My Very Existence to Transform
by Sudha

My Very Existence to Transform – by Sudha.pdf

I have just spent an incredible year as an Auroville volunteer – a truly transformative experience, giving me so many diverse opportunities in a short time to connect, grow, learn and also give.

Born in Bombay, I did a Master’s degree in Human Development and then worked for 7 years as a Human Resource Professional before moving to Bangalore, followed by another 6 years of work before quitting my corporate career in 2016. I had read about Auroville for the first time back in the early 90’s when as part of my degree, I had to present a research paper on the subject of ” Community Living as Familial Systems”.

My mind was open and curious, and Auroville ignited all the possibilities that were nursed deep in my heart : being part of a community where people from all over the world aim to live as one – a borderless world – the language of Unity in Diversity – a collective karma yoga – working together for sustainability – with spiritual teachings as the basis “of the community, by the community and for the community”. The seed was then sown with a deep longing to become part of such a place.

Fast forward to 2010, when I visited Auroville for the first time along with my mother. Yes, this place was a reality! My lasting impression was of the Banyan Tree and the Matrimandir. In the stillness, there was a beckoning and a felt-whispering – and a piece of my heart stayed.

Then a leap forward came because of COVID !! Staying within the walls of home was the mandate, so Auroville came as a presence into my living room through several online programs that were offered. It was an opportunity to familiarise and connect, to understand and strive to apply the goals of the Integral Yoga. A start was made, not knowing what lay ahead except the joy and beauty that was already being embraced.

In January 2021, a dear friend invited me to join him everyday at 6 am for 30 minutes of reading and reflecting on the works of Sri Aurobindo and the Mother, starting with “Savitri”. My answer was an immediate yes, and what a year it was ! Days went into weeks and months, and together we took on different books. Some went straight home to me, some I struggled to understand, while some made their dawning through personal experience. That year was truly one of change, adding richness to the self-work that had already become the mainstay of my life.

My pastimes are painting and poetry, and so I didn’t hesitate when the opportunity came for a Savitri Painting workshop in Auroville in January 2022, offered by Purnam Labs. The truly defining moment was a week’s stay at Atithi Griha. I knew then for certain that Auroville was home to me but I knew not how the way would be made.

But, prayers get heard in mysterious ways and lo, the opportunity came several months later with the Deeksha Volunteer Program. But could I take the plunge ? Especially since one thing that mattered most had to be addressed: caretaking for my 84 year-old mother. Again, with heartfelt prayer, there is surrender, and if your effort is sincere, things happen, and so they did ! For me it was an incredible and beautifully “orchestrated” event.

So on May 16th, 2022, I came to Auroville as a volunteer. As the bus that was bringing me approached the entry at around 5.30 am, I opened my eyes to the most beautiful sight I could ever receive. Rains seemed to have given a good cleaning to the land, the fresh look and earthy smell was a delight, the sky was a breathtaking shade of light orange-pink. It was as if it was all welcoming me with love and happiness. Were they tidings and bearings of something that the mind could not ever grasp?

The next 3 and a half months were spent at Sharnam, our home till the end of August 2022. With the Deeksha Program we were 20+ volunteers from different walks of life, different parts of India, different languages and cultures – a real initiation to community living. One purpose had brought us together : to volunteer at Auroville for the vision, the teachings and more! We were embraced with love and a sense of belonging, with familiarity and a warm connection. For the first weeks I soaked it in, savouring all the opportunities and activities like a curious child with an immense appetite for wonder and adventure.

There were abundant physical activities everyday : frisbee playing, long forest walks, long-distance cycling, dancing, amongst others … Previously I had run in half-marathons but that had stopped with two or more COVID years of being home. So it was such a freedom to be moving in the open again. Cycling from one place to another gave me new wings of freedom and was also a gentle reminder of how rusted the body had become with the lack of physical activity !

The physical place of Auroville itself with its lush green cover, the sweet music of the different birds, the heavenly fragrances of the different flowers for me was a constant tuning into the within and so I found I had no need for any source of entertainment. (In fact I was happy to be off-mobile). I could not get over the fact that there was so much beauty around !

Part of the volunteer program was working in the Matrimandir Gardens – the start of a learning, and also an unlearning. Something was subtlely changing as I worked with Kartik and the team. The two hours early morning were like a meditation in motion, nuances of breath and body-balancing while cleaning, with attention to do the smallest of things well. All of us volunteers were held by our work and pauses at tea-time were a camaderie of stories, with goodwill flowing. Looking out at Matrimandir, watching her bathed in soft sunlight and the majestic greens was blissful!

Then I discovered the Unity Pavilion and I continue to devote much of my time there. For me, it has really been the space for the birthing of activities promoting peace and harmonious collaboration.

One of the many « Aha! » moments was learning about the 12 Qualities of The Mother, the Four Aspects, the Gardens of Consciousness and the structure of the Matrimandir. It was mind-boggling to see their interrelatedness and significance for one’s inner growth. Being intricately linked to human evolution, their application for day-to-day work could unleash our highest potential. I understood they were a roadmap to harness our creative energies for a larger purpose and good.

I discovered that close to 900 flowers have a name of spiritual significance as given by The Mother and learning their names and meanings was a marvel for me (such as “Collaboration”, the flower shown just above). How much there is in Auroville to open to and assimilate!


Home to the Asian coninent’s Peace Table, The Unity Pavilion is symbolic of what is possible when we embark on transformation – inside out – and the exploration of consciousness and engagement. I had the privilege of participating in so many of the activities held there this year, serving Auroville in furthering her vision of Human Unity. The space for me was a living embodiment of that – a space of karma yoga and of enhancing capabilities when you step up to what is asked of you.

The Art for Land exhibition in August 2022 together with its allied cultural events was an eyeopener! The concept is that Auroville and friend-artists from all over the world contribute their works to be sold to raise funds for the purchase of Auroville’s still-missing land. I started from scratch – learning to connect with the AFL team and all the artists, and then  participating in curating. Putting up the artworks was long hours of sheer hard work, precision and finally perfection.

I am grateful for being mentored by Unity Pavilion’s Jaya – a beacon of dynamic energy, open and authentic, driven by dedication and a wisdom born of her inner work and experiences.

This was certainly a year of rich activities in Auroville with the 150th birth year anniversary of Sri Aurobindo and the 75th year of Indian Independence. Different initiatives were organized, and as a volunteer I was called on to pitch in where needed, contributing my energy for the annual Auroville Festival week’s many activities and the Art Exhibition at Kalakendra.

I felt highly honoured and humbled to participate in celebrating this special year and in the especially memorable events such as the G20 summit, the three-day International Spiritual Summit, and Diplomats Day. I can only say that coming to volunteer at Auroville was totally one of the very best decisions of my life!

But through those long days, between the demands of different activities I could only be present to A FLOW, where doubts had no place, a certain giving up of one’s own comfort or notions of how it needs to be. Attachment to anything in any form was tested – at times so severely that tears would flow. But there was also something that cradled me and walked me through. Doors would open, resistances would melt when I let go off all that held me back from within, including expectations of whether a certain outcome would happen or not. I learned the de-conditioning of knowns into taking the plunge, gradually developing a high degree of comfort with the unknown.

To help this progress, there have been the many workshops on transformation, and the tools taught by Monica Sharma, by the Heart Weavers and so many others. And of course, I have been present to share with the community the cardinal moments of Darshan Day bonfires and dawn meditations that in silence unite and fuel the intent for Auroville to truly be its vision.

The Auroville “dance” of being, doing and giving is new, stimulating and refreshing. It taps into our creative forces, which also explains the high degree of innovation happening in Auroville.

Here I’ve been a blessed recipient of a creative blossoming that I didn’t know was possible for me. For example, I discovered the Tamil art of Kolams (also called urlis), Kolams are creative flower mandalas, placed at the entry to homes or inside performance venues. I have always drawn and painted, but doing these flower mandalas happened only here. The connection and ” conversation” with flowers has really been an immense gift and has been a very engaging and beneficial activity. Now I can never imagine my desk at work or home, or any cultural event starting without these flowers arrangements where each design is a unique emergence that holds a message.

The life transformation I’ve lived has brought me the unswerving faith to deepen in the works of Sri Aurobindo and the Mother and to live a life closely aligned to the values and Charter of Auroville. Even amidst the challenging times we find ourselves in, to find such an alignment and live each day to one’s best for the best is exhilarating and freeing!

This 11-month journey has been one of discovery of the immense potency and potential offered here in Auroville. The forces that brought me here are most of the time incomprehensible and yet make total perfect sense!

I am grateful for all the preparation and thoughtfulness that has gone into the making of the volunteering and integration experience. I can only thank everyone who has and continues to be a mentor. For me, the one word that comes is WOW!

Summing up with few lines of my own:

Hold the Divine Mother close to my bosom
Your fragrance like a sweet blossom
Into my life flow experiences so wholesome
Nothing ever to happen as random

All chosen and crafted, actions do not hold me to a ransom
Bit by bit your love penetrates deep sure to transform
Leaving behind the attachment to any, this or that form
All that identification and illusions, none to stay to deform

The fallacy of the ego to be the one to perform
Your presence enshrined deep in my heart, no longer to holdings I conform
Actions aligned to Divine will, no longer in the mis-inform
Walking with her on the path, love is the only platform
Sweet Mother as my dearest friend, my very existence to transform.


Auroville, April 2023


For the photos we have gratefully used in this article, we warmly thank the photographers
who contributed their work to the Auroville Archives, to the Unity Pavilion and other venues
where these special events have taken place



Stay In Touch