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Auroville is not a Facebook game

A zero-competition experimental town near Pondicherry comes alive on canvas in the Capital

art and culture Updated: Sep 15, 2012 00:59 IST
Soumya Mukerji
Soumya Mukerji
Hindustan Times

As you get ready to rush out and face the race, somewhere 2000 kms south, mankind is waking up to no stress, no traffic, no worries. And it’s not on a holiday. In Auroville, a mostly self-sustaining concept town in Viluppuram, Tamil Nadu, every person — nationality no bar — does what they love, in exchange for services others are equally passionate about. You’re still going to work, but you choose it for yourself and do it at your pace, with no forced 9 to 5s and no bosses expecting you to butter up.

And so, Aurovileans are all peace, all smiles and all creativity, and happy to bring that vibe to Delhi. Transformation, an art exhibition that’s part of the Auroville festival, is their attempt to show the world how the good — or great — life can be lived without material greed and cut-throat madness. Take the case of Priya Sundaravalli, an Aurovilean who is showcasing her pottery here. “Inside Auroville, it’s never about money — there’s a basic sustenance allowance for everyone from any community service they’re engaged in, and life is simple, so you really don’t need much. I once exchanged an artwork with someone who ran a nice restaurant in Auroville — for a fine meal there. Money does not make that world go round, a common spiritual connectedness does,” she says. That is not to say, however, that’s it’s some sort of a religious cult, clears the town’s international advisory board chairperson and noted author Sir Mark Tully. “The principle behind Auroville may be to reach a supreme spiritual consciousness, as Sri Aurobindo and The Mother (Mirra Alfassa, Sri Aurobindo’s spiritual collaborator) had envisioned, but it has nothing to do with any religion — in fact, its very premise is freedom that leads to contentment,” he says.

The Aurovilean diaries

Anu Majumdar is a writer who has earlier worked at a construction site, food distribution and as a dancer-choreographer. She lives with her artist-husband Pierre. “Here, you don’t work to make a living or for success in the usual sense. By that, the relationship with work and with money changes, and work is measured both by the joy it brings, and by what it can contribute to the collective,” she says.

Chali Grinnel lives with her two sons and teaches at one of the many schools in the town. “Teaching here is of a universal nature — anyone any age — however old or young, is free to come to school, since we believe learning happens at all ages,” she says. After school, she goes cross-country cycling.

When Priya Sundaravalli is not busy sculpting in her studio, she is teaching. “Ironically, I was born in South India, but came to know about the place only when I went abroad for studies.” It’s been many years since she moved back, and says life is comfortable here. How are her artworks sold? “Some pay in kind, others, even outsiders, offer whatever they can. That is enough to fund my shows in India and abroad,” she says.

The central idea of works at the show is the same as that behind the town — human unity. These are some works from the Anarchic Being and Water Beings series on display

Catch it here




On till Sept 21


10am - 7pm


India International Centre



NEAREST METRO STATION: Khan Market on Violet Line

First Published: Sep 14, 2012 18:49 IST