Pondicherry, once a French Colony, Puducherry newly named represents a spectrum of colours. People from all over the world do come to visit this sea side Union Territory specially for Sri Aurobindo Ashram and Auroville. Let me give in a nutshell what Sri Aurobindo Ashram represents. Sri Aurobindo came to Pondicherry in 1910 and passed into eternity on 5th December 1950. His contribution to Indian Spirituality has been enormous. He wrote about 30 volumes commentary on the Vedas, Upanishads, and his real life spiritual experiences in a flowery language. The quality of writing is of highest order. Without any partiality, I can say that no one has written so richly on Indian philosophy/spiritual scriptures, than Sri Aurobindo. Some of his wonderful books are: The Life Divine, Savitri, Synthesis of Yoga, Human Unity and many more. From spiritual perspective his analysis of the process of man becoming a divine being is unique. This total transformation – physical, mental and vital is a daring adventure into the supraconsicousness perhaps a few could thought of. He was collaborated by a French Lady Mirra Alfassa Richard, later known as ‘The Mother’ In light of the above, we ventured into this 2000 kilometers journey to the South.
Although Pondicherry does not have many landmarks for tourists, it is heaven for the devotees of Sri Aurobindo & the Mother. The Samadhi of Sri Aurobindo and the Mother are the most precious objects of veneration by the millions. The flower arrangement on the Samadhi will draw your attention instantly and gives a feeling of a world which is above the ordinary. Sit down around the Samadhi and meditate for a while, you will feel much elevated to a higher consciousness. The ambience is ethereal and one bows down naturally to the great Rishi that Sri Aurobindo was. You take off your shoes and switch off your mobile before you are allowed to enter the precincts of the Samadhi Area. The aroma of the incense and the flower pots with blooming flowers meticulously arranged, instantaneously transport your mind to a heavenly abode. A complete silence prevails. You feel as if the eternity is here.
There is a book stall where you can buy the books by the Master and The Mother. The devotion you see among the devotees is unquestionably adorable. Thousands of people those who visit this sacred place are not follower of the Master but everyone follows the rules of the Ashram, silently. Many people feel there is a power that administers the place around the Samadhi, human beings are only instruments.
After spending some time in that heavenly abode, we went out to the sea shore. When I visited Pondicherry during 1979, the sea beach was natural and a long stretch of sand beach was available for a nice walk. But after Tsunami the whole area has been barricaded by big boulders thus the sand beach is missing. The prominent is the Gandhi Statue on the sea shore. Unfortunately, the father of the Nation silently stands in the dark. The lighting arrangement does not light up his statue. You can see throughout the day people are taking a walk along the sea side road. In the evening this place takes the color of a festival. Hundreds of visitors as well as local people do enjoy the sea side. The Secretariat, the Governors House are very close by. The most noticeable thing is it’s cleanliness. You enjoy being there for an hour or two.
The next thing is to travel to Auroville, a township about 12 km from Pondicherry, envisioned by the Mother where people of all nationality could live in harmony. The most wonderful structure that you see in Auroville is the Matri Mandir. You need to have a special permission to enter into the temple. The spacious Inner Chamber in the upper hemisphere of the structure is completely white, with white marble walls and white carpeting. In the centre a pure crystal-glass globe suffuses a ray of electronically guided sunlight which falls on it through an opening at the apex of the sphere.
"The most important thing is this: the play of the sun on the centre. Because that becomes the symbol, the symbol of future realizations." There are no images, no organized meditations, no flowers, no incense, no religion or religious forms.
This uniqueness is the soul of Matri Mandir. It is the hope of future humanity where without religions man can feel the love and friendship with others. The international community that lives in Auroville is trying to live up to the goal set by the Mother.
Once again we went to Puducherry in December 14-25, 2013 and this time the stay was most unique as we could stay for about 10 days by the sea. The guest house, The Retreat, is just across the sea side road and we had the opportunity to look at the sea all the time. The sea breeze blowing through the room in all the hours is heavenly. The changing colour of the water is an added bonus during the day and in a moonlit night. Of course in dark nights the sea looks ominus. Our guest house was near the Dinning hall as well as the Meditation ground and the Samadhi.
How to reach Poducherry : From Chennai (Madras) one can take a bus via bye pass up to Pondi. It takes about 4 hours to reach. Alternatively, you can hire a car. For details see the website:.www.sriaurobindoashram.org