Helmut Ernst

My relation with Auroville started before Auroville was born. Sri Aurobindo came to me about 1960 through the pocketbook Der Integrale Yoga with texts by Him translated by Otto Wolff. Sri Aurobindo’s view and vision appealed immensely both to my scientific mind and to my spirt. He embodied for me the perfect synthesis of the deep spiritual wisdom of the East with the dynamic mind of the East with the dynamic mind of the West focussed on evolution of mind and life in matter, while relying only on experience and experiment as the source of knowledge.

Since – except for the pocketbook – Sri Aurobindo’s main works weren’t available in Germany, I searched in London for them and in fact learned English by reading Sri aurobindo’s works. from around 1964 I kept contact with the Ashram and regularly received the periodicals Mother India and Bulletin of sri Aurobindo International Center of Education. In this way I became aware of the beginnings of Auroville well before 1968.

Actually I wanted to visit Pondicherry soon after I had started my professional career in 1964. I had a clause in my employment contract allowing me 6 months of unpaid absence from work for visiting the Ashram. However by meeting Uschi and our marriage and by founding a family this dream did not realise, and when in 1973 Mother suddenly passed away I was shocked because I had missed my opportunity to meet Her while She was still with us.

Finally, in 1975 I travelled with Uschi for the first time to Pondicherry. On bicycles we adventured to the bare red plane of auroville, where you could see the half done main pillars of the Matrimandir from far away. Every two years we spent holidays in Pondicherry, visited more and more often the slowly  growing auroville and made many friends there. As an engineer I was attracted to the technical challenges of building Matrimandir, and through John Harper also came to know Piero Cicionesi, the only professional architect and engineer at the site. the main areas of cooperation were the lighting system with the  heliostat and the design limits of the crystal globe, which might crack by thermal expansion due to the absorption of light energy. I also looked into the air-conditioning system.

Since we visited Auroville regularly Uschi and I applied to be registered “friends of Auroville”. With this status we could accept gladly the offer of our friend Helmut Schmidt to finance a three bedroom house in Grace, where we could stay whenever we visited Auroville. Now we came to know Aurovilians, who lived in our house, more closely and intimately.

Since my retirement I have become an active member of the Association for the Development of the Auroville Region, a sister organisation of AVI-Germany. In this function I have learned a lot about different projects going on in Auroville. It is very gratifying to see the growth of projects serving the Thamizh population by this cooperation.

Out of the intense preoccupation of AVI-Germany with the realisation of the national pavilions and the development of the International Zone(IZ) I realized around 2003 that the IZ can only develop dynamically if seen as a big campus with the pavilions as national colleges, whereby the presence of students from the different nations the intercultural exchange can become a living experience throughout the year. The campus idea is not confined to the IZ however. In my view the whole of auroville should become in future a vast centre of conscious evolution and education, open to students from all nations, who after their experience of Auroville would bring back to their respective countries the knowledge and skill to transform their environment with the inspiration of Auroville. It is my firm conviction that Auroville will grow fast to its planned size once it is opened up as a big campus to the world. Actually the world is waiting for a place where people are focusing their energy in an integral way on the future of the world as envisioned by Sri Aurobindo and on the transformation of the human being and consciousness.


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