25 August 1999
I think this Act (Auroville Foundation Act) has some very unique features, which you will not find in any act in the country. If you read between the lines, you will find that the whole Act is so formulated that it would facilitate what Mother has called “divine anarchy”. Now this is not written anywhere in the Act itself, but it would facilitate. In one of the chapters Sri Aurobindo has written a few lines on what he calls theocracy. Theocracy is a word today which is very much abused and misunderstood. But divine anarchy is nothing but the rule of the Divine; and since the rule of the Divine is to be conducted from within every individual, the individual is not ruled by somebody outside himself; therefore there is no rulership outside individuals, and since it is the same Divine that rules all the individuals, that Divine causes unity even while permitting diversity. It is for that reason it is anarchy, that is to say, there is no rule from outside. All kind of rules are rules from outside, whether it is monarchy or oligarchy or any kind of democracy. All forms of government that have been formed in the history of the world are forms where some kind of rulership is attributed to some authority outside the individual. If therefore you have an Act in which the individuals constituting the totality have the freedom to grow, and if it is laid down in the Act itself that this freedom is to be ensured, the residents of Auroville should feel free and if any attempt is made to curb this freedom, then there is a provision in the Act itself of an authority whose very duty it is to advise the Governing Board in such a way that this freedom is not curbed. Secondly, this totality of residents has not been given any particular form of governance. Sometime some people reading from outside may feel it is a lacuna in the Act, that no form is given for the Resident Assembly. But from another point of view, it is a safeguard against imposition of any form. So you might say that there is an utter freedom given to the Residents’ Assembly to experiment, to make research and to devise forms by which the divine anarchy can be realised. If the residents of Auroville know how to do it, if they ripen themselves into that consciousness, this freedom is ensured in the Act. In the meantime, there is also a provision in the Auroville Act that although there is a Governing Board which may from outside seem to be a Board which would control, superintend, supervise, intervene, supervene and you might say it is a final authority, this Governing Board is required to consult the Residents’ Assembly according to this Act itself, and there are provisions in the functions
of the Residents’ Assembly where it is laid down that Residents’ Assembly will organise all the activities of Auroville, so the scope is widest. There is not a single activity which Residents’ Assembly cannot organise. As a result I find that Mother's intention that Auroville will be a field of research and particularly the concept of divine anarchy, if the residents of Auroville decide to conceive of the forms, of this form of development and organisation, it would be perfectly possible to do so within the frame-work of this entire Act. These are the special features of the Foundation Act. You will find that as compared to other organisations like there is a Company Act, there is Societies Registration Act, you will find that in these Acts the forms of organisation are already laid down and you can't escape from that. If you have a Society Registration Act you will see that there shall be such and such governing body which shall be elected and there are many rules under which election will take place in one form or the other. Everything is straight jacketed. You have no freedom at all to organise in the way in which you want, whereas in this Act there is no such provision. I personally feel therefore that Auroville organisation for the future should really be developed so that what Sri Aurobindo and the Mother have said — the rule of the Divine in each individual — may ultimately operate. This is entirely within our hands, in the residents' hands. But it has a big responsibility and that responsibility is that every individual has to be tended, and this is a very important condition. It is not a question of majority and minority, it is not a question of opinion building, it is not a question of a few against the others. If you read Sri Aurobindo's writings, there is a constant emphasis on all, and therefore our organisation must be such that it serves all. That means every individual. The truth of individualism, as I said earlier in another context, is not merely the guarantee of individual freedom. This is something that is highest in many constitutions — that the moment you give the freedom of expression, freedom of association, you have given the best and the highest. That is not the concept of Auroville. Individualism is fundamentally service of the Divine in each individual. This is the real truth of individualism: to regard every individual who carries within himself the Divine and therefore the discovery of the Divine and manifestation of this Divine is the fundamental truth of individualism. And since this discovery and manifestation cannot take place without the freedom, therefore underline the freedom. You can’t compel an individual to discover the Divine, you cannot compel, by very nature you cannot compel. It is only by freedom, by willing consciousness, by voluntary consciousness that the Divine can be discovered. So, when we say that
Auroville is for freedom — this is very often voiced among many people, that we are here free — it is an incomplete sentence. We are here for freedom certainly, but freedom to discover the Divine. In fact, the very first article of Auroville Charter speaks of the willing — willing means freely willing — servitors of the Divine Consciousness. So, merely saying that we are free is not enough. Merely because we are free, it doesn’t mean that it is only to be limited to framing of free opinion. Framing of free opinion, freedom to question an opinion is sometimes regarded as the highest height of democracy and freedom, but freedom to question is only the first step. We question anything for what? Not for the sake of questioning but for a quest: questioning to arrive at a conclusion, free conclusion, freedom to frame an opinion. In the consciousness that opinion-making is only the first step, the larger step is that an opinion is to be contrasted with another opinion and that with another opinion and to realise that behind every opinion, there is a truth and that ultimately you have to arrive at the highest synthesis of all opinions, so that each opinion is satisfied. In other words, in fact, it can even be said that you go beyond opinion making. This is the kind of freedom that we have and this is what is proposed to us. This is how I understand. I am only giving my reflections on what Mother and Sri Aurobindo have said, what the different statements which Mother has made even with regard to admission to Auroville, with regard to the development of Auroville, many other things.
I think the first important point that has to be noted is regarding the entry of people to Auroville. I had recently a discussion with the Entry Group and I had an occasion to learn what is being done in regard to the entry and I had an occasion to read once again and there is a statement of the Mother: “Are invited men of good will who aspire to lead a higher and truer life.” Now, these words are extremely important. I think many people feel that good will is good gentlemanliness. I think this is general — to many people, when you speak of good will, this is how it is translated. If you are a good neighbour, if you are decent and if you have good manners and you are not quarrelsome, you are fine, then you have good will. I think we have to understand — that is my reflection on it — that good will is a concept of a much higher dimension. In the western philosophy, good will came to be defined best in the philosophy of Kant, in German philosophy. In fact, his whole philosophy is called the philosophy of good will. This whole ethics is an ethics of good will and his definition of good will is that good will is a free will that has decided to counteract everything that pulls you down to a lower life, and deliberately puts itself towards three
concepts: God, freedom, immortality. This is his definition of good will. On one hand, you deliberately decide that all lower impulses will be combated against, and on the other hand there is a constant push, free pursuit, not under compulsion: You have really decided deliberately that you will constantly move towards God, freedom and immortality. In fact these three concepts, he says, are the postulates of good will, real postulates, that means goodwill does not exist if these three things are not pursued. And if your read The Life Divine, the very first paragraph of The Life Divine where the human aspiration has been described by Sri Aurobindo, he speaks of this very ideal, where he says that the earliest formula of wisdom also promises to be its last: God, Freedom, Bliss, Immortality. Same words, almost, have been repeated by Sri Aurobindo. In fact, this pursuit of these ideals is the very condition of divine life. And I personally believe that when Mother put down the word good will, it is not gentlemanliness, it is not good neighbourliness — that of course should be, that is understood. I always felt that Auroville is a field of advanced research, not only a field of research, but advanced research. And this, I think, people should make it very clear to everybody: that certain ordinary things have already been overpassed by the people who are here. They have tried, experimented many things. This is not a field of experimentation of fashions of life. There are many fashions going on. There are one fashion over here, another fashion over there, third fashion over there and some people, if they feel that they are now tired of one fashion and want to try another fashion and they come to Auroville and say that Auroville is a field of freedom and you can experiment with this fashion or that fashion, I personally would like to tell them very clearly, “This is a field of advanced research.” That is to say you have already finished your journey with freely making experiments with various fashions of life. Having done it, now you have come to the conclusion that you want a higher and truer life. The very first proposition of the Mother is: we are aspiring for higher and truer life. If this decision has not been arrived at, it is incomplete, you are not yet ready to entry into Auroville, this is according to me. There are many other opinions and I am not speaking anything dogmatically, but this is how I reflect, when I reflect upon Mother's words. And then, when you read further, you find certain further elucidation in some of the statements of the Mother. Take for example this statement of 21st March 1956 — much before Auroville’s birth. This but small statement is very important where Mother has said, “The age of Capitalism and business is drawing to a close, but the age of Communism too will pass.” In 1956, at the time when Communism was at its zenith, Mother has said, “but the
age of Communism too will pass”, and thereafter she says, “Communism having no more utility will be transformed into something else, that will express a higher truth.” And the last word of the Mother is, “We know this truth.” This is a very categorical statement, “We know this truth and we are working for it so that it may rain upon earth.” Now I would like to submit that everybody who wants to enter into Auroville should read this statement. We are not here to experiment with capitalism and communism. Both of them are outdated as far as Auroville is concerned. We have to ask ourselves when Mother says “We know this truth”, what is this truth.
Now in this context, I would like to refer to a very important statement that Sri Aurobindo has made in The Human Cycle, while describing the ideal law of social development. This is the statement which, I think, is one of the elucidations of the statement “We know this truth”: “The law for the individual is to perfect his individuality by free development from within, but to respect and to aid and be aided by the same free development in others.” It’s a very important statement. To say, “Oh, I want to develop myself freely”, very good, very fine, but add this statement also, “but to respect and to aid and be aided by the same free development in others”. “His law”, that is to say the law of the individual, “is to harmonise his life with the life of the social aggregate and to pour himself out as a force for growth and perfection on humanity.” (The Human Cycle, Vol. XV, p.63, Cent. Ed.) (As I opened this page I found the Mother’s picture here, so I feel as if Mother wants me to read this very sentence once again.) Now in addition to that, Sri Aurobindo says, “The law for the community” — just as there is a law of the individual there is a law of the community — “the law for the community or nation is equally to perfect its corporate existence by a free development from within” — Auroville should feel free to develop from within and that is why I referred to the Foundation Act in the very beginning, that this freedom is granted, is guaranteed by the Act itself, and this guarantee is given by the Parliament, so that nobody can change it. It's a very important guarantee. Just as in the case of the individual, so in the case of community: “aiding and taking full advantage of that of the individual, but to respect and to aid and be aided by the same free development of other communities and nations.” This also is a very important qualification. “Its law is to harmonise its life with that of the human aggregate and to pour itself out as a force for growth and perfection on humanity.” And now comes the third law, the law for humanity: “The law for humanity is to pursue its upward evolution towards the finding and expression of the Divine in the type of mankind, taking
full advantage of the free development and gains of all individuals and nations and groupings of men, to work towards the day when mankind may be really and not only ideally one divine family, but even then, when it has succeeded in unifying itself, to respect, aid and be aided by the free growth and activity of its individuals and constituent aggregates.”
Now this full paragraph to my mind gives us a perfect understanding of the goal that we have, and that is involved in the very concept of Auroville and in the entry into Auroville. I think this statement should be given to everyone who wants to enter into Auroville. This is my suggestion to everyone, particularly those who are in charge of Entry Group. They should get this printed and say, “Well, this is how we look upon: 'This truth — what Mother has said, we know this truth, and we want to express this truth so that it may rain upon earth.” Now there is another statement elucidating this very thing. You know, Mother's statements are very short, but very pointed and very sharp. Sometimes because they are short, they seem to be very simple and therefore we feel that “Oh, this is a very easy statement”, but when you study it, you find that a very high level of research is demanded. Now here, on 7 September 1965, she says, “Auroville wants to be a universal town where men and women of all communities will be able to live in peace and progressive harmony”, and then comes a very important qualification, “above all creeds, all politics and all nationalities, straining to realise human unity.” This is a very fundamental statement about Auroville. So anybody who wants to enter Auroville has already to arrive at this point. He has experimented with all creeds already, or at least he has arrived at the consciousness in which creeds don’t matter to him at all. Politics is not at all in his veins, in his arteries. Politics meaning thereby all kind of manoeuvring — what the Vedic call a crooked thinking — this is the Vedic word. All crooked thinking is given up. This is politics: the fundamental aim, the fundamental crux of the word politics, its meaning is: all crooked thinking. You want to achieve some goal and you start immediately winding up. I create one opinion here, one opinion there, canvas it here, canvas it there, all kinds of matters which have been adopted in so called democratic parliament and so on. I want to achieve the success of my opinion, so how shall I do it? All kinds of campaign, slogans — this is politics — instead of stating straight. We have to distinguish between what is called propaganda and action. All politics is propaganda. Without propaganda, there is no politics. All Auroville, according to me, is action. It has nothing to do with propaganda. Once Mother had told me… There was a big debate in the Ashram at one time, when some of us had gone out in the country
in 1972. Some people in the Ashram criticised some of us and said, “You are now making a propaganda of Sri Aurobindo.” Why, because we were telling people what Sri Aurobindo had said, because Mother had told, at least to some of us, that “this is the year in which you should tell the people what Sri Aurobindo has said for the solutions of the problems of the country.” This was the time when Mother told many of us, “You read Sri Aurobindo”. Because most of us didn’t know what solutions Sri Aurobindo had given to the problems. Even those who felt they knew, when they began to study Sri Aurobindo, they found that they hardly knew, and that there was a need of deeper and deeper study. In fact, I tell you the truth that by that time I had read The Life Divine twenty-five times, and yet when I started to find out Sri Aurobindo’s solutions in many books — I read many other books also equally — but if somebody said: “Tell me what is the solution,” I had no answer as yet. Because Sri Aurobindo’s writings are so global and so vast that you have to make a real pointed study again and again to arrive at solutions. This is what I found and I really started studying Sri Aurobindo in 1972, which is a fact in my personal life. And even today I cannot say that I have graduated. Even today it is a fact. This is the difficulty; this is a very tremendous task. So at that time when this was being done, this was the criticism levelled by many people in the Ashram itself: that now here goes the propagandist team outside in the country. So, in order to clarify ourselves whether we were doing right thing or wrong thing, the question was put to the Mother. In fact there is one very good statement of Sri Aurobindo where he says, “propaganda in a work like ours is poison.” Very, very stark statement he has made. “Propaganda in regard to the work like that of ours is poison.” He says propaganda, advertisement are all right for patent medicines but not for a work of that kind. So this statement was also put before the Mother and then we had put the question, “Mother, what is your directive?” So, She said there is a distinction between propaganda and action. When you put an ideal before the people in such a way as to make a popular appeal so that people may accept it, with a desire that people may accept it, it is propaganda. There is an ideal you put before the people with a desire that people should accept it and then, for that purpose, you turn the phrases, you speak in a language which you think people will understand, will appreciate. You twist it in one way or the other — that is propaganda. And Mother says, “When you put an ideal as it is without any kind of twist, without any compromise whatsoever, then the very statement of the ideal is action, if you can make that statement straightforward, without fear or favour.” And I can tell you that thereafter, many
of us really felt a need of hard searching: “Are we putting Sri Aurobindo’s solutions simply because we want to succeed, that people should come forward and say, ‘Oh, there is a big movement’ and many people will join and there will be large adherence and large number of people?” We found that all these tendencies in our heart had to be completely washed out. This was a tremendous enlightenment to us and we then said — at least many of us, who then went out, were very, very particular that we don't make any kind of statement in regard to Sri Aurobindo which is not in his stark statement, as Sri Aurobindo has stated. Whether people like it or do not like it, whether people follow it or do not follow it, whether people will join you or do not join you. In any case it's a long practice… In fact, Mother says “beyond all politics”. I personally believe that this is the kind of attitude that we should have in Auroville. It is not public opinion making, it is not flagging out an idea for others and then trying to convert the people to that idea. We are here simply to state the ideal as it is, uncompromisingly, and let it be left to the individuals to respond to that ideal. I think this should be the real method of action in Auroville. I am only suggesting what I feel, I have thought over these problems for years, and I am only sharing with you, again I tell you, without dogmatism. There are many ways of looking at things and this is one way of looking at this, and this is how I would like to put it before you. Now let us go forward. Another statement that Mother has made in regard to Auroville, and which is very directly connected with the entry of people to Auroville, Mother says, “Auroville must be at the service of the Truth, beyond all social, political and religious convictions.” Now this is again a very important statement. As long as we have a religious conviction or a political conviction or a social conviction, we are still to be probationers perhaps, but not yet Aurovilians. We must have gone beyond these convictions and we must be in search of something that goes beyond all social, political and religious convictions. Then we can say that we are now fit to enter into Auroville. Then there is another note on Auroville where Mother has said, “Humanity is not the last run of terrestrial creation. Evolution continues and men will be surpassed. It is for each one to know whether he wants to participate in the advent of the new species. For those who are satisfied with the world as it is, Auroville obviously has no raison d’être.” It’s a very categorical statement. I would like to underline this statement very much because very often I am told, “Auroville is for all men of good will”, finished, full stop. It is true! Actually in “good will” everything is contained. If you understand the word “good will” in the way which I have tried to explain. But to elucidate this
good will, all this is involved at the present level of our evolution. It is only at this stage that Auroville begins to develop, this is a first starting point. And then there is… I would like to read one last statement of the Mother: “For millennia we have been developing outer means, outer instruments, outer techniques of living and finally those means and techniques are crushing us. The sign of the new humanity is a reversal in the standpoint and understanding that inner knowledge and inner techniques can change the world and master it without crushing it.” It’s a wonderful balm to mankind which is striving to find the true solution. And I read again, “The sign of the new humanity is a reversal in the standpoint and understanding that inner knowledge and inner techniques can change the world and master it without crushing it.” And then Mother adds, “Auroville is the place where this new way of living is being worked out. It is a centre of accelerated evolution, where men must begin to change this world through the power of inner spirit.” I think this should be stated to all the people who want to join Auroville. Because this is the starting point of Auroville and this is elucidated by the Mother further where She says, “We will strive to make Auroville the cradle of the superman.” I wanted to read out these few statements from Mother to underline that Auroville is a field of advanced research. People should really make… and particularly for those people who are educated, who are intellectually developed, for them what I say is directly relevant. It is true that there are many people who are simple hearted, sincere and they are devoted in their own way to what is supreme. Maybe when you read out all this it may make no meaning to them. This doesn’t mean that they have no place in Auroville, that only those who understand all this will have a place in Auroville. But then you can be sure or you have to be sure that they have this heart of sincerity. This is the very important thing, because if the heart is sincere and if there is an opening, very soon they will understand this very easily. There is also a third category to my mind of the people who are... (end of the cassette first side)
(...) invitations in the month of November and December at the time of admission, we used to receive hundreds of applications and I used to make classifications of these applications. And Mother used to see every application in detail and ask me many questions about each one. And then she used to decide and she used to make very interesting, amusing remarks: “Take this one, he is a very sincere child”, “He is mischievous but take him”, and for somebody, “He will give trouble but take him”, or “This one is very, very bright, very open, very receptive, take him”, or “Oh, no, this won’t do”, “People
will think that he is very bright, but he is not bright”, things of this kind. Mother used to make these remarks — very, very profound statements. And then after taking large numbers of them, She used to ask me, “Now let us make a category of useful children.” This is a very interesting concept: useful. Now if you apply it to Auroville, I really find, you may have a need of a gardener, you may have a need of a cook, you may have a need of an assistant, stenographer, you may have a need of somebody and the given person has all the qualities and in general he is a very nice person, open, you might say, what Mother used to say open, receptive. I think in the Entry Group, all the three categories of people should be seen quite clearly, and accordingly a decision should be made. There are many other considerations which have been made here at present, which I think need to be reconsidered, reviewed, understood properly. It’s a matter of detail and I am not worrying upon this now, this is all that I would like to say as far as the entry is concerned.
There is a very interesting statement which I have received from a few people who have made statements on “Auroville in the new millennium”, and there is a statement here about entry which is very good. I don't know if people have read it, many of you might have read it, but I find it to be very interesting. Not that I agree with every statement which is here, but it is an interesting statement, worth studying. There is also a statement that just as there is an Entry Group, there should be a group in Auroville which can advise people after sometime, when they have come here, lived here: ask them whether they find that they are in the proper place here — not with an intention of expelling or throwing out or not caring for them, no, with a deeper consciousness. There are people who have come, they have experimented, they have lived here, but they may genuinely find that they are out of place here. We should help them instead of just going on and on and on. A person who is not in his proper place is always a problem to himself and to others. Now this also, there should be something on the subject.
Now I come to another subject of the organisation of Auroville and this is connected with the concept of Residents’ Assembly. The very word gives a kind of notion, to many of us who are educated in political science, of what is now called Parliament. And Parliament has to do with what is called Parliamentary democracy. This is the concept which automatically arises, and therefore it is natural for some people to think that here we are to develop a kind of Parliamentary democracy. Now this is a subject on which Sri Aurobindo has
written at quite good length. What is Parliamentary democracy and whether, in the view of Sri Aurobindo, Parliamentary democracy is the last form of organisation, or whether it is only a step, or whether it was only a step which has outlived its utility. Now Sri Aurobindo has said first of all — this is the conclusion I have arrived at after reading Sri Aurobindo several times, but again I am only speaking my reflections. No dogmatism in it. People might have read Sri Aurobindo in many other ways and we can always share our views. I would like to submit what I think Sri Aurobindo has said. Parliamentary democracy was developed in Great Britain. This is the first thing. It was a stepping-stone. It was valid for a small country like England. It was valid for the leisurely times in which it was developed. But when you have those conditions overpasses, in which the country is not small, or where the times are not this leisurely, Sri Aurobindo said: this form will pass away. It will come to a crisis and will pass away. Second point about democracy itself: Sri Aurobindo has said, democracy is a sign of the coming of the true subjective age. Whenever there is a development of subjective age, that is to say, whenever there is an emphasis on the individual, democracy will flourish. This is what has happened even in the previous cycles of human development. In India we know there was democracy, and even monarchy in India was a democratic monarchy, not an absolute monarchy. It is afterwards when the Muslim invasion took place that they brought into the country, into India, what is called absolute monarchy, where the monarch is the final authority, even an arbitrary man who decides everything dictatorially. Such was never the concept in India. Sri Rama, for example… In India, even now we speak of Ramrajya as an ideal, and Kautilya has written that a real king is one whose own welfare is in the welfare of the people. That is to say that he has no personal welfare at all, his own welfare is in the welfare of the people. A real king is one whose happiness is in the happiness of the people. In other words, he has no personal happiness. As long as he says 'my happiness has to be reconciled with the happiness of the people', he is not the king. He has no personal happiness that is all, finished. His happiness consists in the happiness of the people. If he has not risen to that level, he is not fit to be a king. He should not be a king. In other words, the king as conceived by India had no personal life. He must have already reached the point where everything that he does is for the collective good. Now, in democracy as at present, many of these elements are absent, but Sri Aurobindo says, “The coming of democracy is a sign of the true subjective age.” But it doesn’t mean that democracy is therefore the final form of the subjective age,
not at all. In fact Sri Aurobindo has said that parliamentary democracy as it is practised in most of the countries — elsewhere other kind of democracies are practised, presidential form and so on, but ultimately it comes to parliamentary democracy, because even in America where it's a presidential form there is a Senate and the House of Representatives. Seen one way or the other it is a kind of Parliament — what is happening is, Sri Aurobindo says: all parliamentary democracy ends in plutocracy. Now it’s a very important word: Parliamentary democracy ends in plutocracy. And what is plutocracy? Plutocracy is the rule of a few rich and wicked people. This is the very definition of it. There is no need of being more blunt. Plutocracy means a rule of a few rich and wicked people. This is the conclusion of all experiments in parliamentary democracy. And this we must know already, because Sri Aurobindo has written very clearly, this is a study already assumed. When we start making a new form of political organisation, or any kind of organisation in Auroville, we must know that we must not fall into a trap, of developing a parliamentary democracy. Residents’ assembly is not the forum, according to me, of a parliamentary democracy, not at all. Sri Aurobindo speaks of democratic democracy. There is somewhere an expression of Sri Aurobindo: democratic democracy, not parliamentary democracy. Parliamentary democracy is a democracy which is run by representatives.
Individuals are put aside in whose name the democracy actually has come into being. All democrats speak in the form of individuals as if they are the greatest advocates of individuals. But each candidate in the Parliament says: I am the representative of individuals. So all individuals are thrown into the background. Individuals are in the background. I, I am the representative.
There is a very interesting account of democracy given by Laski. You know Laski is one of the greatest political thinkers of today. And he says that parliamentary democracy… he was himself a great democrat, but he has made a scathing criticism of parliamentary democracy. He says, the individuals who represent or who pretend to represent individuals, which individual do they represent? Can anybody represent another? This is a basic question. Who can represent every individual, you tell me, each individual is a spark of the divine will. Who will represent this individual? And supposing, your individuals who have sent you, change their opinion, what will happen to you? What is your representation? Is there something like a common will of all the individuals: will of A + will of individual B + will of individual C? Is it ever possible to
have made a kind of calculus of this kind? So right at the very bottom, even theoretically, parliamentary democracy is based upon some kind of compromise and falsehood. So my request is that we are here to make a very detailed research — this is what I mean by advanced research. And Mother says that in life we have to make a research. We have to make and see surely that ultimately the Residents' Assembly is really a Residents’ Assembly. It is not a representative assembly. It is Residents' Assembly and don't compromise on it. It is an assembly which looks after each and every individual resident. We have to arrive at that point where each individual resident is awake, he is alive and he is very keen, as Sri Aurobindo says, to perfect himself and to aid and to be aided by others’ perfection. This is the stage where we should reach. And the Residents’ Assembly is an instrument for springing into this. As long as individuals are simply put aside or simply taken up sometimes for getting their opinion, it is a mask and it is very inadequate and very, very unsatisfactory form of service to the divine consciousness. This is my reflection, it might be unpopular, but I must say what I feel personally.
We must take care that every individual develops. Today I find that we do not even know all the Aurovilians, which is a fact. There is only Mr Bala Baskar perhaps who knows all Aurovilians. He has a list of all the Aurovilians. And one of the members has come to me and said: one of the greatest difficulty in Auroville is that of communication. I was even telling the Entry Group day before yesterday that you should be able to communicate with all the Newcomers and they said there’s no way of communicating at all! If I want to send a message to anybody, people are so far apart, there’s no way unless you’ve got a e-mail which everybody may not possess, you can’t communicate. Now this, I personally feel, is a great lacuna. We should find means of… I gave the example of Nolini-da, in early times of the Ashram: Sri Aurobindo used to write letters to sadhaks and Nolini-da — the greatness of Nolini-da we do not sufficiently know or estimate. He used to take a bag of all the letters of Sri Aurobindo and go from home to home personally to give these letters of Sri Aurobindo to each sadhak. This is called true individualism. Every individual was served by the secretary of the Ashram, and a very eminent person, as I told you: his Himalayan greatness cannot be measured. And that was a man who used to take the post — a kind of a postman who used to take to everybody Sri Aurobindo’s answers. Because it was Sri Aurobindo’s answer, it was such a precious thing! But this arrangement was made by the Ashram with one man who was fixed, who will take messages. And I think, with so many people here
you should be able to find ways and means by which a message can be sent to anybody in Auroville. Why should it not be possible? This is one of the simplest things, if you really want to serve each and every individual, there should be at least a few people who know all the individuals quite well. If we do not know, it means that we are not caring for the Residents’ Assembly really, we are not caring for individuals and whenever a society neglects some individuals there is bound to be pain, there is bound to be some kind of abscess, bound to be some kind of wound. We have got to redress this. There should be some individuals who are in charge. The very charge should be: please know all the people in Auroville. I would like to make a suggestion — a concrete suggestion: that Residents’ Assembly — just as we have got a Working Committee, there should be a Unity Committee. There should be a Committee consisting of five, ten, twelve people which can be called Unity Committee, and I would like to suggest that this Unity Committee should have three or four fundamental functions. First of all, it should be a Committee which should constantly — you know like the Ganges in the plains, there should be constant flow of the waters of unity. They should initiate, they should spread constantly the ideas of unity. All that unifies, all that harmonises, they should emphasise. The very function of this committee will be to emphasise the forces of unity in Auroville. They should be really in charge: whatever harmonises should be really brought to the notice of everybody. That is the first task, that is to say, all that Sri Aurobindo has written on unity should be brought to the notice of people from time to time so there is constant awakening, reawakening among the people. We speak of the everlasting day. In fact Sri Aurobindo wants an everlasting day and I think Auroville should be an everlasting day. It is not for some time but there should be a constant stream in which there is a constant awakening to the idea of unity. That will be the first charge of it.
Second charge will be that whenever there is a conflict, this committee should come into operation and should see how the conflict can be resolved. Sometimes you call it conflict resolution committee and so on. I would prefer to name it Unity Committee, because it is more than overcoming a conflict: how the forces of unity can be introduced.
Thirdly — in fact recently I came to know that the Working Committee has written a letter to Development Group on a certain subject regarding the installation of high-tension wires. Development Group had proposed it, approved of it and Working Committee had opposed it. Now how are you going
to resolve this problem? Who will resolve this problem? It is residents who should do it. And it's this Unity Committee, if there is one, if it is constituted, who should be in charge of such a problem and see that all the interests — and this is one of the important preconditions I would like to make, as to how... Mother has said that anybody who is in charge of unifying should be capable of understanding very well all the conflicting opinions, with so much of identity that he can argue in favour of both the opposite points of view. This is the capacity he should have; and they should have a real love for everybody. This is a very important point. Once Mother herself told me, “You should love everyone.” It was a tremendous commandment on me! One day, there was some problem and Mother told me, “You should be able to love everyone.” It was like a blow bursting on my mind at that time with these words. Even now it continues, goes on bursting in my mind.
It is when a person is able to form a thesis, contrast it with antithesis, and arriving at synthesis that a true unity can be established. And Mother has said that synthesis is one in which all the conflicting views are satisfied. It's not as if you annul any point of view, they are really satisfied. That is the true synthesis. Everybody finds in it the affirmation of his own point of view. So I think that this should be the method, not only of this Unity Committee, but I would like to expand this and say that in all the committee meetings — there are many, many committees here, many meetings are taking place and many of them end in some kind of inconclusiveness and so on. I would really like to suggest, if you really want to make Auroville organisation a new kind of organisation, with a new stand, with a new vibration, I would say that there should be some specific rules, not in the form of rules and regulations, but specific modes of conducting a meeting. I was talking to somebody in the morning and I was saying that in every committee meeting you should first of all lay down the rules of the game, just as in cricket! If you want to play cricket, you have to follow the rules of cricket. If you want to play tennis, you have to follow the rules of tennis. Similarly, if you want to debate or if you want to discuss any point, there should ground rules for discussing. Discussing doesn’t mean “I have an opinion” or “I don’t object” or “I object with it”. This is not really discussing. Three points I wanted to make were that in any discussion you should really appoint an umpire. For three things: he should not allow anybody to raise his voice beyond a certain pitch, because many of the quarrels arise because people speak in a certain aggressive manner. Maybe you are very greatly convinced about something and if you raise your voice there’s nothing wrong but there is an
aggressive voice. The umpire should say, “Please, as long as you make a point with an aggressive voice, it will not be counted. Speak in a very gentle, in a very steady manner, strong manner quite all right, but no aggressive manner.” Heavens are not going to fall if your point of view doesn’t get in. Keep very, very quiet. Secondly, if there is a difficulty of resolution, then you should bring the opposing points of view… The umpire should state that these are the opposing points of view, as I understand. Then he should ask the opponent to defend the proponent. That should be the capacity: if you are really opposing a point of view, you should have understood the other’s point of view very well, and you should bring out where exactly you differ from it. And this you can do only when you can show that you have understood the proponent’s point of view and ask the proponent to argue for the opponent's argument.
I tell you that with this kind of a development, people really think over problems seriously and sincerely. It’s not merely public opinion making and throwing opinions. We are here in search of truth, not of opinion making. We are not here for likes and dislikes: “Oh! this I don’t like, this is my preferred idea, I’ll come to the conclusion.” This is not a game for it. This game of a quest of the truth and the harmony. So the umpire should really ask if there is a real conflict and a real impasse. This is the ground rule, that he should be able to tell both the parties: now you argue against your own point of view. And then let us see where you stand. And I tell you, once you come to this, you’ll be able to come to a good agreement. And thirdly, we should follow this in any discussion, even without Unity Committee. Every discussion can come to harmony if what Mother has said can be followed. Mother has said, “There is no problem which men of good will sitting together with an ardent aspiration to harmonise, cannot resolve.” There is no problem, therefore the umpire should say that now if we are still remaining at an impasse let us contemplate, let us bring all our good will into the picture, with a great quietude.
This, I think, is a kind of a yogic method of resolving the problems and I would really recommend that our Auroville organisation should develop methods of discussions on these lines.
To come back to Unity Committee, I would like to say that Unity Committee finally should have one very important function: to organise meetings with children, meetings with youth who are normally marginalized — which is a great pity. Young people are the real soul of our Auroville existence and we have to encourage young people, understand their problems. Unity Committee
should have a special function: to keep in contact with children and young people and bring their aspirations to the forefront and find solutions to their problems. I would like to suggest that you should have Unity Committee formed and actually the Act says that apart from Working Committee, the Residents’ Assembly can form any number of committees and it is perfectly possible within the present constitution to do so. There are many aspects, and I will not touch upon them, but I’ll only speak of one or two more things and then conclude.
There is a suggestion that you should have a parliament consisting of thirty people chosen by the Residents’ Assembly. That is one of the suggestions which have been made somewhere. Now one of the difficulties in Auroville that I find is choosing — and there is a lot of confusion on this subject: shall we vote, shall we not vote, shall we nominate, what shall we do? There is also an argument that Residents’ Assembly consisting of at least one thousand people or more — this is a very unwieldy number, even if you bring them together at one place, it is a very difficult thing to have a debate and so on. I am not very sure but even if you need to have a smaller body, I’m not at all opposed to have smaller bodies representing a larger body but again you remember my word on representing. Don’t call it a representation because that is not a very true state of affairs. You cannot represent, but you can say that for the sake or convenience of work, you can have smaller groups. Now, I am personally very happy that Auroville has developed several groups. Some people think it is too much and there should not be so many. I am not so very sure about it. I personally feel that although Residents’ Assembly doesn’t meet in a certain way, because of these small groups which have been formed — and some of them are very active and I have seen the quality of the work which is remarkable, like the Land Use group and Development group and Matrimandir group and… very, very… sincerely, they have done such a detailed work, amazing… the amount of devotion and commitment they manifest — through which the will of the people is being expressed in many ways. There need not be only one instrument through which the will of the people is expressed.
In Indian ancient system, they had actually ensured that the will of the people is expressed through various organisations, not one organisation. If in Auroville therefore there are many working units, economy units, there is FAMC, and then there is ABC and then there is Working Committee and many other groups, it’s all healthy. The only problem is that there is no method by which
propositions and oppositions which sometimes emerge because of multiplicity are resolved. That is why I suggested once again Unity Committee. Let there be so many groups, I do not mind. If you have a thirty people parliament, also I do not mind, but I would really recommend, please do not fall into the trap of electioneering. Electioneering is one of the processes by which many things which are not really healthy, certain unhealthy things, begin to develop.
In India at least, the ethos of India is such that no noble man comes forward to be elected. He cannot say, look I am better than all others and you elect me. This is supposed to be something that is entirely unethical. To say: “Look, I am better than all others, you all people come together, now you elect me.” This is not regarded as noble at all! So how can you have this ordinary system of electioneering where everyone has to declare, “I am better than all others and all people reject those people who are my competitors because they have no worth and I have the worth”. This is egoistic. You should not oblige anybody to be put in a position of this kind. This is one of the reasons why I do not favour electioneering. I was told this morning that one of the good methods which were developed is that there is a method of nomination. The individual himself does not come forward but each resident may have the possibility of nominating. And then if these nominations come forward and there are so many of them, then, somebody told me that then we are referring again to residents to give votes which I’m not very much in favour of personally. I'm not necessarily opposed to a voting system. I mean there are some circumstances in which voting system is good. In certain circumstances voting system is not good. I have made a study of some of these problems and I tell you very rapidly two conclusions I’ve arrived at.
If there is a situation — everything depends upon the situation, don’t make general rules: voting, no voting, one fourth majority, three fourth majority, don’t make such rules — consider what is the situation that we want to deal with. Supposing I have a room in which five people are living together. Now the question is how shall we organise that room? Where shall we put the sofa? Where shall we put the bed? Where shall we put the table? This is the problem, this is the situation. Here perhaps if you take vote of all the five people and three people favour one, I would say allow this, three people’s decision —majority decision, but for some time. After some time, allow two people's decision also. Let everybody have his own way of organising the room, do not object to it. It’s a question of situation. Which situation do you want to deal
with? There are situations where there is a debate on the principles of truth and falsehood. It is not a question of convenience of a room or likes or dislikes or a kind of a dining room where you have to see whether you should make this vegetable or that vegetable or more people will like this vegetable or less people will like that vegetable. These questions can be decided with majority or minority and you give sometimes preference to majority, sometimes to minority, and then everybody enjoys, by rotation. Don’t make any kind of rigid rule that there should be really one-fourth vote or two-third vote, nothing. Situation doesn’t demand that kind of rigidity. But sometimes there may be questions of truth of Auroville. Truth on which we stand. And there, opinions can be quite powerful. This is a different situation, when the conflict between one opinion and the other is quite sharp. In fact one of the reasons for freedom… There’s a beautiful article written by Mill. In English… for those who have studied English literature, Mill’s essay on liberty is supposed to be the final word on freedom. Because he says that there may be a debate in which all except one agree on a principle, but only one of them differs. And the truth may lie with that one and not with all the others. This is the reason why, he says, freedom should be allowed. And even the overwhelming majority has no right to impose its way upon that individual. Now in such a situation, according to me, there is no way of resolving a problem by majority, or minority or any such principle, or by voting one way or the other. There are three things that should be done in such a situation: first of all, when anybody raises a point of truth, one should be very respectful, first of all. Truth is the one thing on which we stand and by abdicating truth we fall. Therefore if anybody raises a question of the truth, we should be very quiet and respectful and try to understand what that truth is.
In India we had a system of shastrartha. You know there was a real debate, and winning of shastra was supposed to be something very fundamental and there used to be a debate. And one debate never… even if you win in the debate, it’s not a winning. You should do at least six shastras, seven shastrarthas — seven times you should debate it with seven different groups, and in all of them you should win before you establish your point of view. This was the system. Now I don’t recommend that you should have this very system, but try to understand the spirit in which it was proposed. It is not a matter of calling a meeting suddenly and saying what is your view, what is your view, what is your view… and suddenly somebody airing one opinion, another, another opinion… This is in any case not the right thing for Auroville to do, this is not the way in which a
meeting should be conducted. There should be a real study of any proposition of this kind — a real study. Quest is the real method and if nothing ultimately succeeds, Unity Committee should be given a proposition. And even if there still remains a problem of anybody’s principle of truth not being satisfied, he should at least be free to pursue what he believes is true.
This is where I leave at the present moment because I feel this is a very complex problem but I would like to underline: it’s a complex problem and should not be resolved in an ordinary manner. As Sri Aurobindo says, very often great issues come before politicians but they don’t deal with them greatly. This is Sri Aurobindo’s statement in his chapter on Inadequacy of the State Idea (The Ideal of Human Unity, p.278) Great problems come before politicians but they do not deal with them greatly. Similarly, we should also — if any great problem comes, please deal with those problems greatly, not in the ordinary manner. In other words, we must distinguish between the problems, the situations: one situation, another situation, varieties of situations, varieties of propositions and deal with them properly.
My final point is, regarding that very important statement that Sri Aurobindo has made about dominant minority. In every organisation, in every society, a time will come when a few people will automatically become dominant. And there are very important statements that Sri Aurobindo has made about dominant minority. Sometimes dominant minority is condemned by most of the people, criticised unnecessarily. In fact some of them are split (?) vehemently. Now, Sri Aurobindo has said, and I would like to read out to you a statement from The Ideal of Human Unity. These are the words, Sri Aurobindo has said: “The perfect counsel for a dominant minority is always to recognise in good time the right hour for its abdication and” — this is very important, not only abdication but before doing so: “and for the imparting of its ideals, qualities, culture, experience to the rest of the aggregate or to as much of it as is prepared for that progress.” In Auroville at least, I think, the time has come when young people should be allowed to come up. They should take charge of so many things, and I tell you, some of the young people whom I have met are extraordinarily good. They are doing their duties so well, so conscientiously. There is a possibility of their being criticised and they are discouraged: “Oh! they are not competent, what can that person do? Oh! he has no experience!” Please be very kind.
To develop what I would say deliberate training programs, deliberate. You need to prepare a band of new teachers. You need a very good program of training teachers. You need experts. You need to develop young people to arrive at expertise; deliberate attempt should be made to do that. You need new people who have got certain skills. Please train young people to have those skills. This is all that I would like to plead for in the present meeting because there are many other problems like villagers… Bhavana is just before me and people like her have done so much work for villagers and I fully appreciate, but there are many problems and I think that I have taken more time than what I had intended, so if you permit me, I would like to close here. Thank you so much for all this time that you gave.