Auroville and the Ashram

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January 17th 2013
Published: January 27th 2013
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We took a bus for 30 min. (We joke that everything is 30 min, but in reality is always longer.) We left our hotel in Pondicherry, and arrived at Auroville, the intentional community, that describes itself as "an emerging international township dedicated to the ideal of Human Unity." A path led us past a self-cleaning water treatment system, through trees, with sections of shade built for comfort, to this utopian villa of all kinds of people. I saw women in burquas, backpackers with dredlocks, locals in local clothing, and elderly couples in sandals. We stopped in for a 10 minute informative video, which had me chomping at the bit to get inside to magical golden globe half a km away, start concentrating or meditating or whatever, the interior of which is painted white with white carpet and white spherical insides and a big crystal in the center which has a beam of sunlight channeled and reflected onto it with a series of mirrors. Finally! Inner peace and success and focus, at this idyllic center for all things good! We stopped, as always for tea, and headed out to the globe, which is called the Matrimandir.

Along the way, I had a fascinating conversation with the Dr and a few others about the concept of eunuchs, or hermaphrodites. They apparently have a bit of a supernatural or religious vibe about them. She explained that there is one day a year, during which all the eunuchs get together and spend a long time preparing themselves, purifying themselves, and getting ready like they are getting married. Then on the day of this festival of sorts, women send their husbands to them, and they engage in a massive anal sex orgy. Yes, women actually send their husbands to have sex with hermaphrodites. It is considered a blessing. The following day, once the men have gone home, the eunuchs grieve as if their husbands have died. It is considered terrible luck to come across a eunuch on this day of grieving, and everyone avoids them.

I was wondering about this concept of hermaphrodites, because I know that in Thailand, the kathooey is considered to have supernatural powers as well, and is even considered as a third sex. They tend to have jobs as prostitutes in both countries, but it is difficult to imagine how they can form loving lasting relationships.

We arrived at the viewing point for the Matrimandir. We could not enter because we would have had to apply to go inside a few days beforehand. Still there were dozens of people, foreigners and locals alike, standing and sitting at the viewing point and looking across at the golden globe, perhaps in hope of feeling some residual concentration from the crystal within the globe. The Dr spoke at length about religion in India, and afterwards, we sat in silent meditation. Some in our group were more interested in quoting movies they like, and when this started to piss me off, I tried to see it as just another distraction in this world, and it is not the distraction's fault that I can't concentrate, it is my responsibility to be strong enough to block out the distraction. In the end, I had to ask them to be quiet, and I tried to concentrate for a while more.

After lunch, we got in the bus and went to the Ashram that is connected to Auroville, and I got some time to meditate there. I don't know if I like meditation, but I think it's supposed to be good for you. And if my goal this year is to not worry, maybe I could make use of this. While I was sitting there though, I felt that I liked the Ashram a good bit better than Auroville. Even when I spoke with the Dr about it all during lunch, she said that the problem with Auroville was a lack of good management. I myself didn't like that the locals seemed totally separate from Auroville, even as it professed to be a utopia of no barriers. The Dr said that the locals who worked there didn't even really get the concept of Auroville. After a while, neither did I.

After the Ashram, we met at the beach. Actually, it was not a beach, but a rocky shore, but people were gathered there, as people gather at any shore, to look out at the water.


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