Finding Utopia in Auroville, India
Journey to the Heart India Retreat November 2015, the ultimate Yoga Travel Company experience…
For many of us this was our first visit to India, so it was great foresight to spend our first evening together at one of Chennai’s more gracious hotels, a safe and luxurious introduction to the motherland. Delightful as it was, the time soon came to wave goodbye to the comfort of our crisp white sheets, steam room sessions and lavish meal time buffets. It was time to get real and experience some cold, hard, authentic India and what better way to start than to be greeted with none other than Chennai’s heaviest cyclone in ten years!? Our adventure had begun, and despite some initial reservations, we were all itching to get on the road, gumboots and all, to start exploring this mystical country. After a few flooded backstreets and truck stop chai missions, we found we had survived the cyclone and were well on our way to our first retreat port of calling, Auroville.
Auroville is a universal township founded by a famous Indian yogi and visionary named Aurobindo alongside his French spiritual administrator fondly referred to as The Mother, a pioneer for peace and unity within humanity, only 47 years ago. This beautiful village blossomed from what was once a barren landscape of red dust, which now sustains more than 2 million trees, lush vegetation, permaculture farming, and a sustainable eco-friendly way of living. It is a place that belongs to nobody in particular, but to humanity itself. A notion that’s legitimately supported by law under the Auroville Foundation Act. Residents here trade their skills and work together as a conscious community, collectively contributing towards the vision. There is no religion, rather an all encompassing, non discriminating belief in spirituality as a whole. No police, no politics, no drugs, alcohol or money. Most things that cause disconnection and disharmony in society have been stripped away and just don’t exist here. There is an eclectic mix of nationalities all living peaceful, simple and content lives; euphoria in Utopia.
With my eyes wide open to the possibility of being blinded by what sounded a little cult-like, I can tell you it was far from it. Truly and honestly a pure and inspiring concept. We cannot deny that there is a desperate need for transformation across many spheres in the world, humanity is ready and awakening to a more conscious way of life, and mother earth is certainly crying out for a change. Auroville is a great model to ignite this change, established from a philosophy that very much aligns with that of yoga, the perfect place to have started our Indian odyssey.
In addition to simply being here soaking up the good vibrations, we of course had a full daily schedule of yoga. A typical day would start with an early morning meditation, pranayama practise, and an asana class. During our free time we explored the village by foot or cycled through the red dirt roads. At the very centre of Auroville sits the Matrimandir in all its glory. This gigantic golden globe is the meditation centre which resembles a sort of cosmic space ship that’s come to earth proclaiming peace. Within the complex there are gardens, meditation pods and the Matrimandir itself. A free hanging walkway spirals its way up to the upper chamber of meditation, a place that has to be experienced to comprehend the deafening silence, peace and purity of the space. It’s difficult to find the words to describe the experience.
We would reconvene for lunch at the local raw food café and feast on delicious delights while listening to life stories full of wisdom and teachings from Anandi, our host and humble prophet. Evenings were spent together at our Japanese guesthouse sharing beautiful south Indian cuisine, and we would either erupt into a choir of angels (at least we thought so) singing mantras, or be wound right down with a crystal bowl sound healing, all of which amplified the collective state of bliss amongst the group.
After spending only four days here, we had learnt much. We came away uplifted and inspired having experienced a new way of living life, empowered with the knowledge that it is indeed possible. The journey now continues to integrate what we can into our own lives here in the west. After all knowledge without action is utterly pointless. May the ethos and spirit of this culture live on in our lives… Thank you Dara & Beck, and The Yoga Travel Company for taking us on this magical Journey to the Heart yoga retreat!
Blog post & photography by Georgia Brownlee
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