It was back in 1972. I was teaching a course in eastern religious disciplines at a small School in California. One day in class. a question came up about Sri Aurobindo. At that time, I didn´t know anything about him or his work. I got curious, and asked a friend if he was familiar with the subject. He said; you do not know? He is the man who did it all, you better educate yourself fast. And I did.
I started by reading a book by Robert McDermott, a summary of the work of Sri Aurobindo, published in connection with his 100 anniversaries.
(Sri is a more formal title of a spiritual leader. Sri Aurobindo, was originally from India, taken to England for education. When he came back he started taking active interest in the politics of India’s freedom struggle from British rule. He wrote all these texts, influencing the freedom movement.
Later, spiritual experiences guided him to a life dedicated to spirituality and yoga. He withdrew from the politics and moved to Pondicherry, Tamil nadu, where he evolved a new method to spiritual practice, he it named the Integral yoga.
You know, Yoga means connection. It is about life, all life is Yogi. Life is a continuing phenomenon, beyond words. With words, you are stuck in one language, stuck in your mind; you need to go behind the mind to understand life, the magic of life. Sri Aurobindo meant the world needs a balancing force.)
It was in this period I first heard about Auroville. I went to the culture center in Los Angeles, were I met a women who told me about the mother and about Auroville and, how the mother influenced by the ideas of Sri Aurobindo planned creating a place which would serve as a beginning of this balanced force. She said they are going to do it. I was totally impressed; I felt I had to found out more, I had to go there.
I was a filmmaker at that time and I decided to do a film about Auroville. I contacted a new age film company in the states, who at first were interested of my idea. But in the last minute they changed their mind, asking me to go to Bali instead and screen a film there. I knew if I had gone to Bali, life had come in the way, and I had probably never gone to Auroville. So I went to Auroville anyway.
It is a sad story actually, I came to Auroville and it was nothing there. Just bare land, no water, no trees, nothing. The people where walking down to the sea, collecting water and carried it back up on their heads. There was no place to hide from the sun. The only thing we could do was to plant trees.
I´ve lived here since. I am 72 years old, I enjoy it, if I had not lived all these years, I would not be able to do what I do now. I like the feeling of walking around in Auroville and see all these things I have been a part of creating, trees I planted and houses I built.
Written by Anna Kjellerstedt, Linnaeus University, Sweden