Would You Like to Do Research in Auroville?

Every year many researchers come to do academic research in Auroville, usually in pursuit of a PhD or other degree. We are happy to receive them as Auroville is an experiment for all of humanity. Over the years, we have noticed that some things are good to know and do before coming to Auroville. Here is a short overview of how you can approach a research project in Auroville.

Note: This guide is geared towards external researchers. If you are an Auroville resident interested in research, please feel free to email us with your questions or ideas: researchplatform@auroville.org.in.

Starting out

While it is small and clearly centered around a core set of values, Auroville is a very complex place. We advise that you familiarize yourself through reading the articles on the main Auroville website and perhaps have a look at the Auroville Adventure blog. It is also a great idea to read an introduction to Sri Aurobindo’s life and work, such as The Adventure of Consciousness by Satprem (you can find a free version online here).

There is a lot that can be found online about Auroville, but please be aware that much content that is produced by non-Aurovilians is designed to draw attention, not to give accurate information.

Please also have a look at the Auroville Repository, where most academic research on Auroville can be found. If you are interested in a particular topic, make sure to familiarize yourself with what has already been written about it!

Defining your project

First of all, it’s important to make an initial distinction. Do you want to do:

  • A completely independent research project?

  • A research project that answers to a research need of Auroville?

  • A hybrid project, that answers your own research questions while also addressing questions of the Auroville community?

There are slightly different procedures for each, especially if you are not an Indian national.

Independent research project: The Research Platform can support an independent research project from the early stages of creating a proposal to the final ones of dissemination and reporting. Along the way, we can help you get in touch with relevant participants, offer you a desk to work from while in the field, and give input and feedback on your project. As an independent researcher, you are asked to take care of your own visa and you will be asked to pay Auroville’s guest contribution.

A research project that responds to a research need: Please have a look at the Savi website for an overview of Auroville’s current research needs to see which project fits you best. Get in touch with us and let us know which project attracts you. We will reach out to the host organisation and see if they can accommodate you as a research volunteer. Savi will help you secure a volunteer visa, and you will be asked to pay Auroville’s volunteer contribution.

A hybrid project: Please reach out to us researchplatform@auroville.org.in and we will decide together what format makes the most sense.

We encourage everyone to do some form of part-time volunteering besides doing their research. It is not only a great way to give back to the community, but also a good opportunity to meet and exchange with Aurovilians and get a good feel for what Auroville is about!

Key resources for developing your research project

Here are some key resources for you to consult in considering what research to undertake in Auroville:

  1. Our Guide for Researchers is a must-read for everything from practical to ethical considerations for carrying out research in Auroville.

  2. A growing list of Auroville’s current research needs is available for you to consult here. You may find that your research interests are closely aligned with one or more of these, and choose to take one up as your research project!

  3. Much research has already been done in and on Auroville! All academic research outputs can be found on AuroRepo, our online research repository. Do take some time to explore this resource. You may find that your intended research has already been carried out, and/or find interesting opportunities to build on previous projects.

Note: While you don’t need a user account on AuroRepo to browse the website and download openly available items, some items are restricted to registered users, who are normally Auroville residents. If you are going to undertake research in Auroville, please get in touch with us to discuss your access rights on AuroRepo.

Suggested next steps

Once you have defined your project and gone through the key resources mentioned above, we suggest the following course of action:

1. Make contact with the Research Platform via email.

Familiarise yourself with the services of the Research Platform. Then please get in touch with us to explain what kind of project you would like to carry out and what support you might need from us. Our email: researchplatform@auroville.org.in.

2. Obtain a visa that enables you to legally undertake research in India.

If we agree to support or facilitate your research and you are not an Indian national, we can facilitate the visa application process.

3. Agree to share any outcomes of your research with us for Auroville’s archives.

Once you have a draft research output after carrying out research in Auroville, we ask that you share it with us and/or your research mentor, as well as your key participants, so that we can review and send you feedback. It is especially important that you check with research participants that the information they shared with you is accurately portrayed. Please also send us your final work so that we can make it available for future researchers who might want to look at a similar topic, and the Auroville community, as we are here to learn from your observations. To make this learning possible, we encourage you to disseminate your findings in the community. We can support you with this by setting up small dissemination seminars or publishing a summary of your findings on our internal community forums.

We will also add your research outputs to AuroRepo. You can decide whether to make them available to the world or just for the Auroville community.

Logistical matters

Coming to Auroville

Make sure to secure accommodation in Auroville well in advance, as guesthouses are often full, especially in the busy season (December to early March). Once you are here, we can have an initial meeting to see how we can support you in starting your field research.

We recommend that you plan your field research for a duration of at least 3 months, as it can take some time to get used to the environment and explore the many different facets of Auroville. For tips on doing research in the Auroville context, please have a look at our Guide for Researchers!


Wondering about the financial aspect of your field research in Auroville? Please note that the Research Platform does not fund any research, we support you in carrying it out. Do make sure that you have enough funds to take care of yourself while in the field.

Here is our best guess of your expected costs on a medium budget (all amounts are in Indian Rupees):

  • Taxi from the Chennai International Airport (airport code - MAA): Rs. 2400

  • Auroville Guest Account Deposit (this amount is refunded at the end of your stay): Rs. 500

  • Auroville City Services Contribution: As a Guest Rs. 150 per day, as a Volunteer Rs. 900 per month.

  • Transport within Auroville: Small motorcycle plus petrol ~ Rs. 2700 to Rs. 3500 per month; e-scooter Rs 285/day; Bicycle ~ Rs. 650 to Rs. 750 per month; e-bicycle ~ Rs. 60 to Rs. 145/day.

  • Food: Rs. 4000 to Rs. 8000 per month according to your eating habits

  • Accommodation in an Auroville Guest house: Rs. 9000 to Rs. 25,000 per month

A note about doing research in Auroville

The emphasis on transformative experimental research in the community is not always aligned with more formal, academic research in terms of its methods, values, and outputs. While some in Auroville recognise the significance of formal research for assessing and communicating about experimentation that is happening in our community, others are sceptical of its merit. A key concern is that such research is too abstracted from life, shaped by the goal of producing a formal written output, and thereby lacking the transformational potential that Aurovilians most value. Relatedly, it is felt that academic research is unable to understand and interpret the spiritual dimension of Auroville, which largely plays out beyond the reach of traditional research methods. We encourage you, as a visiting researcher, to take into consideration the community’s “native” understanding and history of “research” and where possible, take this into account in your own work.

See also: Watts, Heidi. Research: Large “R” or small? Ritam (2003), pp. 14-16

Any questions? Don’t hesitate to get in touch at researchplatform@auroville.org.in

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Written on March 2, 2022