The city the Earth needs,
The City at the Service of Truth
Who is She?
She, the Mother: Never and nowhere in the entire history of this earth has such a complete and integral incarnation of the Shakti taken place; this is a fact, an absolute fact. No past or present emanation or manifestation of the Shakti ever can compare to the Mother’s . She who, on any given day or night of Her material life, would experience such states of consciousness as most seekers, saints and sages, would not dream to reach in a lifetime, She was here for 95 years: here upon this earth, here amongst us all, here in a fragile human body, here to serve and here to work and here to act and here to call down a new age and a new being: a more complete and integral expression of the One. She, who poured ceaselessly and unconditionally on all She met Her love and care, Her knowledge and Her Force and Her power of Harmony, She who would gather every being, however ignorant or even antagonist, to Her bosom and place in the light of the One, She came to do Her Work: to open a passage and a way in our humanness for the next stage of evolution in Matter.
For this task She unreservedly gave Herself: She gave the example of total and thorough surrender and absolute dedication.
These are not mere words: explore the innumerable accounts and descriptions of Her actions and Her care, delve into the universe of Her own words and expressions, ponder what He, the Avatar, Sri Aurobindo, ever said of Her, then you will begin to sense the measure of Her Presence and Her Being.
And yet She will remain incomprehensible to the human mind.
In India we have the term “Shakti”, which encompasses many aspects and levels of expression: the Creatrix, the Energy-Force of Consciousness, the activating Power of the Supreme Paramishwara, the Mother of all beings and of all worlds, the Infinite, Detailed Puissance of Manifestation; it is also, in more immediate and practical senses, the energy that translates concepts and ideas into effective actions and concrete situations. It is sometimes understood as Prakriti, which is the infinitely resourceful force of Nature, whether of a terrestrial order or of another, subtler one, complementing the still vision and conception of the immovable spirit or Purusha. As a principle of effectuation, one may identify multitudes of “Shakti s ” in various domains and India teems with their forms and characteristics, associated with particular deities and concerns.
However, She, whom we name the Mother, stands above all, is free of all and embraces and surpasses all.
She, the Mother and He, Sri Aurobindo, She and He, He and She: And so She wrote: “Without Him I exist not – Without me, He is unmanifest.”
Their Work was to bring down the next principle of consciousness into the play of forces, that principle which is replacing the Mind at the helm of evolution.
This They have done.
And They have begun to hew the way into the most material consciousness, so that Matter itself will become directly conscious and expressive of the highest state of existence.
This last has been the Mother’s Yoga, Her adventure into the unknown through Her own body.
Through Her Yoga of the Earth, She has anchored the new consciousness into that of our material cells and showed the possibility of a thorough and integral conversion of living matter to the Presence of the One in all – That which cannot be named, nor defined but can be partially and gradually experienced by whoever turns wholeheartedly to the essential and eternal divinity in all that is. Throughout Her physical existence upon earth this time, She has shown and demonstrated by example and direct action the power of consciousness: how, with receptivity and dedication to the true
Consciousness-Force, all can be achieved in terms of ever progressive harmony.
First She and He, He and She, broke through the barriers of human consciousness, well above the highest realms of the mind, beyond all dualities and polarities and reached into the vibrant infinity of conscious plenitude. Returning They proceeded to open, illumine and permeate the planes, forces and beings of the mind and those of life itself, till They could set the grounds for a beginning of a collective realization. But the most arduous and brutal task remained, that of opening the sub layers of our condition, the caves of our obscurity, the dark fundaments of our humanness. Unbeknownst to the world at large, They delved and fought and strove relentlessly, till They could establish the very first signs and premises of a new being in Matter, a being that would grow in awareness and self-expression through the growth of its aspiration and receptivity to the Force of Truth. Then He withdrew on the other side of the veil that is called “death”, so as to set a base of action right besides the physical plane, while the entire responsibility of the actual progress was left with Her. Indeed She was left in front, apparently alone, to lead and guide and venture ahead and open the way and set the conditions for the passage, invoking and calling down a new Descent,
ceaselessly working at the purification and unification of Her own physical being and action. She widened and diversified Her immediate environment and propelled all around Her towards the future of the human race. Undoing all the walls of conditioning and refuting the division between Spirit and Matter, She affirmed and served and incarnated the true purpose of this manifest world, demonstrating that by union and unity only will humanity fulfil its mission. Not by strife nor by renunciation, not by domination nor by submission, not by competition nor by meek acceptance will mankind realize its true self, but by discovering and serving the truth of oneness.
The birth of Auroville and the Mother’s Yoga
Even though the Mother had long harboured the seed of a new creation upon this earth – a new man and a new city have been repeatedly attempted as heralds and promises of a yet distant future -, it was only then, only now, now that She could turn this “house of flesh” into a blessed abode for the One, at least in terms of experience if not as yet in form and tangible expression, it was then only that She could set in motion the process of a more collective step of accelerated and concentrated evolution, so as to prepare the cradle of the new being. It was then and only then that She could call forth the birth of Auroville. It could be but a tentative approximation, a first collective expression of human aspiration and urge towards a truer life upon earth, but it would eventually develop a capacity for self- realization, provided its participants kept the flame alive and growing.
And thus the Mother sent Her call.
The Mother, by definition, has innumerable children; yet there are those souls that have again and again followed in Her footsteps upon earth, souls that are no longer seeking for their own repose or liberation, but commit to the fulfilment of the eternal promise – when the whole earth will at last become the material site of living oneness and unlimited becoming.
To each She opened Her arms and gave Her blessings, even to those whom physical birth had temporarily blinded to their own truth of being.
She had already gathered around Her a few of Her eternal attendants, and been able to nurture and protect them so they could again, this time, assist in Her task.
But She knew that no one could, if She ever had to also withdraw, stand in front on Her behalf.
Auroville was born on the 28 th of February, 1968, just a week after Her 90 th birthday.
Two processes were simultaneously speeding up in Her own body.
She was visibly ageing.
And yet whoever entered Her immediate physical atmosphere experienced the concreteness of the Presence: all in Her and about Her was filled with Presence, there was only That, Conscious Force, Infinity incarnated, total wakefulness, absolute peace, unlimited love, direct knowing, inexhaustible strength, irrepressible power of harmony...
Both Her action and Her atmosphere were increasingly tangible.
There were more and more days when She would see hundreds of individuals filing before Her in Her upstairs room, in utter silence. At the same time She relentlessly pursued Her Yoga for the Earth, in the rapidly awakening consciousness of Her “cells”, Her physical, material aggregate, every part and organ and function undergoing a tremendous change of awareness and this caused extreme crisises, the contradiction becoming agonizing.
The more She advanced on this unknown path, the more She experienced the direct interrelatedness of everything and the more difficult it would be to communicate what existed beyond our words and thoughts and concepts, yet more truly and immediately than all of our routine-ruled existences.
She was in two worlds or two conditions at the same time.
Who could understand?
From the onset of their Work together, She and He had determined that one of the first objectives would have to be the development of a capacity to prolong the life of the body for as long as would be needed; not immortality as yet – for that was meant for another species, free from the present processes of reproduction and sustenance -, but an equilibrium of the cells that would allow for a harmonious continuation and self-renewal so as to serve the task to be accomplished. But this demanded an environment which was not available to Her and it gradually became obvious that She could not go on being physically accessible and active while concentrating on the requisites of this new Yoga – this concentration implied an
effective protection from contagion, and a measure of understanding, of perceptiveness on the part of her physical entourage, and such did not seem to be sufficiently available.
Meanwhile and in close correspondence with the march of Her Yoga, the entire world was as if rushed onwards and Her constant concern was to ensure enough harmony was actively spread so as to avoid destruction.
More and more men and women far away, as if by some internal invisible magnet, would be attracted by Her Force and, often bewildered and unprepared, would cross a threshold they did not know existed and find themselves responding to Her immensity and committing themselves to serve Her, ever and ever, come what may. But in Her close entourage, very few were those who were silent and receptive enough so She could still try and explain or describe or evoke Her growing experience of the new being, of the being yet to manifest, and of its consciousness. Most, however unwittingly, would meet Her with their habitual, unchanged humanness and throw on Her the ordinary formations of age and decrepitude and inevitable demise – of death. And She could not find anyone whom She could entrust with the task of organizing and orienting the outer work, such as the adventure of Auroville.
She, the Shakti above all, has access to the full knowledge of all processes; yet here, in a tiny precarious human body, She must still discover, uncover, identify those secret keys that have been set in living matter till the day comes when there is no longer any need for the intervention of death. She, the Shakti above, is the source of innumerable formations and representations of Her aspects and powers; and She, the Mother, can issue permanent emanations of Her conscious Presence as and when necessary and this She has done repeatedly for each of those She accepted in Her work of transformation. But collectively too, She has issued such emanations that would ensure a degree of protection and guidance – and this She has done for Auroville as well.
As Her Yoga progressed, She saw the need of withdrawing from the personal and of weaning Her children, teaching them silently to become aware of Her Force and Presence directly. In 1969, She found that the new consciousness had somehow taken root in the earth-atmosphere and started to play an active part in the general work and also to watch, almost as a coach, over those individual sadhaks and seekers who were receptive.
She began to delegate.
On the day of the birth of Auroville, She had written and read out its Charter: The Auroville Charter 1. Auroville belongs to nobody in particular. Auroville belongs to humanity as a whole. But, to live in Auroville, one must be a willing servitor of the Divine Consciousness. 2. Auroville will be the place of an unending education, of constant progress, and a youth that never ages. 3. Auroville wants to be the bridge between the past and the future. Taking advantage of all discoveries from without and from within, Auroville will boldly spring towards future realizations. 4. Auroville will be a site of material and spiritual researches for a living embodiment of an actual human unity.
After a while, those who had chosen to start actually living there, on this red barren plateau, asked Her for their basic guidelines: the challenges were high, the questions were many, what could serve as their laws of conduct and indicators of the progress to be made.
So, She half dictated and half wrote:
To be a True Aurovilian
The first necessity is the inner discovery by which one learns who one really is behind the social, moral, cultural, racial and hereditary appearances. At our inmost centre there is a free being, wide and knowing, who awaits our discovery and who ought to become the acting centre of our being and our life in Auroville. One lives in Auroville in order to be free of moral and social conventions; but this liberty must not be a new slavery to the ego, its desires and its ambitions. The fulfillment of desires bars the route to the inner discovery which can only be attained in peace and the transparency of a perfect disinterestedness. The Aurovilian must lose the proprietary sense of possession. For our passage in the material world, that which is indispensable to our life and to our action is put at our disposal according to the place we should occupy there. The more conscious our contact is with our inner being, the more exact are the means given. Work, even manual work, is an indispensable thing for the inner discovery. If one does not work, if one does not inject his consciousness into matter, the latter will never develop. To let one's consciousness organize a bit of matter by way of one's body is very good. To establish order around oneself, helps to bring order within oneself.
One should organize life not according to outer, artificial rules, but according to an organized, inner consciousness, because if one allows life to drift without imposing the control of a higher consciousness, life becomes inexpressive and irresolute. It is to waste one's time in the sense that matter persists without a conscious utilization. The whole earth must prepare itself for the advent of the new species, and Auroville wants to consciously work towards hastening that advent. Little by little it will be revealed to us what this new species should be, and meanwhile the best measure to take is to consecrate oneself entirely to the Divine.
- The Mother
This impersonal Consciousness-Force had reached far and wide and each of those who now came to Her was representative of a type of humanity, as well as of a particular sort of contradiction and to each of them She gave Her entire attention: She thus could give as unstintingly of Her Self to the hardened bandit as to the most cultured aristocrat; She would open the recesses of their hearts and reveal to them in a single glance the pure grace that resided within and above them.
She and He have changed the perspective of what is termed “spiritual progress”: to realize oneself, to r ise above the mind and become aware of the Infinite, to merge into the One Self of all, to
try and help mankind to unfetter itself from the yoke of attachment and physicality and find peace - such aims were no longer sufficient or even relevant, as the entire world was plunging into such upheavals and mutations as had never ever before been experienced. There is, They came to say, an intent and a purpose behind evolution and man, the human being as it is, cannot be its last stage. Man is great, man is vil e: humanity’s contradictions cannot be the ultimate realization of Nature’s forces - the Oneness that sustains all that is has not manifested yet. And so They explained and showed and demonstrated the real nature of evolution: each of its stages is led by a principle of consciousness, first came the Life principle, then came the Mind principle, and each had to develop to its utmost through the living species and specifically through mankind, with the help and agency of gradual individualization. And there is another, inner process, that of the birth, growth and development of the innermost being, which is pure consciousness – existence, love and knowledge -; at first it is but a spark, then a tiny diamond in the dark, secret in the deepest recess of the heart; then it slowly, through lifetimes and innumerable associations, matures and develops into a conscious presence, able to choose and to guide and to serve. This presence wi thin, She and He have designated as the “psychic being”, the child of the One, who is to serve the labor of transition to the next stage and act as the pure agent of the new progressive incarnation. This is, so to say, the framework, as far as the “objective” reality is concerned.
And this is the first discovery, the central key without which one cannot begin to serve Auroville.
For who, what part of us human beings, can know what it is to be the “willing servitor of the Divine Consciousness”?
Up until May, 1973, one could still hope to communicate with Her externally, through one of Her secretaries, or even on one’s birthday one could still be given the grace of kneeling at Her feet.
And She could still try and speak of Her experience of the true consciousness that is to manifest in Matter to a few trusted aides.
And then Her door closed to all, but a few attendants and eldest disciples.
Aurovilians had to learn and rely on whatever measure of inner sense had awakened in them and, if and when they had the time for it, on Their written teachings. Auroville was born international, beyond borders and cultural divides and each individual choosing to join had therefore to make a great progress out of one’s conditioning: the adventure of Auroville immediately brought up most of the issues and questions facing humanity’s limitations and it was merciless in its scope and exigencies. They had had the opportunities to ask Her a number of questions, already, practical as well as psychological ones; Her answers were always direct and to the point and She would give Her
blessings to every good-willed attempt and initiative turned towards the future, a future of conscious harmony in Matter.
Her wisdom was unerring and applied in every domain.
Nothing was to be neglected, everything was important.
She however repeatedly underlined the absolute necessity of being truthful, of loving and serving the truth in everything, in every movement and every situation; She said that without this condition being observed, Her protection would be impeded and noted numerous times that the new consciousness at work in the world was intent on it being thoroughly practiced so as to open the way into the future.
Many years before, She had issued a New Year message to the world at large: “Men, countries, continents, the choice is imperative – Truth or the Abyss.”
In so many ways She would warn that untruth is our worst enemy and can hide in each of us, its slow poison undermining all efforts at harmony. She would also warn that self-scrutiny is indispensable and no one has the right to impose one’s view as exclusive but must, instead, try and integrate all viewpoints into a progressive and inclusive practical approach.
She issued a number of statements, such as:
“I can work with you only if you do not say a lie and are at the service of Truth.”
This here is one of Mother’s last hand -written messages:
Auroville will become what it must be only if and when the people living there will stop lying.
She the Mother, She the Shakti, withdrew on November 17, 1973, at 7.25 pm, at the very minute the concreting of the four pillars of Her temple in Auroville, the Matrimandir, was completed. Her emaciated frame, with its fierce expression of concentration, was exposed for all to see until it was placed in a casket and laid
over Sri Aurobindo’s in the central courtyard of the Ashram, on the morning of the 20 th of November, in utter silence.
And now, what ?
Almost 49 years have passed.
As I write these pages, my laptop marks the date as 4/22/2022 – the 22 nd of April of the year 2022, and Auroville is experiencing what is perhaps its most crucial crisis; the year is also marked as the 150 th anniversary of Sri Aurobindo’s birth, which the present dispensation at the apex of the Central Government of India intends to celebrate demonstratively as a boost to its program of revival cum development. So far the Central Government was there as a protector, a guarantor and a benefactor; but it has recently shown signs of claiming the entire “project” as its own and being determined to manage it according to its criteria, with the help of its own machinery. Perhaps the fact that some of us have not only welcomed, but even invited this intervention out of their frustration with the lack of a unified vision for the outer development of Auroville, feeling entitled to do so as their service to its speedy materialization, has in the larger community taken on the character of a betrayal; it has reenergized the old divisive notion of “us and them”, and this has left everyone dazed and uncertain and prone to discouragement and doubt. So indeed, this would perhaps be a dual cause of distress: the heavy overtaking of a still fragile and fumbling collective balance by a blind exterior power fed with simplistic rules of engagement and conduct on the one hand, and on the other the consummation of a deep divide in our understanding or perception of the meaning and purpose of Auroville.
And this would be reason enough to try and call, in words, thoughts, feelings and commitments, the impregnable truth of Auroville. Certainly we each and all have failed Her in so many ways. Certainly we each and all have tried and served Her in so many ways. Who is to judge, who is to check the scales? Almost every time in the past that we followed the advice of trusted friends of Auroville and turned to the Central Government for help, be it legal or financial, we may have further compromised the destiny of Auroville; today the time seems to have come when this power claims its dues – and who are we to protest? Our schools have been funded by it, our built roads and some of our collective edifices have been financed by its grants; our remaining strengths in terms of independence and autonomy are that none of the lands have been bought with Government monies, nor most of our residences and infrastructure, services and productive units; but of course a Government has all the rights and as more than ha lf of us are of “foreign” origin, we are but tolerated on the soil of India and have no say. Auroville is actually 54 years old. There are about 3.500 permanent residents and on any given day of the year there are many thousands more actively participating - employees and workers, relatives, guests and visitors. Not many of us who were amongst the first inhabitants are still here; many have died; many have moved away and come back, or not returned yet.
Children born in the early years have in turn become parents and grand-parents. Over 50 nationalities are represented presently, with about half the extant population being Indian born and more than half of that hailing from neighboring villages. Every year that has passed has brought its batch of entrants, with their respective traits, understanding and baggage. As no hierarchy could be set, no central authority identified and no conclusive way of governance could be found – as yet -, the entire collective must therefore constantly adapt and reconfigure itself and try to integrate the imports – world-views, habits, learned techniques, expectations – carried in by each of these newcomers, while trying to maintain, sustain and develop a dynamic of progress towards a truer life upon earth.
Today, in the name of development, the threat looms vividly of it all being leveled down.
Each of us wonders, how have we come to this, how have we become so weak and confused?
No one ever said it would all be sunlit and easy: She warned, the way may be arduous at times, it may take many years, but Auroville will be…!
Yet there is this doubt: have we, by dint of our own failings and insufficiencies, moved out of the Protection?
For it is not just a matter of this band of privileged human specimen, each with their complex personality and burdens, attempting to become receptive to a new consciousness and a new order of manifestation: it is a matter of some proportion, however infinitesimal, of this living humanity, willingly turning to the true future of the earth, with aspiration and genuine self- giving, so that it can be changed and made sufficiently responsive for the new being to begin incarnating. We are not here for our own self-realization but as servitors, willing to offer all of their human condition and substance to the Force and the Light and the Consciousness that are working everywhere to open the way, in Matter, to a lasting, ever progressive harmonious equilibrium.
Thi s is our “dharma” , the law of our existence.
Have we, then, neglected it, obscured it? Have we, absorbed by the constant flow of day to day preoccupations and concerns, incidents and instant challenges, let it be veiled and become dormant?
Any collectivity will be traversed, energized and occupied by tensions: tensions between apparent opposites, apparently irreconcilable viewpoints, competing urges and drives and mismatched interpretations of common objectives; She and He have shown us where are the tools of consciousness to build a growing harmony – and these tools are within us. Thus we have little excuse for being so tardy and even less for indulging in divisive posturing.
We cannot blame the wrong political or social system, or the narrowness of any doctrine: we have us to blame only.
Of course, there have been many waves of assault, and much pollution and damaging infiltration have taken their tolls, which were not and are not within our field of progress, or, rather, have not risen from our domain of experience: the formidable and monstrous growth of consumerism all over the world is but one of the sources of erosion, waste and loss of ethical standards all around; and whatever we as a community were able to achieve as an example of integral progress and a more balanced way of life is rapidly being besieged and contaminated by the mounting tide of greed and callous, careless “development”. But have we not lacked practical wisdom and clear-sightedness, have we not favored our own comfort over the need to contribute actively to the future of our neighbors, for instance? She, the Mother, would never give orders, unless She was certain of the capacity, ability and receptivity required to follow them. Whenever the occasion was given Her, She would say how She wished this or that to be, to happen, to proceed, but She would not insist when the response was not forthcoming or when She saw other formations were being driven; She would simply then give Her blessings – with the caveat that Her blessings were always and invariably for the realization of the truest possibility, whatever that would be, and however long it might take.
So often we tend to behave like orphaned blinkered brats: we have Their immense knowledge at our disposal, we have access to Their conscious Force, we enjoy Their care and the absolute clarity of Their vision and yet we pick from the shelves Their cut-
out sayings and use them as projectiles, indignantly protesting the others’ ignorance.
But we forget that our given playground is sacred: Auroville is sacred, in the sense that She, the Shakti, has dedicated it to the “Supreme Lord” – as She would call That which cannot be named and yet is our source and our one goal – and so it belongs to the Divine, and no lesser power can claim it, nor should we misuse it. Today it is plain for all to see: this gigantic, hybrid, gracelessly assembled creature crouching upon the Earth, sniggering… “you will all come under my control or be destroyed…!!!” And from its perspective, Auroville is neither welcome nor well- appreciated – and so we have had our share of adversity, from without as from within. She has conceived and given birth to Auroville in such a way that it has in-built properties and vibrates in unique frequencies, so to say, much like a receptor and amplifier in th e world’ atmosphere : none of our actions may be particularly heroic, none of our products particularly sublime, but each carries that vibration, which is connected directly to the Force of the new consciousness and, in that fashion, we have a greater responsibility and the demand on us is greater for purity, integrity and receptivity.
Let us never forget that Auroville is an adventure, it is for trying, experimenting, making headways into the unknown, for a future worth all the troubles and the throes of evolution.
Whoever we are, or happen to be, in the moment, we are humanity seeking its plenitude and unity of being.
Let us hold on, no matter what, let us hold on when the going is rough, let us hold on even when it all seems to derail, in the very actuality of our faith and perseverance is our power of progress and fidelity to Her victory.
And since the central purpose of Auroville is to form and establish the required environment for the cradle of the new species, we know what we need to realize collectively: a milieu of solid peace and living, ever responsive harmony, ever perceptive of its needs.
Divakar – Auroville, April 25, 2022.
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