Updated: Feb 14, 2022
What I call “the cult” is the group that from the very beginning of Auroville put forth the practical, real life expressions of what it means to be an Aurovilian, what Auroville is or isn't, what Auroville is meant for and meant to be, and what you need to think if you intend to join Auroville.
Logically, they will use all known emotional tactics to bully people into accepting whatever they say, and into behaving the way they decide that people in Auroville need to behave.
This group may have changed over time, many original members are still there, many have gone and many new ones have joined. It only depends on buying into the belief system.
As with any project that leaves people with no understanding of human nature and societal conditioning to their own devices, the small group who came “first” (revered as the holy “Pioneers”) made sure their wishes became the dominant attitude, from the very start. That's what lower nature does: it is more violent than higher, more spiritual attitudes, so it will dominate the society naturally: it has less self-restraint and allows itself to do things higher attitudes will not accept. (The same goes for the dominance Western culture has on the global society: it has always been the most ruthlessly violent, simply obliterating anything that opposed it, and therefore was always bound to eventually dominate the whole world.)
The main issue is not the individuals (although they are obviously crucial to keep it going), but the narrative and the bullying in itself. It is a system that functions like a vicious circle, or a self-fulfilling prophecy: by its very nature, it keeps enforcing itself on new members, who have no option but to adopt it, with time start accepting it as normal, then see it as needed, and end up enforcing it on others.
In the beginning and just like Western society, the cult could be quite openly violent. It may be difficult for younger persons to imagine the level of isolation Auroville had in the first decades.
Only a few hundred people, physically isolated from any other society. Imagine a place in the middle of nothing with no social media, no computers, smart-phones or even old fashioned phones. Only letters, which took anyway a long time to reach. There was virtually no contact with the outside, unless someone physically came and looked at what was happening. There were no motor bikes. Who would be able to know exactly what was going on here unless they actually LIVED here? Who from outside could monitor that? Who was going to bring repercussions if stuff wasn't as it was presented?
Just look at what happened in the war with the SAS: it all was very violent and still there were hardly any repercussions, any real understanding of what was happening, and in the end all was rather “normal” or “justified”. And accepted.
Can anyone imagine the feeling these people must have had when they were granted this total freedom from the very remote Delhi government? If not Kings of Auroville, maybe Presidents of Auroville? Lords with a license to rule as they pleased?
How could all that ego boosting NOT end up in the total opposite of what Mother's Dream was meant to be? It was all justified, excused, brushed away with the oh so sweet narrative of a different kind of society, a new dawn, a new and better way of life, a deceptive image of positivity and rainbows. While Mother's City was put into the waste bin, and every push for the real Dream corrupted over and over again with endless meetings and “democracy”. Every time creating a “compromise” that was further away from the truth.
Nowadays, open violence is obviously no longer possible, so the tactics have changed. What is called “non-violent communication” is so cherished here in Auroville, because it gives the cult the claim of having the moral high-ground while forcing new members to adopt and adhere to the cult narrative. The violence in "non-violent" is namely taken physically only: we are not shouting! We are caringly passive aggressive, lying with a smile, quietly making endless insinuations and allegations, softly misrepresenting facts, bending reality upside down with the gentlest of touches, pushing you slowly into a very high level of frustration that probably will make you blow a fuse and then: success! We have now proven that YOU are inferior! You lost your temper! You are not as spiritual as WE are! So we are right and you are wrong! You'll learn not to disagree in time, you'll feel the benefits!
In the end, Aurovillage is, unsurprisingly, a complete miniature copy of Western society. The fact that cult tactics are used on a very large scale in our present day global culture, makes it very hard for many people to clearly notice and understand that Aurovillage is based on this lying and bullying: we are trained, wherever we are, to accept such cult behaviour as normal.
And that closes the circle: the new arrivals either see reality as it is and leave, or they accept the cult narrative and stay.
Luckily some still stay, even though they can sense or see the falsehood of what presently is called “Auroville”.
One remark: normally cults depend on the finances and labour of the members, and therefore constantly recruit new members. Aurovillage doesn't function like that.
The main reason is that the status of king of the kingdom is an enormous boon in today's world. The freedom of self-governance, which in practice has been allowed to be almost total license here, is priceless. On the other hand, the cult does not need an army of new cult members for their material comfort. The material gain is not as big as the freedom is, though not unimportant. Financial scheming and diversion of funds is absolutely part of the cult since the start, but it doesn't need cult members to keep that stream running: it's done through deals with outside entities.
The other side of that coin is that you can very easily leave Auroville, in contrast to other cults. That is obviously for the same reason: the most important asset of the cult is its image, international even more than national (at least according to their line of thinking now). And to preserve that image, the main need is to have reality shielded as much as possible from critical viewers. Have you not noticed how inimical Aurovillagers are to visitors and guests? “Outsiders” should stay away from Auroville, and people who are critical of what happens here need to be shooed away as soon as possible.
And many are. Over the years, so many people have left Auroville, either after their first contacts with the Entry Group, or during their Entry Process, or after a few years of being here.
The structure in place is meant to make sure that we remain a tiny, manageably small group of cult members, and that people who don't like Aurovillage and its hypocritical narrative stay away as far as possible. So they don't threaten the cult and its beautiful, magical image, carefully crafted over many decades.