Auroville: The Utopia That Never Was” by Joss Brooks, Vice, September 2016

Auroville, the utopian community located in the southern state of Tamil Nadu, India, has been a subject of fascination and intrigue for decades. Its unique ideology, which centers around the idea of human unity and spiritual growth, has attracted people from all over the world to live and work together in a shared vision of a better world. However, Auroville’s journey has not been without its challenges, and some critics argue that the community has not lived up to its lofty goals. In this article, we will explore the history of Auroville and examine some of the criticisms that have been leveled against it.

The Origins of Auroville

Auroville was founded in 1968 by Mirra Alfassa, a French-born spiritual leader who was also known as “the Mother.” Alfassa had been a disciple of Sri Aurobindo, an Indian philosopher and yogi who had developed a unique spiritual philosophy that combined Eastern and Western ideas. Together, Alfassa and Sri Aurobindo had founded the Sri Aurobindo Ashram in the nearby city of Pondicherry, which became a center for spiritual seekers from all over the world.

In the 1950s, Alfassa began to envision a new kind of community that would embody Sri Aurobindo’s teachings of human unity and spiritual evolution. She believed that the world was facing a crisis of consciousness, and that a new kind of society was needed to bring about the kind of transformation that was necessary for humanity to thrive.

Thus, Auroville was born. Alfassa and her followers began to acquire land in the rural area outside of Pondicherry, and they began to build the community from scratch. The vision for Auroville was that it would be a place where people from all over the world could come together to live and work in harmony, with a focus on sustainable living, spiritual growth, and human unity.

The Challenges of Auroville

Despite its lofty goals, Auroville has not been without its challenges. One of the main criticisms of the community is that it has not lived up to its vision of human unity. Some critics argue that Auroville has become too dominated by Westerners, and that the local Indian population has been marginalized. Additionally, there have been reports of tension and conflict within the community, particularly around issues of power and leadership.

Another challenge for Auroville has been its economic sustainability. The community was founded on the principles of sustainable living, and many of its residents work in fields such as organic farming and alternative energy. However, the community has struggled to generate enough income to support itself, and it has been forced to rely on outside donations and funding to survive.

Despite these challenges, Auroville continues to thrive. The community has a unique energy and spirit, and its residents remain committed to the vision of human unity and spiritual growth that inspired its founding. Auroville has become a model for alternative communities around the world, and it continues to attract people from all walks of life who are inspired by its vision of a better world.


Auroville is a unique and complex community, one that embodies both the highest aspirations and the deepest challenges of human unity and spiritual growth. While the community has not lived up to all of its goals, it remains an inspiring example of what is possible when people come together with a shared vision of a better world. As Auroville continues to evolve and grow, it will undoubtedly face new challenges and obstacles. However, its residents remain committed to the ideals that inspired its founding, and they continue to work towards a better future for all of humanity.

Recommended Posts