Updated: Jun 21
There should be somewhere on earth a place which no nation could claim as its own, where all human beings of goodwill who have a sincere aspiration could live freely as citizens of the world and obey one single authority, that of the supreme truth; a place of peace, concord and harmony where all the fighting instincts of man would be used exclusively to conquer the causes of his sufferings and miseries, to surmount his weaknesses and ignorance, to triumph over his limitations and incapacities; a place where the needs of the spirit and the concern for progress would take precedence over the satisfaction of desires and passions, the search for pleasure and material enjoyment.
In this place, children would be able to grow and develop integrally without losing contact with their souls; education would be given not for passing examinations or obtaining certificates and posts but to enrich existing faculties and bring forth new ones. In this place, titles and positions would be replaced by opportunities to serve and organise; the bodily needs of each one would be equally provided for, and intellectual, moral and spiritual superiority would be expressed in the general organisation not by an increase in the pleasures and powers of life but by increased duties and responsibilities.
Beauty in all its artistic forms, painting, sculpture, music, literature, would be equally accessible to all; the ability to share in the joy it brings would be limited only by the capacities of each one and not by social or financial position.
For in this ideal place money would no longer be the sovereign lord; individual worth would have a far greater importance than that of material wealth and social standing. There, work would not be a way to earn one’s living but a way to express oneself and to develop one’s capacities and possibilities while being of service to the community as a whole, which, for its own part, would provide for each individual’s subsistence and sphere of action.
In short, it would be a place where human relationships, which are normally based almost exclusively on competition and strife, would be replaced by relationships of emulation in doing well, of collaboration and real brotherhood.
This is the text the Mother wrote in 1954. She called it “A Dream”. She added to it:
The earth is certainly not ready to realize such an ideal, for mankind does not yet possess the necessary knowledge to understand and accept it nor the indispensable conscious force to execute it. That is why I call it a dream. Yet, this dream is on the way of becoming a reality. That is exactly what we are seeking to do at the Sri Aurobindo Ashram on a small scale, in proportion to our modest means. The achievement is indeed far from being perfect, it is progressive; little by little we advance towards our goal, which, we hope, one day we shall be able to hold before the world as a practical and effective means of coming out of the present chaos in order to be born into a more true, more harmonious new life.
In 1954, the concept of Auroville was nowhere on the table yet. But due to its description, and the fact that the Mother said in 1966
You say that Auroville is a dream. Yes, it is a “dream” of the Lord, and generally these “dreams” turn out to be true – much more true than the human so-called realities!
has resulted in the fact that Auroville uses this text almost everywhere in its publications, to explain why the Mother created Auroville. Funnily enough, the mention of the “Sri Aurobindo Ashram” is often left out (on Auroville's main website, for instance), as that clearly shows She was not talking about Auroville. Also, Auroville, over the decades, has had huge antagonism for the Ashram, due to the fight against the Sri Aurobindo Society and Satprem's involvement in this fight. Satprem held immense resentment for the Ashram until his death in 2007.
The Mother has never re-dedicated Her Dream to be about Auroville, but it is generally accepted that Auroville can use this text to describe the society that Auroville, as well as the Ashram, is striving to become.
The text is also featured prominently in the exhibition of Auroville's Visitors' Centre, where guests are introduced into Auroville's background and meaning. In this exhibition, three pictures are added, to illustrate the Mother's words.
Now here's one of the pictures. I wonder if you had the same kind of images in your head when you were reading the text.
Is this what you imagined when reading about this ideal society? Would you also add this kind of picture if you were asked to illustrate A Dream? I'm betting you would not. It seems obvious that almost everybody would have totally different images in their head when they read such lines, and not this kind of extremely anecdotal, dated photo, depicting a quite particular and peculiar moment in time.
What do we actually see?
We are looking at scaffolding, with two persons on it. A white, adult male, barely dressed, sitting next to a young, local boy. The white male looks smilingly at the boy, who looks down, smiling shyly. The Western man is bare-chested, dressed in a tiny short, and in a posture that makes the very small pants open a suggestive peek into the man's private parts. The man is showing an interest in the underage local young boy.
Whose dream is this?
What actually was happening there, at the moment the picture was taken, is of no importance. We are not given any explanation, and the photo is used simply as an illustration for a text about something else. So we cannot have any idea who these people were or what the exact situation was. It doesn't matter at all, as we are given this picture not as an instance in the life of the people in the picture, but as an illustration of a text of the Mother. The only thing that matters is what the picture by itself shows us, what we actually see. And what we see is highly suggestive, and not in a positive way. The picture hangs at eye-level for me, and I'm six foot tall. So for a large part of the population, it will be above eye-level, meaning they look up towards the picture.
For anybody with a little bit of a sense of the world, and especially in a culture that is promoting LGBTQ issues 24/7, it reminds of sex-tourism promotion, of gay travel guide pictures. It smells of grooming. For people unaware of such realities, and for Indians, particularly the Southern ones, it will be an unexpected display of nudity and innuendo, even though they might be unable to formulate it.
We can all try to explain away what we actually see, but that is not our responsibility. The people who chose such a picture as an illustration of a text about paradise on earth are responsible for showing us what we are shown. And it can be expected that in a place that prides itself for its spiritual foundation, even the slightest possibility of misinterpretation of what is being depicted would have been enough to discard it.
When Auroville has been in the news for pedophilia and child abuse, for colonialism and lawlessness, could we not expect that the Aurovilians would be extra sensitive to anything that might hint at such a reality?
Not the Aurovillagers, clearly. They have no issues here, and see nothing wrong with putting such a suggestive picture in the middle of the Mother's words about an ideal society.
When confronted with the fact that something might be wrong here, the reaction is – predictably – that one needs to have a very nasty mind to consider anything might be off here.
Anybody who is familiar with Western pedophilia scandals and the mindset that allows for such horrors, will know that pedophiles never see anything bad in what they do, never see the torture they inflict, and always will describe the children as “angelical”, “innocent” and “adorable”, in spite of all the discomfort or even terror in the children's eyes. It's the same mindset that makes rapists claim that their victims were actually 'liking it' and 'wanting' to have sex with them.
It is the same with colonials, and with Aurovillagers. It is a mentality. An indoctrination. Society allows for the perpetrators to excuse away reality, to paint it with a huge pink brush into something it clearly is not, and to pretend that what is actually THERE, in our face, isn't. The Dalai Lama is a holy person, so when he asks a boy to “suck my tongue”, the reality of the insanely inappropriate and disgusting actual fact is pushed aside, and everyone is hoarded into pretending that what we see is not real. As one keen journalist said in a very good article about this issue:
What’s also scary is that while this man enjoys diplomatic immunity, power and fame, he had no scruples displaying such behaviour at a public event! Who knows what must go on behind closed doors?!
Articles like this one show that finally, after centuries and millennia of sheepishly following along with whatever the “leader” claims our reaction has to be, humanity is finally waking up to see what actually is in front of our eyes, instead of what we are told that we should be seeing. We are finally becoming the child who cried “the emperor has no clothes!” Throughout the history of Western society, that child would in reality have been killed on the spot, instead of making all people wake up and laugh. Now we finally see the first possibilities of Andersen's ending of the very iconic fairy tale becoming true in real life.
But it is a very huge task, the indoctrination and hypnotism has poisoned the root of our being. We are trained to feel extreme discomfort when not following the herd, not following the orders that have been planted deeply in our subconscious mind since birth. Western people have been trained to believe they are superior, and that their interactions with other races or peoples are always beneficial, no matter what we actually do to them.
I think nobody lives in the illusion that on the 15th of August 1947, all British colonials suddenly understood that colonialism was a bad thing and that they had done immense harm, on the scale of crimes against humanity, by colonising India. On the contrary: most will have been extremely angry and sour and left India totally begrudgingly, not understanding why this was happening. The end of the British Raj was not the result of a growth in consciousness, of an awareness on the side of the perpetrators. It was the result of the victim growing strong enough to stay “stop”. The physical power over the British was always there, India was always a hugely populated country and could always have overpowered the colonials, even if at great cost. The reason that the Brits were allowed to colonise India was because the Indians believed their excuses and their nonsense, and ended up believing that there was nothing wrong, that it was “for the best”. It was not physical strength that allowed England to colonise India, and it was not physical strength that liberated India. It was the internal conviction, the emotional and mental courage to stand up for herself, to all unite in this understanding that the abuse would never end if the Indians would not force the British to end it. Whatever the colonials understood, believed, saw, experienced, or were convinced of was of exactly zero importance. India saw the reality for the ugliness it was, and acted accordingly.
The same goes for the Auroville colonisation: these people will not understand that they do something wrong, as they were indoctrinated to not see or acknowledge the abuse, but to on the contrary think of it as something good. The fact that I'm being told that I am the only one who takes issue with the picture (even though I'm not at all the first to notice it, this picture had been flagged by a very keen and grounded Aurovilian already shortly after it was put up some 7 years ago), shows that there is no space here for introspection or contemplation: it's full on the defensive, justifying what should in any circumstance be seen as very inappropriate as totally normal, proclaiming that everybody has to simply accept that this is morally correct instead of very disturbing, and that on the contrary, the person who sees the unwholesome reality and denounces it, is the one with the sick mind.
In the same way that India could not wait for the British to finally see that what they were doing to the Indians was immensely immoral, criminal and monstrous, so too Auroville cannot wait for the Aurovillagers to come to their senses and see what damage they have done to the Mother's project. For all we know, just like with the Brits, most of them will never see it at all in their lifetime, and it will be left to future generations to 'get it'.
It is not possible to change such convictions overnight. It will take a lot of time. But nobody can accept an abusive relationship and wait until the perpetrator has come to his senses and stops being abusive. The victim has to pull out of the abuse and say “no more” whenever they see it, regardless of whether or not the perpetrator is going to introspect and 'get it'.
And that is what is happening in Auroville right now. We are saying “no more” to the hijacking of the Mother's project. Aurovillage has overspent its welcome in India, and changes urgently need to be implemented.
And so they are. Here's to a thorough clean-up. Cheers!