An Interesting Way of Life
Angad has a long history with Auroville and is one of the few remaining Aurovilians who had the chance to meet the Mother. “I was born in Calcutta and I grew up in the north of India, I am Punjabi. I went to England for my education, and that has shaped me quite a lot. I studied mathematics at University, even though I always enjoyed painting and the arts. My family was very much in line with an academic career, but at the end of my studies, the thought of spending the rest of my life using only my mind in my work, it terrified me. So I experimented with crafts and making different things with my hands. On Friday nights the BBC would broadcast a show where an artist or craftsmen were introduced and one of these shows they showed a potter from Japan. I saw that, and I thought, ‘That looks like an interesting way of life.’
I had been to Pondicherry before, when I was 19 years old. I had a Darshan with Mother, which changed my life. At the time I didn’t realize it. So I knew there were several potters in Pondy and when I visited I went to see the Golden Bridge Pottery. It reminded me of the documentary I saw and funnily enough Deborah, who ran the pottery, was close to this Japanese potter. They offered to train me and I started 3 days later. I took this decision more with the heart than with the head. It was the time of the hippies, the Flower Power, there was a big seeking for an alternative way of living–so I guess I was on the lookout for that.”
He managed; in 2019, Mantra Pottery had its 25th birthday, and the pottery has flourished – he still has his team with him and he can live off his craft. “I feel very privileged to be part of the potter community in South India. Looking back I blame all of this on the Mother. Her energy made me look for a new career at the end of my studies and brought me back to India and Pondicherry.”
Angad’s pottery is meant for daily use, and he focuses on cups and plates, bowls and serving dishes. “My aim is to create something that is used, appreciated, broken and replaced–not a pottery piece that collects dust in a cupboard.” Although that means that he is often making the same thing, it fits well with his sense of what it means to do a job like this: “I repeat the designs a lot–I believe that the repetition brings a humble unconsciousness to its creation. This is the aesthetic way that comes from the Japanese side–the un-self-conscious production makes it a piece of pottery that is made well, with the heart. I never tire of this practice as every time I repeat a design I focus on another aspect, so somehow it is the same but also different and that is, I guess, truly handmade.”
His main inspiration is nature, both in its milder and more expressive forms.” I got trained in Japanese aesthetic, which is very elementary and zen. This always clashed with my Indian background. When I left the Golden Bridge Pottery I started my own designs, I got more experimental with mixing the elementary with the expressive Indian way.”
Mantra for Auroville
After all these years, is it still meaningful to do this work in Auroville? “I don’t think I would have had the freedom to do what I am doing without Auroville. I am happy that I do not own this place and that I contribute to the place I call home in different ways. We give our contribution to the community, a share of our profit, and we train people so that they can become independent and self-sustainable. I am connected to the people around me, that is an important aspect of my work and my life.
To be honest, I don’t even feel like I am working, I am living my life. There are difficulties and things can get tough but it is the only place I can imagine living in. Whatever I will do, it will be forgotten in a blink, my presence on earth is limited, like all of us.
Yet here I feel that no matter what I do, the universe is looking after me.”
Are you curious about Angad’s work? Have a look at his pottery collection here.