Auroville is recognized as the first and only internationally endorsed ongoing experiment in human unity and transformation of consciousness.
UNESCO passed a unanimous resolution commending Auroville as a project of importance to the future of humanity in 1966, thereby giving their full encouragement, inviting the member-states to participate in its development. UNESCO again endorsed Auroville in 68’, 70’, and 83’.
Auroville was established with the purpose to realize human unity in diversity. During early the 1960’s, as the idea of Auroville transformed into a reality, it became a calling that resonated with the internationalist ideas of a newly independent India and echoed around the world igniting the aspirations of a generation of young seekers and visionaries, many of whom are still actively engaged having committed their lives in service to humanity and the planet. Auroville rose in visibility and prominence when the concept of Auroville was put before the Govt. of India, which gave its backing and took it to the General Assembly of UNESCO.
- Nationalities 53
- Population approx 2,700
- Residents 2,400
- Newcomers 300
- Residents aged above 18 1,900
- Residents aged below 18 650
- Indian residents 1,080
- Scholars/Volunteers (annual) 1,200
- Visitors (daily) 500 to 5,000
- Schools 10
- Students 550
- Outreach schools 7
- Outreach Students 800
- Health centers 2
- Health center patients annually 12,000
- Dental clinic & sub-centers 12
- Dental clinic patients annually 4,000
- Outreach work villages 80
- Education / cultural centers 36
- Education / cultural center students 1,800
- Health facilities 6
- Health facilities patients (annually) 6,000
- Village self-help groups 350
- Self-help membership – women 5,300
- Self-help membership – men 700
- Settlements 130
- Planned surface area (acres) 4,942 (20sq kms)
- Plan area owned by Auroville (acres) 2,349 (9.5sq kms)
- Plan area needed to purchase (acres) 2,593 (10.5sq kms)
- City area owned (acres) 1,111 (4.496 kms)
- Greenbelt area owned (acres) 1,238 (5.01 kms)
- Other land owned by Auroville (acres)* 1,200
* Watershed, farms, forest
- Installations ** 500
- Homes / offices using solar energy 250
- Settlements relying on alternative energy only 36
** Solar Panels, Solar Pumps, Bio-Gas, Wind Generators, and Steam Generators
- Acres of afforested land 1,250
- Trees planted 3,000,000
- Income generating units 153
- Service units 75
- Employees 6,000
- Major projects Tamil Nadu 25
- Major projects Other States of India 14
- Outreach to countries internationally 30
- Countries hosting AVI Centers 31
Today, Auroville can being an early example of regenerative design culture. From the beginning Auroville has also been concerned with and practically researching sustainable living and the future cultural, environmental, social and spiritual needs of mankind. As such, Auroville boldly demonstrates what is possible when people work consciously with each other and with the earth united by shared ecological, social-economic and cultural-spiritual values.
Sustainability is not enough, the earth need regenerative, evolutionary cultures. Auroville applies the regenerative model to urban environments, buildings, economics, industry and social systems. In all aspect of life, seeks to apply waste free holistic frameworks and processes that restore, renew or revitalize. The objective is for systems to operate with absolute effectiveness, integrate the needs of society with the integrity of nature, allow for co-evolution of human species along with other thriving species.
Regenerative design applied at scale requires an informed, committed culture, consciously adapted to locality and region. As such, the Auroville community stands as dedicated educators and stewards of the environment. Significantly, from within the community there has arisen evolutionary change agents who take what is learned at Auroville and outreach to the world. We explore together how to live in ways that contribute to transforming humanity’s impact on the earth, in shifting from being predominantly destructive to being regenerative.
Auroville functions as an egalitarian society, intentionally non-political, without designated leader or fixed formal hierarchy, a system that fosters a creative anarchy where major decisions emerge from group consensus. The community believes in equal social and economic rights, and advocates for human unity and community participation in an evolving governance system.
All land, movable and immovable assets of Auroville are vested in the Auroville Foundation. Headed by a chairman, the Auroville Foundation is an autonomous body under India’s Ministry of Human Resource Development. Day to day activities are managed by a Secretary to the Foundation, also appointed by the Government of India, who resides in Auroville, with an office and supporting staff. The Ministry of Human Resource Development also appoints the seven members of a Governing Board (all prominent Indians in the fields of education, culture, environment and social service) and five members of an International Advisory Council (chosen from among people who have rendered valuable service to humanity in the areas of Auroville’s ideals).
The general management of the affairs of the Foundation is vested in the Governing Board. Its task is to promote the ideals of Auroville, to review and approve basic policies and programs, to secure the proper management of all properties, to prepare the master plan and coordinate fundraising. Most of these functions are executed in consultation with a Residents’ Assembly.
Auroville’s Residents’ Assembly consists of all the residents of Auroville aged eighteen years and above. The powers of the Residents’ Assembly are to advise the Governing Board and to make proposals for approval by the Governing Board. It also has the power to grant and terminate the right to residence in Auroville. The Act prescribes that a Working Committee of the Residents’ Assembly shall assist the Residents’ Assembly and the Governing Board in discharging their duties under the Act.
The powers of the International Advisory Council are advisory only. When giving advice to the Governing Board, the Council endeavors to ensure that the ideals for which Auroville have been established are encouraged. Its past members have included: M’Bow, Director General of UNESCO; J.R.D. Tata, Industrialist; Dr. Ervin Laszlo, Club of Budapest; Dr. A.T. Ariyaratne, Sarvodaya Shramadana movement (Sri Lanka); Sir Mark Tully, BBC; among others.
Day-to-day the residents of Auroville are allowed the freedom to grow and develop activities and institutions which further the aspirations and programs envisaged by the Charter. Running of the township is in the hands of various working groups whose members are selected by the community through a recognized process. These groups, covering areas like community coordination, city planning, finance, education, green work, health, etc., operate with a considerable degree of autonomy. Major decisions are usually taken at meetings open to all residents or through Residents Assembly decision making process.
Regenerative culture requires a philosophical context. Regenerative culture as practiced at Auroville incorporates an evolutionary philosophy/spirituality, one that recognizes that nature and humanity must be cooperatively integrated with both having purpose and direction towards ever-greater expression of “universal Spirit”. The work of Sri Aurobindo translated the concept of spiritual evolution into a spiritual practice. Leading his community in the practice of “integral yoga,” Aurobindo was the first to synthesize the modern understanding of evolution with the timeless revelation of enlightenment, and pioneered the idea that human beings are capable of aligning their lives with the trajectory and purpose of the universe itself.
Auroville was founded by Mirra Alfassa, a native of France and spiritual collaborator of Sri Aurobindo, one of India’s most famous modern philosophers and renowned freedom fighters. Sri Aurobindo recognized her as his co-equal and she came to be called “The Mother” (a title of veneration) of the Sri Aurobindo Ashram. She carried on their mission after his passing in 1950, taking charge of the community which gathered around them at Pondicherry, a French enclave in Tamil Nadu, South India.
Mirra Alfassa’s vision for creating a more ideal society with new forms of collective and individual life had been her longstanding aspiration even before 1954, the year she wrote “A Dream”, which holds the bases for what would become Auroville: “There should be somewhere on earth a place 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….”. In the 1960’s, she began work to establish Auroville, which she named after Sri Aurobindo, with the additional French meanings of “aurore” (dawn) and “ville” (city). She wrote: “For those who are satisfied with the world as it is, Auroville obviously has no reason to exist”.
In 1964, the Sri Aurobindo Society”, with Mirra Alfassa, as its Executive President, proposed a governmental resolution for the establishment of a city dedicated to Sri Aurobindo’s vision of: “a higher and larger consciousness … the solution of the problems which have perplexed and vexed [humanity] since [it] first began to think and to dream of individual perfection and a perfect society.” The resolution was unanimously passed by the Indian Parliament.
A site, much of it barren wasteland, a result of deforestation by colonial powers, was chosen for the city; approximately 12.42 square miles (20 sq. km), 6.2 miles (10 km) north of Pondicherry, and 3.1 miles (5 km) from the coast.
Auroville was inaugurated on February 28, 1968 in a ceremony where young people from 124 different nations and 23 Indian states deposited a handful of their native soil into a marble urn. In it was also placed a copy of the Auroville Charter, stating the four main ideas of Mirra Alfassa’s vision for Auroville – a universal township; unending progress; a bridge between past and future; and human unity in practice. India’s official radio station broadcast the ceremony live, with the Auroville Charter read first in French by Mirra Alfassa, and then by representatives reading in 16 languages.
Mirra Alfassa died 1973 five years following the founding of Auroville. In 1980, at the request of a group of Auroville residents, the Government of India passed “The Auroville Emergency Provisions Act” separating the Auroville project from the legal control of the Sri Aurobindo Society. The Act consolidated Auroville as a “social experiment dedicated to the promotion of international understanding and the realization of an actual human unity”. India’s Supreme Court declared that the Auroville project, held in trust by India for humanity, is secular, and that Sri Aurobindo’s Integral Yoga is science, with its experimentally-based foundations, not religion.