Golden Rules

A futuristic city of 50,000 devoted to the principles of human unity, environmental sustainability, devaluation of material wealth, and service to the “Divine Consciousness.” That was spiritual leader Mirra Alfassa’s vision for Auroville, which she founded in 1968 near Pondicherry. The city, designed in the form of a galaxy, was to “revolve” around a gleaming globe-shaped Matrimandir, or Temple of the Mother, as Alfassa’s followers called her. Though the community struggled after her death in 1973, Auroville survived and, after four decades, is enjoying something of a revitalization. Akash Kapur, a journalist who grew up there and recently moved back with his family, notes that the population—currently around 2,000, with more than 30 nationalities represented—is growing. And the façade of the iconic Matrimandir was finally completed this year, when the remaining gold discs were installed. “There is something to be said for being surrounded by people who are living in an intentional way, rather than just going with the flow,” says Kapur, the author of the forthcoming book India Becoming. “It teaches you to think differently.”