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UNESCO speech 1966

At the Topic::UNESCO General Conference held in Paris during October and November Year::1966 the Government of India sponsored a resolution on Auroville. Author::Shri Poushpa Dass (India) presenting the resolution, made the following speech.

A little more than 50 years ago, Aurobindo, a young and ardent partisan in the struggle for the liberation of India, moved by the Grace while the prison of Calcutta where he was interned, came to take refuge in the South, at Pondicherry, then a French territory. There he took the decision to give up all political activities so as to consecrate himself to a life of concentration and meditation. Very soon disciples came to join him and thus was created one of those astonishing spiritual communities known in India as ashrams. There Sri Aurobindo lived, meditating and writing. There reigned around him, by his subtle influence, an atmosphere of deep faith and peace of heart. From all parts of the world people came in search of ‘That, knowing which we know all the rest’, and where one single look of the Master changed the entire life.

From 1926 Sri Aurobindo, who had retired from active life to enter into the silence of the sages, confided the direction of the Ashram to an early disciple, – a French lady – who thus became the Mother of the Ashram. Since 1950, when the Master left his body, the Mother animates this astonishing collectivity where ‘the multifarious play of life’ goes on alongside the most implacable renunciations, where people, carrying in their secret heart the nostalgia of that immutable serenity which shines on the faces of sages and happy souls, mingle in the atmosphere of intense work and joy.

They are 1,200, coming from all the corners of the world: engineers, architects, foremen, doctors, advocates, accountants, teachers, artists, agriculturists, and simple folk – all of them exercise the same productive activity for the good of the community that they have joined, in the same way as they would for their own good in their ordinary social life. Thus they form a vast industrial and commercial collectivity with its stadium, swimming pool, hospital, play-ground, school, cinemas, foundries, its workshops for mechanical constructions and prefabricated concrete, its press, automobile workshop, bank, stores, dairy farms and poultry farms, etc...

But each member of this collectivity observes the strictest mental and physical discipline and consecrates all the available time to physical development, to study, and to meditation. It is an endeavour, unique in the world, to reconcile the highest spiritual life with the exigencies of our industrial civilization. All the members of this Ashram lead at the same time a strictly normal external life, healthy and active, alongside an intense inner life.

Those from the West who have come into contact with the Ashram have been struck by the nobility of the aims that are followed and the moral bearing of its members. Gaston Berger, notably, whom we all know here as a strict intellectual, was very much surprised to note “the identity of preoccupations” between the Prospective groups of which he was the animator in France and the Ashram of Sri Aurobindo.

Now this extraordinary institution, unique in the world, by its natural progression, seeks on the occasion of the 20th Anniversary of our organisation and in harmony with its aims and principles, to enlarge its action and to radiate still further. It wants to regroup, in a vaster centre, a real town where people of the entire world will be ready to live according to the ideal of Sri Aurobindo's thought. It will be a town of beauty, of culture, of research, where each one will be able to live in harmony and freedom. Topic::Auroville, for that will be its name, will stretch some kilometres from the north of Pondicherry. It will be on the Coromandel Coast, facing the Bay of Bengal – a vast territory covering 20 sq. kilometres, offering, by virtue of its geography, an infinite variety of possibilities for housing. An area of great natural beauty will be preserved intact all around the city. At the centre of the town there will be the Park of Unity, a circle of gardens, overhanging a lake.

All this, you will say, is a mental construction, a dream. But does it not awaken an echo in the greatest depth of our soul? Don't we find there again that marvellous world of our hopes of long ago, the kingdom glimpsed and then lost, the castle where the beautiful Princess sleeps, expecting the look of him who will awaken her? Don't we all carry in some part of our secret heart, the nostalgia of that immutable serenity, of that pure light, of the indefinable joy which radiates on the face of those happy beings and sages, of that smile which illumines the face of the Buddha?

Since those who live at Sri Aurobindo Ashram approach a certain perfection and marvellous plenitude, why should Auroville be different? For, in fact, the will to live, the ‘aspiration for happiness’ and the desire of an incessantly renewed quest translated by the great questions “Why am I here? Where am I going? Do I have an aim? What is the meaning of my life? What is my own position considering the fact that I exist and I live?” are the only references which will ever be demanded for entry into Auroville and the only baggage truly necessary to sojourn there. All the rest will be given, including the spirit of sacrifice, faith, hope and love.

That is why the Government of India wish that the General Conference, acting in conformity with the aims of our organisation, whose ideals we solemnly reaffirm on this 20th Anniversary, give to this unique and exceptional project – in some respect unprecedented – its moral support and its confidence.

See also