Auroville: Sun-Word Rising by Savitra

Auroville: Sun-Word Rising

A Trust for the Earth

Few people today — even those who presently live in Auroville or serve on AVI Boards — know the actual history of Auroville’s emergence. And unfortunately, records of that unique era have largely been lost in time. Auroville: Sun-Word Rising, originally published by the Community of Auroville in 1980, was an honest attempt to chronicle that AV timeline when the Mother was still physically present as well as the period which followed Her passing. Based on extensive notes and documentation, the book strives to tell a truer story that needed to be told despite those who wished to silence it. For it fills in the missing links that can help us understand how Auroville arrived at where it is today. After all, if we don’t know our past, how can we understand our present, heal past wounds, cocreate a truer future?

The opening passages of this 3-Part work begin in America, tracking the author’s personal quest through the 1960s that eventually led him to the works of Sri Aurobindo and the Mother… Which in turn led him to London where he began his odyssey, hitchhiking to India to meet the Mother. That meeting led him to stay on in India. And soon after, the Mother accepted him into the Ashram, then into Auroville where he joined that first wave of pioneers scattered like seeds on a barren red-clay plateau. Part 2 transitions through a tale of two Aurovilles: The Auroville rising forth under the Mother’s nurturing Presence. And the Auroville labouring to carry on its mission through the grief of Her passing and the unforeseen crises and conflicts that would follow Her passing.

For indeed, despite the obstacles and oppositions which that fledgling AV Community faced, it courageously laboured on, bringing new life to that arid plateau, establishing settlements, schools, farms and the beginning of a reforestation programme that would eventually transform a dying landscape into lush tropical forests. It would also evolve a home-grown decision-making process that would be severely challenged by outside forces following the Mother’s passing (as Parts 2 and 3 document). Those challenges would eventually lead to a Government intervention in 1980, followed by a Supreme Court Case and the eventual Auroville Foundation Act passed by Parliament in 1988. In this light, perhaps Auroville’s first decade reflects a microcosm of the pressing evolutionary challenges our species and planet face today.

Book Details

Author: Savitra
Print Length: 300 pages
Publisher: The Community of Auroville
Original source: Auroville Archives
Contributors: Gilles Guigan, Krishna V.
Book format: PDF, ePub, Kindle
Language: English

Book Download


  • PREFACE (2020)
  • A Passage Between Two Stories


  1. The Traveller in the Mists
  2. The Fundamental Revolution
  3. The Ultimate Subversion
  4. A Breach in the Blind
  5. Found in a Face
  6. He
  7. She


  1. India
  2. The Dream of Someone Who Was
  3. Auroville … Because It Has Never Been
  4. Aspiration
  5. A Child of Humanity as a Whole
  6. Magis of the Old World
  7. Endorsing the Secret
  8. Parting Comments and Inescapable Conclusions
  9. Compost
  10. Collective Awakenings
  11. The Labour of Being
  12. Babes in the Woods
  13. Identity Papers
  14. In the Wings
  15. Hills and Valleys and the Roses of a Little Prince
  16. The Worm and the Fire
  17. Through the Be-Wilderness
  18. Partners
  19. The Last Bouquet
  20. Long Night’s Journey into Day


  1. The Exile
  2. Two Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest
  3. The City Through the Trees
  4. The Paradox of Power and the Politics of Oneness
  5. The Lotus and the Mud
  6. The Interregnum of Consciousness and the Economics of Oneness
  7. By the Law of a New World
  8. A Self-Defining Laugh
  9. The Transformation of the Cells
  10. Light and Shadow
  11. Swadharma
  12. A Story for the Future

A SIMPLE PROPOSAL: A Trust for the Earth


Auroville: Sun-Word Rising

PREFACE (2020)

In the summer of 2019, Auro-eBooks asked my permission to republish Auroville: Sun-Word Rising (originally published by Auroville in 1980). Over the years, several AV residents encouraged me to republish it in order to preserve a history of the Community’s pioneering experience. But I refused, feeling uncomfortable to revive the ghosts of our past. However, with the whole world presently in a full-blown evolutionary crisis, this time felt different. So I agreed. For if we don’t know our own past, how can we understand our present, heal past wounds, cocreate a truer future?

Trained by Margaret Mead in the importance of keeping archival records, I crafted Sun-Word from extensive notes, letters, documents and direct experience. The narrative tracks my personal journey to meet the Mother, Her accepting me into the Ashram, then into Auroville where I learned to risk my life in order to truly live it in those first decades of AV’s emergence and development.

Though written in a 2-month flash – from December 19th, 1978 to February 28th, 1979 – Sun-Word never reached a conclusion… left us hanging in suspense, leaving it for another moment to resolve. But what its narrative did provide was an uncut version of events in the years that followed the Mother’s passing, filling in an incredible missing piece of AV’s history, bravery and sacrifice which many today know little or nothing about. In this light, 40 years later, isn’t it time to recover these missing links, freeing them from the shadows?…

For they represent a critical passage in Auroville’s history following the passing of the Mother – a painfully shocking event that suddenly left us orphaned, vulnerable, facing a collective childhood on our own. But we pulled ourselves together and, despite impossible odds, began the adventure to bring new life to a barren plateau: establishing settlements, schools, farms, reforesting a wasteland, organizing a collective process to keep Her Dream alive. Yet even as we persevered, we found ourselves facing another tragic loss of innocence, betrayed by the very group meant to protect and support us: the Sri Aurobindo Society (SAS), which chose to assume control of Auroville rather than collaborate with its residents in the spirit of the Mother’s Charter.

This unfortunately led to a protracted conflict that prompted an intervention by the Government of India in 1980 – the year after I completed the original Sun-Word manuscript. This Government Act in turn led to a Constitutional Case brought before India’s Supreme Court. In their lawsuit, the SAS argued that Auroville was a part of their “religion”, and was therefore exempt from Governmental interference. Auroville’s victory in the Case cleared the way for the eventual Auroville Foundation Act passed in 1988 by Parliament.

For those unfamiliar with this challenging period in Auroville’s history, this typo-corrected version of Sun-Word Rising attempts to shed an honest light on events that some might prefer to forget, others might consider bad for publicity. But the Mother never asked us to compromise or cover up the Truth to protect our spiritual image. And isn’t the Hero’s Journey a quest to bring light into the darkness? – to heal and transform our shadows rather than merely deny and transcend them? In fact, the Mother even encouraged us to sign our letters with “At the service of Truth”. In that light…

At the service of Truth,
Savitra (October, 2019)

About Author: Savitra

Savitra (circa 1974)

The author began his journey of self-discovery in the 1960s, engaging in the Civil Rights and Anti-Vietnam War movements. At the same time, he began his inner quest, studying East-West spiritual practices in San Francisco where he discovered the works of Sri Aurobindo and the Mother through Dr. Haridas Chaudhuri. Pursuing the path that opened, he left the States at the end of the 1960s, hitch-hiking from London to India to meet the Mother. Following that meeting, She accepted him into the Sri Aurobindo Ashram, then a year later into Auroville, giving him the name Savitra. His AV adventure began in Aspiration Community as a teacher in Auroville’s first school. As his AV experience continued to expand and grow more integrated, he began to document the story of Auroville’s emergence.

On August 14, 1971, he received the following message from the Mother: “Remain in the true consciousness and return to America to do good work for me there, with my love and blessings, Mirra”. Entrusted with this liaison role, he began periodic trips to the States to bridge-build collaborations. His visits led to pioneering support and foundation grants that helped jump-start AV’s afforestation program. They also built relationships and gained endorsements from universities, research institutes, town-planning visionaries and world-respected figures such as anthropologist Margaret Mead, Esalen co-founder Michael Murphy, environmental pioneers David Brower and Huey Johnson… all of which raised Auroville’s credibility through the 1970s and 80s. After returning to reside in the States in 1990, he continued to stay true to Her message, authoring well-respected books such as An Evolutionary Agenda for the Third Millennium, developing personal alliances with Jean Houston, Barbara Marx Hubbard, Matthew Fox et al, as well as with social-environmental activist organizations.

1 reply
  1. r hayward
    r hayward says:

    always interesting to read other peoples journey/s in life
    and compare with ones own
    or not ones own
    may create some motivation


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