Monday, November 03, 2008

In Auroville, the pursuit of beauty is a way of life

Indian Express > Mumbai > The Artist’s Way

Find beauty and the purpose will follow. This is a credo that I try and abide by. Though by no means is it an easy task in cities like Mumbai, where the mind-numbing commute and the daily grind can make one prone to things like road rage.
In Auroville, Pondicherry, the pursuit of beauty, it would seem, is a way of life.

Potters, painters, poets and others of their ilk live and eke out a living in sylvan settings. On the face of it, their lives appear simple and uncluttered; the most common daily routine consists of Tai Chi/Yoga or meditation combined with healthy eating and a work routine that is focused and mindful. It’s a routine that is geared to assist the individual and aid the community. The art produced and sold here is beautiful and serene, free of isms and trends, indicative of a spontaneous and free way of thinking and being. This Zen lifestyle is enviable, despite the fact that the community as a whole does suffer from the same ills that plague any settlement.
Walking on dusty tracks and listening to the roar of the blue sea in the distance, I am reminded of a book called The Artist’s Way, which extols simplicity and creativity through small, daily rituals. Seemingly simplistic, these daily routines that are (to my mind) linked to the pursuit of beauty, add other dimensions to the mundane aspects of life.

The Mother of Sri Aurobindo Ashram, who needs no introduction, has written a seminal work on the spiritual significance of flowers. It’s a treatise that is both philosophical and artistic in its scope. Her samadhi shrine is adorned with flowers of incredible beauty. Matri Mandir is a structure of rare and pristine beauty. The meditation chamber offers a life-transforming experience to those who are open to it.
Gazing at the ocean from the seashore at Pondicherry, it strikes me that we, in the city, are increasingly removed from calm, a pre-requisite for creativity. A wise soul that I bump into at a little bookshop selling translations of books written in French, tells me that, “quietude, reflection, spontaneity...this is the way of the soul. We clutter the path with roadblocks in the form of unnecessary desires”. Indeed.

The majority of Aurovillians live a creative life. It’s a life sans chafing. Which is not to say they are not ambitious, successful, or in any way removed from the demands of the world and international trends. They have just learnt to tap into their intuitive selves and let their higher self guide them towards all that is necessary and required for a peaceful co-existence. Filled with reflections and age old discoveries, I am led to send a text to a friend who is aspiring to be an artist. It says, “If you want to learn form, study the shape of flowers.” Eat, pray, love, to borrow from the title of a bestseller, is actually all that one needs to do. (The columnist is a writer and a consultant)

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