proofing of hemisphere”. However, an expenditure of Rs.32.03 lakhs has been incurred to the end of October, 2005 on this item of work. Further, there was an excess expenditure over the provisions made in the estimate to an extent of Rs.62.30 lakhs to the end of October 2005 in respect of other items.
It is observed that monetary resources were not a constraint in the execution of the project as seen below:-
Year Fixed Donations received Expenditure Deposits (Foreign " Indian)
2000-01 75.16 lakhs 3.31 crores 2.99 crores2001-02 88.17 “ 1.84 “ 1.71 “2002-03 89.02 “ 1.36 “ 1.20 “2003-04 95.39 “ 1.99 “ 1.33 “2004-05 68.57 “ 2.41 “ 3.23 “
The work started in February 1971 involving an investment of Rs.26.60 Crores up to the end of March 2005 still remains incomplete and the Mother’s wish that “the Matrimandir will be the soul of Auroville” is yet to fructify even after 34 years.

Other observations: a) Refund of customs duty not obtained - loss of Rs.27.68 lakhs.
Matrimandir is eligible to import goods without the payment of customs duty on the production of essentiality certificate. It is observed that the goods were cleared by paying customs duty due to delay in the receipt of essentiality certificates from DSIR of Science and Technology Ministry, as non-clearance of goods would result in payment of demurrage charges. Under Section 27 of Customs Act, one year time is allowed in such cases for filing applications for the refund of customs duty already paid. In the case of materials listed out in annexure, it is observed that the Matrimandir lost a sum of Rs.27.68 lakhs on account of (i) belated receipt of essentiality certificates and belated filing of return for refund Rs. 1,94,124(ii) essentiality certificate recd. in time but filed belatedly Rs. 8,50,954(iii) essentiality certificate applied for in 1999-2000but not received so far Rs. 17,22,459 Total Rs. 27,67,537
There is no mechanism for effective follow up of receipt of essentiality certificates and refund claims.
b) Non-Maintenance of FC 6 Register. As per FERA, organizations receiving foreign donations in kind should maintain a separate stock register of such donations in FC 6 format. It is however, observed that Matrimandir receiving foreign contributions in kind directly is not maintaining FC 6 register. Further there is no system of intimating the receipt of foreign contributions in kind to Auroville Fund (Foreign Contribution Acccount) which complies FC 3 return of foreign contributions received in Auroville for submission to Government of India. As a result foreign contributions of Rs.12.09 lakhs received in kind during 2003-04 to 2005-06 did not figure in the FC 3 returns of respective years.
c) Non-releasing of funds.Foreign and Indian contributions received for Matrimandir during 2004-05 were not released to Matrimandir in full. Received Released Rs. Rs.
Foreign contributions 98,62,282 65,91,770Indian contributions 96,74,503 49,73,661 *
*including Rs.60,660 relating to 2003-04 The reasons for short release of funds are not on record. Matrimandir is also not being informed about the total contributions received so that is could plan the execution of works in time.
d) Gliding Equipment returned not reflected in the accounts.On the recommendation of FAMC a gliding equipment with accessories worth of Rs.8,00,806 received was returned in 2003-04 to the donor as they are not required at Matrimandir. However, this Transaction was not reflected in the accounts for the year 2003-04.
e) Materials lying outside Auroville not reflected in the accounts.A perusal of the Balance Sheet as at 31.03.2005 revealed that an amount of Rs.3,50,000 advanced to M/s Hindustan Safety Glass Ltd. paid on 24.04.1998 was shown as outstanding advance and the value of materials amounting to Rs.9,30,909 unloaded on 20.09.1997 at the premises of the company has not been disclosed in the accounts.
f) Depreciation of assetsMatrimandir has been under construction from 1971 and the work is still in progress as it involved different kinds of works viz. Inner Chamber, Inner skin, construction of petals, completion peace trees, etc. The cumulative cost of this project from 1971 amounted to Rs.26.60 crores as on 31.03.2005 and no depreciation has been provided on this asset. Though the project has not been completed as a whole and in principle no depreciation is chargeable, the assets created during the last 34 years would be subject to wear and tear due to efflux of time. Hence, non-provision of depreciation is not in accordance with the generally accounting principles.
g) Banking transations
i) As per Auroville Foundation Rules, 1997 all monies are to be kept in a bank account with State Bank ofIndia. It is however, observed that Matrimandir is having bank account with Karur Vysya Bank, Vysya Bank, and State Bank of India which is against the Rules of the Foundation.
ii) It is observed that Matrimandir requested the Foundation Office on 11.08.2004, to release a sum of Rs.25,00,000/-. As there was no sufficient funds in the account of Foundation, over draft facility was availed and Rs.25 lakhs was released to Matrimandir. For availing the overdraft the Foundation incurred an interest of Rs.47,470. It is however, seen that on 14.08.2004 Matrimandir deposited this sum of Rs.25 lakhs in one of its bank account for 3 months. Obtaining an over draft and depositing the same in term deposit account is not justified.
iii) It is also observed that moneys were transferred from one account to another in the last week of a month vide instances given below:-
Date of Transfer Amount Transferred Balance available From Karur Vysa Bank Date with S.B.I. To S.B.I (Rs.)
27.05.2004 1,50,000 31.05.2004 2,25,63430.07.2004 1,50,000 31.07.2004 1,75,70027.08.2004 2,50,000 31.08.2004 2,72,655
Note: There were no transactions in between these dates.
As transfer of funds after 10th of every month results in foregoing interest such transfers are to be avoided except in case of actual need.
For Institute of Public Auditors ofIndia Dated: March 22, 2006 (John Varghese) Secretary, Chennai Chapter

This entry was posted on Thursday, June 12th, 2008 at 6:20 am and is filed under Uncategorized, Politics. nandhivarman.indiainteracts.com

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

A camp at Van Niwas, the Himalayan centre of Sri Aurobindo Ashram, Nainital

In the hills
LAKSHMI BHAVANI The Hindu Young World Tuesday, Jun 10, 2008
A mom on a school trip? Check out her experience. Picture perfect: Lake Nainital

It was interesting to know that the regular school trip for our child this year was a camp to be conducted at Van Niwas, the Himalayan centre of Sri Aurobindo Ashram, Nainital.
I pictured falls from boulders, a slip down the rock with a fractured arm or two as a result. If not fractures, it would certainly be scraped knees, bleeding elbows and blistered feet and so on. This was one picture of anxiety which had given me the o dd idea to accompany my son to the camp in the first place. In addition to this, the memories of the study camp attended a few years ago at the ashram beckoned me to be there once again. Going up into the Kumaon Hills into the green wilderness, for a week from the pressures of city life, was also a pulling force. Hence when the call to the Ashram enquiring for the possibility of stay was graciously accepted, my joy knew no bounds.
Then the next manoeuvre was talk to my son about the idea of his mom being in the school trip.
May be he has the concern of eternal motherly instructions in regard to food and other such similar daily interventions as looked upon by a 12 year old. I made a deal that I would not bother him with motherly love. Actually there was no need for that, the teachers knew how to handle the children with flair. The children too are very good at doing things independently.

Thus I went with the children to Nainital. The sprawling ashram is situated at about 1000 metres above away from the busy Mall road and the Naini Lake. The steep slope to the Ashram which is 600 metres away from the main road looked daunting, yet the children sprinted all the way up. The wilderness around the ashram had an air of tranquillity. Rocking activity
Though I went just to be there to feel the quietude of the hills, I got involved in participating in the five-day rock climbing course and trekking along with the children. The camp had various activities in a well organized manner. The morning bell rang at 5.30 a.m and the campers are ready for the Keep–fit exercises by 6.30 a.m. The exercises in the open air set the tone for the active rock climbing in the forenoon and lead to the long trek to scenic view points in the afternoon.
After breakfast the children relaxed and played after which Shramdaan - where children cleaned and helped in the kitchen – took place. Rock climbing and a walk to the nearby jungle followed.
In the evening they had meditation class which was followed by dinner. They enjoyed the organised, disciplined way of life.
I found the rock climbing course an exhilarating experience, though the initial day was tiresome. The second day was a little frightful but I slowly became confident. Each day, I started with a little trepidation accompanied with hesitation whether I would be able to climb the rocks or not.
Of course some of the children did the climbing swiftly, and to be able to do the activities along with them gave a boost to the confidence. The entire five- day course taught me perseverance and encouraged me to stretch my limits.

Many times when a task looked difficult, I gave up as quitting was easier. Now I have learnt an invaluable lesson - once you are half way up the rock, there is no point turning back. It is difficult to go down too, so why not go up and finish the task? It’s the fear that makes one stop.
Rappelling was an amazing experience even though it looked frightening. But when one understands the technique, conquers the initial fear and takes the first step with trust, then the entire climb down is fun.
The long treks, which started from 4 km and stretched to 11 km, were exhilarating. There were the trips to the town too where knickknacks were bought at the Tibetan market.
All of us had a wholesome experience which indeed enriched our lives.

The Pondicherry which we visited this time is nothing like the Pondicherry we had lived in only a couple of years ago

sunayana.com Sunayana Panda’s blog Back from Pondicherry

We are just back from India and are still a bit jet-lagged, sleeping through the day and up all night. Although we are trying to get back to our normal London rhythm the impressions of Pondicherry are still very fresh in our minds, because the Pondicherry which we visited this time is nothing like the Pondicherry we had lived in only a couple of years ago. The pace of change is clearly visible and for once there are so many positive changes that we are still talking about them.

For a start, the beach road is unrecognisable. There is now a parallel road built over the rocks and there are more people walking on it than on the road itself. New Hotels, restaurants and cafes have come up at the far end, near the Park Guest House and there is even a stretch where palm trees have been planted on either side of the pavement. There are toilets at various places and garbage bins where people are likely to buy street food. “Le Cafe” near the Gandhi statue is all spruced up, attracting the wealthier tourists who can sip a coffee or a masala tea on the extended sit-out as they watch the locals strolling around with their families. Gone are the crumbling walls and moss-covered rocks on which the waves broke, sending up the salt spray as you had your tasteless coffee in a chipped cup.

Passing by the park at night we had to stop, so much we were struck by its beauty. The French-styled grilles now make it possible to lock up the gates at night. No, this was not that dark and shabby park which we used to see on our way back from our evening walk by the beach. This was a clean, neat, green cluster of gardens, lit up by a row of elegant lamps and an island of silence in the night.

The next remarkable feature of Pondy is the transformed Nehru Street. The pavements, at last, have been levelled up very neat paving tiles. The metal barriers have been taken out and there are far fewer hawkers sitting outside the shops, clogging up the pedestrian’s space. The new air-conditioned supermarkets are a pleasure to be in. On several occasions when we went to stock up on fruits and vegetables, as I went to the exit with my basket of melons and pomegranates I thought it was no different from shopping at Kingsbury in London.

And the railway station, that stinking platform and that dust-covered hall where you stood for hours to book a ticket? Well, all that’s gone. Now you have a shiny new structure with a cash machine outside, a clean and wide platform with electronic display boards showing you exactly where the coaches will be placed when you catch your direct superfast express to Bhubaneshwar.

Back in London, as we try to keep our eyes open after five pm, we hope that one day our we will be able to see our ultimate dream fulfilled when we will be able to walk on wide and even pavements in Pondicherry. Surely one day even that will happen when we will able to leave the scooter at home and walk down to the beach road, unhampered and unafraid of the traffic. This entry was posted on Thursday, February 7th, 2008 at 8:36 am and is filed under India.