The Hall of Peace
A Home to Asia’s Table of Peace
At the heart of Auroville's Hall of Peace, the second building of the Unity Pavilion complex in Auroville's International Zone, will stand the Asian Peace Table. It is one of six magnificent tables created by master woodworker George Nakashima for placement in chosen sites on each of the continents of the world.
Creating the environment
This second building of Auroville's Unity Pavilion complex will provide a permanent home for the Asian Peace Table, enabling Auroville and the world to make full use of it as a channel for focusing energy on World Peace and Human Unity.
Auroville's aim is to create in the Hall of Peace a simple and aesthetically pleasing environment that can generate an actual atmosphere of peace and harmony, an atmosphere conducive to inner awareness and a sense of oneness with all humanity.
The space is planned to be used for dialogues, meetings and presentations related to Peace, as well as for gatherings of the International Zone. It will act like a powerful catalytic chamber wherein people can find an ideal supportive atmosphere to create the sort of harmony that is essential for real mutual search and inter-cultural understanding.
The design of the Hall (like the other buildings of the Unity Pavilion complex) has been created by Aurovilian architects Piero and Gloria Cicionesi, who write: “We met architect Nakashima several times, and had with him a very deep connection, admiration and love. We feel this will be the appropriate place for the table he offered to humanity as a prayer for the peace of the world. Without peace there will never be a real Human Unity. The Peace Table is not only a very beautiful piece of art; it is also a beautiful symbol for the International Zone.”
The planned plinth area of the Hall and adjoining office is 300 sq.m, and includes a kitchenette and staircase to the roof terrace. The building estimate is Rs.55,00,000, or approx US$125,000 (EUROS 95,000). This money is now needed to finally place Asia's Table of Peace in its chosen home – the Hall of Peace in the emerging universal township of Auroville – where it will have a positive influence on the aspirations for peace throughout the region and the rest of the world.
The Peace Table: an offering to the world
In the mid 1940s, while the rest of the design world was captivated by machinery and mass production, George Nakashima became one of the first modern woodworkers, producing exquisitely hand-crafted wood furnishings of enduring value and quality from his workshop in New Hope , Pennsylvania . There he dreamed of offering each continent of the world a Table for Peace, crafted from two great 300-year-old Eastern Black Walnut trees, as a symbol of humanity's aspiration for peace between the peoples of the world and peace within all individuals, based on shared love for all mankind. Quoting the source of this dream he wrote in October 1984:
“A while back there appeared a great bole of a tree, a Walnut. It was about five feet in diameter (1.5m) at the small end, about seven (2.1m) at the flare, and twelve (3.6m) long with extraordinary characteristics. In a small but firm voice the bole asked to be realized; two adjoining slabs opened to make an extraordinary table, roughly twelve feet (3.6m) by the same dimension wide, weighing almost one ton. It was a dream – An Altar for Peace! Gradually a few people became interested in the project and suggested we make six Altars – one for each Continent. It will be a symbol, a token of man's aspirations for a creative and beautiful peace, free of political overtones, an expression of love for his fellow man...
… It must be a joyous peace, not a fear or absence of war. It is a question of surrender. A surrender to the Divine Consciousness, to end in a most beautiful aura of love.”
Placement of the tables
The first Peace Table was placed in the Cathedral of St. John the Divine in New York City in 1985. The second, dedicated in 1995, was installed in The Academy of Fine Arts in Moscow in June 2001. The following year, 29th February, saw the inauguration of the third table, the Asian Peace Table, in Auroville. This table has been temporarily housed in the Unity Pavilion's Annex until it can be installed in the Hall of Peace.
George Nakashima: Sundarananda
George Nakashima was a gifted Japanese American architect and woodworker, a master craftsman, whose work received international recognition, including the award of the Third Order of the Sacred Treasure by the Emperor of Japan in 1983. Born in Spokane , Washington , of samurai ancestry, he grew up amidst the great forests of the Pacific Northwest .
In the 1930s, after studying architecture at the University of Washington and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, he traveled to Paris and later to Japan to trace his own roots. There he joined the firm of Antonin Raymond, a leading architect in Japan who had assisted Frank Lloyd Wright on the design of the Imperial Hotel in Tokyo . Raymond influenced Nakashima by integrating traditional Japanese theories of architecture with the progressive European ideas of Le Corbusier.
When Raymond obtained a design and construction project for Golconde in the Sri Aurobindo Ashram in the mid-1930s, Nakashima volunteered to go there to do the job. Drawn to Sri Aurobindo's teachings and soon feeling that he was receiving more than he was able to give – “the answer to all my searches, finally conferring meaning on my life” – he became a member of the Ashram. Sri Aurobindo named him Sundarananda, meaning “one who delights in beauty.”
“We woodworkers have the audacity to shape timber from these noble trees. In a sense it is our Karma Yoga, the path of action we must take to lead to our union with the Divine.”
Looking around the world today, everywhere one sees a need for Peace. The desire for peace and harmony between individuals and nations lies at the heart of virtually every human being. Yet as individuals we feel powerless to achieve it – except in the immediate context of our own family, workplace or group. Nakashima's Tables for Peace may seem only like symbolic items of furniture, but they are planned to be much more than that. They can act not only as the focal centre for gatherings and activities related to Peace, but can gradually accumulate vibrations of Peace, to the point where they actually become radiating sources of Peace themselves, sending out transformative vibrations not only to individuals who come into their presence, but much further a field, to all humanity – like the ripples on a lake's surface.
This leaflet is to appeal to all human beings of goodwill to help Auroville build an appropriate “Hall of Peace”, thereby making it possible for the magnificent Asian Peace Table to begin playing its important role for humanity as a whole – helping to establish a lasting Peace on Earth.
How to send your gift to make the Hall of Peace a reality
Donations can be sent directly to Auroville Unity Fund, specified for “Hall of Peace”, or through the Auroville International Centre in your own country. To make a donation by normal bank transfer or swift, please transfer to: State Bank of India , Auroville International Township Branch, Auroville 605101. SBI Branch Code 03160; Auroville Unity Fund Account No. 10237876508 (specified for “Hall of Peace”). The Swift Bank Code is SBININBB474.
For international donations, tax benefits can usually be claimed via the Auroville International Centre in your country. For confirmation check with the relevant Centre.
Credit card donations online from anywhere in the world can be made using VISA, MasterCard or American Express cards via the secure website of AVI-USA at
Donations within India (tax-exempt, sec.35(1)(iii) or 80G) can be sent by cheque or demand draft (DD) made out in favor of Auroville Unity Fund, specified for “Hall of Peace” and sent to Unity Pavilion, International Zone, Auroville 605101.
For more information on the Hall of Peace, as well as how to donate, please e-mail: email@example.com, or visit the web site www.auroville.org/thecity/ int_zone_unity.html
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