At a very early stage of Auroville´s development, in fact already less than two years after its founding ceremony in 1968, the idea was born to create an international network in order to organize support for the fledgling township. The idea was brought before the Mother and she gave her blessings to it “for a realization of unity and harmony”.
The need to get the international community involved in the building of Auroville had been expressed by the Mother well before its inauguration: “All this is simply to tell you that if nations collaborate in the work of Auroville, even to a very modest extent, it will do them good – it can do them a lot of good, a good that can be out of proportion to the appearance of their actions… I am speaking of the countries’ collaboration in CREATING something. It’s not when Auroville has been completed: it’s the nations’ collaboration in creating something…” (September 21, 1966)
There is a deep intent in beginning the Auroville Charter with these two lines: “Auroville belongs to nobody in particular, Auroville belongs to humanity as a whole.” Consequently the world’s nations were invited to send representatives and a handful of earth from their countries to the festive inauguration ceremony, and as a highly symbolic act, the earth was placed together in a lotus-shaped urn. All countries were called to acknowledge the high ideals of human unity and international understanding, to contribute to the city’s development, and in return receive the results of this “laboratory for a new consciousness and a new society” and benefit from its findings.
To facilitate and organize this two-way process has been the challenging task of Auroville International since its inception.
For more than a decade after the inauguration, individuals and groups with a great pioneering spirit organized support for Auroville on a national level. Finally, in 1983. the expanding worldwide network of friends and supporters of Auroville came together to start the international umbrella organization “Auroville International” (AVI). It was officially registered in The Hague, Netherlands.
Since then, the AVI network has grown considerably. Today it comprises registered centres, smaller groups, or individuals (called liaisons), in the following countries: Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Bulgaria, Burkina Faso, Canada, Ethiopia, France, Germany, Haiti, Hong Kong, Hungary, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Japan, Kazakhstan, Kenia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Mexico, the Netherlands, Russia, Singapore, South Korea, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Taiwan, Turkey, United Kingdom and United States of America.
An increasing number of committed people keep this network alive and contribute with a considerable amount of time and energy, quite often in addition to their jobs and families. For many reasons they cannot or do not want to settle in Auroville, but feel called to take part in the Mother’s great adventure nevertheless.
While in the early years a good part of the AVI efforts went into helping people to join the Auroville community – which is still done – many national associations today have also developed a number of activities manifesting the “Auroville spirit” in their own countries. These are some of their regular activities:
- Provide information about Auroville to those who would want to visit, establish a connection or settle there.
- Organize Auroville exhibitions, talks, information evenings and regular gatherings of members, write newsletters, translate information materials and books.
- Facilitate the connection among people who have visited Auroville, share its vision and want to stay in contact.
- Organize Integral Yoga study groups and Savitri reading circles.
- Give support to programs for the exchange of students, volunteers and professionals wishing to work and study in Auroville.
- Facilitate the co-operation and support of governments, international and other organisations with Auroville, irrespective of political affiliations.
- Raise funds or provide a funding channel for projects on sustainable development, education, healthcare, environmental restoration and many others. Several countries permit tax exemptions for donors.
- Partner in the development of the International Zone of Auroville.
- Support the connection between Aurovilians and their friends and families outside of India.
- Provide support and platforms for Auroville’s researchers, speakers and artists.
Special mention deserves to be made of the remarkable financial support, spontaneously organized by AVI, which benefits Auroville in times of major challenges, like after the tsunami or the cyclone. Special funding campaigns, for the completion of Matrimandir or for land purchase, have also met with the active support of AVI.
The divine action on Earth of Sri Aurobindo and the Mother has not been restricted to India or Auroville, it was a universal action. The year 1968 has not only culminated in Auroville´s foundation, but universally marks a visible turn in public and personal awareness. Auroville´s progress since then has been paralleled by unforeseeable developments and findings in science, research and consciousness movements all over the world. To link Auroville’s own findings and the results of its wide-ranging “laboratory experiments” with these developments and, on the other hand,help Auroville to stay updated, is becoming a more and more important task of AVI.
A promising step in this bridging process is the growing number of volunteers and of study and exchange programs. To assist Auroville in the realization and integration of these programs, to help Auroville grow and “stay young” and to play an active role in the development of the International Zone of Auroville will be focal issues of AVI’s further engagement.