by Gunasundari


My Life’s Journey with Auroville – by Gunasundari.pdf

My name is Gunasundari. I was born and brought up in Kootroad in the bio-region of Auroville), daughter of Sarangapani and Seetalakshmi. I was 16 years old when I came to live in Auroville. But unknowingly, I was already engaged with Auroville at a much younger age. As a child, I often visited my aunt in Fertile community, and my grandparents, Yavarnam & Velayutham (shown below with my grandfather’s brother) who were from Kuilapalayam, interacted and worked with the very first Auroville pioneers.

Here are my grandparents with Poppo and Helga. Poppo has been very closely associated with my family in many ways – starting with his friendship with my grandfather, then teaching my mother and taking her to see The Mother at the Pondicherry Ashram, to now being a good friend and mentor to my daughter.

So my early introduction to what Auroville meant was through participating in the collective, and by actually living it in so many different ways. My grandparents and my mother, had been blessed with Darshans of The Mother. They very much knew about the Auroville community and its values, and wanted me to be part of it. This played a big role in me being inspired to join Auroville. Then I got married to Arumugam, who was already an Aurovillian, giving me the opportunity to get a deeper insight of what Auroville meant.

Arumugam, too, has been associated with Auroville since his childhood. He has been part of the La Ferme Cheese Unit from its early days, and is still committed, managing the unit today. So, through him came the experience of growing with a deeper meaning and purpose in life – of living amongst the Auroville community, involving myself, engaging in communal activities, doing service, and meeting people.

Auroville introduced a very new lifestyle and opened new doors for me. The Entry Service asked me to get involved in academics and suggested I join Last School for classes as I was still young when I arrived. Auroli from Canada was my first teacher and mentor when I joined. I started learning music and dance, and learnt to play the veena. I officially became an Aurovillian in 2000.

Arumugam and I then had our two children – first our daughter Soundarya (aka Seraphina in Auroville) and then our son, Dineshkumar.

My husband motivated and supported me to pursue my career at the same time, and so I finished my Bachelor’s Degree in Business & Commerce while raising our children. I also did service in Town Hall.

After a few years in the Town Hall Reception Service, I started working in the Auroville Unity Fund and the Financial Service, which were both of interest to me as I had the academic background for them.

Both our children studied in Auroville schools till high school in ‘Future School’, after which they started stepping out for higher studies. Soundarya holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Architecture, while Dineshkumar is in his 4th year of an interdisciplinary course within the field of Life Sciences.

Early in her childhood, Soundarya started learning dance and music, experiences which she often says have shaped her into the person she is today.

Dineshkumar was always involved in musical plays that the Auroville Theatre group directed and performed (in the beige coat with the sword in the front right of the photo) …

… but basketball and sports in general are what have been a true constant for him, and in which he excels (here he is in a team photo, second from the left, below):

I am glad both our children have been born and brought up in Auroville, seeing them today carry the values and spirit of Auroville within them to distant lands as they travel and study.

The rich blend of our family’s coming from traditional and local Tamil backgrounds, along with the international exposure and upbringing in Auroville, has led to our children to grow up with varied experiences, and develop into rooted yet independent, free, and broadminded children of Auroville.

Here is a photo of four generations of the women of our family – myself, my daughter, my mother and my grandmother – all deeply associated with Auroville since we can remember:

I started working in the Auroville Unity Fund and Financial Service 17 years ago. I enjoy the work I do and I try to give it my best every day.

The work demands precision, and I have always strived towards perfecting my skills; with the joy that comes with it. I continue to look forward to learning something new in my field of work whenever possible. I am curious and excited to take part in the software training or specific short-term courses that happen in the office. I take any work or responsibility given to me very seriously and sincerely.

Auroville gave me space to learn and grow in various other fields too; my daughter and I learned and performed Carnatic music (vocal & veena) together. Here we gave a Veena performance of 50 instruments for the 50th Anniversary of Auroville:

With a shift in time and activities as the children grew, my husband and I started spending more time at Matrimandir after working hours, and enjoying evening walks in the gardens …

We do duty there and community service in other ways, like helping to keep Auroville clean.

I generally love working with kolams, flowers, and mandalas, so I am part of the flower decoration team that organizes for Bonfires and other Auroville-related events at Matrimandir, Savitri Bhavan, Sawchu etc.

It gives me great joy to plan and choreograph, but also to collectively participate and create the decorations with everyone.

Now, I would like to share some memorable moments in my life so far, having to do with personal experiences, with my family, and some collectively shared moments too:

– Not just the moment of becoming an Aurovilian, but the entire phase of my coming to Auroville was memorable, as it was a completely contrasting shift from my childhood and upbringing, and with it, the introduction to the teachings of Sri Aurobindo and The Mother.

– The recent event of Soundarya’s convocation where she received her Architecture Degree and came straight down to hand it over to me and my husband ! This was a very proud moment:

– My daughter’s first solo and stage performance (called Arangetram in the Bharatnatyam tradition) on 12.12.2010 at Auroville’s Bharat Nivas, and my son’s many awards for sports.

– My very first session of the Savitri readings with Shraddhavan felt very special, where even if I didn’t understand everything, the way Shraddhavan read and explained, touched me deeply. It was a very memorable moment! For the last 2 years, I have been going to these sessions – a very new experience for me and I have learned alot from them. They give me a different understanding of Auroville, Mother, and Sri Aurobindo. Last year we read the whole Savitri book together, starting from Mother’s birthday on the 21st of February for a month. Now Shraddhavan has passed, and she will be greatly missed!

– The experience of the Sourcing Our Oneness Camp at the OM Puri Sri Aurobindo Ashram:

This special event was held in honor of the 150th Anniversary of Sri Aurobindo’s birth, as organized by Jaya, and we attended it with 6 other Aurovilians. During the week-long session, we studied the 12 qualities of The Mother and the significance of the 4 pillars of the Matrimandir.

– The trip to the Sri Aurobindo Ashram at Baroda, where Sri Aurobindo had lived (organized by Sri Sharad Joshi, a devotee and benefactor of Auroville):

– A very auspicious experience was on the day of the 24th April Darshan in 2021 when some of my friends and I were doing the flower decorations under the Banyan tree at the Matrimandir. Because of the strong winds, all the candles kept being blown out … except for one!

And that one candle’s flame stood still and withstood the winds the entire time!

At the end of the decoration, my friend and I alone stood and watched the flame live with strength.

This is a memory that is very special and close to my heart.

While I could say so much more, I believe that every moment and memory I have in my life is beautiful and therefore memorable, and I see it that way.


I am who I am because of Auroville – and so is my family.
I am, and will always be, grateful for that and all of the blessings that have come.

Auroville, August 2023





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