SAIIER 2013:Savitri Bhavan
Savitri Bhavan research projects
- 1 Activities
- 2 Highlights of the year
- 3 Future Perspectives
Savitri Bhavan continues its work as a centre of research and education for Human Unity, focused on the vision and teachings of Sri Aurobindo and the Mother which underlie the aims and ideals of Auroville, and especially Sri Aurobindo‘s Savitri, which the Mother has called “The supreme revelation of Sri Aurobindo‘s vision”. Interested Aurovilians, newcomers, guests and visitors, and students of Auroville and Outreach schools, individually or in groups, are welcomed to participate in the programme of regular activities and special events and to make use of the facilities that have been established to foster and enhance appreciation and deeper understanding of the lives, work, vision and writings of Sri Aurobindo and the Mother.
10 regular classes, courses and activities are conducted at Savitri Bhavan each week, with an overall average regular attendance of 35. Special events such as exhibitions, guest lectures and presentations, musical offerings and films are also held throughout the year. Orientation sessions and workshops for guests, student groups and newcomers are held on request.
The Mother’s Yoga exhibition
Every February, Loretta presents a major exhibition of rare photographs of the Mother, organized around a particular theme. In 2013 the theme was “The Mother‘s Yoga 1956-1973”. In addition to photos, Loretta had collected many texts from the Mother‘s Agenda. These texts were also published in book form.
Learning materials supporting the educational activities of Savitri Bhavan are collected and created. For example, audio and video recordings are made of several of the classes and special activities which are used as the basis for learning materials to be supplied to interested individuals and groups around the world. Learning materials are shared with students, researchers and interested members of the public at Savitri Bhavan itself through the Reading Room, the Digital Library and the Savitri Bhavan Archive, which has a lending and copying section, as well as through the House of Mother's Agenda, housed at Savitri Bhavan since 2006.
Two journals of Study Notes on Savitri are published regularly – Invocation in English, which is distributed free on request at Savitri Bhavan and mailed to 2500 addresses around the world twice a year in April and November; and Prarthana in Tamil, mailed to 800 addresses in Tamil Nadu in February and August. From time to time books are published in English or Tamil.
Supporting the other three areas of activity, members of the Savitri Bhavan team are engaged in a variety of research projects. In 2013-13 seven major research projects were undertaken, producing research papers and learning materials for use at Savitri Bhavan and for publication or distribution.
Highlights of the year
While these basic activities of the Bhavan continued expanding satisfactorily over the last 12 months, the highlight of 2012-13 has been the completion and inauguration on September 2012 of the Savitri Hostel, constructed with support from private donors since April 2010. The purpose of the Hostel is to be able to offer simple temporary accommodation to people offering their services at Savitri Bhavan as volunteers, teachers or researchers. This long dreamed-of possibility of offering accommodation in return for work has brought a rich influx of dedicated volunteers over the last 6 months, which has enabled significant expansion of the Bhavan‘s activities, especially in the area of creating new Learning Materials for distribution.
This year too an important publication was produced: the 600 page hardcover book Savitri: the Golden Bridge, the Wonderful Fire, a collection of essays by noted speaker and author the late Dr. M.V. Nadkarni which cover the whole of Savitri. This book has received great appreciation from Savitri lovers; the first print-run has sold out and a reprint is in progress. Members of the team also participated in the research for and preparation of the second volume of K.D. Sethna's Writings on Savitri, entitled Collected Comments. This book was released at Savitri Bhavan on October 28 2012 by the publishers, the trustees of Clear Ray Trust. Another book was published in Gujarat: Gujarati translations of the edited transcripts of weekly classes given at Savitri Bhavan, The English of Savitri. There is growing interest in and appreciation of this series of classes from people interested in understanding the poem better, and translations of the transcriptions of the sessions are being undertaken also in French and German.
Knowledge Management System
With the assistance of a French volunteer, Benoit Auneau, graduate student in computer science at the Nantes Polytechnique, the groundwork for an internet-based Knowledge Management System for Savitri Bhavan was set up under the supervision of JV Avadhanalu. This KMS is intended to link researchers and students around the world in working with and developing the learning materials and study aids available from Savitri Bhavan. In particular a new on-going research project, the Savitri Encyclopedia, which was launched this year together with ex-students of the Ashram School, will be facilitated by the establishment of the new KMS.
Apart from the completion of the Hostel, some technical infrastructure developments over the past 12 months are helping Savitri Bhavan to move towards its aim of sustainability. The drip-irrigation system installed in 2011-12 with the help of Pierre from Buddha Garden was considerably expanded in 2012-13. Through it re-cycled water from the extended waste-water treatment plant is now being used to maintain the gardens all around the complex. This has meant that despite the opening and occupancy of the Hostel, water-use has not increased over the last 12 months. Also, with the input of Sunlit Future a solar-powered back-up system was installed for the 1st Phase building housing the Reading Room and Digital Library, where several classes are also held. As a result, activities in the Reading Room are no longer dependent on direct TNEB power supply, which allows them to continue uninterrupted even during extended power-cuts, without overloading the UPS which supports essential functions in the main building.
In the last 3 months of the year two valuable consultancies were offered by qualified volunteers: Vijay Erasala, Management Consultant, interacted with members of the team and made an analysis and recommendations for increased efficiency and affectivity in the work. Cindy Dalgliesh, invited to advise on project-writing and fund-raising, introduced the team-members to the possibilities offered by the Internet and especially social-networking media, for sharing the work and needs of Savitri Bhavan more widely.
Over the course of the year it has become increasingly clear that the research and activities being conducted at Savitri Bhavan are becoming the base for creating Learning Materials and Study Aids of lasting value which can be shared with interested individuals and groups around the world, reaching many more people than can be directly reached at Savitri Bhavan itself. The creation and dissemination of such materials will be an increasing focus of the work of all departments in the coming years.