Jan Allen

The year 1968 was for many, in my social realm of borderline Bohemia, the advent of a positive revolution. The much heralded Age of Aquarius was now on the horizon and an interesting concoction of mind bending substances, once mythical were becoming swiftly mainstream as the Beatles and Dylan were predicting in their lyrics “the times they are achanging…”

Sadly due to my own circumstances Timothy Leary’s catch cry “Turn on, tune in and drop out” was an anathema for me – it was impossible for me to follow this decree. My son, born the year before and not particularly well, required my absolute attention. The letterpress printing business I had started was thriving, orders just had started was thriving, orders just had to be completed on schedule, dead-lines had to be met. Most of my clients were the smaller, now burgeoning galleries in Sydney in the late sixties, with their constantly changing exhibitions which must be heralded with posters and invites.

Meanwhile my father lay ill and dying, a very dear friend was involved in a shocking tragedy, and they both required compassion and care. For my son’s father it was halcyon times indeed and we soon drifted apart. This was the final unbearable crisis that inspired me to search for a more appropriate life for myself and my little son.

I had taken some refuge in the study of Theosophy and it was one after-noon in the sanctity of their city library that I happened upon the works of Sri Aurobindo and the Mother. Struggling in the sea of confusion I had become engulfed in, this was akin to being tossed a life buoy from an elegant ghost ship passing by. Here at last was the seed of my new resolve to change our lives and seek an entirely fresh experience. These notions of escape had to be put to rest as I grappled with everyday realities. It was not until 1970, when I felt my life in Sydney to be utterly unbearable, that I was propelled to plan an indefinite release from the turmoil I was embroiled in.

It was in May that year that my son and myself boarded the plane that would take us first to Sri Lanka and then in June we would commence our new life in the protective and gentle energy of the Sri Aurobindo Ashram in South India. There we happily remained for most of the first year. In those days Pondicherry was a haven of peace and I remember marvelling at the absence of motor traffic. Most people used cycles, or travelled in rickshaws or pony carts. Here the occasional motor vehicle was something to remark upon. We soon felt very much at home, there was no looking back, and very soon we began to meet the many people who would become our life long friends and amongst them many existing Auroville pioneers. In those days Mother would give darshan on birthdays and so it was on the 6th of March 1971 that I finally stood before the grand mistress of our fate. It was Champaklal who led me to her, ascending the winding staircase; an atmosphere hushed and the sweet aromas of incense mingled with flower scents added to the glory of the moment. A gaze of unadulterated benevolence and a red rose was mine from a gentle, elderly, exquisitely saried lady on a throne-like chair. Concerned about the contingent of other birthday visitors I denied myself the prospect of lingering longer and rapidly left the room, a little over-whelmed by this legendary being.

I was fortunate to see her again on my son’s birthday in April. “Here comes the artist!” announced Champaklal, as Jonas unfazed delivered one of his fine abstract paintings to this wonderful queenly being. A great fuss was made of my golden haired child. It was by then his fourth birthday.

At the end of this year when we were already living at Quiet Beach(before it became known as that) my son’s father, Johnny, arrived just for a look, and approving what he beheld he remains in Auroville to this day, a popular and essential member of the community.

Family commitments oblige me to remain in Australia for the time being. My duties as a liaison person for Auroville involve meeting people who are planning to come either to live there or visit the community. There is a certain amount of email contact or interviews by telephone. I can usually after speaking with them glean their interest and expectations and advise them. As we live here in a particularly beautiful part of Sydney, on the harbour and very close to the city and accessible by ferry, it has been a popular place for visiting Aurovilians to drop in, and when convenient and other family members are absent, to stay for awhile. Over the years we have hosted many grateful Aurovilians.

So it was that the outcome has been delightful.