Prema, who is running Auromode, one of Auroville's major commercial units, relates on how she came here in 1979.
I came to Auroville as a result of a search. At some point I believed that my inner unease stemmed from Argentina, my country, but after being quite a number of different countries, I realised that it wasn't a question of changing one's country, but a question of changing one's way of being.
But in order to change this way of being one needed a favourable environment, a place without fixed structures, and this is one of the reasons why Mother created Auroville. In a place without structures everything is possible, because it's mainly the structures that suffocate the development of one's inner being. Thanks to the outer freedom here we are able to undertake the journey to the inner discovery, of who we truly are, of our soul.
I knew Auroville existed somewhere..
Of course, all of us came to Auroville prompted by our own individual circumstances which forced us to call for something different. In Argentina, many of us belonged to the middle class, a very established milieu, strongly attached to a material, social and religious context. The soul is crying through all that, searching, searching - we are perhaps not conscious of it but it is that cry that we feel, that cry in us. I believed in spirituality, in the Teachers; I believed in the occult world, in Castaņeda. I knocked on many doors: the magic, the Tarot, astrology...all kinds of occult sciences, - there was an intense search for something simple, so simple that one didn't need to search any more once it could be found.
However, at the time, although I didn't know that I was looking for a place like Auroville, somehow I was able to feel that somewhere on the planet there was a place where this search would be recognised and accepted, and perhaps it was that certainty which pushed me to continue my search. The certitude of the existence of Auroville, without formulating it, without mental ideas. I just knew instinctively that a place like Auroville existed, somewhere..
Allergic for gurus
Somebody showed me the way. I remember the following conversation in Mexico in 1978, when I was gearing up to leave for France:
- What are you searching for?
I had actually been thinking of going to India one
day, but India was so very big, and I was very allergic to gurus.
When I arrived in France, I went to the Auroville International Association where I saw a photo of Mother. It looked familiar to me. "I think know that person", I said, "who is she?" And of course it was the Mother. I bought the little book called 'The Mother' by Sri Aurobindo, and through that booklet I got a first insight into what I was looking for; something not formulated, not expressed, yet that little book was saying it. Fantastic!
I travelled immediately to India, without any further preparation.
Arriving in Auroville
Once I had arrived in Auroville, for me there were never any doubts, despite the fact that the firsts months in Auroville were terrible, very discouraging. They would have shaken even the faith of an elephant! Like many newcomers to Auroville I had a tough time adjusting. I found myself without money, without having enough to eat, without soap to wash myself, and meeting some horrible Aurovilians, plus those thousands of other people who passed through the place.. I found so many of them mad and pretentious, too full of blah blah, and so on.. But not for a moment did it enter my mind to get up and go, something inside of me knew I had found the place. And of course, after the initial adjustments, things started falling into place and the whole thing turned into harmony. Help came along, the path became clear.
It wasn't always the 'sunlit path' though! Sometimes it was covered with thorns, but at least the direction became clear. You could say that I had been groping, searching with blind eyes, but then, suddenly, the path opened up, saying THERE in a most concrete way!
At that time, one had to earn one's life, you know, and I was hungry. We did not have a bridging fund or emergency fund (as is presently the case), or any other resource, nothing! So what to do? "OK Prema", I asked myself, "what can you do, what did you learn?" In Argentina I had learned tailoring and management, so I decided to start a tailoring workshop. There weren't any production units yet, so I started in a small hut in Auromodčle, in very simple and precarious conditions, making little clothing items only. And one day somebody said "Prema, why donīt you move to the Industrial Zone?"
There was an old carpentry shed in Revelation, a huge space with asbestos roof, which had collapsed and was now in ruins. Something was pulling me there, and at the same time something wanted to keep me in my little hut, doing little things, earning just enough to maintain myself. One day, before going to sleep under the open sky on the roof of my hut, I asked Mother "Please give me an answer, I can't go on like this, what is this indecisiveness?". I said it like a prayer, something very intense, and then I climbed to the roof, lay down on the floor and suddenly poofff! A falling star heading towards...the North, the direction of Auroville's Industrial Zone!
A few days later I was shifting by bullock cart to the Industrial Zone. There was nobody yet, it was the very beginning. A few months later came Filaure, then Tency, then Shradhanjali, and the other units.
Looking back, I think I can say that my unit
Auromode was brought into being prompted by two needs, an inner
one and an outer one. The first one was the need for a manifestation
where Life's aspects such as organisation, creativity, search for perfection,
and relations with the outside world would be expressed in a different
manner; different in the sense that the expression would endeavour to
be a mirror of one's inner being, for good or for bad, - nobody is perfect.
These two needs are very much linked and it is one of Auroville's challenges not to disassociate the two even while managing the various business undertakings the township has now.
The fact that the Auroville businesses are not privately owned, greatly helps the realisation of this aim, since one gets all too easily carried away by the search for personal profit. This then could overshadow the search for perfection from an inner point of view, whereas now the concept of working for a higher aim can remain in the forefront.
The work goes on..
Auromode was started in 1986 and employs, today, some 120 people and has an average capacity of 2.500 pieces a month.
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