Sri Aurobindo Ashram, Ashram Units and Departments Tour
A visit to Pondicherry is incomplete without a tour of the Sri Aurobindo Ashram, its numerous units and departments. Founded in 1926, the Sri Aurobindo Ashram has grown, under the Mother's guidance, from a small group of two dozen disciples into a large and diverse community of almost 1600 members. One of the most well-known ashrams in India, the Sri Aurobindo Ashram is located on Rue de la Marine with hundreds of devotees from India and all over the world visiting it every day. The Ashram's sadhaks live and work in a number of buildings spread throughout the area. While the work sadhaks engage in at the various departments help the Ashram to become self-sustainable, the deeper purpose of these units is to serve as a field for sadhana (the spiritual discipline). Work here is done unselfishly, in the spirit of service and as a means of offering oneself to the Divine. Situated in a busy city of more than 12,00,000 people, the Ashram is far from being a quiet place of retreat but a vibrant centre of life in a modern urban setting. The dynamic character of the community reflects the life-affirming aim of Sri Aurobindo's Integral Yoga: to manifest a higher consciousness here on earth by transforming human nature and all aspects of human activity.
The focus of community life is of course the Ashram main building, usually called simply ‘the Ashram’, an area with several rows of inter-connected buildings. At its core lies the Samadhi in a tree-shaded courtyard. Sri Aurobindo and the Mother’s bodies are laid to rest at this Samadhi, a white marble shrine. There are also libraries for study and facilities for a variety of cultural pursuits including music, dance, theatre, and the arts. Members regularly participate in physical education activities such as sports, asanas, strength training and swimming.
The Ashram has over 80 departments which include farms, gardens, healthcare, guesthouses and engineering units among many others. Many of these departments have developed organically, sometimes because of a need for a product or service that wasn't available, often because the Mother encouraged a sadhak to pursue his or her art. Under Her personal guidance and care, these small units soon grew up into well-established departments. Ashram products such as perfumes, eaude colognes, compounds, aloe vera products, pro health blends, rose water, essential oils for aromatherapy are available in 'Senteurs'. Senteurs('Fragrance') is a name given by the Mother to the perfumery department of the Sri Aurobindo Ashram, which started in 1958. Senteurs also offers a variety of other items such as embroidered and hand-painted hankies, cards, sarees, dress material which are lovingly crafted by the staff of the department.
This tour will introduce you to the vibrant life surrounding the Ashram. Among the numerous buildings, some of the significant ones include the 'Art Gallery' (or as the Mother named it 'The Studio'); Ashram Library; the Bureau Central, which is the Ashram information centre for visitors; Photo Section; and the Ashram's Publication Department's distribution unit, SABDA.
Another highlight of our tour would be a visit to the iconic Sri Aurobindo Handmade Paper (Factory) which was established in 1959 in a coconut garden in the heart of the city. It produces an amazing array of handmade paper renowned the world over including Natural Paper, Acid-free paper, Herbarium paper, Algae fibre paper, Banana and Coconut fibre paper.
Sri Aurobindo International Centre of Education
One of the most dynamic and key part of the Sri Aurobindo Ashram is the Sri Aurobindo International Centre of Education, which serves as a field for experiment and research in education. The Mother opened a school for children on December 2, 1943 to give a concrete shape to the vision of Sri Aurobindo who considered the formation of a new system of education as one of the best means of preparing the future humanity to manifest upon earth a divine consciousness and a divine life.
The Centre of Education provides education from kindergarten to college levels of study. Its faculties include Humanities, Sciences, Languages, Engineering Technology, and Physical Education, and it has facilities for learning drawing, painting, handiwork, music and dancing (Indian and Western), dramatics, and arts and crafts. In addition to several libraries and laboratories, there are also opportunities for practical and manual work.
As an international center of education, it aspires to represent the cultures of different regions of the world with the ideal that every nation should make a unique contribution to a cultural synthesis, promoting mutual understanding and human unity.
Booking: One day before
Venue & Time : AURA, 9.00 AM to 10.00 AM / 04.00 PM to 05.00 PM
Duration : 1 hr | Type: Walking / Bicycle Tour | Storyteller for tour & handouts. Talk and a video.
Supplements available with additional cost - Cycle rickshaw ride around the town. Special Local Lunch arrangements. Water bottle.