Transcript of the speech of Dr. Karan Singh
Members of the Governing Board, of the Working Committee, and of the Auroville Community,
With all the excitement about offices of profit, it is a miracle that I am here at all. However, it seems that my psychic commitment and contact with Auroville is continuing, at least for the time being, and I am very happy to be here because every time I come, I find there has been a change and I must say looking back I think the last time I spoke, if I remember correctly, there were 3 major problems that were bothering the community. The first was the visas, and as a result of my intervention and a lot of other work done by people, we were finally able to sort out the visa problem and get a brand new visa regime in position which is, in many ways, much more liberal than it was before. So, that particular problem I think we have been able to solve. Of course always individual questions will arise, but those are not really questions of policy, they are questions of individuals, Aurovilians, and hopefully, whatever problem that arises will be sorted out, according to me, with our new regime.
The second problem which was bothering us was the whole question of taxes and the Income Tax people who were saying that it is difficult to have all these separate units and they should all pay the taxes, and so on. Now, that also we are trying to solve. We have taken today one major decision with regard to the setting up of the Auroville Unity Fund and that will hopefully start operations from day after tomorrow. How it works actually, what the guidelines are going to be, what its modus operandi is going to be, and how everything is going to be coordinated; is there a Budget Coordination Committee or not; all these details have to be worked out. But I would like to tell you that we have dealt with that problem also because that was a serious problem that many of the units were facing because the Income Tax Commissioner was saying that if you are making profits and you are not part of the Auroville Fund, then you should pay taxes and the last thing we want is for our commercial units to have to pay vast sums of money to the Income Tax Authority. We want that money to be for Auroville, for the development of Auroville. That second problem also we have now grappled with it, the seed of that problem, and with the support of the Joint Secretary and others that are concerned, we hope to be able to move onwards. But to my mind, the setting up of the Auroville Unity Fund is an important milestone in the evolution of Auroville as a unified community.
The third major problem we were facing at that time was the question of land acquisition, which unfortunately has come to a total standstill for the last two and a half years. That was something that was bothering me a lot and we have at last, at last, set up the Land Consolidation Committee and for that committee we have asked Srinivasamurthy to issue notices and have its first meeting in the first week of April. So, at last we hope to restart the process of land acquisition. Because without land acquisition, you obviously can't build the city, we cannot even complete. I understand that there are, still, 220-230 acres of land which are required for the central area of the city and unless we acquire that land, any talk of building the city is unrealistic. Therefore, that also, by setting up the Land Consolidation Committee, we have kickstarted the process again.
So, the 3 major problems you were facing, the problem of visa, the problem of tax and the problem of land acquisition, in all three we have made a definite progress and I feel with a sense of satisfaction that as a result of sustained efforts we have been able to overcome these problems.
The Matrimandir is now nearing completion. I am glad to learn that the Matrimandir should be ready, finally, apart from the gardens, should be ready by the next birthday of Auroville on 28 th February 2007. So, that completes one phase of the development of Auroville, because the Mother always said that the Matrimandir was the soul of Auroville and therefore, if you remember when I first came here in 1991, I said how can Auroville exist without its soul? So, anyhow we have been able to overcome various problems and now at last this glorious structure, this unique structure of Matrimandir is going to be ready. And with the completion of Matrimandir next year, one phase in the development of Auroville, that has taken 30 years, will be completed. Now the next phase, now that we have the soul, obviously is to build the city. Now the question is to build the body, the question is how we build the city. Already a large number of buildings of course have come up during the last thirty years. There are 1800 to 2000 people living in Auroville. What steps do we take to build the city, how do we accelerate the process of actualizing the Mother's vision with regard to the city. This is something in Auroville to which we have to apply our minds. Roger has got certain clear ideas on this whereas other people have other views. We have to apply our mind as to how we are now going to proceed to build the city, which means how do you get the land, do you get the money, how do you get the structure, organization, how do you get expertise and how is the city. Because building a city is qualitatively different from building one structure, since however glorious, the Matrimandir, it is only one structure. But when you talk of building a city, I talk of building shops and houses, apartments and roads and cinemas and whatever, you know, a city is after all a huge concept. So, we have to apply our minds to this question, how this city is to be built, how is it to be financed, what are its structural requirements? I cannot take any decision on this at the present moment, I would like to get more inputs, and then we can see, Lord willing, in the same way as Matrimandir at one stage appeared as if never it was going to be built and finally it is built. Similarly, hopefully one day the city will also be built, whether in our lifetimes or not remains to be seen, but it will be built surely, The Mother has seen it, but, as I said, numerous problems pose themselves, the more we come and grapple with the concept of the city. Roger is the architect of Auroville, mandated by The Mother, and now with Matrimandir, he is very keen to go ahead and build the city. So that is the next serious question that we are going to deal with.
I must add that I had the pleasure today of inaugurating two new buildings in Auroville, a very nice hostel for trainees or for advanced students and a very nice Visitors Centre. So, each time I come now I'll make it a condition, every six months you must get at least one building ready for me to inaugurate. There are so many buildings on the way, but it is quite astounding.
We were also given very interesting presentations yesterday evening, after the Working Committee meeting and I must say I remain profoundly impressed by the creativity of the Aurovilians, how a small, tiny community of 1800 people, which is hardly anything other than a village, a small village in India would have 18000 people- and 1800 people are able to produce such a lot of creativity and such a lot of work on different fields, it is already quite astounding and I think it shows that there is some force working in Auroville, despite the apparent discords and the conflicts that surface from time to time, there is the force working, definitely. And this is an experiment. I spoke in New York , last year in the Asia Society, on Auroville and on the Auroville experiment. And I think that if we keep ourselves open to the light, to the inner light, I am sure that Auroville will continue to progress in the future very rapidly. That is my personal belief.
I want to say one other thing if I may. I want to talk about Yoga. All of you, of course, have come here originally, if you remember well, on visas saying that you were going to study yoga.
Now, Sri Aurobindo has written a lot about yoga in the Synthesis of Yoga. There are four traditions or methodologies of yoga in the ancient Indian tradition. There is the Jnana yoga or the way of wisdom, that is the way, shall we say, of Plato, the way of trying to understand the reality behind the external events. You remember Plato's parable of the cave. He said we are all like in a cave. All we can see is the shadow of objects thrown on the cave, we can neither see the objects, nor can we see the light behind. So, this is Jnana yoga, the way of the Upanishads. Sri Aurobindo has written so much about it, the way of the clarified, purified mind.
The second is the Bhakti yoga, the way of devotion. The way of devotion is the way of the heart, the way of the great mystics, of St. Teresa de Avila or St. John of the Cross, of Mirabhai, of Surdha, of Tusildas, to be bhaktas. Now that is the second methodology, that is opening the heart chakra. If Jnana yoga is the way of mind, the way of wisdom, the BHAKTI yoga is the way of devotion to the divine personality. It can be one of the deities, it can be Sri Aurobindo and The Mother, or whomever you choose, it can be whatever, but it has to be something to which you can give your emotions, because without the opening of the heart chakra the yoga will not move, if it is simply up in the head.
The third is the Karma Yoga, the way of works, the way of dedicated works and if the way of Bhakti yoga is the way of Mary, the way of dedicated works is the way of Martha, the way of good works, the way of Mother Teresa, for example, or the way of the Ramakrishna mission, healing the sick, helping the poor, feeding the people. The way of good works, dedicated to the divine, not just any work, any work is not Karma Yoga, it has to be work that is dedicated to the Divine, or to whatever concept of the Divine. And the fourth is what is known as Raja Yoga, the royal path, and that involves breathing, pranayama, meditation on your breathing and so on. Those are the way of mystics .
So, we have these four paths of Yoga. I would like very much to know, which path or is it an integral path, that you people who live in Auroville are following. I do not want to pry into your personal life, but you are here to study the Yoga. Now, I do not know, for example, do you go regularly to this glorious Matrimandir, do you go there often, is it obligatory for people to go, should it not be? And what is the yoga, what sort of spiritual development are you all doing? I know some of you are doing the kind of yoga thinking about your philosophy, some of you are doing the Bhakti yoga, now you are doing the Karma yoga, mainly Karma yoga I think. So I thought I'd just raise this point.
I see Carel grinning from ear to ear. He is going to write about it in his next issue: 'The Chairman has raised the point what yoga are the Aurovilians following, are they following the Integral Yoga?' Remember, Sri Aurobindo's integral yoga is not a repudiation of these four, it is an integration of these yogas into a single spiritual dynamic path, and if the Aurovilians are not following the yoga, then they are not following the Charter of Auroville. So, this is just a question I want to ask. I do not want to pry into your spiritual lives and I do not expect you to answer also, but I would like to raise the question, to keep it in the atmosphere, so that you can think about it, each one of you and you can take your own decisions. Thank you very much.
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