What is "Research" in the Context of Auroville?
The understanding of “research” in Auroville is closely tied to the community’s guiding philosophy of an evolutionary, spiritualised transformation of self, society and the world – the Integral Yoga of Sri Aurobindo and The Mother. It is also informed by the community’s commitment to transformative experimentation, which stems from its original ideals.
Auroville was founded by the Mother in 1968 as an experimental township in which people of all nations would strive to live in human unity and embody a spiritualised society. The Auroville Charter highlights the central role of research in realising this aspiration:
“Auroville will be a site of material and spiritual researches for a living embodiment of an actual human unity.”
“Auroville wants to be the bridge between the past and the future. Taking advantage of all discoveries from without and from within, Auroville will boldly spring towards future realisations.”
Inspired by this vision, in the last 50 years the community has focussed its activity in a number of key domains – sustainability, education, collective organisation, art & culture, spirituality – as part of an ongoing, experimental research into an integral transformation of life and society. The range of research practices undertaken in Auroville is diverse and certainly not always “academic”. They consist primarily of applied research (loosely defined), but also include subjective inquiries and scientific analyses. All are inspired by the potential of transformation in a given field. A few examples include:
Scientific studies on the restoration of the Tropical Dry Evergreen Forest that is indigenous to the region – one of Auroville’s largest and most celebrated environmental projects.
The development of sustainable building techniques, notably by the Auroville Earth Institute, the representative for Asia of the UNESCO Chair Earthen Architecture, Constructive Cultures and Sustainable Development.
The integration and fostering of consciousness in educational practice, such as in the “Awareness Through the Body” programme developed in Auroville’s schools.
In addition to research done by the residents of Auroville, a substantial body of research literature has been produced as a result of collaborations between Auroville-based researchers/practitioners and external researchers. Over the years, Auroville has also hosted several research scholars who have chosen to focus their master’s or doctoral work on one or more aspects of Auroville.