I was like: ‘What are all these words, yo?’
“A friend of mine from Bangalore told me about Auroville. She said that we should go and have a girls’ trip. I thought, ‘Why not?’ My father is in real estate and development, so I looked at the Galaxy Plan online and I was like, ‘I want to see that cool design!’ It was only after I landed that I realized it’s not there (laughs), it was just a picture of the model plan for the town.
The girls didn’t come on the trip so I had to go by myself to check it out. I came with a proper intention: I wanted to explore the place for one month. I got in touch with Savi who gave me the volunteering opportunity to work with CIRHU (Centre for International Research on Human Unity), and I was like oh, this can be cool. But they only accepted people for 3 months minimum. I didn’t have much going on at that time, so again, I just thought: ‘Why not?’ I checked in for 3 months. That’s how I ended up in Auroville for the first time, in 2016.
It was an interesting time because I was in a complicated working environment, and it was not so clear from the beginning what would be my job. So I made it easier: after the first meeting on CIRHU I told them that I wanted to stick to that project. After that first meeting I slept for 4 hours, it was so heavy. I was supposed to take notes for that meeting and I am just there, holding the pen, and after half an hour Juergen turns to me and says: ‘You, new girl, are you even taking notes or what?’ And I said, ‘If I understand something, I will write something!’ (laughs) ‘What are these things you speak of?’ It was so funny! In my mind I was going: ‘What is this, what is that?’ and he would just talk and talk and talk. We were preparing a document for what CIRHU wanted to be as a university, and they were saying it was going to be a bridge between past and future, matter and spirit, within and without, evolution of consciousness… and I was like: ‘What are all these words, yo?’ (laughs) I didn’t even know back then who are Mother and Sri Aurobindo. I asked in the meeting: ‘What is Integral Yoga?’ (laughs) And I guess they were all like, what is this girl even doing here?
My first impression of Auroville was through two people, Giacomo and Michael. First, I remember that Giacomo taught me an important lesson in the first few days, because I had too much energy and enthusiasm and I wanted to do everything. He explained to me then the joy of working – so I understood, ah ok, you work for the joy of the work; you don’t work for the work. That was a strong impression I got then of Auroville, that this is a place to find the joy in working, not the other way around. You are not trying to prove something or get stuff done, but instead, you are working as part of the joy of being alive. So this was an important first impression for me. Secondly, a strong experience came with Michael and the CIRHU group. We were 5 people sitting in a circle talking about what research could be in Auroville. There was one person from Brazil, then Giacomo is Italian, there was a French person, a German, me being Indian… and I was like: ‘How are these 5 people coming from such different backgrounds going to come up with a paper?’ And they did. So I saw there that it doesn’t matter where you come from, here you can come together and find a way forward.
After 4 months I left, I was like, ‘Well, this was great, but I am moving on.’ I wanted to travel 100 countries, I was on a world tour and Auroville was just a pit stop on the way. I had plans to travel for 5 years. Then after Auroville I went to Indonesia, then Thailand, and I couldn’t stop thinking about this place. And I told myself, ‘No, no, what are you doing, stop thinking about it. You are just missing it because you just came from there.’ Then I went home for the festivals and took another trip to North-East India and I couldn’t focus on the trip. All the while I was thinking about Auroville. Once I came home, within 10 days I moved to Auroville, this time to settle.
I think the biggest work that Auroville has done on me and that I really enjoy is that it helps me to break down my ego. Where I come from, it’s very easy to slip into that comfortable zone where you think that you are entitled to certain things. While I was growing up, I never saw any ego in my grandmother. She was a sadhak in a very deep sense, so I had seen this absolute zero ego in a person while she was alive. She did nothing except her sadhana, never complained, never said anything bitchy about anybody… I always aspired to become like that, but your ego doesn’t let you. And I had not before made the connection of how I was trying to be that, but that my ego would not let me be that. She passed away when I was 18 and I didn’t think much about it at the time, because I had not yet made that connection, but now I understand how to progress, how I can be more like her.
Auroville is a big help there. For me, Auroville is about how transformation is shoved down your throat somehow (laughs). You don’t even have to do anything, you just go from point A to point B every day, do the same mundane task, and it just doesn’t stop there. The people, the energy, it is resilient and it breaks your ego every day. I didn’t realize it in those first 4 months but then while I was gone, I was like, ‘Wow, this is what it did with me.’ That is what Auroville does. So now I think, if I could just figure out how to stay humble in this life, all my problems will be gone. It’s huge for me.”