Yes, it is on February 28th, 1968, at 10h30 am, that Auroville was born.
It happened in the shallow open Amphitheater carved at the center of the future City, up on the vast barren plateau of red laterite, where a big crowd of Ashramites, local people and other assorted well-wishers had gathered on the gentle shaded slopes built around the Urn, with a few tribunes for the Officials. That special Urn had been finished, just in time, a few hours before, covered with a marvelous marble mosaic that one of the very first Aurovilians already living there had lovingly prepared – it took what seemed an endless time… – at the Mother’s request, for the occasion.
The entire Foundation Ceremony was broadcast by the Indian Radio.
First was heard some music played on the organ by the Mother from her room at the Ashram in Pondicherry; then in the complete silence her resounding, strong voice read her Message to the World for the Birth of Auroville:
‘Salut d’Auroville a tous les hommes de bonne volonte. Sont invites a Auroville tous ceux qui ont soif de progres et aspirent a une vie plus haute et plus vraie.’
In English, it said: ‘Greetings from Auroville to all men of goodwill. Are invited to Auroville all those who thirst for progress and aspire to a higher and a truer life.’
Then she read out the text of the ‘Charte d’Auroville’ written by her, the manuscript of which on a big piece of beautiful paper had been placed, rolled up in a silver tube, inside the Urn: the Auroville Charter thus became the first thing to be put in that Urn, invisibly sending out since then its Call to the four corners of the World…
The Mother herself read it first in French, her voice stating loud and clear those four incredible paragraphs that called a more beautiful Future upon Earth;
then a person selected by her read the Charter in English, another one in Tamil, and another one in Sanskrit, the four Languages that were to be the official Languages of Auroville.
And then, as the music went on in the background, started the slow procession of the young delegates from all over the world, a boy and a girl selected by each country part of UNESCO, which had unanimously hailed the Project of this first ‘Universal City’ when it had been presented to their Session of 1966 by the Government of India, officially endorsing Sri Aurobindo and Mother’s dream of such an experimental place, dedicated to the conscious evolution of Humankind on the collective scale of a small Township.
Since long the two Pioneers of Conscious Evolution had been celebrated the world over, by UNESCO for example, for the new Hope they had given to Humankind, through the new step in Terrestrial Evolution they had announced and initiated together, as well as through the Integral Yoga, quietly followed by disciples here and there, that they had developed together for others ready to follow in their steps, to whatever extent their faith and the Divine Grace would make it possible…
Both had foreseen that besides the Ashram which had formed spontaneously around them in Pondicherry, a vaster project was also needed, which wouldn’t be an Ashram at all, but a Township open to ordinary people, including couples and families, so that ordinary Life too could learn how to turn itself towards the Divine every person secretly houses as the very core of his or her being. It would be a Town dedicated to that evolutive future of Humanity.
But they knew it was useless to try and start it too soon. Only when the higher Divine Power they called the ‘Supramental’ (meaning Beyond the Mental Power) would be activated upon Earth and at least a part of Humanity would respond, consciously or not, to its Action, only then would that project of a City have any chance of success in its endeavor.
After Sri Aurobindo deliberately left in 1950 his physical body in order to hasten this process, it is in 1956 that the Mother felt the Supramental Power had been finally activated in earthly Matter itself. The early Sixties, with the extraordinary emergence – shall I say the blooming?…- of the Flower Power, showed to her consciousness that the first visible effects of the Supramental’s Action were happening, and that now was the time when the idea of a special small Town could be tried.
The Mother named it ‘Auroville’, both for Sri Aurobindo and for the word ‘Dawn’, in French ‘Aurore’, meaning in this case the Dawn of a new Humanity. She had wanted that the representatives to come for this Foundation Ceremony be from the Youth of each country, symbolizing its future…
And so it is that these youngsters from all over the world came, two by two, up to the Urn, holding a board with the name of their country, and poured into the Urn the handful of earth from there that they had carried all along. Those from the Ashram itself began with some sand especially taken from Sri Aurobindo’s Samadhi, then all the other delegates followed, and at the very end the two youth representing Auroville added some of the red laterite soil on which Auroville would have to grow.
And then the Urn was sealed.
The Foundation Ceremony as such was over.
But a beautiful open air Exhibition had been installed just nearby, under the branches and relative shade of the young Banyan Tree that was the only tree growing in that whole area… The Mother, when asked to show on a map the exact center for the circular city-to-be, had intuitively and infallibly indicated a precise point, which later on was found to be the exact spot where that unique tree grew… and so it had become the official Center of the future Township, for the time being represented there in the form of the various big models and large photos of them illustrating what was to appear gradually on the physical level in the years to come.
So the crowd, and first of all the dignitaries present, shifted to that area, and had a long look at all these promising elements of the Exhibition.
And then the crowd finally dispersed, everyone slowly went away, back to their own homes elsewhere…
And the few people who were already living somewhere in that now officially founded Auroville remained alone there, with all the work to do in front of them…!
Except for one person more added to their number: the tall young man who had represented Germany and poured its soil into the Urn, had fallen in love with this mad, but so wonderful project. He joined those early Aurovilians, and is still here among us today, as creative and young-looking as ever…. Happy Auroville Birthday, dear Poppo!…
I myself wasn’t among them yet, I would know of Auroville only in 1971, and come in 1972; but in May of that same year 1968, that is, hardly two months after Auroville was born, I did have the wonderful experience of the May 68 ‘Revolution’ started in Paris first as the ‘Paris Spring’ (right in that ‘La Sorbonne’ University where I had happily studied…) and then spreading to the whole of France, including Nice, on the Cote d’Azur, where I happened to be doing the last year needed for becoming a full-fledged, official Teacher in ‘The Classics’: a year you spent watching three existing teachers do their work in their respective different colleges of the same area, and finally giving a class yourself, under the watching eye of an Inspector, before hopefully being accepted fully and getting your official title.
Totally enthused by what had started happening in Paris, we the students in Nice had had our own cheerful Revolution all right there too, and Nice was a joyous capharnaum, all normal collective transports having stopped since weeks. It is only thanks to the extreme kindness of the young girls I was supposed to give the required class to (and thanks to their obliging fathers who accepted to drive them to school that day in spite of the crazy traffic!), that all of them managed to come in time on the fateful day, thus providing me with the needed students and enabling me to give the required class, and triumphantly so, which earned me a good note from the Inspector…
This was probably the first occasion when I witnessed with my own eyes how human beings can go out of their way to do nice things completely freely, out of pure kindness.
I guess that was a taste, from far away, not only of La Sorbonne, but even further away, of that New Place out there in South India, where the same Seed had been planted just a few months before, on 28th February: the Seed of that Inner Freedom that enables you to give your very best, freely, just for the joy of it… That’s one way the soul in each of us loves to express itself, if left free to do so.
Auroville was born so that in the world at least one place exists, to start with, where this kind of Freedom is given to human beings, even from early childhood, giving each of them a chance to grow freely into the unique Truth of their being, the aspect of the Divine they are as individuals meant to contribute to the world, for the pure Joy of it…
That’s why in spite of all the difficulties I am so happy to be still here after all those years, and so happy today particularly, when with all the gratitude of my heart I can say – and sing! – ‘Happy Birthday, dear Auroville!’