Tuesday, August 28, 2007


So I mentioned how much I liked Pondicherry. Well, our visit to Auroville made an interesting interlude. The visitors' centre is clean and well organised, the community seems to work, the big golden globe at the heart of it all, the Matramandir, is suitably impressive. But. I find the philosophy behind the community a little odd. The basic premise on which Auroville was founded was that it be a spiritual community, but rejecting all religion. So far so good. But then why name the four supports of the Matramandir after the four great Hindu goddesses? And why have images of the Guru and the Mother everywhere, literally enshrined?

This is just my opinion, but I think it is very difficult to lead a spiritual life without it somehow crossing over into the realm of religion. Faith and ritual, practiced in a community, led by a guru, can be only two things: religion or cult. So if it isn't a religion...

However, if the mind that conceived all this was used to Hinduism with its many internal contradictions, including atheist doctrines, none of these inconsistencies would be a problem. And I probably need to learn from that, instead of muttering under my breath about people not reasoning things out.

Another interesting aspect to our Auroville visit was my insta-celebrity among the Indian tourists, mostly groups of young men from places like Calcutta. They literally followed me around, asking to have a photo taken with me! One chap was waiting for me on the side of the walking path, another group ambushed me at the Matramandir viewpoint, and still another guy had to be physically dragged away by his friends because he was staring so hard. My husband may as well have been chopped liver. Now. That day I was sweating so profusely that my mascara (yes, even on holiday!) was streaming down my cheeks, I was wearing loose trousers and top, and I am really just an ordinary looking woman, especially in Auroville, where there are lots of Westerners and indeed even people of mixed heritage. So why all the attention? I am still puzzled.

The only two things I can think of are these: my extreme pallour (unusual among Europeans in India who go for the darkly tanned look) and the umbrella. I mean, surely only someone special would be such a princess as to carry an umbrella against the sun! Little do they know it's just because I lost my hat! Picture to follow, it is priceless!

1 comment:

rand(om) bites said...

You are a gorgeous woman Nadine but how unnerving to have so much attention! Did it make you feel sorry for celebrities at all? The heat sounds so intense.