Aurovillage 24 B
Updated: Feb 17, 2022
This part is about one of the most difficult issues in Auroville: racism and colonialism.
It is difficult because
most Western people do not want to be confronted with even the remotest possibility that they might have conditionings that lead to automatic, racist expressions;
many Indians are generally still very drawn to the West, and look up to Westerners in many ways; the next best thing if migrating to the West is not an option, is to come to Auroville, “the West in India”; this reverence of Western “culture” and whiteness is equally uncomfortable to openly admit, and therefore even bluntly denied as the Western conditioning to be racist and colonial;
many Tamizh Indians have a life-long experience of being a lesser or oppressed culture, being looked down upon by non-South Indians and Westerners; most of them don't have the social and financial position to be able to speak up: speaking up makes things only worse, it gets you into social isolation and an argumentational pickle that can only backfire;
racial bigotry is so entrenched, and certainly in Auroville, that talking about it is as effective as talking to a brick wall; mentioning racism will only lead to a toxic combination of denial, making excuses for instances of racism, counter-accusations and obfuscation.
People on the receiving end learn quickly to just keep quiet and live with it (hoping it will somehow disappear one day).
For Westerners, it simply doesn't exist. It is as big a concern as making sure that the sun will rise tomorrow morning. It is as visible as air, it is what water is to a fish: so normal, natural, ubiquitous, self-evident, basic, deeply part of existence that talking about it is laughable or childish. It is not worth one second of their time: we all know that the claim of good-willing, nice Westerners being racist is ultimately just a conspiracy theory. Claims of racism are made by incompetent non-Westerners to hide their incompetence and blame it on something else. The End. I cannot repeat enough that every system of abuse thrives because the people who BENEFIT from the abuse are allowed to deny the existence of the abusive system. For centuries, if not millennia, the superiority of the white people over any other creature on this planet has been repeated and repeated and repeated, it has been “scientifically proven” and materially manifested with the help of brute violence. The dominance of Western thought and “culture” over the whole planet today is the most blatant proof that it is true: white people are superior. That very long karma has resulted in white superiority now simply being part of the genetic set-up of Westerners. It is not literally in the genome, but it is a foundational principle that is present in every single aspect and expression of Western society. After such an immense amount of time, it does not need to be consciously expressed anymore: it's in every breath and heartbeat of every Western person. It will be expressed automatically, unconsciously, unwantedly, unintentionally. But it is not because something is unintentional, that it doesn't exist.
However, the near-eternity of total societal acceptance of this arrogance, combined with the total denial in public of it existing – except for some politically abused moments – have created a situation in which Westerners feel totally fine with never ever looking at it. And if ever they get a tiny bump in the road, the finger is immediately pointed to discrimination present in other cultures. It is all brushed away, people who bring up the topic of racism are sidelined and marginalised, and so every person they meet agrees with their point of view.
Now to come back to the situation in Auroville, if anybody has still some curiosity and possibility to look neutrally at situations: how acceptable, normal, spiritual and valid is the claim that Western Aurovilians have the inalienable right to get a long-term visum from the Indian Government, based on nothing else but the fact that they are registered on the Auroville Masterlist? Because that is what is being defended here at the moment.
The Government of India, it seems, has been progressively more alarmed about the situation in and negative reports about Auroville over the past years and decades. When the Prime Minister was invited to Auroville on the occasion of the 50st birthday, these reports must have reached to the highest levels. The government has come to the conclusion that leaving Auroville to the Aurovillagers is no longer acceptable: there's no accountability and no noteworthy result that justifies the immense exceptional status given to these people. The reins that Dr. Karan Singh, as the Chairman of the Governing Board for most of the last 30-odd years, had almost fully let loose, are therefore suddenly and firmly taken back into a strict guiding hand. Whether you like that or not is your choice. But pretending that this is not happening is showing signs of ill mental health. Of too much kool-aid and a too devotional belief in a false cult narrative.
And still: the vast majority of western Aurovilians, joined by a few Indians (mostly privileged, upper cast and upper class Indians), apparently believe that their superiority is beyond dispute, and that any action against their presence in India is a dishonest abuse of power. The way the Secretary is treated here in public is simply despicable. Disgraceful: it is of a level that proves beyond any doubt that Aurovillage is the complete opposite of what the Mother stood for and promoted: a higher life, more conscious. What is being displayed here is a low, medieval mob mentality. And it doesn't end there: we also claim the moral high-ground at the same time, to add insult to injury. Do these people really believe they will get away with insulting a high-ranking IAS officer in her own country? It is literally as if they still live in the British Raj, where Westerners could mock any Indian, up to the Maharajas, without consequences. I am not defending any kind of political or bureaucratic hierarchy or authority, but the reality is simply that she has this standing in India and will be respected for it to one extent or another by almost all Indians. How can foreigners here then think it is acceptable for them to denigrate her, call her names, slander her, publicly boo her? Are they really not able to grasp that we are not British in Britain here, not Frenchmen in France, nor Germans in Germany, nor “We The People” in the USA? The logical repercussions are now coming, not just because of the absence of basic respect, but also because of the obstruction of government-approved public works, capped with the added insults and false claims spread to the media internationally. The government is questioning why on earth these people are allowed to behave like this in India, and the result of that questioning has now been the shortening of visum durations and demanding a signed declaration that the Masterplan work will be accepted. The reaction of Western Auroville is to burst out in the most dramatic screams of indignation and victimhood. Oh, the audacity of the Foundation to even DARE give the Aurovillagers the feeling that they are only immigrants in India! The insult to their soul! How dare anyone suggest that they don't have the god-given right to live here for as long as THEY please! Don't take my word for it, see for yourself. Here are some expressions of their indignation, posted on our internal forum. (You will easily recognise my commentary that I gave at the time of the posting.)
« Dear Working committee, We have been informed of a new addition to the form foreigners need to sign in order to get their recommendation for obtaining their visas. According to that, foreigners have to “abide by the Master plan of Auroville based on the Galaxy plan conceived by the Mother and gazetted by Government of India, based on which the Auroville city will be developed and built.” This 4th addition to the 3 first ones is scandalous.
[Note: this is in reference to the points listed in the new declaration form: I fully understand that I am required to
abide by the Charter of Auroville, The Dream, and A True Aurovilian;
abide by the laws and the Constitution of India;
abide by the Auroville Foundation Act, 1988;
abide by the Master Plan of Auroville, based on the Galaxy Plan conceived by the Mother and gazetted by the Government of India, based on which the Auroville City will be developed and built.
The four objections below are only about the 4th point above.]
1. Mother never made acceptance of the galaxy concept a prior condition for admission, so how can someone overrule her? 2. The secretary has no right to set such conditions without consulting other three bodies. 3. Moreover no one has the right to set new conditions when Mother already spelt out what she regarded as essential conditions. 4. It creates an unacceptable difference between foreigners and Indians in terms of admission. In the light of the above I would like to know what the working committee intends to do in order to protect Aurovilians foreigners and to stop that dangerous initiative. I thought the foundation was eager to attract more people from Auroville. With that new condition, it is unlikely to! What are you going to do when people will refuse to sign the form? We have all agreed to be (try to be) servitors of the divine, I am not sure many will accept to be servitors of the present administration. » Reactions from others on this post: "That's ridiculous ! Are they trying to enforce a religion onto us?!"
"It has the feeling like going back to the SAS days when they asked us to sign an oath of loyalty to them. This point 4 has never existed in the past, or anyhow, only in the recent past it is added. The first three point are the original and in the true spirit."
"Unbelievable! This must be fake..."
" “The world will not be destroyed by those who do evil, but by those who watch them without doing anything.” ― Albert Einstein I don't know how much longer we can afford to watch this tyranny unfolding. Will a small inner-circle group supported by the Foundation bully us into signing, obeying and implementing their own master plan of action?"
"But that 'small inner-circle group' consists of AUROVILIANS.... How can they continue playing this atrocious game....?? Don't you love Auroville?"
"My sense was that this "pledge" that people were coerced to sign happened completely on the Foundation side, likely at the "recommendation" of those WC members who have chosen to be adversaries of the RA. Think about it – it's more religious fundamentalism, yes? And who does THAT sound like? Certainly NOT the Residents Service. And while Entry does have "power trippy" tendencies, I feel quite sure that they would have informed us if they knew about this "coercion initiative"."
"I hope no one signs this shameful piece of paper..." "If true, this is pure discrimination in terms of race, creed, and nationality, certainly against the human rights agreement by India and against India's support to UNESCO for Auroville..."
"From THE CONSTITUTION OF INDIA:
14. Equality before law.—The State shall not deny to any person equality before the law or the equal protection of the laws within the territory of India."
"In which country are the foreigners the ones who dictate the visa conditions to the government?
Oh, yes, in the colonised countries. Sorry, I forgot about our divine right to colonisation for a second, silly me!
The level of delusional is really not having an upper limit here, is it? I'm going to spell it out one more time in order to try to wake people up: there are three options: either we agree, either we leave, or we will be asked to leave. Being a colonial isn't an option anymore. I know it hurts to have delusions shattered, but that's part of growing up."
"How is it colonial to refuse to swear by the master plan?? I really don’t get it. This is your delusion.
But I have enough faith in India for believing that if we explain our stand to sensible and sensitive people of the government they will understand."
"Over the past months it was repeated over and over again that "nobody is against the Crown, nobody is against the Galaxy". Ask to get that in writing, and you're suddenly an evil darkness false Mother culti authoritarian power tripping dictatorial anti spiritual ego fascist.
But then again, we're in Aurovillage, the Teenage Mini-forest at the Service of Hypocrisy. It's expected behaviour, really. If you look at what's come out of here in the last month, you would think the very last patch of the Amazon rain forest was being bulldozed. Giving realistic accounts isn't really what we're known for, is it?"
I suppose you get the gist of it. Not only the 70s are kept alive in Auroville, the whole 19th century is cherished. Here is another example of the level of Western Auroville's public discourse, based on my account of what a friend of mine (Indian) experienced in the newcomer program (“Yucca”) a few years ago: In a room filled with Indians aspiring to join Auroville, two members of the Entry Board are giving explanations about Auroville and the process of joining. Both are older Westerners, just like the organiser of the program who is also present. To the approving nods of the two other Westerners, the older lady explains to the group of Indians that it needs to be harder for Indians to join Auroville, “because the Westerners have left everything behind to come here”. Feel free to read that again a few times, until you really get the situation. If you are Western, try to feel what it would be like to be in such a position: imagine you are an Indian in India, and then these Westerners tell you that YOU have to be discriminated against in favour of the WESTERNERS when trying to join a township in YOUR motherland India over which THEY claim authority.
Now here's the reaction of the program organiser when I confront him about the incident above: “Completely and definitely blind about what you evoke for Yucca”. That's it. Blunt dismissal, nothing to discuss: it did not happen apparently. Or it was totally not what it was. That's how Westerners react when confronted with racism and colonialism: it's not true, and not even worth discussing. Here is the same person reacting to the fact that there is a festival being organised for the “birthday week” (Mother's birthday and Auroville's birthday are exactly one week apart: 21 and 28 February), and that it has “Unity 2022” as its theme: “If there could be a huge reaction from a large majority of Indian residents be they from one side or the other, against the pressure that is being put on foreign residents by the Secretariat of the Auroville Foundation... Unity could be celebrated, all the rest is masquerade and bavardage.” [Bavardage is French for useless talk.]
So now the Indian residents (mostly Tamizh), since forever treated as second or third class Aurovilians – only allowed to join Auroville because it's really not possible to keep all of them out without making Auroville an openly colonial project –, now these people need to come to the rescue of the colonisers. They are all but absent in all the propaganda that Aurovillage has created to boast its “success” (that's all about how “the Westerners came to save” this place from its own stupidity, Auroville has a lot of 'the white man's burden'under the surface),but the Indians and Tamizhs now need to defend the Westerners from facing the consequences of their arrogance and idiocy, because... well, because Westerners need to be revered always and everywhere apparently. White privilege needs to be upheld, no matter what. God knows what will happen if this most basic eternal law would be violated! Probably total collapse of the universe, at the very least. Indians who are supporting the current actions of the Foundation Office will no doubt be themselves termed “racist” by the Westerners: they already call these measures “division” and “discrimination”. Because we live in an upside-down world here, obviously. Without sarcasm: these Western Aurovillagers claim, in all seriousness, that without them, Auroville cannot exist, Auroville will collapse, Auroville is “finished”. That if they were asked to leave, Auroville would no longer be Auroville. It would be some aberration, a distortion, an abomination, nothing of any value, a dark anti-Auroville populated by asuric Indians. Because only THEY can create the True Auroville. Moreover, Auroville needs absolutely to be “international”, as per Mother's words. She never gave percentages of nationalities that needed to be present, and as long as the French and Germans were the vast majority of Aurovilians, it didn't matter, but if the Indians would become the vast majority, oh la la, the whole core idea of Auroville goes down the drain! According to these twisted minds anyway.
I can understand if you think that I'm exaggerating, but I ask you: don't believe me on my word. Read what they write online, come and listen to them: you can witness all of this first-hand. It is evident for me that the unchallenged, unquestioned, unpunished neo-colonial life here has emboldened most Westerners to the point of insanity. We have been allowed to be rude and dismissive to India, Indians and the Tamizhs in particular, always. Even today, it's just normal. And I am ashamed to admit that I speak from experience. I myself am not free at all from this indoctrination. It's so normal as a white person to be superior, to own the world. It's handed to you wherever you go. It's so natural to be arrogant. So I came here with that same arrogant, superior attitude. And at the same time, I was very scared of contact with the Tamizh people initially. I was nervous to sit with them, because they were “foreign”. Xenophobia is part of our Western set-up, it's the most normal reaction we have. We brush all of it away with “I came to live in Auroville, not in Tamizh Nadu”, or “I do not need to have a talk with these simple people who do not understand anything of the ideals of Auroville, or the spiritual teachings of the Mother and Sri Aurobindo.” They're anyway villagers, from a backward rural area. Let's just ignore them as much as we can, and be their boss if we have no choice and are forced into some relationship with them. From what I have seen later on, I am convinced that the Tamizhs would have much less difficulty in creating Mother's Dream, as there is a natural humility here that removes the biggest obstacles to societal change.
It took me many embarrassing moments to get to see my own arrogant idiocy. It is still taking time. It is a long process to get such deep-rooted impulses out of your system, no matter how much you understand the fundamental reality that all human beings are absolutely equally valuable.
And I know, also from experience: TELLING it to someone does nothing. You cannot reason with indoctrination. It takes experiences – moments that first scratch, then crack, and finally burst the bubble – in order to be able to see this nasty reality.
It feels like the wrong moment for this message. The Aurovillagers and their followers are already too shaken up and have already put up the highest walls of denial and arrogance in their defence of the unwanted reality. How could they take even more? They are already turning the most blatant simple reality of the Auroville Foundation Act upside-down. How would they be able to even consider dealing with their deepest, most hidden and unwanted realities like neo-colonialism?
But it is exactly this denial that has led to so many of the current problems that we are dealing with in Auroville. We cannot even begin to resolve them if these underlying issues are not addressed. A world based on Truth cannot exist as long as the tiniest spot is hidden from the Light.