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A Multinational Township as a Revitalization Movement:
A Case Study on Auroville in South India
Author: Magnus Thor Department of Social Anthropology Bachelor Thesis / Minor Field Study January 2010 Supervisor: Steven Sampson
Auroville is a spiritual intentional community in South India. It consists mainly of Westerners and Indians and they share a common belief in the philosophy of Sri Aurobindo and the Mother, a philosophy that has clear references to the New Age Movement in the West. I have in this thesis pointed to the cultural exchange that has taken place between the Western world and India, resulting in an influence of Hindu attributes in the West, and Western ideas in India. This acculturation process has resulted in the formation of the neo-Hindu movement (which Aurobindo is a part of) in India and the New Age movement in the West, both sharing common key ideas. This cultural exchange has also resulted in Westerners seeking to India and Auroville, in relation to hegemonic decline, in a way to construct new identities and find new loyalties, thus promoting a new socio-cultural system to the West. Auroville is here seen as a social space from where to direct culture critique, through international engagement, and diffusion by example. It is also a social space uphold financially and legally by the Indian government, thus make it possible for Westerners to mobilize in complex multinational formations as a comprehensive force, and can thus be understood through the lens of revitalization theory. The Purpose with this thesis has been to answer to Anthony Wallace’s suggestion for further elaboration with revitalization theory, in a way to increase our understanding of this special kind of culture change. Keywords: Revitalization movements, Auroville, Sri Aurobindo, hegemonic decline, cognitive anthropology, New Age, acculturation
Table of Contents
Abstract................................................................................................................................ 2 Summary and Final Conclusion.................................................................................... 5 1. Introduction.................................................................................................................... 8
The Red Line............................................................................................................................... 5 1.1. Coming To Auroville – A Brief Presentation............................................................. 8 1.2. Facts About Auroville.................................................................................................... 10 1.3. Problem Formulation................................................................................................... 11 1.4. Purpose............................................................................................................................. 13 2.1. The Field........................................................................................................................... 2.1.1. Observation............................................................................................................................... 2.1.2. Participant Observation....................................................................................................... 2.1.3. Interviews.................................................................................................................................. 2.2. Unexpected Events in the Field.................................................................................. 2.3. Secondary Data............................................................................................................... 2.4. Delimitations................................................................................................................... 15 15 15 16 17 18 18
2. Method........................................................................................................................... 14
3. Theory............................................................................................................................ 19
3.1. Anthony Wallace and the Concept of Revitalization............................................ 20 3.1.1. The Uniform Structure of the Revitalization Process............................................... 22 3.1.2. Culture Definition and the Variations of Movements............................................... 24 3.2. Culture and Identity – Schema Theory.................................................................... 26 3.2.1. Schema Theory......................................................................................................................... 26 3.2.2. The Hierarchy of the Schemas........................................................................................... 27 3.3. World-System Theory and Revitalization Movements....................................... 28 3.3.1. Hegemonic Decline and the Rise of Cultural Movements....................................... 28 4.1. Aurobindo Ghose – Sri Aurobindo............................................................................ 4.1.1. Integral Yoga............................................................................................................................. 4.1.2. Aurobindo and Evolution..................................................................................................... 4.2. Mirra Alfassa - The Mother.......................................................................................... 4.2.1. Mirra Alfassa the Mystic....................................................................................................... 4.2.2. Mirra Alfassa Meets Sri Aurobindo.................................................................................. 4.2.3. The Mother on Auroville...................................................................................................... 4.3. Auroville and the Philosophy..................................................................................... 31 32 33 34 34 34 35 37
4. The History of Auroville - Mazeway Reformulation........................................ 30
5. A Movement Becomes – Communication and Organization......................... 38
5.1. Communication............................................................................................................... 39 5.1.1. Aurobindo and Communication........................................................................................ 39 5.1.2. The Mother and Communication...................................................................................... 40 5.1.3. The Official Support............................................................................................................... 41 5.1.4. Promoting the Auroville Brand......................................................................................... 42 5.4. Organization.................................................................................................................... 43 5.4.1. The Period Before Auroville............................................................................................... 44 5.4.2. Auroville ................................................................................................................................... 45 5.4.3. The Indian Government as the Legal Authority ......................................................... 46 5.4.4. The Organizational Structure of Auroville.................................................................... 46
6. A Living Movement: Adaptation, Cultural Transformation, and Routinization.................................................................................................................... 48
6.1. Adaptation........................................................................................................................ 48
6.1.1. The Big Clash ............................................................................................................................ 6.1.2. The Solution.............................................................................................................................. 6.1.3. Adaptation Strategies............................................................................................................ 6.1.4. Auroville as an Eco-Village.................................................................................................. 6.2. Cultural Transformation.............................................................................................. 6.2.1. Individual Cultural Transformation................................................................................ 6.2.2. Auroville as a Transition Site............................................................................................. 6.3. Routinization................................................................................................................... 6.3.1. Impact on India........................................................................................................................ 6.3.2. International Aspirations.....................................................................................................
49 49 50 51 52 53 54 56 57 58
7. Discussion and Conclusions.................................................................................... 59
7.1 Discussion on Mazeway Reformulation................................................................... 59 7.1.1. The Connection Between Auroville and the New Age Movement....................... 61 7.1.2. The History of the New Age Movement.......................................................................... 61 7.1.3. Hindu Influences in the West............................................................................................. 62 7.1.4. Western Impact on India...................................................................................................... 64 7.1.5. New Age Characteristics....................................................................................................... 65 7.2. Discussion on Communication................................................................................... 66 7.2.1. Aurobindo, the Mother, and Western Receivers......................................................... 66 7.3. Discussion on Organization........................................................................................ 68 7.3.1. Auroville and the World-System....................................................................................... 70 7.3.2. Hegemonic Decline................................................................................................................. 70 7.3.3. The Rise of Cultural Movements....................................................................................... 71 7.3.4. Auroville and the Prevalence of Hindu Attributes in the West............................. 72 7.4. Discussion on Adaptation............................................................................................ 74 7.4.1. Government Support............................................................................................................. 74 7.4.2. Modification of Doctrine....................................................................................................... 75 7.5. Discussion on Cultural Transformation.................................................................. 76 7.6. Discussion on Routinization....................................................................................... 77 7.6.1. Cultural Deprivation versus Material Deprivation.................................................... 78 7.6.2. Cultural Deprivation in the Core-States......................................................................... 79
8. Bibliography................................................................................................................. 80
The Red Line My ethnographic data from the field in Auroville have been used as a way to strengthen arguments with relation to above-mentioned theoretical conceptions. placing them on a sub-level in the individual’s cognitive schema. in relation to common experiences where they have been exposed for these ideas. in a particular situation when the world-system is experiencing a crisis in relation to hegemonic decline. and society itself is experiencing cultural distortion and dramatic changes. but to be able to choose. as when the World-System is reaching a systemic crisis or hegemonic decline. the receivers will naturally become more in numbers. When these ideas are reaching mainstream society. and individuals are experiencing an increased amount of stress. and more individuals 5 . makes it possible for individuals to take a stand for and join these kinds of social formations. the experiences of New Age beliefs will supposedly place itself higher up in the hierarchy of sub-levels within the cognitive schema. As the cultural distortion is increasing. opens up for discussions and common preferences. Below I will make a short summary on these connections. on the way to systemic bifurcation (Wallerstein 2007:124-125). with the purpose to increase our understanding of culture change during revitalization. The fact that Hindu attributes has already attained currency in the Western societies since centuries back in time. spiritual movements or secular social movements. they will search for new identities and loyalties. in relation to hegemonic decline. one has to be aware. Some will form. the construction of culture (SchemaTheory). This is the conclusion of my results: When individuals are experiencing dramatic social and cultural changes. and the formations of revitalization movements. to clarify how Auroville can be understood as a revitalization movement. or join. The presence of these attributes in the minds of individuals.Summary and Final Conclusion I have tried to make clear and discuss about the connection between Auroville. as a result of more individuals seeking new identities and loyalties. and especially more recently through the formation of the New Age movement. the World-System and hegemonic decline.
while the West is experiencing an increasing cultural distortion in relation to hegemonic decline. a simultaneously transformation of the human mind and consciousness. relying on the societal and cultural system based on the philosophy of Sri Aurobindo and the Mother. the field is open even for revitalization movements in massive sizes. opens up for possibilities of multinational formations of revitalization movements. Globalization. where individuals join the movement as a way to make a difference. to try to implement their new mazeway on their society of origin. Aurovillians talk about transformation. The residents are steadily increasing in numbers. This means: more potential recruits for movements such as Auroville.will be able to relate to the same experiences. and the Westerners formation in Auroville as an attempt to change the social organism of the West. Those individuals who join movements such as Auroville may do it for revitalizing reasons. instead of looking at one singular society as a social organism. and therefore acts as agents in the acculturation process that takes place during the interaction between the West and the East. one can examine the routinization of Auroville on the Western hemisphere in the capitalist World-System. spiritual and material. as a reaction to hegemonic decline. not just to dropout from society. Western individuals join Auroville for revitalizing reasons. 6 . In this way. the ability for transnational movement of individuals coming from the core-states. In case of material deprivation. This is a result of the special kind of culture change that has taken place through the interaction between the West and the East. This seems to be the case for many Western Aurovillians. Their impact on their societies of origin belongs to another study. and as an available alternative in the awareness of the individual (the presence of New Age attributes in the cognitive schemas). but still not affecting the whole social organism until reaching both material and cultural deprivation. and give life to what I would like to call complex multinational revitalization movements. and first when this interaction is determined. one could also look at the core-states as a social organism due to their common preferences in relation to capitalist modernity. personal and earthly. which I believe Auroville is a result of. even if the movement is situated outside their own society. and of society and culture.
and instead changed focus to sections in the world-system. and add multinational compounds for the study of cultural revival. the study of the intercommunication between these multinational formations. 7 . and because of the acculturation process that has taken place between the West and the East. would be fruitful for our understanding of revitalization. has the motivation and ability to mobilize in different forms in contrast to Wallace’s original concept of “classic” revitalization movements. As a second step for the understanding on how this culture change occur. Other with Auroville common compounds are other spiritual multinational eco-villages and intentional communities such as Damanhur and Findhorn in Europe. composed by individuals from presumably the core-states. I have in other words pointed to an extended understanding of revitalization. when studying revitalization as a phenomenon of culture change. It would also be of value to examine what kind of impact these movements has on mainstream Western society and the leaders of these nations.So. they mobilize together in multinational formations such as Auroville. one should also put focus on movements located outside the social organism of a particular society. in relation to globalization and hegemonic decline. what have we learned? I have in this presentation showed that individuals from the core-states of the World-System. and as a suggestion for further research. put focus outside the social organism of a single nation-state. to evaluate their success or failure considering their socio-cultural revival purposes. and instead of joining a national movement aiming for a socio-cultural revival. Therefore. as a comprehensive force with the same purpose as for a national revitalization movement. which has significant key ideas that corresponds with the New Age movement and the neoHindu movement in India. as for example the core-states as one social organism in this context.
Auroville is an intentional community. Its members settle here voluntarily, in order to fulfil and seek out some personal goal, and remain only insofar as these goals are fulfilled. The community has attracted members from all over the world, but mainly from the West and India. This thesis explores the nature of the community in relation to the state of the capitalist World-System, trying to clarify how Auroville can be understood through the lens of revitalization.
1.1. Coming To Auroville – A Brief Presentation I got off the bus in the middle of the busy road, auto-drivers, cyclists, pedestrians, cars, busses, motorcycles, and cows, all sharing the space of the road trying to reach their destinations. I’ve just been on a train for twelve hours before reaching Chennai, and then another three hours on the local bus to Pondicherry, full of fever dizziness in my mind and a weak body, but now I am there, finally. Auroville is just around the corner, so I catch an auto to take me to my hostel were I have booked a room. On the way to Pondicherry from Chennai, on the East Coast Road, the landscape was pretty rough and dry, but now I meet tight vegetation and hear the sounds of birds and insects all around me. It is almost a jungle I drive through before reaching the hostel. I am amazed how the Aurovillians have been able to restore the environment in such a grade, considering that this place was like a desert forty years ago, consisting of a few Mango, Banyan and Neem trees spread out in the dry red sand. According to themselves, they have planted more than one million trees since the inauguration of Auroville, and still until today some individuals have as their primary activity to plant trees, from morning till evening, every day. My auto driver lives in Kottakarai, one of the thirteen villages within the area of Auroville. He tells me that he appreciates Auroville very much because it has given him opportunity to make money due to all tourists who needs a ride with his auto. “But they are very special people, you will see my friend”, he tells me and continues the drive along the dusty jungle roads that leads to my hostel.
I get welcomed by my host when reaching the hostel, and walk up to my bed in a dorm for six people. It is already evening and the stillness covers the atmosphere of the place, so different from how it sounds and feels in other places I have visited in India. And it is clean, even along the roads, no beggars on the streets and no smell from urine and waste. This is not India in its pure essence, I remember thinking when I had placed my stuff at the bed and climbed up to the rooftop to enjoy the silence and the view. I soon get company from the night guard, a young Nepali who have come to Auroville to make some money to bring home to his family in Nepal. Like foreign workers elsewhere, foreign workers in India are also looked down upon. Many Indians expressed disgust for these guest workers, claiming that they are nothing more than criminals. The next day I rent a bike and drive around in the township, visiting some of the hundreds of settlements and workshops. There are settlements spread out all over the area, some in the centre close to Matrimandir, where my hostel was, and others more distanced located in the Green-belt or by the beach. I see houses that look like Star Wars inspired clay huts, advanced concrete beautiful buildings, and primitive wooden huts with straw roofs. The variety is astonishing and there are not two houses that look the same. The physical arrangement of the township resonates strongly with a Fourier inspired web of phalanxes, and Auroville itself as a kind of unifying umbrella organization. I drive on the roads and make the sand create a red cloud behind me, watching the beautiful scenery around me. Small sandy trails from the Main Road lead to settlements, workshops, research centres, restaurants, and commercial units. There is a sign showing the direction to CSR – the Centre for Scientific Research, and the Earth-Centre is located at the same site too. In the neighbourhood are also Upasana Design Studio and Colours-of-Nature, designing clothes and accessories, and dying fabrics, all in sustainable ways with respect for the environment. I talk to people on the roads and at different sites in the township, explaining who I am and what I am doing there. All are very welcoming and some invite me
to their homes or working sites. There are more than forty nationalities, but most of whom I meet are Westerners, even if I know that one third of the around two thousand residents consists of Tamil people. The activity during the day is relatively high and everybody seems to be occupied with one or another project, or just basic work. This is Auroville after one day.
1.2. Facts About Auroville The present population in Auroville is estimated to 2109 residents, where 1686 are adults above eighteen. The population has increased from 1564 residents in 19991, and according to an informant from the Residents Assembly Service in Auroville, more newcomers have been coming the last year, in contrast to former years, so the growth in population will probably go on. In 1972 the population was 320 residents, and doubled its population to 676 in 19802. Auroville was inaugurated in 1968 and is at present composed of around forty nationalities. The larges group are the Indians (mostly local Tamils who have become Aurovillians) and constitutes at present of 914 residents. The largest Western population are the French, who constitutes of 320 residents, followed by the Germans: 242, Italian: 107, and U.S. Americans: 77 residents. Residents from outside India and the Western world are relatively few in the township, and comprises of around fifty residents (including thirty residents from South Korea), which are Brazilians, Nepalis, Ethiopians, and Colombians, just to name a few3. The physical construction of Auroville is made up from inspiration of a galaxy. From the middle point in this 25 km2 land areal, the Peace Centre, should four zones radiate outwards. In each zone should a special kind of atmosphere, vibration, be nurtured. There should be a residential, a cultural, an industrial,
Website no.41: http://www.auroville.info/ACUR/masterplan/demographic.htm (last access 2010-01-13) Website no.41: http://www.auroville.info/ACUR/masterplan/demographic.htm (last access 2010-01-13) Website no.40: http://www.auroville.org/society/av_population.htm (last access 2010-01-13)
and an international zone. Outside these zones should be a Green-belt, which should provide the township with food4.
1.3. Problem Formulation To understand the acculturation process that takes place within the capitalist World-System, I suggest that one should promote a systemic and holistic perspective. Wallace has limited his model to apply it on clear demarcated culture groups where it has been much easier to identify the very interaction that takes place among the members of the group, in contrast to an analysis of the acculturation process that takes place during interaction between culturally diverse groups and how they mobilize in relation to the capitalist World-System (Wallace 1956:264). My hypothesis is that the formation of revitalization movements can occur even outside the social organism of the individual, which means that individuals mobilize together in revitalization movements and create multinational compounds, as a common reaction against the properties of modernity and capitalism, in relation to hegemonic decline. The very interaction that takes place between transnational revitalization movements and mainstream society, the actual acculturation process (Barfield 2006:1), has a multi-sited dimension, for Auroville it means that one has to follow the project; follow the people; follow the things, etc. But before this fieldwork can take place, one has to be sure about which actors are to be examined. As far as I know, no studies have been done on revitalization movements as transnational entities in relation to systemic changes.
Website no.42: http://www.auroville.org/thecity/galaxyplan.htm (last access 2010-01-13) Website no.43: http://www.auroville.org/av_brief.htm (last access 2010-01-13)
By looking at some specific transnational movements. but acting as a comprehensive force.Therefore. etc. as revitalization movements. to make arguments on how and why Auroville should be understood out of revitalization. in opposition of consumerism. for further research. with particular focus on its Western members.org (last access 2010-01-13) 12 . one can then better understand the acculturation process that takes place within the World-System. family resemblances to use Wittgenstein’s term (Harkin 2004:XXV).44: http://www. my goal with this thesis is to examine Auroville as a revitalization movement. The emphasis in this 6 Website no. following each step of the revitalization period. not only as an intentional community or an international township. and not only as a movement that grows out of one single culture group. in relation to hegemonic decline? To answer this question. be examined as one part in a bigger transnational informal revitalization movement. Therefore. Auroville could in turn. These other multinational movements have now also branches in other countries and tries to implement their ideas on the external world. I have chosen to first present Auroville with the help of Wallace’s revitalization model.damanhur. particularly their host state.org/ (last access 2010-01-13). Auroville is here seen as a case in relation to common compounds such as Findhorn in Scotland and Damanhur in Italy. which is comprised of different kinds of groups. but a movement that directs culture critique to various cultures and particularly modernization itself. I will describe the structural process of Auroville.45: http://www. as I believe may be the case with Auroville. that directs critique against the contemporary capitalist World-System. in the interplay between cultural diverse actors on a cultural heterogenic level. promoting an alternative cultural and societal system. loss of traditions. materialism and secularism. my question is: • In what ways can Auroville be understood as a revitalization movement within the capitalist World-System. but even worldwide through international collaboration6. such as Auroville. individualism. movements that share some basic common properties. resource demanding ways of production. but also as a revitalization movement. Website no.findhorn.
I will tie this presentation to World-System Theory. but mainly to show that the structural process of Auroville is in accordance with Wallace’s revitalization model. not only to use the theory on culture groups such as the case with the Seneca Indians (Wallace 2004:IX). who takes on ideas from Christian revitalization movements.4. “Social Movements”. even transnational and multinational compounds like Auroville can be understood with the use of revitalization theory. and “Millenarian Movements”. Purpose As mentioned above. aware that revitalization movements denotes a very large class of phenomena (Ibid. and continues by making a distinction between Wallace’s “classic” revitalization movements. when Wallace constructed his theory of revitalization. Wallace also points to the militant Christian Right in the U. and new more complex entities of research.:267).:X). such as nativistic movements and Cargo-Cults. meaning that the concept may be adopter to other fields of research. making it possible for the reader to make his or her own conclusions about Auroville as a revitalization movement. In the introduction to “Reassessing Revitalization Movements” (Harkin 2004). 1. meaning that the 13 . while making arguments on how. In “Reassessing Revitalization Movements” (Harkin 2004). as a contemporary phenomenon that could be understood with the use of revitalization theory (Ibid. and why. in 1956 when his first article was published (Ibid. aiming of restoring the American culture.).presentation will be on those properties that can relate Auroville with hegemonic decline. including movements that goes under the category of “Utopian Community”.S. and to Schema-Theory. the focus was on movements that grow out of demarcated culture groups. which is of relevance for the understanding of the recruitment of Westerners. This presentation will secondly provide the reader with enough insight in Auroville. But Wallace was already at this time. In the section for discussion. as a very special kind of culture change (Wallace 1956:265). during interaction with other culture groups.. Wallace invites in the Foreword to further elaboration with the theory of revitalization. Harkin points to the New Age movement as a revitalization phenomena.
and that more complex phenomena may need new ways of explanations.weakness in Wallace’s model lies in its reliance on a linear. still using revitalization as the lens from where to view these phenomena (Ibid. the emergence of new identities and the need of a new social and cultural system. the purpose with my thesis is to increase our understanding of culture change by responding to Wallace’s and Harkin’s invitation to further elaboration with the concept of revitalization. I believe that it could be of value to look at even complex multicultural and transnational compounds such as Auroville. Therefore.:XVII). stochastic model of social process. I have made observations that relate the activity of Auroville and its reasons for existence with systemic changes such as hegemonic decline. to examine their potential as revitalization movements. Method This deductive (Hylland Eriksen 2004:29) thesis is both empirical and 14 . 2. In relation to my experiences from the field. I will therefore discuss these connections and try to clarify in what sense Auroville can be understood out of revitalization.
The Field During my field study. Solar-Kitchen. within the township.1. articles. For example. Observation During my time in Auroville. not so much to provide one with deep insights about this particular site. I have also been forced to adapt my field study to unexpected events that I will describe below in more details.1. and many times what their conversations are about. 2. 2. In some of the settlements. one can observe how the residents interact with each other. and interviews. to discuss “around the dining table”. and on second-hand data from books. journals. outsiders are able 15 . Auroville is used as a case of other similar entities. participant observation.1.2. It is also a qualitative case study. Participant Observation Auroville is divided into more than hundred different settlements. and Internet. Even so at other public spaces within Auroville. or communities. without necessarily participating in the activities. not as a case itself.1. meant to provide brief insights about the conditions in Auroville. one is able to observe the interaction between Aurovillians and the subjects of conversation. The collected data from the field are meant to strengthen the theoretical arguments related to my question. some of the data I have been collected has been out of pure observation. based upon collected ethnographic data from the field in Auroville. in the communal dining hall. I have primarily used pure observation. 2. This gives one an understanding about what the Aurovillians seems to have at heart. such as the restaurants and cafés.theoretical.
volunteers. Some of my interviews have been informal and spontaneous. it has been difficult to blend in unnoticeable in the daily activities of the Aurovillians (Hylland Eriksen 2004:26).to participate in the daily activities. I had the opportunity to participate in the work in one of these farm settlements. 2. This means presumably the farm settlements in the Green-belt. merged out during my visits to various different sites within Auroville. and to understand what kind of issues that need to be discussed and solved. and also the decision making procedure. resident/visitor establishes. apart from spontaneously talk with various amount of individuals.3. A large proportion of my data has been collected when spontaneously visiting different sites within Auroville and made informal conversations with the residents and other individuals visiting the township. and researchers. and how they contemplate Auroville and their role on the world arena. Others have been more formal. Interviews My main method for gathering of data has been through interviews and spontaneous conversations. This has probably its deficiencies. In some settlements. and to interact with the residents in a way so they could share their inner thoughts. As a temporary visitor. I had the opportunity to participate during weekly meetings. where I was able to obtain an insight in the collective management of the settlements. which works with some kind of agriculture. visitors such as students. the opportunity to interview around twenty-five individuals important for the township and regular residents. one is still a visitor and a relation. By visiting commercial units and research centres I had. Even if one participates in their activities. especially for studies that concern intraconditions. 16 . foremost during interviews with key persons in the township.1. but in relation to my questions I believe I got enough material to strengthen my arguments. and “representatives” for different sections such as age-span.
social. some informants. told me that some issues were not being discussed here and held in the background. just before leaving the field. On an early stage during my stay in Auroville. political. and in some cases division out of class. and lost 17 kg. For example.2. urine infection. intraviolence. and religious background. did it become clear that some issues were not open for discussion. newcomer. I had to cancel interviews with key persons responsible for education and kindergarten centres. I knew from former visits that physical illness is something that happens to most Western travellers. Due to these issues. I was not able to collect enough data that concerned my original purpose. such as: reasons for joining Auroville. along with various insect bites that can cause consequences. and contemporary interaction with the external world. based upon a conflict between a Western Aurovillian man. During my stay in India I was exposed for a series of illnesses.nationality. Unexpected Events in the Field Before coming to India. such as lung-infection. participation in collective gatherings. before I decided to quit my job at field and take a flight back home for medical treatment. 2. are issues that almost all Western visitors will experience. along with some major community meetings that I 17 . I have been careful to include some universal questions. I gave this assurance in case some issues would be too sensitive to discuss if they knew that I would publish their names. Only later on. During my interviews I assured my interview subjects that all information that I received would be totally confidential. to gain insight in the commitment process in the township. The almost mandatory stomach disorder. During my interviews I never encountered any of these things. inflammation in my kidneys. contemplation of the external world. where the woman’s family members murdered the man. for example issues concerning the relation with the locals. and that no names would show up in my report. This particular issue concerned a murder case in Auroville. and a local Tamil woman along with her family members. When interviewing these key persons. and long-time residents. mostly other students from the hostel.
and why. while the former. Auroville has the function as a revitalization movement for these individuals.4.php.3. 18 . that is: the necessity of a new world order. With regard to Aurovillians who come from South-Asia or other non-Western countries. individuals in the West will react differently from those coming from the periphery. the township may even provide them with a platform and a social space from where to direct culture critique against their countries of origin. will look for models in the periphery (Friedman 7 http://www. Googling “Auroville” provides one with 262.org/works/index. But in relation to the question of this thesis.missed. There is a huge amount of material that is written in relation to Auroville. especially during hegemonic decline. During hegemonic decline. will more likely form national movements to challenge the hegemon. The latter. and from Internet. offers a significant amount of written material on the township. Most of the latter seem to contain the same things. and by. and a massive interest from the external world in the experiment. provides most of Aurobindo’s and the Mother’s writings. I think I have been able to obtain enough insight and to find pattern of behaviour that can support my arguments. Dozens of volumes have also been written on. 2.org. even though this needs different explanations due to different systemic impacts on local variations.000 matches. according to Friedman. based upon the ideals of Sri Aurobindo. 2. Aurobindo and his philosophy of Integral Yoga. the historical process of Auroville and other required data were to be found in written material from secondary observations. and dozens of books written by the Mother herself7. Secondary Data Even though the data I was able to collect during my field study gave me an insight and understanding of what the township is about.sriaurobindoashram. Auroville’s official webpage: Auroville. Delimitations I have delimited my discussion to comprise mainly its Western residents. and to make arguments on how. beyond the fact that they may have the resources for transnational movement.
which would be of interest to apply on my study. as a suggestion for further research. Wallace. 3. His conclusions make clear that there is a 19 . made by the American anthropologist Anthony F. Another dimension. but I have chosen to leave this aspect outside of my study. Wallace has been focusing mainly on historical movements to gather data about such to be able to draw conclusions from patterned behaviour.1994:81-88). Theory The main theory for this thesis is the concept of revitalization.C. would be the cultural significance of movements such as Auroville.
mainly taken from his book “Cultural Identity & Global Process” (Friedman 1994) together with Wallerstein’s conception of the capitalist World-System (Wallerstein 2007). according to Wallace (Ibid:267). By giving an account of my conception of culture. that later resulted in the book “Death and Rebirth of the Seneca” (Wallace 1972) that he constructed the revitalization 20 . which I will discuss later in more details. one must look at the systemic processes within the capitalist World-System and the emergence of new cultural identities and loyalties.C. Anthony F. organized. Wallace draws the conclusion that a uniform structural process. Of main importance in all anthropological studies is the conception of culture. My understanding of culture and cultural behaviour is one that lies in the domains of Schema-Theory (D’Andrade 2008). and it was while he was studying the Seneca people. characterizes them all (Wallace 1956:265). and to understand its complexity and their goals. conscious effort by members of a society to construct a more satisfying culture” (Ibid:265). the transparency of this thesis will increase so that opponents can take position and make their own conclusions. and the success-failure continuum (Wallace 1956 :264). To increase the understanding of the formation of complex revitalization movements. which makes the researcher put his subjects into a cultural frame from where to draw conclusions. This process of revitalization not only includes pure religious movements.1. Wallace’s main interest was among the Native Americans. A revitalization movement is a “deliberate. and it will assist my discussion on Auroville as a revitalization movement. At this time. Anthony Wallace and the Concept of Revitalization Through comparative studies of several hundreds of historical religious movements. considering the development of each of them.uniform structure in all these movements. but also socio-cultural movements as some intentional communities can be characterized as. 3. which he calls “revitalization” –a special kind of culture change as a result of the interplay between two or more cultures -. I have therefore chosen to use discussions made by Jonathan Friedman.
all actors within the capitalist WorldSystem respond to the impact on their cultures that capitalist development has. this results in individuals looking for a more satisfying socio-cultural order to replace the old one with (Friedman 1994. What I would like to examine in this thesis is 21 . Wallerstein 2004). Many anthropologists has put attention to revitalization theory since Wallace’s first publication on the concept (Harkin.model. and how they have been able to promote alternative values. the concept of revitalization has been delimited for studies of movements like the Cargo-Cults in Oceania. hegemonic. During hegemonic decline and instability. or as in Auroville’s case located in a physical distanced country but acting on a transnational level. ideological. may it be located within their physical national border. even “in the belly of the beast” (Wallace 2004:IX). In this sense. Friedman & Chase-Dunn 2005. Their answers may be in joining a revitalization movement at hand. as he himself puts it. and Wallace himself asks for elaboration with the concept. not to only include studies of people who are. Lucas 1992). et al 2004. Brown 2002. but even to examine revitalization that occurs. and economic conflicts of interest intensifying over time and in due course generating revitalization movement” (Ibid.:XI). imperial systems that disequilibrate not just from the external impact of alien cultural hegemony or natural disaster but from internal social. Wallace continues by arguing that the concept of revitalization could fit for the studies of revitalization movements that occur even in “large. reaching the mainstream society and re-shaping the culture and society to a New Steady State (Harkin 2004:XXVI). or have recently been. and different charismatic groups among Native American people. Since Wallace first published his revitalization theory in 1956. According to Wallerstein and Friedman. the revitalization model seems to have served well to picture the actual acculturation process that takes place and how cultures are able to change even during one single generation (Wallace 1956:265). under oppression of a foreign culture. The revitalization model has been a tool to show how these movements have been formed.
Right below I will describe how Wallace articulates this structural process. For this reason alone. his mazeway. the origin of revitalization movements lies in the stress of the individual during a time of cultural distortion. when the stress has increased to an intolerable level and the individual is looking for a way to cope with the situation.:269). which can satisfy his needs and provide him with meaning (Wallace 1956:269). which includes six steps that need to be taken for the movement to be successful.1. which Wallace describes as a “continuous diminution in its efficiency in satisfying needs”(Ibid:269). The Steady State has tolerable levels of stress and the members of the society are able to cope with this stress and satisfy their basic needs. Members of the society are able to handle the stress on this level and find suitable techniques for this purpose. as a part in the acculturation process that takes place on a systemic level in the World-System. Either he uses different cultural techniques to handle the stress. while others may not be able to handle this stress at all (Ibid. Wallace means that during serious cultural stress the uprising of prophets is present and some of 22 . After the Steady State follows a period of Increased Individual Stress. Those individuals who have not been able to cope with the reality of their culture and society feel the urge to find an alternative way of living. Members of the society now start to look for alternatives to the contemporary cultural and societal order. Next period is one of Cultural Distortion. as a revitalization movement and presumably considering its Western residents during times of hegemonic decline. stress continues to rise” (Ibid. This is followed by a Period of Revitalization. to give birth to a new socio-cultural order. The Uniform Structure of the Revitalization Process Wallace begins the process of revitalization with a Steady State.then how Auroville can be said to inhabit this function. Some rigid persons may accept this stress rather than looking for alternatives. or he reformulates his image of his society and culture. in which the culture is internally distorted and “the elements are not harmoniously related but are mutually inconsistent and interfering. According to Wallace.1. 3.:269).
Wallace describes this phase as one where the movement becomes established in society. most often. according to Weber (Weber 1983:169-171). This is a phase of modification and the movement has to constantly change and modify the original doctrine (Wallace 1956:274-275). During this phase. it is also critical for the future of the movement that the prophet creates some kind of comprehensive ideology and distributes some of his authority to other levels of the movement. This process is what Wallace calls Mazeway Reformulation. in the same way as a church is being established out of a religious 23 . a mental image of society. it is the followers who create the image of a prophet with divine powers. of themselves and their physical environment. The prophet legitimates his authority through his charismatic personality and.:274). and he gathers disciples around him.:275). is about how well the movement adapts to different conditions. The fourth step. culture. most commonly directed from the larger society.them can provide other individuals with a new image of culture and society. the movement start to become normal for the larger society that surrounds the movement. The Cultural Transformation step. The second step that needs to be taken is Communication. which in turn provide the individuals with meaning (Ibid. This mental image is the Mazeway. as seen by one person (Ibid.:266. where converts are made by the prophet. The third step is Organization. 270-273). which has begun to change the mental state of each individual as a result of enthusiastic group action programs. the movement is more or less destined to end with the death of the leader. Otherwise. The movement begin with this step to become more political in character and many converts undergoes revitalizing personality changes during this phase (Ibid. The last step is the Routinization of the movement. consists of a period where social revitalization occurs.:273). nature. which follows. or internal division in the movement itself. which in turn has other followers under them in a new hierarchic social organisation. where the individual who has received visions becomes a prophet by communicating his ideas and visions to potential followers (Ibid. During this phase. personality and body image. Wallace relies on a Weberian sense of a charismatic leadership when describing the relationship between followers and the prophet. Adaptation. This is a result of cultural changes. The prophet receives visions that help him to define a New Steady State. such as external threats.
the common source-characteristic of all revitalization movements seems to be the deprivation of meaning and the sense of stress that affect some members of the culture (Wallace 1956:265). different from that Steady State during cultural distortion (Ibid. a so-called culture modality. then. which I believe is the case with Auroville? According to Wallace. Wallace 1956:267).movement. which includes codes for conceptions and behaviour (Wallace 2004b:15). and less attention has been given to movements in large-scale complex societies and multicultural movements such as many contemporary 2004:XV-XVI). Wallace narrows his analysis of revitalization movements when only including members of a particular society that undergo a process of acculturation. Culture Definition and the Variations of Movements The culture concept of Wallace is one that belongs to the school of Culture and Personality. when a period of culture change appears and the common cultural image modifies or takes totally new appearances. in turn. When the movement has succeeded in each step of the revitalization process. Cargo-Cults appear as movements that bring together the new and the old in a process of acculturation. Harkin .2. during times when the deprivation of meaning is acute (Barfield 2006:49-50. This process of acculturation has been related mostly to nativistic movements such as many indigenous movements. relates the process of revitalization to one of acculturation. How. Wallace. a New Steady State will proceed. Members of a given society feel the need to reconstruct their culture and the process that follows is what Wallace calls the revitalization process (Wallace 1956). would Wallace’s theory be applicable on revitalization movements which includes members of different cultures and societies. where individuals in a given culture to a certain degree share a common image of the culture. and accomodationist movements such as Cargo-Cults. In modern complex societies. seen from a systemic perspective. many social-cultural 24 intentional communities (Wallace 1956:275-278.:275).1. 3.
Brown’s study seems in this way to be a good comparative case to use in the understanding of Auroville as a revitalization movement. sprung out of intercommunication on a global level. She discusses how members of Ananda Village reformulated their mazeway out of elements and subsystems that already existed in the U.:268). when establishing a movement geographically distanced to their culture and society of origin.S. Wallace means that these individuals join together in a revitalization movement with the purpose to change the whole social organism that they belong to. with the common purpose to invent a more satisfying cultural and societal organisation and revitalize their cultures on a systemic level. such as an interest in eastern religions and New Age beliefs (Brown 2002:166). Wallace’s notion that every culture has its own personality. According to Wallace. But it could be seen as a collective effort.movements such as intentional communities are uprising due to the lack of meaning for many individuals (Brown 2002:154).:266. When parts of this social organism is being threatened with serious damage. even 25 . Susan Love Brown uses the revitalization theory to analyze the development of a new age community: Ananda Village in the U. some individuals will feel an intolerable amount of stress and as a result they take action to reduce the amount of stress to a tolerable level (Ibid. about the shared image of culture and society (Wallace 1956:266). plays an important role in his analysis of revitalization movements. Using the culture concept of Wallace.. in a time of cultural distortion and deprivation of meaning. defined as a network of intercommunication (Wallace 1956:266). Western members cannot then be understood as a collective effort to re-shape the Steady State of origin by direct action on the home ground.:269).S.269). He looks at society as a living organism. or modal type (Wallace 2004b:15). In the case of Auroville. one can understand that some individuals are getting lost and feel stressed when not knowing anymore about what “highway” to choose to move onward. individuals join together in revitalization movements when reacting to the same phenomenon and the mazeway reformulation “depends on a restructuring of elements and subsystems which have already attained currency in the society and may even be in use” (Ibid. following the reformulated mazeway of a prophet/leader (Ibid.
This test also shows how our ability to make interpretations about the world depends on how our schema is constituted (Ibid. 3. I agree with D’Andrade’s discussion on how the goals.2. The cognitive process creates a schema in the mind of the individual. actions. Schema Theory Roy G. D’Andrade (D’Andrade 2008) concretizes how a cognitive schema interacts with the individual’s ability to reason and solve problems.:55).if Ananda does not have a multinational character and is comprised of only Americans. D’Andrade continues with a discussion on how new sub-schemas apply to 26 . It is something you learn. security and fun” (Ibid. things like love. The stronger association the individual had with the material in the test (a Pepsi bottle in this specific test). to be able to reason and communicate with your fellow members in your group. Culture and Identity – Schema Theory My perception of culture is that it is a cognitive process that lasts throughout ones whole life.:50). success. He calls this schema “a person’s master motives – for Americans. Culture can be said to be the specific exclusivist behavioural character of each group (Wallace 2004b:15). and to organize yourself in the world.2. He means that for every individual “certain cultural and idiosyncratic schemas sit at the top of their interpretative system”. the greater ability the individual had to reason and solve the problem. and even emotions of individuals in a cultural group will depend on the cultural schema that they have acquired through their cognitive process. 3.1. making him able to understand and associate with his fellow members (D’Andrade 2008:48). it was made clear that there is a connection with the individual’s cognitive structure and his problem-solving ability. In a test to examine individual’s abilities to figure out specific problems.
The significant characteristics of the human cultural group would then logically be those patterns of behaviour that are common for all human groups. Following this logic of the cognitive process.2.15). where individuals can belong to many different sub-groups all together. The lowest schemas in the hierarchy are those with motives that only generate during interaction with higher-level schemas. At the same time. while those motives belonging to the top-level schemas are more general in character. are those that consist of motives that are less general.:55). or culture modality as Wallace defines it (Wallace 2004b:13.the top-level schema. which will provide them with common associations and a cultural schema that characterizes a large part of the group . The Hierarchy of the Schemas I view. 3. one could start with the human race as the largest group.2. following the differentiation process down through regional. job and hobbies. and local sub-groups with sub-groups within the sub27 . The experiences shape the individual. this process of uniformity is parallel with a differentiation process that distinguishes different sub-groups from each other and therefore creates sub-schemas in the individual that differentiate him from other individuals in the larger group. national. Each individual goes through a socialization process in which he learns how to interpret the world with the help of his group and his environment. as tabula rasas. The sub-schemas further down the hierarchy. such as marriage. which D’Andrade concretize with the example of the motive of cleaning up dirt. with the inspiration of D’Andrade’s illustration of Schema-Theory individuals as cultural blank pages. which is a dual process of uniformity and differentiation. but make it possible for him to make the same associations as others belonging to the same sub-group – middle-level schemas. middle-level schemas. which is most often triggered when schemas having to do with. Each individual in a given group will most probably share some basic experiences. for example the incest taboo.already existing ones and create a hierarchy between them. for example. local. at the time of birth. health and beauty are invoked (Ibid. followed by a differentiation process that distinguishes each sub-groups from each other.
and why some of them seem to occur in larger quantities during particular systemic changes within the capitalist World-System (Brown 2002:164). individuals will review their present cultural identification and look for alternatives that will suit them better (Friedman 1994:86). World-System Theory and Revitalization Movements Using the connection between global processes and cultural identity. are challenged by other regions within the system.1. progress and movement. The final result is a complex layering and interpenetration of cultural and idiosyncratic schemas which contains some degree of conflict” (D’Andrade 2008:56). to finally reach the individual character. 3.groups. because one has to put a township like Auroville in a global context to really understand its implications. D’Andrade describes this cultural constitution of a person similarly: “Each individual’s life history can be viewed as the building of new schematic organizations through processes of accommodating to experiences and assimilating these experiences to previous schematic organizations. many individuals will question the modern identity when they feel that this identity. especially when following the development of a multicultural movement. In the centre. will provide one with explanations about reasons behind revitalization movements. which Friedman discusses in his book Cultural Identity & Global Process.3. It is of importance. They will search for lost cultural roots or find an increased interest in 28 . I believe. no longer agree with the present economic development and its position within the system. 3. Hegemonic Decline and the Rise of Cultural Movements Friedman discusses how the emergence of new cultural identities are increasing during hegemonic decline out of following premises: When the centre of the World-System.3. its core states that constitutes the hegemonic power. which is characterized by a sense of continued development. and individualism. I believe that this connection is of uttermost importance for the understanding of the nature of these kinds of movements.
an era where more people starts to question the route of market economy. searching for a cultural state that will provide them with meaning (Ibid. status and influence. World-System Theory and the rise of 29 . where capitalism can be seen as the negation of culture. Wallerstein explains how the world revolutions of 1968 signalled a new era for the capitalist World-System. and particularly the hegemony of the United States. Another aspect of this is the constitution of modern identity and capitalism itself. In this thesis I will tie together revitalization theory with culture construction understood through schema-theory. hegemonic decline can be connected to the rise of new cultural movements even in these areas. At the same time. movements that are aiming for cultural. especially concerning its Western residents. He means that the interest for narrative utopia has increased in recent time as a reaction to modernity. particularly in the literary genres.the exotic.:81-88). which is in the middle of a thoroughgoing transformation (Wegner 2002:XVI). Harkin 2004:XXX).:81. which I will discuss later in more details (Wallerstein 1989) Phillip E. which is decreasing in power. in other words “classic” revitalization movements in relation to Wallace’s original use of the concept (Friedman 1994:86. and with this an emergence of new cultural identities. Wallace 1956. I believe that this development can be connected to the establishment of Auroville. which does not have the power to provide the individuals with meaning and to make them “experience themselves as parts of a cosmological realm”.:92). and many times even national sovereignty. This all together creates an identity crisis in the centre. in the periphery many people will now question the former hegemonic identity. protesting against the properties of the capitalist world order. The revolutions of 1968 also mark the beginning of an increase of new social movements.91). Wegner does a similar connection when examining the connection between modernity and the emergence of utopian ideas. “a system of abstract roles and functions” (Ibid. In this way. which in some cases results in the formations of intentional communities (Ibid.
in the section for Discussion. and this connection is important for the understanding on how Western individuals are able to mobilize in revitalization movements outside their own social organism.Mazeway Reformulation The origin of Auroville begins with the teaching of Sri Aurobindo and his successor Mirra Alfassa. a new socio-cultural gestalt which has attracted thousands of Western individuals. has a clear connection with present sub-elements in the Western world. 4. while making arguments on how Auroville can be understood through the lens of revitalization. The History of Auroville . the Mother. 30 . The mazeway presented by Aurobindo and the Mother to Western receivers. or hallucinations. made them chose to live a life in Auroville. and contemporary by the Aurovillians themselves.cultural movements in relation to hegemonic decline. better known as the Mother. uphold by Sri Aurobindo. Wallace describes how revitalization movements most often originate through visions. as a way of directing culture critique towards their societies of origin. In this presentation lies the construction of a mazeway. Below I will start the thesis by delineating the history and formation of Auroville. the so-called New Age movement.
which has its foundation in Hindu philosophy (McDermott 2001:16. manifested through lord Krishna and with inspiration from Swami Vivekananda. and in England he received first a primary school education and then a college graduation from King’s College in Cambridge. Aurobindo started early on to develop his ideas about the Supreme Truth with inspiration from neo-Hindu thinkers 31 . and science inspired him and McDermott describes how Aurobindo came to develop his own philosophy as a blend of Western intellectualism and Hindu spirituality (McDermott 2001:15-16). In Auroville’s case. Through his time in England Western understanding of historical evolution. The story begins with the Indian nationalist activist Aurobindo Ghose. both sharing the same visions derived through Aurobindo’s philosophy. 4. in which a new social and cultural system replaced the old. According to Aurobindo.received by one person during stress. Aurobindo Ghose – Sri Aurobindo Aurobindo Akroyd Ghose (1872-1950) became from early years very influenced by Western thoughts. Aurobindo´s struggle for Indian independence was mainly rooted in his spiritual beliefs about the Supreme Truth. the movement has two prophets. he moved to Pondicherry and left his active life in the Independent movement (Minor 1999:18). nationalism. and this person’s further construction of a new socio-cultural gestalt (Wallace 1956:267). this vision was a realization of the eternal truth.1. Minor 1999:145). held speeches and founded two weekly nationalistic newspapers. In 1910. In Pondicherry individuals started to gather around him and in 1926 an Ashram was to be founded. creating the foundation of the Sri Aurobindo Ashram. I will then show how these events can be interpreted using Wallace’s theory of mazeway. poetry. and Auroville. after receiving a vision while being in jail for conspiracy against the British Empire. Irish nuns in Darjeeling conducted his early education. Below I will describe the history and origin of Auroville. Soon after his return to India in 1893 he got involved in the Indian nationalist movement.
He believed that India was the most spiritual developed nation on earth and that the independent India would present itself to the world as a spiritual teacher – as a guru for the world (Minor 1999:20). 32 . Therefore. 4. and promoted an accomodationist philosophy where humanity should take inspiration from European progress in science and intellectualism. which Aurobindo contemplated it as. a world dominated by war. a synthesized yoga consisted of all elements of life (Minor 1999:32). 36-37).1. he gives an account of a world in crisis. there is not only one-way for all to reach higher levels of consciousness. the earth consciousness would get affected and so transform into perfection with time. fulfilled by the Divine Truth.such as Vivekananda and Rhadakrishnan. To clarify this picture he made up a dichotomization between the West and the East (India). India was also the best suited place on earth.1. materialism and fragmentation. Aurobindo meant that true human evolution has to start in one’s mind and one’s intellectual level. He came to create his own understanding of these methods as Integral Yoga. a yoga that will speed up the evolution of humanity. and take its way up to the Supermind (Ibid. Man also has the ability to speed up the progress of evolution by using these special methods.:173). promoting a full life of yoga – yoga of work. Aurobindo 2003:14-15. but put it in a Hindu spiritual context (Minor 1999:30-33). division. where to nurture and mature a spirituality that will harmonize all religions and all creeds in the world and to create true human unity. The root of this madness. He saw himself and Indian spirituality as agents of historical evolution (McDermott 2001:21). Integral Yoga In many of Aurobindo’s works. The Western understanding of human history and evolution is central to his understanding of this development. And each individual has to find his own way to perfection. This philosophy was named Integral Yoga and consists of a synthesis of all ancient yoga techniques.180. is to be found in the lack of spirituality (McDermott 2001:22. This is true yoga. When accelerating the evolution of each individual.
2: http://www. which is a 23 thousand line epic poem (Ibid. Because his works were written in English.auroville-international. “An evolution of consciousness is the central motive of terrestrial existence. and intuition. .org/ (last access 2010-01-13). The goal is to reach the Supermind and become one with the divine (Minor 1999:37). Aurobindo says to be one of the four great modern Indian thinkers.wikipedia.nl/~biedel/ (last access 2010-0113). The evolutionary working of Nature has a double process: an evolution of forms. no.org/avi-centres. no.1. He believed that he himself had reached higher levels of consciousness through yoga.:32).4: http://en. or became disciples at his ashram in Pondicherry8. next to Gandhi. This higher level he used to call Overmind.2. 4. According to McDermott. Spirituality has to be experienced and not understood out of dogmatic intellectualism (Aurobindo 2003b:21-23). 8 Website no.according to Aurobindo (Minor 1999:28).3: http://home. Vivekananda and Tagore (Ibid.collaboration.:23). Aurobindo described man as the crest of evolution and meant. Aurobindo and Evolution In his work “The Future Evolution of Man-The Divine Life Upon Earth”.kabelfoon.html (last access 2010-01-13). Robert McDermott describes how Aurobindo came to develop a full systematic philosophy during his lifetime. This is the first step towards completion and perfection. The most famous one is Savitri-A Legend and a Symbol.1: http://www. waiting for divinization (McDermott 2001:64-67). Many of his Western readers founded their own centres with inspiration from Aurobindo’s teachings.org/wiki/Sri_Aurobindo (last access 2010-01-13) 33 . he also became known in the Western world with an increase of interest from the 1960’s (Ibid. meditation.:13). based on 29 encyclopaedic volumes that he wrote mainly during his time in Pondicherry until his death in 1950. He was teaching that the key to truth was through intuition and not through intellectual intelligence. Website no. Present Man is just a transitional being. an evolution of the soul” (Aurobindo 2003:5).
has gone beyond his own mental development and that she was a descent of the Supermind. In 1956 34 .2.1. which he started to call Alfassa early on after meeting her. and finally the collective realization of the philosophy – Auroville (Minor 1999:36-37). This idea came to be fully developed through Alfassa who extended the movement to include new departments.In 1926 Aurobindo decided to leave his public life and live an ascetic secluded subsistence in a meditative state – Sádhana. The Mother was the divine appearing to be human (Minor 1999:40-41). 4. Alfassa continued her spiritual searching and development back in France and in 1912 she established a spiritual group known as “Cosmique”.2. mainly from the Western world.2. Mirra Alfassa the Mystic Mirra Alfassa was born in Paris in 1878 from an Egyptian father and a Turkish mother. 4. an interest in mysticism and spirituality grew in her and in 1905 she went to Algeria to study occultism for one year. Aurobindo saw in Alfassa the natural successor of the movement and began a period of passing on the authority to her. Mirra Alfassa Meets Sri Aurobindo In 1914 she came to Pondicherry to meet Aurobindo (McDermott 2001:27). Minor 1999:38). organizations. 4. Below I will describe her role in the movement. Early on in her life.2. where people could come together and create a suitable environment for the acceleration of human evolution. He even believed that the Mother. She introduced many Indian ancient texts such the Bhagavadgita and the Upanisads to the group and during the following years her interest in these texts grew (McDermott 2001:27. who started to shape an organizational structure and attract new followers. The successor of the movement became Mirra Alfassa.The Mother Integral yoga could also be manifested collectively. Mirra Alfassa .
2. Radha to Krishna) (McDermott 2001:286-287). Auroville belongs to humanity as a whole. The concept of the Mother – or shakti. which means divine energy – is a traditional Indian title referring to spiritual eminence in female form. The Charter of Auroville9: 1..htm (last access 2010-01-13) 35 . But to live in Auroville. 2. one must be the willing servitor of the Divine Consciousness. In 1967 she constructed a Charter for the township that should comprise the vision of Sri Aurobindo and so act as a guideline for the residents to relate to.Alfassa announced that the Supermind had descended through her (McDermott 2001:24).to realize the vision of Sri Aurobindo.3.auroville. of constant progress. Auroville will be the place of an unending education.5: http://www. the search for pleasure and material enjoyment” (Minor 1999:46). 4. Auroville belongs to nobody in particular. Sita to Rama. with the aim of reaching perfection – to be one with the divine. She named this place Auroville (McDermott 2001:227). The Mother carried on the teachings of Sri Aurobindo and did not include much to it. both materially and spiritually. Her big legacy for the Sri Aurobindo movement lies in the establishment of the physical environment where Man was supposed to grew and develops. In short .org/vision/charter.g. It should be “a place where the needs of the spirit and the concern for progress would take precedence over the satisfaction of desires and passions. The Mother on Auroville Auroville should be a social collective experiment where people from all cultures and religions could unite and nurture a society based on the principals from the teachings of Sri Aurobindo and the Mother. especially as a complement to a male spiritual personality or force (e. and a 9 Website no.
She explained once that intuitive intelligence has its seat around the solar plexus in the human body. The Supermind itself should provide individuals with motivations and directions so that they can go their own way in their personal mental development. Democracy. and no money10. between four to eight individuals. Auroville should be free from all social. no begging.org/journal_of_is/new_race_feb08/new_race4. according to the Mother. no religions. political and religious convictions. 4. Auroville will be a site of material and spiritual researches for a living embodiment of an actual Human Unity.6: http://www.org/journal_of_is/new_race_feb08/new_race4. such as: no marriages in Auroville. where Man’s ego is set besides the higher motives (Ibid. who all act out of intuitive intelligence.html (last access 2010-01-13) 11 36 .theuniversityoftomorrow.youth that never ages.theuniversityoftomorrow. and instead a place where individuals could join together for the practice of integral yoga. a compression of years or decades of evolution into a short period (Minor 1999:51). she made up a few social regulations.html (last access 2010-01-13) Website no. Integral yoga was. Auroville will boldly spring towards future realisations. The others have to submit to the top and follow the guidance of the best suited. no drugs.:55). which she never considered as a religion. 3. 10 Website no.6: http://www. Taking advantage of all discoveries from without and from within. Auroville wants to be the bridge between the past and the future. She promoted a kind of government by a few. But until humanity is able to handle this divine anarchy with sincerity. She called this a divine anarchy. is ruling through the greatest number of the lowest rung11. according to the Mother. The highest authority is that of the supreme Truth. and individuals with a high intuitive intelligence has access to this part to know whether which way to go and what decisions are to be taken (Aurobindo and the Mother 2002:158).
It happened frequently when I asked about their own contemplation of life. They felt. as they were the pioneers of this mission. for humanity to reach unity. not just to earn my livelihood”. one has to find his or her own path to truth. such as the communal dining hall the Solar Kitchen and in the Financial Centre in the Town Hall building. They have also founded study circles where to discuss and interpret the philosophy. Mother said that yoga is to work.3. One example of the Aurovillians adoption of the mazeway is the many references to the Mother while having a conversation with them. and it could sound like this: Me: “How do you find meaning in life?” Informant x: “In the words of the Mother.4. so I find meaning in life through hard work. and how to implement the ideas in Auroville. Auroville and the Philosophy One can see texts filled with the words of the Mother and Aurobindo practically all over the township. It seems as they have totally adopted the mazeway and shaped an existence with inspiration from Integral Yoga. but as a way to realize myself. According to my resident informants. They were also aware that present humanity has its deficiencies and that the vision of human unity and perfection will take time to reach. a mission that would be accomplished through future generations. and we have to work hard to realize material matters. She once said that. especially when quoting parts from the philosophy. One is only in need of sincere aspiration to fulfill this aim. Especially the Charter is put up as a reminder in many public places. the philosophy explains life holistically and provides one with instructions on how to live a life in perfection. At my hostel. otherwise we can’t reach our spiritual realization. This can probably be explained due to the 37 . above all creeds and all religions. The Aurovillians themselves very often cites parts of the philosophy when speaking with them about their aim in life. My informants held the Mother as the prime inspiration source. every morning the manager wrote a quote from the Mother or Aurobindo on the black board in the dining hall. Spiritual realization and material realization are two things of the same.
become a prophet by preaching his realizations to potential followers. These features will be discussed later in this thesis. and how the movement is carrying on the task of communication to attract new members (Wallace 1956:273. and how the Mother carried on his legacy through the realization of the philosophy: Auroville. through his public announcement of his new mazeway. A Movement Becomes – Communication and Organization Wallace describes how “the dreamer” becomes a prophet during the phase of communication. and in the lengthening for the understanding of the revitalization aspects of the movement. He becomes a prophet through the gathering of disciples and followers. describes how an organization structure takes form. the members of the movement are upholding the philosophy while trying to implement the ideas in Auroville. Above I have explained how first Sri Aurobindo came to develop a comprehensive philosophy as a blend between Western intellectualism and Hindu spirituality. except the fact that Aurobindo’s mazeway reformulation goes in line with Wallace’s theory of the same as was explained in the section of Theory. Below I will first describe the second phase of the period of revitalization. Communication. as he spread his prophecy. some individuals who are also suffering from stress due to the unsatisfactory cultural and societal order they experience will listen to his preaching and maybe adopt his mazeway as their own mental 38 . while making arguments on how Auroville can be understood with the help of revitalization theory. while Aurobindo is in the background. Organization. At present. The third phase. is the common characteristic of Aurobindo’s philosophy with key ideas in the New Age movement in the Western world. This is of importance to understand how Auroville has been able to gather two thirds of its population from the Western world.fact that she alone was the founder of the township and make it came true. In other words. where the vision-holder. in this case Sri Aurobindo. inspiring as the original source of the philosophy. What is of relevance here. and how the case with authority is solved. 5.
but primarily from North India (Minor 1999:37).org/wiki/Collected_Works_of_Sri_Aurobindo (last access 2010-01-13) 39 . but with time more and more people got aware of his preaching and came to Pondicherry. Aurobindo was able to gather a group of around twenty individuals that were living in the city. followed by a discussion of the Mother’s influence on the recruitment of members to the movement.:273). devoted disciples. I will therefore start with the communication of Sri Aurobindo and how he came to attract members to his ashram in Pondicherry. Aurobindo was able to gather disciples and followers in India because of his fame as a spiritual freedom fighter and his engagement for a reformed and revitalized form of Hinduism (Minor 1999:24). was to be established around him. He left dozens of publications after him.7: http://en.1. When first coming to Pondicherry. Aurobindo and Communication When coming to Pondicherry in 1910. 5. and the second consists of the preaching by the Mother and her followers. many of them compiled of correspondence between Aurobindo and his closest disciples12. he shared accommodation with four to five disciples. Wallace tells that communication will continue to be a vital part of the movement during later phases. Aurobindo started to shape a group around him through his preaching. for the prophet to be able to preach and 12 Website no.1. 5. this has of course two phases. Communication In Auroville’s case. therefore the communication of Auroville at present is of concern and will be taken up in the end of the chapter (Ibid.:39). while some came there temporarily to receive teaching and to take part in darshans (Ibid. During his active time until 1926 as a teacher and a prophet in Pondicherry. spiritual public meetings.1. on a regular basis that attracted people from all over India. and soon a community of sadhaks.wikipedia. He made darshans. which became the foundation of the Sri Aurobindo Ashram (Ibid. the first consists of the preaching by Aurobindo and his disciples and followers. As Wallace points out.:37).image of a new Steady State (Wallace 1956:273). But his primary method to attract followers was through his literary works.
the writings of Aurobindo came to inspire many more in the Western world and become more accessible to the public. This was a progress that began to take shape when the teachings of Aurobindo became accessible to the public in Europe and the U. until the 1960s. mainly consisting of Indians with neo-Hindu values that were concerned with the re-shaping of Indian spirituality. along with a few Western spiritual seekers (Minor 1999:37). 226). he did not become known to the public audience in the Western world until the 1960s.scribd. Paul Brunton. the ashram increased successively in members and with the attraction of more Westerners it began to take shape as a full-scale movement (Minor 1999:39-40). The Mother and Communication When the Mother took charge over the ashram in 1926. 5.S. with the authority of the Mother. Even though he wrote all his publications in English.1. Outside India. the Sri Aurobindo Ashram was a relatively isolated phenomenon in India. according to McDermott (McDermott 2001:32. At this time.2. Therefore.8: http://www. a new era began with the recruitment of more Westerners to the movement and the establishment of branches both in India and abroad. and people started to make “pilgrimage” to the ashram in Pondicherry 13 Website no.S. more of the responsibility concerned teaching and maintenance of the group came to depend on the activity of his closest disciples (Minor 1999:39).com/doc/17714396/Sri-Aurobindo (last access 2010-01-13) 40 . such as the Human Potential Movement and familiar movements such as the Self-Realization Fellowship in California13. and Karlheinz Stockhausen. especially in the United States and in Europe. From 1926 and onwards. Until this time. he has to hand over some of the teachings to his disciples (Wallace 1956:273). the teachings of Aurobindo was reserved to intellectuals. Frederich Spiegelberg. the writings of Aurobindo inspired intellectuals such as Mircea Eliade.spread his ideas to the public. especially through the engagement of groups that were formed through inspiration from Aurobindo’s integral philosophy. and occult and mystic groups in Europe and in the U. as the amount of followers increased. Through the years.
Scientific. but were still restricted to mystical and spiritual subgroups.in/onsas.org/thecity/africa/african_pavilion. Sri Navajata16. so as with other national authorities all over the world. The Official Support The Mother was very active in the recruitment process and the legitimization and credibility process. Two examples are the relations she established with the Tibetan people’s spiritual leader Dalai lama. hosted many French citizens that became aware of Aurobindo and the Mother.11: http://en. who wrote down many of his conversations with the Mother and later on published them for the access of the public. According to informants in Auroville.3. both national and international. these French citizens spread the words of Aurobindo in France and elsewhere in Europe.htm (last access 2010-01-13) Website no. the United Nations Educational.12: http://www.(Ibid. and the former emperor of Ethiopia.htm (last access 2010-01-13) 15 Website no. and the handover of communication tasks to close disciples such as the devotee Satprem15. Through active engagement.10: http://www. the Mother succeeded with the task of achieving support. and the General Secretary of the Sri Aurobindo Society. and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) passed 14 Website no.wikipedia. Not until the 1960s. 5. which is a part of the former French India. the author of the bestselling book “An Autobiography of a Yogi” (Yogananda 2007).auroville. Both came to actively support the experiment of Auroville and the philosophy of Aurobindo14.org.9: http://www.org/thecity/tibet_pavilion/dalailama_in_av.htm (last access 2010-01-13) 16 41 .1. when different groups started to take form out of inspiration of Aurobindo and other neo-Hindu thinkers such as Swami Vivekananda and Swami Paramahansa Yogananda. Haile Selassie.org/wiki/Satprem (last access 2010-01-13) Website no.auroville. She had mail correspondence with Indian government officials.:39-40). for the establishment of Auroville. even Western mainstream society started to get in touch with the ideas of this new kind of spiritualism (Diem and Lewis 2002:49).sriaurobindosociety. Pondicherry. Except financial and moral support from the Indian Government. along with the common support from many Indian State Governments. which came to mainly concern Auroville.
the awareness of Auroville’s existence for them was either through friends. Apart from the activity within Auroville itself. Promoting the Auroville Brand According to many informants. was founded to co-ordinate the international support of Auroville and to promote its ideas on an international level18.auroville-international. and actively working with seeking up potential donors to support the township financially. and human unity17 (Minor 1999:58-59). and regular visitors such as tourists.13: http://www. researchers. the guest will have the opportunity to partake in some of the activities that are managed by the township. and Auroville. before being able to become a newcomer. 5. These branches are communicating the ideals of Auroville to the world.1968 and 1970. and to meet and talk with Aurovillians.1. During the visit. culture exchange. active engagement on an international level is therefore necessary. to make Auroville known to the public and to recruit members from volunteers. Even though some Westerners found their way to the ashram. Every individual who wants to reside in Auroville has to visit Auroville first. Auroville International (AVI).14: http://www.resolutions 1966. if he is to become a convert. or from Internet and/or traditional media such as newspapers and television. The main 17 Website no. In 1983. making it easier to know if it suits himself.4. finishing with an approval from the Auroville Entry Group after several interviews. it was not until the inauguration of Auroville that more Westerners started to seriously discuss the possibilities of moving to India.org/ (last access 2010-01-13) 18 42 . which consists of a period of at least one year. In one-way or another. This will give him an insight in the life of the township. the township operates internationally through member associations and liaisons in twenty-four different countries.org/organisation/supp_statements_unesco.auroville. for a support of Auroville as a very important contribution for the future of humanity. they became aware of Auroville and continued to read about the experiment.htm (last access 2010-01-13) Website no. To recruit new members to the township. concerning questions of international understanding. which is a worldwide network.
5. Another source for Auroville to promote their ideas today is through the Global EcoVillage Network [GEN]. and how the handover of the leadership was achieved.org/programs/e_auroville. and how these receivers became more in numbers from the 1960s under the Mother’s leadership. why Western individuals have chosen Auroville in front of other movements in the West. The support that the Mother gained for the movement is also of significant value to understand the revitalization aspects of the movement. They also hold workshops at various kinds of happenings. promoting Aurobindo’s philosophy as an alternative.15: http://www. Below I will describe how an organizational structure started to take form around the movement.html (last access 2010-01-13) Website no. Above. as a way of directing culture critique against their own societies by the critique they direct against the capitalist order of the World-System. government. activities. I have also explained how he was able to attract followers from the West. Members of Auroville International represent Auroville to national. I have described how Aurobindo was able to gather followers due to his fame as a cultural hero.4.org/calendar_main. to finally let the Mother take charge over the movement. etc20.livingroutes.auroville-international. spiritual and/or sustainability trade fairs.16: http://www. Auroville was actually designated officially in 1997 as an eco-village. even if its promotion of sustainable methods with care for the environment started already from its inauguration21.html (last access 2010-01-13) Website no. and in relation to hegemonic decline.17: http://www. according to Wallace.aviusa.htm (last access 2010-01-13) 43 . international. This is of importance if one wants to understand how Auroville can be understood through the lens of revitalization. Organization During the phase of organization the prophet. such as festivals. aims and ideals of Auroville”19.org/avi/who-are-we.objective of the network is to “making known the existence. and non-government organizations. how he handed over some of the movements responsibilities to his disciples. makes 19 20 21 Website no. which Auroville is a member of.
printing of books and journals. With time Aurobindo succeeded with the handover of the charismatic leadership and the disciples saw in the Mother the way to salvation. which has clear references to Weber’s notion of the handover of charismatic properties (Weber 1985:202-206).converts. which was managed by the Mother (Minor 1999:36-37). he decided to hand over all public and internal affairs to his successor. The first thing he needed to do to fulfil this goal was to establish a separate community where dwellers could live and develop their own spiritual being in a balanced environment. As the followers that came to Pondicherry increased in numbers. This community of higher spiritual beings would in turn affect the earth-consciousness. In 1926. the disciples. Minor describes in details this handover of the leadership. the movement is most likely to collapse with the death of the prophet (Wallace 1956:274). and the followers. From 1926 and onwards until her death in 1973. where the prophet has to administer and distribute his power to different levels within a stable institutional structure. It is the routinization of charisma that is of main importance during this phase. It develops a kind of campaign organization with three orders of personnel: the prophet. the Mother. The disciples at this time who had gathered around him numbered only a twenty or so (Minor 1999:37). Minor 1999:27). new centers and branches in India and abroad. starting up schools. to create a perfect world inhabited by spiritual individuals living in harmony with the supramental consciousness. every single decision. Everything. she authorized everything that concerned the movement. when he announced that he had reached the Overmind. If he fails. 5. an ashram was established around Aurobindo in 1926. and recruitment of new members. The Period Before Auroville Aurobindo had international aspirations.1. by providing an example of living and through its involvement in the common consciousness .4. had to go through the Mother 44 .which will transform and divinize humanity (McDermott 2001:41. from purchase of land.
The purpose of the Society was to “coordinate and administer the institutions of the Aurobindo movement worldwide and to collect funds for the ashram” (Minor 1999:58).org. Wallace 1956:274). and Auroville. When she was setting up the township.sriaurobindosociety. 58-65). the Sri Aurobindo Society (SAS). Since the Mother took charge of the movement. the disciples had increased in numbers to around 150 and the recruitment of members increased even more with time (Minor 1999:39). In 1968. all under the supervision of the Mother.htm (last access 2010-01-13) Website no. which she created already in 196022. It also became responsible for the legal managements of Auroville in the beginning. beginning with the foundation of the ashram in 1926. Auroville was meant to be the collective social realization of the philosophy of Sri Aurobindo (Minor 1999:54).htm#hist (last access 2010-01-13) 23 45 . the Mother made the Society the official overseer of the finances of Auroville23.4.in/onsas. the Mother was the movement’s sole 22 Website no. All her actions were seen as profound statements of the nature of reality and some disciples started to see her in their dreams and in visions.(Minor 1999:39-45.sriaurobindosociety. created rules and regulations and made up plans about its development.in/onsas. in accordance with Wallace’s notion on how converts are made (Minor 1999:42. also the honorary president of the Society until her pass away in 1973. In 1930. The Mother’s Service Society (MSS).Sri Aurobindo International Centre of Education (SAICE). she ambitiously extended its activities to include an international school . Auroville While the ashram should be a site for pure spiritual realization. From 1926 and until her death in 1973. and all decisions related to the township had to go through her (Minor 1999:56). She also started branches of the ashram in India and abroad.2. she also handed over some of its managements to the Sri Aurobindo Society. But the Mother was the sole authority of Auroville.19: http://www. 5.org.12: http://www.
The Mother made clear that any organization in Auroville has to be plastic and flexible. excluded the many local Tamil villages that was located within the area of the township.66). promising that the charter of Auroville should be the main guidance for the management of the township (Ibid. 5.4. The Aurovillians were scattered in autonomous settlements over the land.:112). when the Mother passed away there were no institutions. each working by themselves in various projects mainly concerning water erosion. and the common project with the construction of Matrimandir (in Hindi=Temple of the Mother). and in 1988 the Indian Government created the permanent “Auroville Foundation Act”. reforestation of the barren land. when finally the Indian Government. 5. and the Mother was holding it as very important for the aspirations and unity of the Aurovillians (Ibid. through “the Auroville (Emergency Provisions) Act”. but with the supervision of the Mother.:61.4. nor any individual that was prepared to take control over the township. The closest disciples received in turn authority from other followers while they were representations of the Mother and only acted out of her will (Minor 1999:56). in order to 46 . but had created a hierarchical organization with close disciples that managed some activities.authority. The Indian Government as the Legal Authority While the ashram had created an institutional organization with a trustee committee who took over the management. which she said should be the soul of the city. At this time Auroville consisted of just around four hundred inhabitants. The Organizational Structure of Auroville The process that followed the construction of an organizational structure of Auroville has been one of experimentation and negotiation.4. took over the legal authority of Auroville. A phase of anarchy and conflicts between different factions took place and lasted until 1980.3.
24: http://www. which indicates in the Mother’s own failure with her hand-over of the leadership.org/journals&media/avtoday/March_2009/AV_economy. In this chapter I have described how Aurobindo and the Mother were able to make converts. and how the charismatic leadership was passed over from Aurobindo to the Mother.auroville. which consists of educational.htm (last access 2010-01-13) Website no.htm (last access 2010-01-13) Website no. This is an important phase for the revitalization movement to survive the death of a leader. service.org/journals&media/avtoday/june_july_2002/economy_whitepaper.21: http://www.org/organisation/aurovillefoundationact. schools for both Aurovillians and Tamil children have been founded and the ever-going challenge of the organization of every day life seems to continue (The Auroville handbook 2007).progress continually and to be able to adapt and modify according to needs24.auroville. Through the years the Aurovillians has elaborated and experimented with various kinds of economic systems and organizational methods27. The Indian Government constructed an organizational “frame” in collaboration with the Aurovillians in which the structure and the construction of new institutions could take form. This was formed out of the separate legal entity “Auroville Foundation”.auroville. and which was solved by the legal take-over by the Indian Government. research.htm (last access 2010-01-13) 27 Website no. The Residents Assembly consists of all Aurovillians aged eighteen and above.org/organisation/aurovillefoundation. These members have to be somehow involved in the experiment of Auroville. and has an advisory and proposal role towards the Governing Board26.auroville.htm (last access 2010-0113) 47 . The Governing Board consists of seven members.auroville.htm (last access 2010-01-13) Website no.20: http://www. Its role is to advice the Governing Board in Auroville related matters. nominated by the Indian Central Government.22: http://www. A large amount of relatively autonomous organizations and institutions have been established within the township.org/organisation/internalorganisation. and commercial units which all should promote the ideals of Auroville25.23: http://www. This will be discussed in more details in the 24 25 26 Website no. The International Advisory Council consists of five members that are nominated by the UNESCO unit of the HRD Ministry of the Indian Government.
6. and force (Wallace 1956:274275). there seems to have been a lot of issues going on that can be related to every single aspect of the township. Adaptation Since Auroville has not had any identified leader since the death of the Mother. Therefore. and still are utilized today. Cultural Transformation. the movement has to use various strategies of adaptation. and what kinds of strategies that have been used. and in the absence of divinity there is 48 .1. and a brief description of routinization. the movement is most likely to encounter both internal and external threats. Instead. which attract Western individuals to the movement.chapter of Discussion. the Aurovillians have been left alone with what the Mother sometimes called divine anarchy. because of its revolutionary nature. But the relation between Auroville and the Indian Government is important for the understanding of the movement’s ability to exist and for the international promotion of Auroville. 6. and Routinization According to Wallace. such as doctrinal modification. Below I will describe how the movement has adapted itself to internal and external conditions. A Living Movement: Adaptation. I will continue with describing the cultural transformation that has taken place. political and diplomatic maneuver. There was no more authority to manage and guide everyday routines.
One old resident told me that. 28 Website no. 6. no single individual or any kind of organization was identified as the prime authority of the township. Inbetween was a group of residents who did not wanted to take part in the conflict. The members of the Society never moved to live in Auroville themselves. Some Aurovillians occupied houses and land that belonged to members of the Society. which sometimes even took physical appearance (Minor 1999:66). The Society. but in a somehow organized manner28.htm (last access 2010-01-13) 49 . and the lack of food during the conflict made many desperate and some left because of the critical situation. when he moved to Auroville in 1976 the township was in a nearly anarchic state.1.1. The Big Clash The most critical conflict in Auroville has been that between the Sri Aurobindo Society (mostly Indians).1. the Society answered by calling the police who sometimes arrested Aurovillians. 6.only anarchy.:68).org/vision/maonav_selected. and who are mostly referred to as the neutrals (Patenaude 2003). under the authority of its General Secretary Navajata. neither from the Mother herself. This created a big clash between the two groups. and the Aurovillian community (mostly Westerners at the beginning in 1973-75). which made the government the legal authority of Auroville (Minor 1999:76).auroville. Immediately outbursts of conflicts took place between the Society and a group who called themselves the rebels. A part of the solution was made in 1988 when the Indian Government passed an act through the parliament.2. The Solution The conflict between the Society and the Aurovillians lasted until December 17. claimed the rights to further manage the finances.25: http://www. Right after the death of the Mother. and to supervise and guide the development of the township (Ibid. while no Aurovillian was personally represented in the committee that managed the economic future of Auroville. nor from the Aurovillians themselves.
3. Solar-kitchen. Even followers of Aurobindo and the Mother abroad were protesting and demanded that the rights to govern and manage Auroville could only be in the hands of the Aurovillians themselves. who were called the friends from Delhi. discussions are made around the tables 29 Website no. and also promoted internationally by the Indian Government since its inauguration. used their privileges and power to put the conflict into debate in the Central Parliament in 1976. These officials. not to put shame in his name (Ibid.:79. Auroville is an experiment and therefore needs to modify its organization and doctrine in relation to its needs.1.auroville. being endorsed as an important social experiment by UNESCO. It does not have any clear recipe on how to run the township. when the Indian Government responded to the critical situation in Auroville and constructed “The Auroville (Emergency Provisions) act” who made the Indian Government temporarily responsible for the management of the township (Minor 1999:75). The fact that Aurobindo is considered as a national hero in India and well-known outside India. reached a final conclusion in 1988. Some Aurovillian rebels had made friends with some Indian Government Officials from the Congress Party.1980. made it clear to the government officials that a solution has to be found. made it even more acute to solve the conflict. At the communal lunch dwelling. Most of the problems are openly discussed and debated on daily basis and most Aurovillians seems to willingly participate in these discussions. 6. The result was the “Auroville Foundation Act” that made the Indian Central Government the legal authority of the township29. As a result.83). after many years of debate in the parliament. The government finally. Due to the international aspiration of Auroville. especially according to the Charter which proclaims that Auroville belongs to nobody in particular.22: http://www.org/organisation/aurovillefoundationact.htm (last access 2010-01-13) 50 . a life of constant change is every-day routine. many financial irregularities caused by the Society were founded which lead to the conclusion that the Society were irresponsible in their management of the township and did not have any more right to govern. A debate took place to investigate the Society’s management of Auroville. Adaptation Strategies For the Aurovillians.
Auroville has chosen. many of the discussions are not made through physical interaction between the residents as before. This adaptation strategy seems to be a side effect since Auroville came under the authority of the Indian government. and Rhadakrishnan. This may indicate a turnover to Gesellshaft. The conclusion is a result of the Indian Government’s own interest in the project. some with local dimensions and others with international aspirations. Auroville as an Eco-Village The most obvious modification of doctrine and the township’s strategy for the interaction with the external world has probably been its change of focus: shifting from a main focus on spiritual development and self-realization. an issue that could be interesting to follow up in another study.1. have turned to Aurobindo for inspiration.that seem to concern every aspect of the township. Minor describes this process in relation to the debates that were held in the Central Indian Parliament.4. instead one can follow the debates in the weekly journal Auroville Today. He means that the Indian Government is supporting Auroville in a way to promote India nationally and internationally.26: http://www. In India. according to some informants. But at present.org/research/reseachinav. Aurobindo is well known and often presented as a cultural hero. Nehru. Important Indian persons such as Tagore. The moral and financial support Auroville has been granted from these institutions has made the township able to develop a large amount of research projects. discussions if Auroville was to be defined as a secular or a religious project31. If Auroville fail. and to create affiliations with other external institutions such as the UN. European Union. or has been forced to choose. and several non-government organizations. to a focus on Auroville as a model for sustainable living. or at one of the information walls around the township. 6. according to Minor. then 30 31 Website no. to ally with the Indian Government.htm (last access 2010-01-13) According to the Indian constitution. but all in relation to sustainable development30. the Government has no rights to intervene in religious associations 51 .auroville. Instead of looking at the external society as an enemy.
According to Minor. The close relationship between India and UNESCO has a clear role in this promotion. by handing over the legal authority of the township to the Indian Government. 6.:83). Cultural Transformation If the movement is successful in its activities. they should continue with promoting the township as a secular place who experiments with different ways of sustainable living. Western individuals mobilize together in a comprehensive force to promote their ideas through Auroville. The world is not ready for that yet. and how Auroville is trying to make an impact on the external world. which in turn has been able to attract more Western individuals to the movement through its many international affiliations.the very realization of Aurobindo’s aim would also fail.2. Below I will describe how Western residents have been exposed for an individual culture change by joining Auroville. The Indian Government also provides these Western individuals with a social space from where to direct culture critique against their societies of origin. As a result. according to these informants. Above I have described how the Aurovillians have solved the most serious threat to the movement. the Indian state “is thinking of promoting Auroville as a model community on Indian soil that will become an example to the world of the unity of peoples” (Ibid. Informants told me that. which should be a defeat for the Indian nation as a whole (Minor 1999:77-82). a noticeable social revitalization 52 . and a place where to live in accordance with their new sociocultural system. as an example for sustainable living.:92). if Auroville wants to generate more money from outside donors. reaching a global culture change. both emphasising Auroville as their own very project (Ibid. Auroville is also presented to the world through the Indian Government as “an international cultural township”. both on a national and an international level. supported by the UNESCO. the international promotion of Auroville from the Aurovillians themselves has been an emphasis of the township as an international project of human unity. and not talk too much about divine consciousness and spirituality. This strategy has resulted in the promotion of Auroville.
they thought that the best way to make an impact was by joining Auroville. Most informants reported that they. many dimensions have to be applied. but instead of joining a political party or any national organization. and to present a model of living. by extensive cultural changes. some nationalities are living and working together in kind of national colonies within the township.1.2. and that they now have found a way of life that is more in line with their own personality type.will occur. This change is signalized by “the reduction of personal deterioration symptoms of individuals. Secondary. to revitalize their particular socio-cultural system. Auroville is also a very individualistic experiment. 6. Even though Auroville is supposed to be an international township. was unsatisfied with the direction of the society. and that they have found a meaning in life which was far reached before joining Auroville. In terms of cultural transformation of the residents of Auroville. The creation of an Auroville culture is far from reached. to provide an example of living and to work internationally through different Auroville-related activities. but the awareness of being a part of an important experiment for humanity brings the residents together in their aspirations. to make an impact on a transnational level. they still feel that by joining Auroville they have the opportunity to make a difference. and by an enthusiastic embarkation on some organized program of group action” (Wallace 1956:275). Just to live in Auroville is to participate in an organized program of group action: to affect the external world through international engagement. before joining Auroville. to be authentic individuals. most of them declared that they now have the ability to be themselves. this impact is meant to change the state of each individual’s own society. Individual Cultural Transformation While speaking with Aurovillians on how they contemplate their personal transformation since joining Auroville. Even though these informants have chosen to leave their countries. meant that each individual will find his own way of personal and spiritual development. 53 . Some informants reported former depressions or drug abuse. according to Wallace.
to use Auroville as a free state and to hide away from their personal problems. which hindered them in their professional development. In this way. many times. Instead. Auroville as a Transition Site For many individuals.auroville. providing a space for individuals to express themselves in ways that they. and active engagement and awareness of the situation of the world have become norm in Auroville. Auroville is managing. according to one informant from the Residents Assembly Service. Auroville is an ongoing experiment that participates in the business of the world.2.27: www.2. many times in collaboration with other international and national organizations. Auroville has the function of a transition site. felt they could not do before joining Auroville. Many informants told me that. even though some join Auroville out of sceptical reasons (Minor 1999:56-57). many of them related to art and craft (The Auroville Handbook 2007). Aurovillians chose to leave the township after eight years.org (last access 2010-01-13) 54 . to fulfil their selfish desires or for example to make commercial business out of self32 Website no. meaning that when living in their home-countries they were bonded to rules and norms. And it is easy to see what he means. Auroville has set up a few hundred different Service Units and Working Groups. On an international level. in relation to their profession. So-called free-riders are therefore prevented to be established within the township. Those individuals who join Auroville for comfort reasons. multiple different kinds of projects32. In Auroville they had the opportunity to realize their dreams. are the first to leave. 6. according to the same informant. and more than hundred different Commercial Units.which will affect their own countries of origin. Especially many architects and individuals somehow engaged in the town planning of the township expressed this view. In general. These individuals realize that one cannot escape from the world by joining Auroville. and even to try out professions that they were not trained in. Auroville is a very active site. when joining Auroville they could progress in their profession in a way they were not able to do before.
or just to travel the world. But for the rest. and that their capacity of empathy have increased.interest. None of them said that they would never return again to Auroville. university studies (which I heard during my stay that Auroville in present is in the process of realizing by establishing a University). that they have become much more open minded and understanding in relation to other cultures. another pattern appeared to me. one have to study the subjects both before and after coming to Auroville to identify the transformation process empirically. indicated that these individuals want to do active engagement to change the world. one can assume that a cultural transformation has taken place through active engagement in some way. but in the lengthening Auroville was a too isolated place. and Auroville demands total commitment and involvement. and that Auroville is only one of many options from where to operate. could provide them with insights and meaning. and then find somewhere else to live. those individuals I have talked with expressed that they wanted to do other things in life. When asking them about the reasons. which they could not do in Auroville. soon get tired and chose to repatriate. They thought that Auroville. One newcomer girl from South Korea expressed it like this: “I want to be free as a bird. When speaking with informants who have chosen to soon leave the township after spending some years there. which I may be ready for now. To examine weather this cultural transformation has actually taken place. who are not enough committed to work for the idea of the township. The same informant also explained that those individuals. The same girl had her parents living in 55 . at the moment. Many of my informants have told me that they have felt a stress relief when joining Auroville. a clear pattern appeared which indicated that these individuals often chose to leave for reasons other than social or material deficiencies of the township. Some wanted to do voluntary work for different NGOs. and asking them about the reasons. even though I heard that some actually leave with the intention of no return. Some newcomers even told me that their intentions were to live in Auroville for a foreseeable time. the individuals who choose to stay for years. Even though to live in Auroville is to participate in the experiment. but maybe later I want to go outside Auroville and then I have to leave”.
27: www.Auroville since a few years. As a result. it becomes established as normal in various economic. upholding the doctrine and rituals (Wallace 1956:275). which means that for the Aurovillians. to realize the ideals of Sri Aurobindo and the Mother. trying to replace the contemporary state with the socio-cultural system provided by Aurobindo and the Mother. and for a vast majority it also means to be a part of one or many of the projects that are managed in Auroville. on how to reach human unity and perfection. Routinization “If the group action program in nonritual spheres is effective in reducing stressgenerating situations. These activities includes both a socio-cultural elaboration within Auroville. and political institutions and customs” The end-result of routinization is that the movement transforms and becomes as a church. It seems as this change has taken place as a result from their engagement in the activities within the township.3. Below I will briefly point to. some individuals chose to engage through other organizations outside Auroville. which signalize what it is to live in Auroville. to change the state of their society of origin. one can read “a universal city in the making”33. all active life in Auroville is an engagement in an organized group action.org (last access 2010-01-13) 56 . On the first page at Auroville’s official Website. political and economic experiments. in what grade Auroville have succeeded with the implementation of their ideas on the external world. every-day routines is an engagement in different kinds of social. In this way.org. I have here described how some informants have reported to me an individual culture change that has taken place since joining Auroville. and that was a main reason for joining. 33 Website no. social. resulting in the movement’s establishment as a normal institution within the larger society. and secondly an international promotion of their ideas. This program will not end until the ideals are realized.auroville. within the larger society. To live in Auroville is to participate in the experiment. as a social lab. Auroville. 6. but still with the same goal.
com/article/work-in-progress/commerce-in-a-cocoon/3722/2 (last access 201001-13) Website no. it definitely has an impact on the external world.auroville. organic food. where one single revitalization movement can occupy a large percentage of the population.in. nationally and internationally. the interaction takes place on many levels simultaneously. to India and abroad.1. Impact on India In a small society. especially in the state of Tamil Nadu. the result of routinization.htm (last access 201001-13) Website no. In Auroville’s case. During my stay.28: http://business. In India. which was in the low season.org/research/src. and sustainable techniques such as the earth-compressor from Earth Institute (exported to more than forty countries34). and are managing numbers of development projects in the country. the impact of the movement on the larger society. windmill techniques35 and solar panel techniques36. The relation between India and Auroville is much more visible than the relation it has with countries abroad. They have also established international collaborations for different kinds of projects in relation to sustainable development37.auroville. the result of routinization can easily be identified.htm (last access 2010-01-13) Website no. And even though one cannot say that Auroville has become normal in various institutions. but also as a site of interest for domestic tourists. such as clothes and handicrafts. They export a multitude of sustainable products and techniques. or societies.3. and for school classes and students to come and visit or to do research. every day came busses with children from different schools around India to get a brief insight in the 34 35 36 Website no. In Auroville’s case. 6.30: http://www. Auroville has a wide network of contacts.29: http://www. many times through its legal holder. not only through the different kinds of domestic projects that Auroville runs.org/journals&media/avtoday/August_2009/Windpower. incenses. dietary supplements such as Spirulina.org/research/ren_energy/solar. is not visible in the same way as for Wallace’s classic revitalization movements.auroville.The interaction between Auroville and the external world is much more complex than the interaction that takes place between a classic revitalization movement such as a Cargo-Cult.htm (last access 2010-01-13) 37 57 .31: http://www. and its external society. the Indian Government.
According to what I have described above. 6. especially around educated groups. In this way.experiment of Auroville. Auroville gets government grants every year for different kinds of projects that are not related directly to the maintenance of the township.2. International Aspirations Auroville is not considered as normal. Auroville has a direct impact on the surrounding area. Auroville cannot be said to have established itself as a normal institution within the larger society.org/environment/villages/economic_impact.auroville. trying to identify the connection between the state of the capitalist World-System. Auroville seems to be relatively well known in India. but still it is not perceived as a normal institution within the larger society. When talking with Indian academics. while other means that it is a white man’s project and a neo-colonial attempt. and 38 39 Website no. a majority of them has to do with sustainable development in the region of Tamil Nadu.htm (last access 2010-01-13) Website no. I have above made clear that the routinization of Auroville is not over until the state of the World-System is changed.32: http://www. most of them are aware of the township and seems to have an opinion about the experiment. resulting in a change of the socio-cultural state of each society within the system. who do not have any personal relation to Auroville. one has to conduct fieldwork among these receiving people. Some say it is a very important project for India and the world to find a better way of living.htm (last access 2010-01-13) 58 . Below I will start my discussion on the matter. but as a deviant in relation to the contemporary Steady State. and empowerment projects for Indian women39. Hundreds of students from different universities and colleges in India conduct research for shorter periods in Auroville every year38. and still others view it as a strange spiritual hippie community.33: http://www. To be able to examine this direct impact empirically. setup of schools and health centres.3.org/research. It has established itself within the larger society. resulting in an advancement of agriculture. neither in India or abroad. The direct impact of Auroville on those individuals is difficult to measure.auroville.
My aim is to clarify the connection between the state of the World-System. where the latter directs culture critique to each particular society of origin by acting on an international level. Discussion and Conclusions This analysis is highly theoretical. how this insight has resulted in new formations of the cognitive schema of each individual. shaping a more satisfying view of culture and society. 7. and as a result shaped a revitalization movement located in India and comprised of both Indians and Westerners. in a common attempt to revitalize each particular society. During his educational 59 .1 Discussion on Mazeway Reformulation Wallace describes how individuals reformulate their mazeway during stress. By using Wallace’s revitalization model as a frame for the development of Auroville. But it is easy to imagine the stress that Aurobindo probably felt. and each step in the revitalization period provides an opportunity to tie theoretical understandings to my conclusions. 7. I will show that Auroville has the same developmental characters as other revitalization movements. one could only imagine through his own works and other’s accountants. and to highlight particularities. on how Auroville can be understood with the help of revitalization theory. living in a world that he contemplated as madness. while empirical data from the field will mainly be used as a way to strengthen arguments. which have provided Westerners with an insight in Hindu spirituality. No one can know about the stress that Aurobindo felt.how this has affected Western individuals in such a grade as they have chosen to live in and act from Auroville. the cultural exchange between the West and the East (India).
one can imagine how he must have felt alienated when spending his time with the people who oppressed his own people. something different from that of the ancestors. Aurobindo’s aspiration of creating something new and unique. when Humanity has reached perfection and being able to work with the divine to shape the ultimate culture and society. considering his aim of Hindu revival. At the same time. Wallace also distinct three different choices of identification for the movement: Movements with the purpose to revive a traditional culture. But the endstate is neither one that belongs to traditional Indian spiritualism or Western intellectualism. it is the final chapter of humanity. movements who wants to replace the present cultural order with a foreign one. different from that of India and different from that of the West. especially considering the Western hemisphere within the township.life in England. Being familiar with the concept of revitalization. or his and the Mother’s offspring – Auroville. also shows that he came from a wealthy family. urging for a return to his cultural roots and traditional society. He wants to uphold ancient Hindu traditions through the use of ancient scripts like the Bhagavad-Gita and the Upanishads. Aurobindo’s incitement seems to be a blend of all three aspects. with other words – Utopia (Wallace 1956:275). also can be understood as a revitalization movement. simultaneously as he take use of Western understanding of historical evolution and history to describe the process which human has to go to reach divinity. contemplating the world as insane and experiencing both cultural and material deprivation in India. and to actively use ancient Indian techniques as yoga to realise his visions. and those movements who wants to create a new culture. as a blend of Hindu spirituality and Western intellectualism. symbolize his accomodationist formulation of a new Utopia. This cultural duality probably shaped the way to his nationalistic engagement. Being able to receive a Western education. one can easily see how Aurobindo can be understood as a typical prophet for a revitalization movement. I will have to give an account of the 60 . But for anyone to understand why his movement. but as an accomodationist synthesis between Hindu and Western thoughts. and from that of the foreigners. In this case. both in India and in England.
2.S. The most obvious connection lies around the growth of new religious movements in the West. Shamanism.relations between Aurobindo. What is of main importance in this discussion is the relation between Hindu philosophy and the Western world. meaning that contemporary India has lost that virtue and 61 . these scripts were delimited to sophisticated groups who liked to discuss foreign religions. for example. The Connection Between Auroville and the New Age Movement The philosophy of Sri Aurobindo and the Mother has many parallels with the contemporary New Age movement. and contemporary Auroville. The History of the New Age Movement The New Age movement often characterizes as a synthesis of traditional religions such as Hinduism. the Mother. putting up prints with the words of Aurobindo and the Mother all over the township. and later to the U. characterized by an ancient understanding of the Vedantic scripts. the material attempt of the philosophy . The British Orientalists of this time claimed that India have had a golden past. and the Western receivers. the connection between New Age and neo-Hinduism.1. have made a contribution to the formation of the neo-Hindu movement. 7. often as contrasts to their own civilization. simultaneously. tracing Hindu influences to the West as early as the Seventeenth-century when the British East Indian Company brought back Hindu scripts to Europe. helping the residents to remind themselves about the intentional reason for coming together.Auroville. Diem and Lewis describes this cultural exchange. 7. Even so. particularly those that can be placed under the category New Age. Native American religions. together with Western modernism (Lewis and Melton 1992:XI). and link them to the philosophy of Aurobindo and the Mother. meant that Hindu philosophy has influenced the Western world. maintain these values and help reproducing them by. while the Western world. Below I will discuss some basic properties of the New Age movement. This relation has a dual dimension. At this time.1.1.
1.wikipedia. founded the Selfrealization movement in California in early Twentieth-century. and Minor goes through the very similarities between Vivekananda’s and Aurobindo’s philosophies (Minor 1999:8. In Europe. Vivekananda’s own pupil. Max Muller.now was in need of guidance into a new golden era. hence as a way of legitimizing the British intrusion on the Indian sub-continent (Diem and Lewis 1992:53). 7. continuing the preaching of a romanticized Hinduism in the West (Diem and Lewis 1992:49). Swami Paramahansa Yogananda. when criticising their own civilization (Ibid. and what seems to be an iconoclastic image of the East. He came to establish the Vedanta Society in New York shortly after his speak at the Parliament in Chicago (Diem and Lewis 1992:48-49). while in the beginning only to be present in the 40 Website no. which was provided by the British Orientalists.55). working for a revival of a true Vedantic philosophy. reaching the divine40. and used it as an ideological weapon for the Indian reformative movements while referring to a Hindu Golden Age. Vivekananda promoted a highly idealized Hinduism to his listeners. Even during later centuries.3. eminent persons such as Voltaire and Rousseau used this idealized. Romain Rolland.12).10. The prevalence of Hindu philosophy in the West seems to have continuity from many centuries back in time. Vivekananda was a fellow member with Aurobindo in the neo-Hindu movement in India. Arthur Schopenhauer.34: http://en. and talked about the necessity of the development of the consciousness. and offered a prescription for a renaissance of “true” Hinduism (Diem and Lewis 1992:53. adopted the one described by the British Orientalists. when he was invited as a speaker at the World’s Parliament of Religions in Chicago in 1893. Hindu Influences in the West The great impact on Western Cultures came with the influence of Swami Vivekananda.:52).org/wiki/Ramakrishna%27s_impact (last access 2010-01-13) 62 . and Leo Tolstoy became highly inspired by this conceptualization of Hinduism.
while studying occultism with Max Theon in Algeria. and former hippie from the baby-boom generation (Brown 1992:91). One of the predecessors of the New Age movement is the Theosophical Movement (Lewis and Melton 1992:XI).7. The movement started its expansion in Great Britain. Emerson. and particularly in American culture through literary impact with the help from authors such as Whitman. Minor recounts that the Theosophical movement had a strong impact on the Mother’s later interpretation of Aurobindo’s philosophy (Minor 1999:38). traces the modern roots of the New Age movement to the counterculture movement and the world revolutions of 1968 (Lewis and Melton 1992:Chapter 1.35: http://en. a typical American New Ager is an unconventional spiritual seeker. took inspiration from the Theosophical movement when re-shaping the Hindu philosophy41. also fashioned early on by Hindu philosophy. then in the 1970s spread down the continent and over to the U.wikipedia. and scholars in religious science.. which Aurobindo was a part of. and the movement became a mix of Western occultism and Hindu mysticism. She was. Brown 2002:Chapter 8). Blavatsky herself moved to India in 1879 for a “spiritual quest”.:58). the counterculture movement. Even the Mother. highly interested in Hindu philosophy.S. where it was received by spiritual seekers from the 41 Website no.the New Age movement. This image became thus available for the beat generation in the U. anthropologists. Sociologists. the neo-Hindu reform movements in India. whom in turn had worked with Blavatsky. as a protest against one’s own society and culture (Ibid. already before the foundation of the movement in New York in 1875.org/wiki/History_of_Hinduism (last access 2010-01-13) 63 . Even until today. At the same time.minds of the educated. according to Brown. have a clear connection to the Theosophical Movement. and 8. It was initially founded by Helena Petrovna Blavatsky (1831-1891). Diem and Lewis claim that this romanticized image of India gradually filtered out into the Western cultures. Diem and Lewis means that the reasons for Western movements to use this iconoclastic image of a Hindu golden age has a social-psychological dimension. and Thoreau (Diem and Lewis 1992:54).S. and their successor ..
and some new religious movements in the West such as the New Age movement. if the people were willing to follow this new paradigm.1. had some kind of relation to each other (Minor 1999:15. He contemplated the world as insane. 42 Website no.org/wiki/History_of_Hinduism (last access 2010-01-13) 64 . It seems that.35: http://en. and an independent India. in accordance with Wallace’s notion of mazeway reformulation. as I gave an account of above in this thesis. They were all influenced by Western thoughts. In this way. which can be seen as a reaction against the dogmatization of Hinduism and the intrusion of the British Empire. 118). Vivekananda. out of elements that has already attained currency in the own society. 7. Western Impact on India Aurobindo’s education in England along with Western values certainly made an impact on his formulation of a new mazeway. trying to find a solution to this madness. are outcomes of a cultural exchange and iconoclastic use of religions and cultures. and humanity as a whole. The solution was to be found in the revival of an idealized version of the Indian past. They also inhabit preferences for the creation of revitalization movements. both neo-Hinduism. Great neo-Hindu thinkers such as Tagore. constructed their own mazeways as a blend of old Hindu beliefs and modern Western science. and Aurobindo.wikipedia. being a creation out of the interaction between two or more cultures. (Wallace 1956:267). The synthesis became neo-Hinduism. and history.counterculture movement (Poggi 1992:272). which prophesized an enchanting future for India. resulting in the transformation of the world into a golden era – a New Age42. nationalism. individuals and movements in the West formulated their own ideas in relation to romanticized Hindu influences.4. discussing the emergence of a new Hindu spirituality. when neo-Hindu reformists such as Vivekananda and Aurobindo formulated their philosophies and world agendas with inspiration from the West. Both Tagore and Vivekananda had mail correspondence with Aurobindo.
New Agers also believe that the divine is in everything alive and that God is within human alone and one has to live a spiritual life to be able to connect with this divinity and become one with the divine consciousness (Brown 1992:87). especially in times of social change and cultural distortion. New Age Characteristics Then. Western individuals has then the ability to reformulate their own mazeway in accordance with Aurobindo’s and the Mother’s philosophy. to use the phrase from the counterculture movement) (Lewis and Melton 1992:12). that we are now living in a time of transition.1. typical ceremonies are workshops. awaiting a new era which is in the hands of humanity itself and means paradise or destruction (the age of Aquarius. It puts emphasis on learning and contemplates life as a long learning process. It is easy to see the connection with the New Age movement and neo-Hindu philosophies such as Aurobindo’s. instead of doctrine (Diem and Lewis 1992:48). lectures. the individual is the ultimate locus for the determination of Truth (Lewis and Melton 1992:7). For New Agers. Above-mentioned key characteristics of the New Age movement are equal to key features in Aurobindo’s philosophy mentioned above. shaping a new mental image of culture and society out of 65 . instead of worship ceremonies (Lewis and Melton 1992:8). For New Agers. During increased individual stress. to return to Wallace. what kind of characteristics does the philosophy of Aurobindo have in common with the New Age movement? The New Age movement contains certain key elements that are equal to the philosophy of Aurobindo. such as the belief in a planetary consciousness (Lewis and Melton 1992:5). that the outcome of each belief is a result from the interaction between the West and the East. Another characteristic is its millenarian aspects.7. and classes.5. and the worldview explained by the Aurovillians. that Mother Earth has her own consciousness and that humans are able to tap into this consciousness. unending education (Lewis and Melton 1992:8). which leads to a focus on experience. One can therefore draw the conclusion that the prevalence of Hindu inspired thoughts in the West are made available for Western spiritual seekers.
the Mother. when the words of Aurobindo had spread 66 . Aurobindo also promised that supernatural forces. Probably much gratitude has to be applied to his fame as a freedom fighter. around him in Pondicherry. 7. so as to gather new members to the movement (Ibid. Aurobindo. The philosophy of Aurobindo gave promises of a better future for India. helped him communicating the words of his new religion (Ibid. mostly educated men from Northern India (Minor 1999:37). and Western Receivers One can see the difference between the response of the communication of Aurobindo. and the state of the capitalist World-System. I believe that Aurobindo and his ashram inhabits all those properties that a revitalization movement must have to be adequately. I will discuss this below in relation to those Hindu influences that have become established in the Western world. But still. and humanity as a whole.:273). According to Wallace’s understanding of communication and the revitalization movement. What is of main importance in this thesis is to make sure on how Aurobindo.sub-elements already present in society (Wallace 1956:270). a person of spiritual eminence. he was only able to gather a very limited amount of followers.1. and that of the Mother. Not until the 1960s. 7. When Aurobindo was preaching his philosophy.:34). the divine consciousness. it is easy to see how Aurobindo Ghose became the prophet Sri Aurobindo. and his ashram were able to provide the members with their material needs.2. was accessible to Man if he practiced Integral Yoga with enough aspiration (Ibid. the prophet and his disciples will communicate the “good word” to the world. also could become prophets for non-Indian receivers. In my discussion on Organization I will return to this subject and also assist my argumentation by relating it to SchemaTheory. As Wallace describes this process. particularly Westerners. and the Mother. Western spiritual seekers such as the Mother found their way to him. and thus became a prophet.:273).2. Discussion on Communication Referring to my text on Communication.
and so on.to larger masses in the West.. that indicate this prevalence are some Gallup Poll statistics that have been conducted in the U. and in Great Britain in early 1990s. a planetary consciousness. and started to promote alternative ideas. while the prevalence in Great Britain is 30-35 percent. In San Francisco Bay. Some claim that the world revolutions of 1968 signalled a new attitude against the capitalist World-System (Wallerstein 2007:124-125. visit a so-called spiritual trade fair. probably feeling a sense of higher 67 . The left movements began to establish certain key elements in mainstream society. But one only has to look around in society to see the prevalence of New Age attributes with Hindu influences. When confronting Aurobindo’s philosophy. visit a bookstore and buy books from the spirit-body-mind section. the Mother. Statistic results. They showed that 20 percent of American citizens believe in reincarnation. Terms not that alien anymore to mainstream society. and Western receivers could relate to terms such as transformation of mind and earth. than before? One answer may lie in the social and cultural situation the world experienced at this time. more people came to join the movement in Pondicherry. and the Aurovillians are preaching. the Indian spike-mat. In Swedish newspapers one can read about their astrological signs. watch My Name Is Earl on TV and think about Karma. though pretty old. 25 percent believed in certain key New Age ideas such as a planetary consciousness (Lewis and Melton 1992:4-5). watch popular documentaries such as The Secret or Zeitgeist Addendum. or go and participate in a yoga class. outside the system (Wallerstein 2007:135). Brown 2002:163). many times offering an alternative paradigm for the world. But why were those individuals more receptive then. especially those related to race and gender.S. More individuals became sceptical to the social and cultural order of that time. one was now able to join a movement in India. receive Ayurvedic therapy. such as the one that Aurobindo. The prevalence of New Age attributes in contemporary society seems to be huge. thanks to the influence of Hinduism in the West. A very fresh example in Sweden is the Christmas gift of the year. and then naturally started to search for alternatives. certain key elements in that philosophy were already present in society through the influence of Hindu beliefs. Instead of joining a movement within the border of one’s own nation-state.
Most likely. considering the necessity of making a kind of organization that will continue to campaign for the movement and attract new members. And Auroville is today still experiencing an increase of recruits43. This increase in newcomers indicates that Auroville still provides itself as an alternative movement for individuals with revitalizing purposes.132/search?q=cache:84_4tf463ZsJ:www. and definitely as a response to the large numbers of Western travellers in India at that time in late 1960s and early 1970s.auroville. But for the movement to last in the 43 Website no. According to my texts on Mazeway Reformulation and Organization.org/docs/AVI_meeting_Venwoude_2009.pdf+newcomer+increas+auroville&cd=6&hl=sv&ct=clnk&client=s afari (last access 2010-01-13) 44 Website no.authenticity than joining a common movement in the West. individuals are coming with the aim of becoming newcomers. giving the world an example of living. the movement. UNESCO. followed by close disciples and followers below (Wallace 1956:273-274).3.37: http://www.htm (last access 2010-01-13) 68 . making an impact on their former culture and society without having to join a movement within its own society’s borders. a hierarchical organizational structure will take place with the prophet on the top. under the leadership of the prophet. Those individuals that were not able to cope with the stress they experienced. Discussion on Organization This is a critical phase for the revitalization movement. or through Auroville’s many liaisons and centres worldwide. which means charismatic authority in pure form.77.aurovilleinternational. found a way to revitalize their own society and culture. for example. according to Wallace. and acts internationally through a diverse amount of channels. by joining Auroville.36: http://74. converts. the movement. had the character of what Weber calls “in natu nascendi”. 7. Until then.org/journals&media/avtoday/jan_03/sadaca. EU-financed Asia-Urbs projects. and the world as a whole. Instead they work and live in Auroville. but are denied membership due to lack of housing44. Global Ecovillage Network (GEN). it is obvious that the structural organization of first the Ashram and later Auroville did not take place until the leadership came under the authority of the Mother. and particularly the authority of Aurobindo. as it is described.125.
I want to elaborate on how the Mother was able to make converts. a process that Weber discuss in great details under the term routinization of charisma (Ibid. the Mother along with some Aurovillians started to create a kind of organization for Auroville. after the inauguration of Auroville.:169-175). Therefore. With time. and which is critical in relation to the success or failure continuum for the movement. and why these. and so on identified a site for its construction. the Mother started to more actively create an organization around the movement. and they are also active on the international arena through different affiliations and liaisons. In 1968. and successively created sub-organizations such as the Sri Aurobindo International Centre of Education. even if her intention was to let the divine Supermind guide this development. promoting their ideas of a sustainable way of life and trying to revitalize the cultures of the West in particular. They have formed hundreds of separate institutions within the township. on how some undergoes hysterical seizures or receive ecstatic visions.long run. the Aurovillians has created a highly complex organization for the township. I want to discuss why these Western individuals were able to undergo this 69 . Around 1926. One can say that the success of the Mother depended on the successful handover of charismatic properties from Aurobindo to the Mother. which I have described above. and the rest of the world in general. My understanding on this is both related to the capitalist WorldSystem. when the Ashram was established. this authority has to transform itself into an organizational structure. and he relates this process to discussions made by Weber (Wallace 1956:274). and to my understanding on the construction of culture. particularly the Westerners. Instead. so that its members can organize their own lives in a suitable way (Weber 1983:169). The organization of Auroville took place when the Mother was able to gather enough converts to the movement. and the Sri Aurobindo Society. Wallace describes the psychological process that takes place when converts are made. were susceptible for her vision and the philosophy.
the system is characterized by instability and anxiety of its people. Auroville and the World-System According to Wallerstein. according to Wallerstein (Wallerstein 2007:124-125). along with the world revolutions. Hegemonic Decline Relying on arguments which incline that the capitalist World-System. and become political key-actors (Wallerstein 2007:104-105). the World-System is right now in a period of transition. Hall and Fenelon means that there is a difference between what they call “pure” anti-systemic movements such as nativistic movements who want to escape from the World-System and Western impact. and the increasing decline of Western hegemony. make it much easier to see how Auroville can have the function as a revitalization movement. living their own traditional lives. 1968 also marks the beginning for the antisystemic movements to grow in strength and popularity. As a response to this crisis. why they turned to Auroville and India instead of joining a look-alike movement or intentional community in their own country? 7. 7. often anti-systemic in character (Hall and Fenelon 2005:209). During these periods.3.2. make such an impact on cultures so that they change in character.process. which means that the solution of this systemic crisis can only be solved outside the system.:208). Even though Auroville partly seems to play by the rules of the system. Friedman describes the process of modernization and 70 . but to replace the system itself with a more satisfying socio-cultural system.3. along with modernism. not to find a better position within the system as a reformist movement. they also promote a clear anti-systemic approach. in this case considering the residents coming from core-states. on its way to systemic bifurcation. while left movements have a second agenda for their anti-systemic approach. an emergence of new identities arise and opens up social space for new movements to flourish. trying to find a better position within the system (Ibid. This contemporary crisis began around 1968.1.
making it easier to reproduce economically. or through models from the periphery (Ibid. During hegemonic decline. maybe identity constructions through ethnic fragmentation. and a growing need of religion. So what happens then when the hegemony is questioned. In this way. according to Friedman (Ibid. identifying themselves with the successful hegemon (Ibid. 7. and the hegemony of the West was secured. community. the construction of identities followed the cultural diffusion in relation to the hierarchical structure of the World-System. which means that modernist identities became attractive for people in the periphery.:39. these weak identities will be replaced by new ones. and religion (Ibid.79). The Rise of Cultural Movements The loss of a cultural strong identity has cleared the way for new identity constructions and the rise of new cultural movements. and people in the periphery start to re-construct their own former suppressed identities.3.:78). especially during the peak in the 1950s. When the system was stabile. such as lifestyle properties or modernist identity itself (Friedman 1994:39). and a dissolution of kinship comes as a result of this process (Ibid. I presume that many individuals in the core-states of a declining hegemon will search for identities 71 . sometimes with inspiration from exotic peripheral states or by searching for their own traditional identities that have been lost due to modernization.:80). For the core-states. and instead weaker forms of identity constructions takes form. He means that cultural identity has no role in modern society.:94). Along with hegemonic decline.:32). and the sense of progress is lacking in inspiration for the citizens to continue the same way as before? New constructions of identities and a rise of cultural movements will assist this development.:25-26). modernity fights forms such as family. the opposite reaction seems to take place. and how it makes an impact on individual’s identity construction.commercialization. Modernity also increase the individual’s independence and mobility. this implies a longing back to what have been lost.3. and with that an emergence of new religious movements (Ibid. the opposites of modernism – culture and nature. while people in the core-states are constructing new identities.
or Damanhur. Individuals who have constructed new identities out of inspiration from the East. and an emphasis on spirituality. finding sustainable methods for living. 7. which acts as a protest against materialistic rational modernism. But they are there for revitalizing reasons. Findhorn. while others such as Auroville. Ferdinand Tönnies for more info on the relation between Gemeinshaft and Gesellshaft 72 . Since then.4. The current rise of cultural movements such as intentional communities began simultaneously with the world revolutions of 1968 (Brown 2002:7-8.3. while some has survived and many more new movements have emerged. and particularly Hindu philosophy inhabit these latter movements. but not civilization as a whole. In Auroville’s case. But how does individuals getting 45 See. and hegemonic decline. due to their many spiritual attributes that one can find under this classification (Lewis and Melton 1992:19). as mentioned above. promoting a new socio-cultural system. which makes them rise in numbers and strength. Some of the movements represents by the back-to-the-land movement. and political organizations. trying to elaborate with different forms of organizations in an attempt to create a more satisfying one. many movements have failed in their attempts. Western spiritual seekers seem to have found a platform out from where to direct critique against the capitalist World-System. 1968 marked a new beginning for the World-System. Auroville and the Prevalence of Hindu Attributes in the West Hegemonic decline and the decline of modernist identity lead to a rise of revitalization movements.outside their own cultural frame and find models in cultures that represent the opposition of their object of criticism. economic. They are also many times classified as New Age communities. Many of these movements were shaped out of inspiration from eastern religions (Brown 2002:164-165). trying to distance themselves from civilization and living a life in harmony with nature. Friedman 1994:78). and an increase in new religious movements. are trying to create new forms of social. I believe that they are formed as a direct result of modernism itself. not to escape from the world. characterized by gemeinshaft45 and spirituality. They have also found a site where they can live their lives in community.
diffused with time through for example great authors and poets. this process of diffusion is of absolute relevance for the understanding of why individuals turn to movements like Auroville. which I explained in more details in the chapter of Theory in this thesis. 73 . representing mainstream society. When the system is stabile and the hegemon. incenses. the core-states. in front of others? I find one explanation in the constitution of culture itself. and more individuals are getting attracted by exoticism. they have been placed far down in the hierarchical order of the cognitive schema in most individuals. According to cognitive anthropology and Schema-Theory. yoga classes. courses in self-realization. how it manifests in the individual. or against. and so on takes a stand for. according to Friedman (Friedman 1994:89-90. even if individuals have experienced these influences.aware about experiments like Auroville. In relation to my discussion on how Hindu beliefs has influenced Western cultures through centuries. when talking about these attributes. The spectrum seems to be unlimited today. books on spirituality and Hindu philosophy. setting the standards for the world through the capitalist market. culture is shaped through the individual’s experiences. they have been delimited to small educated groups within society. seize world domination. then Hindu attributes are being placed higher up in the hierarchy of the individual’s cognitive schema. This distribution of goods indicates the demand for these products and services. When criticism of modern identity is getting more widespread. and what makes them choose this movement. things such as spike-maths. etc. a modernist identity is prevailed. In other words. Along comes the distribution of goods through the capitalist market. making things and services available to the public. together with influence from celebrities such as Richard Gere’s Buddhism and Madonna’s Kabala. where each experience is placed in order of precedence in a hierarchical structure. Even if Hindu beliefs has made an impact on Western societies. not reaching mainstream society until the beginning of the contemporary systemic crisis. forming a cognitive schema in the individual’s mind. More individuals will with time be able to relate to the same things. as during hegemonic decline.
resulting in an ongoing elaboration with both organizational and ideological matters. not to rely on any static and non-flexible doctrine. This conflict was a result of the lack of any clear leadership in the township after the pass away of the Mother. I also suggest the possibility that more individuals will be able to relate to experiments like Auroville in connection with an increase of cultural distortion.as it also produce new demands by their very existence on the market. and attributes as spiritual jewellery. they have to adapt to internal and external conditions. Government Support 74 . or through the books they put in their bookshelves at home. According to Friedman’s understanding of “weak” modern identity through lifestyle (Friedman:30). these individuals who were susceptible for these influences are probably those individuals who also reacts the strongest to cultural distortion during hegemonic decline. Discussion on Adaptation As Wallace noticed. through choice of clothes. many individuals who are contemplating the system as wrong will demonstrate this attitude by their way of presenting themselves. In the lengthening. placing these at present seemingly relative unimportant properties higher up in the individual’s hierarchical structure of his cognitive schema.4. and they have to continuously modify its doctrine (Wallace 1956:274-275). When subjects such as Auroville comes up for discussion.1. as opposed to before when the prevalence of New Age attributes or Hindu beliefs was not that wide spread in society. more individuals will today be able to relate to the experiment. This notion has even been realized in Auroville. for revitalization movements to succeed with their aims. was that between the Society and the Aurovillian community.4. 7. The most serious conflict. and definitely the most long-lasting one. 7. or a documentary on the township is presented on TV.
while some political opposition and some Indian State Governments has opposed the idea of Auroville. which is of value to take up for discussion in relation to Auroville as a revitalization movement. even if she never modified the philosophy itself. But Auroville has been able to gather support pretty regularly from the Indian Government. which will result in harsher conditions for revitalization movements such as some intentional communities. especially if Auroville will continue to present itself internationally as an important experiment in human unity and sustainable living. the township provides a social space from where to direct critique to their societies of origin.:274-275). Minor describes how the support for Auroville has changed with different government settings in India.co.2. and therefore the very existence of Auroville is in the hands of the Government. The case with Auroville is different in this matter.4. The strongest supporter has been the Congress Party. In Auroville’s case. I draw this conclusion in relation to current trends where national governments grant financial support to experiment sites such as eco-villages and similar intentional communities46.38: http://www.greenbuildingpress. One can say that Auroville would have huge problems to survive financially without Government grants. concerning its Western residents. 73). and is being uphold financially with the help of a “foreign” state. (Minor 1999:15. This trend may digress from its current position. it will encounter resistance from external forces such as the larger society. The change has been one of strategy. they will most likely continue receiving financial support.uk/article.php?category_id=1&article_id=444 (last access 2010-0113) 75 . How this support came true has been explained above. As long as the township does not involve a big threat to the Indian state. in case they encounter resistance from the larger society. but could have had another outcome. according to Wallace (Wallace Ibid. 7. in this case the Indian state. but there lies an important component in this support.Because of the movement’s revolutionary character. Modification of Doctrine The modification of the doctrine started already with the Mother. 46 Website no.
ecovillage.org/ (last access 2010-01-13) 76 . which in Auroville’s case is its resistance against modernity and capitalism itself. When reading Wallace’s article on revitalization (Wallace 1956). To profile itself as an eco-village. 7. Auroville is adapting itself to current changes in the general milieu. and the danger of being absorbed by the larger society in a way as it “forgets” it original doctrine and its critique against the larger society and culture. she put emphasis on the cultural transformation of the members of the movement.concerning the outcome of the township in organizational and social matters. particularly in the West47.S. Wallace means that this process is necessary for the movement so as to modify its doctrine to fit “to the population’s cultural and personality patterns. Another way of looking at it. But this is another discussion.5. Discussion on Cultural Transformation When Brown examined Ananda Village in the U. and may take account of the changes occurring in the general milieu” (Wallace 1956:275). using the revitalization model. Auroville’s response in this matter goes in line with the current trend of an increase of eco-villages on the global arena. and particularly the part of cultural transformation. as a revitalization movement. support. On a systemic level. and moral. than if it would have put an emphasis on its spiritual aspects.39: http://gen. it becomes clear that cultural transformation is a result of the 47 Website no. one can assume that Auroville is able to receive more financial. Auroville has changed profile from a spiritual hippie community to a serious experiment for a sustainable world. to an emphasis on its secular aspects such as sustainable development and environmental projects. In this change lie also the danger of institutionalization. The most obvious modification has been its way of presenting itself to the world. is the role movements such as Auroville has on the change of perception – the current trend of eco-villages and alternative methods for a sustainable world. legitimate in regard of current trends of experiments in sustainable methods for development. not the general cultural transformation of the population in the larger society (Brown 202:171). changing its ideological focus for the external world by presenting itself as a legitimate social experiment. From its main focus on spiritual development.
The sense of stress-relief seems to be present. some stay consciously in Auroville for a limited period of time. learning and increasing their knowledge about the philosophy and practical issues for a sustainable world. As mentioned above in the chapter of Cultural Transformation. I have chosen to put emphasis on the cultural transformation of the members of the movement with inspiration from Brown’s study (Brown 2002:Chapter 8). In this way a cultural transformation occur in these individuals through their experiences in Auroville. But the fact that some members are using Auroville as a transition site points to its systemic properties. that the township operates in an informal network of different movements who all together directs culture critique to their societies. a kind of social revitalization has occurred in the movement itself. in relation to the program of group action. In this way of looking. But the cultural transformation of the external society. along with a construction of norms to regulate the “new” behaviour of the residents through socialization. Discussion on Routinization One can immediately take the conclusion that Auroville has not reached to the 77 . The informants I talked to are convinced about the truth of Aurobindo’s and the Mother’s philosophy. 7. and also providing them with recourses in knowledge to use in other ways. As informants told me and mentioned above.6. in relation to the impact that capitalism and modernity has on their societies. by directing critique on an international level means to direct critique to their particular culture. Therefore. and many times to all societies and agents who uphold the capitalist World-System. maybe by joining another movement elsewhere. all cultures are interconnected through the World-System and one cannot successfully change one culture without changing the system itself. which in Auroville’s case would be India and countries related to other nationalities. as a result of Auroville’s impact belongs to another thesis.interaction between the movement and the larger society. and the need to spread the ideas to the world and as a result also change the very construction of their own culture and society. taking parts of the activity and the projects in the township. along with the internal success of the movement itself.
in this case India. Classic revitalization movements are results of both material and cultural deprivation. Complex revitalization movements can in turn occur in any country and are defined by their multinational composition. the degree of impact that Auroville has on the external world. On a systemic level. Cultural Deprivation versus Material Deprivation Wallace’s concept of revitalization is mainly a product of the study of traditional cultures. I would therefore like to make a distinction between “classic” revitalization movements and revitalization movements in their infancy. 78 . the same conclusion can be drawn. to be able to recruit members.6. while cultures belonging to the core-states within the World-System are mainly opposed to cultural deprivation.1. in relation to the degree of routinization they have achieved. 7. while infancy revitalization movements occur in the “belly of the beast” (Wallace 2004:IX). Native American groups and Oceanic cultures. most likely to occur in the periphery. cultures that many times have been oppressed by colonizers. should be seen in relation to the degree of attraction that the township has. and still until today are getting subjected by the capitalist World-System (Wallace 1956:264). and constitutes of one single culture group. What I would like to stress in this matter. even if material deprivation happens in limited degree during economic depression. These peripheral cultures have been deprived of both material and cultural matters. or as in Auroville’s case outside the core-states. and between “classic” revitalization movements and “complex” revitalization movements that compounds of many nationalities and cultures. but still composes partly of people belonging to the core-states.level of being a church within the larger society.
P. just as the extreme economic depression that Germany was exposed to in the 1920s and 1930s. Therefore. 48 The critical situation for Germany during this time has been explained as a result of Germany’s sonderweg in the period before World War I. Now. all cultures that are being subjected by the capitalist World-System will be affected.2. according to Wallace (Wallace 1956:269).6. the Nazi movement represent rather a complex revitalization movement due to its multinational character. dissolution of kinship. Taylors book ”The Origins of the Second World War” from 1961. Other more “rigid” persons will find techniques to handle this stress. considering the effects that capitalism and modernity has on our cultures and identity constructions: loss of traditions. For revitalization movements to grow in large numbers and create mass movements such as the Nazi mass-movement in Germany. the amounts of individuals who are potential receivers of a new mazeway are related to the degree of cultural deprivation. when “real development is jeopardized by systemic crisis”. return to the Summary and Final Conclusion. Cultural Deprivation in the Core-States As I have discussed above. as Friedman defines it (Friedman 1994:26). to get the whole picture. I believe that they have to experience a massive material deprivation together with cultural deprivation48. and they will grow in numbers during hegemonic decline when the system is getting questioned more widely. for the core-states presumably cultural deprivation.J. lack of respect for the environment etc. During hegemonic decline these properties are being questioned by individuals in the core-states and those who are not able to handle the stress looks for alternatives to replace the unsatisfying culture with (Friedman 1994:95). which you can read about in more details in A. Therefore. 79 . while small movements such as Auroville represent complex infancy revitalization movements in their beginning of expansion.7.
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