Manoj is part of the Auroville website
and AVNet teams, Uma manages Upasana
Design Studio which designs and manufactures garments.
AVTODAY: What is important for you? What motivates
you at present?
Uma: My primary interest is
not in building Upasana into a successful business. What's most
important to me is my relationship with those who come here. Sometimes
somebody comes and you know that what she really wants is not
new clothes but warmth of heart. And that's what I give them.
In other words, what we're trying to find here is another dimension,
to reach the deeper self and ask 'How are you?' rather than just
sell clothes. Most people would call this very unbusinesslike,
but even at the level of business I find it works beautifully.
Manoj: Auroville has many layers, from the most
superficial to the deepest. Auroville works through personal networks,
and people relate to one network or another depending upon which
layer of Auroville they are attracted to. When you graduate through
the layers and go deeper to the soul of Auroville, you will see
that the ideal of Auroville is a living fact: it is not something
that we have to create, it is already there, we only have to tune
into it. Then you understand that if you offer yourself entirely
everything is given to you, that you are provided with exactly
what you need to progress. That's the Auroville which motivates
me, to which I want to be connected.
AVT: What are your visions? What direction would you like your
work to take?
Uma: The world of fashion is
a highly corrupt world. It cashes in on creating a sense of crisis
about one's looks and one's body. It makes people identify so
much with how they look that they forget who they really are.
I'd never felt comfortable in this world, never understood why
I'd taken up fashion design, and when I came to Auroville I saw
it as a chance to break with the whole thing. But then I sensed
this was just an ego reaction and that actually Mother wanted
me to continue. Why? I see now that what Mother wants is a purified
version of the body language which is clothes, one of the strongest
languages humanity is speaking today.
In other words, a new dimension in clothes design is needed, and
I'm sure it can come from Auroville. At present I am trying to
find my own mantra in textiles, to discover the spiritual background
of Indian textiles. In terms of textiles, each State has a very
different personality. Where does this come from? It's a beautiful,
meditative research and I'm beginning to see that most regional
designs are, at root, very pure: they have taken birth in front
of the Lord in the temple.
My dream is to bring the best of what has been discovered into
our work at Upasana so that a very special kind of value, another
dimension, is added to the clothes that we make. Mother will do
it. I get a glimpse now and then and know it will happen in the
very near future, but I don't know how She will do it and whom
She will use. All I can do is make myself ready to be an instrument.
Manoj: Over the years Auroville has developed various
organs of its collective body, but I can see that the brain and
the central nervous system of the community, which would enable
it to act as one entity, have not yet been developed. In this
context, I believe that AVNet, the Intranet of Auroville, will
play a very important role in developing our collective self-awareness.
Modern technology which has made possible the Internet has given
us a totally new evolutionary possibility. One thing I've learned
is that feedback is the basic mechanism through which intelligence
grows and evolves. This is why we are building more and more ways
of giving feedback to each other into the next generation of AVNet.
The present generation AVNet allows only very basic feedback -
it's not an organizational tool - but the next generation, which
we'd like to inaugurate on August 15th, will really facilitate
more efficient team-working through allowing groups not only to
exchange information but also to work on drafting joint documents
and make decisions online. As groups increasingly link up with
each other through exchanging information, so the central nervous
system of the community will evolve and the community will become
increasingly self-aware of its collective body and its intelligence.
It sounds like a dream but I know it will happen because I see
very clearly the higher intention behind which is doing this work.