An International University cum city-laboratory by Gilles G.
Author: Gilles G.
Last Updated: April 13, 2010
An International University cum city-laboratory
By Gilles G. " March 2010
‘University’ means here a ‘Centre for Research and Higher Education’ of a kind very different from Universities all over the world which in many (most?) countries can only be government-run. The word ‘University’ is used here because it is shorter and also because Mother used it in several occasions but realised it was an inadequate word (at that time) for what she intended to do.
In a talk he gave on All India Radio on 11.11.67, Navajata (then General Secretary of the SAS of which Auroville was a project at that time) said among other things:
“Auroville will also have an International University, perhaps the first in the world, established specifically for world unity. In fact the whole of Auroville will be a living university.”
This is mentioned here because Nava had read his talk beforehand to Mother and she had approved it. What was the background of his statement?
In 1951 Mother launched the ‘Sri Aurobindo International University Centre’ (which in 1959 she had to rename ‘Sri Aurobindo International Education Centre”). She explained that it would include Cultural Pavilions from all countries of the world and she stated:
“I am perfectly sure, I am quite confident, there is not the slightest doubt in my mind, that this University, which is being established here, will be the greatest seat of knowledge upon earth.
It may take fifty years, it may take a hundred years, and you may doubt about my being there; I may be there or not, but these children of mine will be there to carry out my work. And those who collaborate in this divine work today will have the joy and pride of having participated in such an exceptional achievement.”
Let us note that a University aiming at becoming the greatest seat of knowledge upon earth has to have at least 10,000 professors and students and that this is an extremely ambitious project.
When, in 1965, Mother started speaking of Auroville, she explained that one of its four Zones would be an International Zone in which there would be a pavilion for every country (that was my old idea). She seems to mean that what she had started to do in the framework of the Ashram would reach its full scale in the framework of Auroville (where the Cultural Pavilions would now come) and that in this regard: the Ashram will keep its true role as pioneer, inspirer and guide.
On 01.02.69, Roger noted down that Mother had just told him:
The permanent university will be the key to Auroville’s raison d’être. It must be a leap forward; so that it can hasten the advent of the future, of a world of harmony, beauty and union.
It appears that, considering the extreme gravity of the ongoing world crisis (ecological, financial, etc.), humanity as a whole needs a place " such as Auroville " where it can pool its resources together to find what Mother termed true life which is based, not on stimulated desires (which for the vast majority can only result in frustrated desires), but on mastered desires and the development of one’s higher qualities. We need to deliver on the statement Mother made on 4th October 1958:
We want to be the example of true living in the world. It's a challenge I am placing before the whole financial world: I am telling them that they are in the process of withering and ruining the earth with their idiotic system; and with even less than they are now spending for useless things " merely for inflating something that has no inherent life, that should be only an instrument at the service of life, that has no reality in itself, that is only a means and not an end (they make an end of something that is only a means) " well then, instead of making of it an end, they should make it the means. With what they have at their disposal they could ... oh, transform the earth so quickly! Transform it, put it into contact, truly into contact, with the supramental forces that would make life bountiful and, indeed, constantly renewed " instead of becoming withered, stagnant, shrivelled up: a future moon. A dead moon.
Let us note Mother’s truly extraordinary foresight because fifty years ago very few people were issuing such dire warnings about world ecology and finances. Though Mother had no ‘scientific data’ whatsoever at her disposal, she could ‘see’ very clearly better than any scientists that in its folly humanity was " and still is " speeding on a track leading to total disaster.
Hence, Auroville’s University should have at least three main programs:
1. A holistic and unending human resource development program for a new consciousness.
2. A Unity in Diversity program for improved intercultural appreciation/collaboration and an ever growing sense of complementarity and human unity.
3. A sustainable urban and rural development program for the creation of more ideal societies and small townships all over the world " using Auroville as a laboratory/prototype. Noting that without a change of consciousness there won’t be any sustainability for as Albert Einstein (and many others) said (using similar words): ‘The problems that exist in the world today cannot be solved by the level of consciousness that created them.’
Mother’s idea of Cultural Pavilions is a excellent but for this as for everything else: Plasticity and swiftness are needed in order to keep up with world-movements, so as not to fall behind the universal progress. In the ‘Information Age’, one should not conceive of Cultural Pavilions in the same way as one would have conceived them in the fifties or sixties. They should now be faculties of Auroville’s University and show in a truly living manner " that is in action " what a particular country can contribute to the solution of humanity’s common problems. An invitation of this type to the countries of the world would be worth presenting to UNESCO’s General Assembly for this is what it expected from us and " up to now we have left it and humanity as a whole down.
Now that we have at least one good secondary school and many small seeds of a University of a new type, time has come for these components to come together and for us collectively to find ways to put much more energy in this field of work. Let us all start by calling inwardly but wholeheartedly for this new dimension to come down in Auroville.
Interestingly, India’s Ministry for Human Resource Development is in the process of launching a new scheme of 14 ‘Innovation Universities’ which would be world-class and truly autonomous bodies (that is what the Auroville Foundation is already) and would tie up with foreign universities (which is what we need to do). This could be " could be? " a golden opportunity for Auroville. We should ask HRD whether they can accept us as we are and want to be " something far more innovative than what they may be prepared to accept… for our objectives are extremely high:
We are not here to do (only a little better) what the others do. We are here to do what the others cannot do because they do not have the idea that it can be done. We are here to open the way of the Future to children who belong to the Future. Anything else is not worth the trouble and not worthy of Sri Aurobindo’s help.
For Auroville’s population not to grow beyond the ideal 50,000, most of its population will need to rotate which would be the case if people came here to learn how to start/improve societies and cities of this new type all over the world. As the idea of seeding new Aurovilles all over the world was there from the outset, we should state that one of Auroville’s objectives is to help the creation of sustainable small cities all over the world and that sustainability requires a change of consciousness " which is what Auroville is about.
Note that if India’s Government cannot buy land for a township " be it Universal " but that it does it each time it sets up a new University and that in our particular case it would not have to disburse much as a lot of the land required is already with us. Note also that land in the greenbelt should be secured not necessarily to be used by Aurovilians but to be taken out of private hands and the vested interests that go along with it. It could still be used by villagers interested in farming.
Note also that one of the main concerns of most parents all over the world is the education of their children (one of the many reasons being that, in the absence of pensions schemes, it is the way to secure their own future) and that hence a university to which their children would have relatively easy access (as neighbours) would be seen by our village neighbours as something to welcome.
Many have spoken already about the need of a University here " but now time seems to have come.