The Ashram has a variety of departments ranging from small-scale industries to art and craft workshops. Most of these departments have emerged spontaneously, sometimes because of a need for a product that wasn't available, and at other times because Mother encouraged a sadhaka or sadhika to pursue his or her art. Soon under her personal guidance and care, these departments grew up. Today most of them are well-established. And while externally they help sustain the Ashram, their real purpose is to serve as a field for sadhana, the spiritual discipline. Work in any department is to be done unselfishly, in the spirit of service and as a means of offering oneself to the Divine.
See the phone tip below for dialing to the departments.
This is the Ashram information office for the visitors. This office serves visitors in the following ways.
* It has an exhibition introducing the life and yoga of Sri Aurobindo and the Mother through their own writings. It also offers a glimpse into the Ashram and its activities.
* It conducts video programmes everyday in the morning (except Sundays) and in the afternoon on Tuesdays and Fridays to help visitors understand Sri Aurobindo, the Mother, their work and the Ashram.
* It has a large map of Pondicherry with places relevant marked on it.
* It guides visitors find accommodation in the Ashram guest houses.
* It provides Information regarding the Ashram and its activities.
Address: 3, Rangapillai Street, Pondicherry - 605001
This department caters to the transport needs of people connected with the Ashram and Auroville with ordinary and air-conditioned taxis, vans, and buses. It offers the following services.
* Reservations for International Visitors or visitors from other parts of india coming via Madras for picking up from or dropping back at the airport or railway station in Madras. The reservation can be done by email, phone or fax.
* Daily tours to the various departments in the Ashram in the morning and to Auroville-Matrimandir in the afternoon. There is a separate page covering details of trips to the Matrimandir. and one for trips to Auroville in general. Check with Autocare for the exact fare.
* Tours and trips for the cities in southern India.
It has two offices. One of them is located on the same street as the Ashram main building. The other one is located in the town.
Address: 507 Mahatma Gandhi Road, Muthialpet, Pondicherry - 605003
The Ashram Library started in 1954. The Mother then gave it the message: "A library must be an intellectual sanctuary. There one should look for light and progress." Set in a large, old French-style building with its big halls, its quiet corners, and its own little garden in front, and with 55,000 books in 25 different languages and hundreds of periodicals, the library is very much an intellectual sanctuary. The library also has a large collection of Indian and Western classical records and tapes. Indian classical music is played at the Library every Wednesday from 8.30 p.m. to 9.30 pm (or as long as the music piece lasts) and Western classical music every Tuesday and Friday at the same time.
Timings: 7.30 am - 11.30 am, 2.00 pm - 4.45 pm Phone: 2234648
The Ashram's art gallery was started in 1963 and Mother named it "The Studio" and gave it the message: "On the physical plane, it is in Beauty that the Divine expresses himself." The Mother who herself was a painter of great sensitivity always evinced a keen interest in Art and Beauty. She trained and helped the young and old to pursue Art as a part of their spiritual growth.
The art gallery undertakes the preservation and the exhibition of "the Mother's collection" of paintings and photographs. This collection consists of more than 2500 paintings done by Ashram artists and others. It is a selection from this collection that is usually on exhibit at the gallery.
Address: Rue Law de Lauriston, Pondicherry - 605001
This Department started in 1934. The books of Sri Aurobindo and Mother are published and sold here. SABDA is the Publication Department's only agent and distributor. This department is situated in the Ashram main building.
Address: 20, Rue de la Marine, Pondicherry - 605001
Sri Aurobindo Book Distribution Agency, started on the 2nd of January 1952, is the sole distributor of the Ashram publications: the works of Sri Aurobindo and The Mother and the various other works written on their lives and teachings by the disciples. These works have gained a readership not only amongst devotees, but also amongst philosophers, educationists and social scientists. At present the printing list of SABDA includes more than 1300 works in English, all the major Indian languages and a number of other foreign languages. SABDA has distribution centres in all the major cities of India as well as in Europe and Central America.
The showroom of SABDA (Kripa) is located diagonally opposite to the Ashram Main Building. The main office is on the road behind the UCO Bank opposite the General Hospital.
Showroom Address: 13, Marine St, Pondicherry - 605001
Main Office Address: 3, Rue de la Casern, Pondicherry - 605001
This department came into existence in 1950 in the Ashram main building, a few days after Sri Aurobindo left his body. The devotees who came from all over the world could get information about lodging, food, and the Ashram activities from this department. Before leaving Pondicherry many devotees started asking for the photographs of Sri Aurobindo and Mother and so they were kept here for sale. Before 1950, photographs were sold only on Darshan days in the Ashram main building, in a stall that is kept outside Poojalal's room. Today, different photographs of Mother and Sri Aurobindo in black and white or color and in various sizes are available for purchase in this department.
Address: 20, Rue de la Marine, Pondicherry - 605001.
The Hand Made Paper Factory, started in 1959, is internationally known for the strong and beautifully coloured paper it produces by hand. It specialises in white drawing paper and bond stationery paper in a range of forty colours. The grades of paper vary from thin bond (67gsm) to very thick drawing paper (660gsm). The most successful items are the special papers: bagasse, bamboo, ricehusk, gunny, straw, algae and tea leaves in paper pulp so that an abstract design is created on the paper when it finally emerges. Another successful item is marbled paper with which stationery items are made. Marbling is a Japanese art of abstract painting done on water. Every sheet of paper is an individual work of art and varies both in shade and design. 50% of the products made in the Hand Made Paper Factory are exported to USA, Europe and Asia.
Address: 44, S.V. Patel Salai, Pondicherry - 605001
In the early 1940's, the Mother started directing plays in the Ashram theatre. As costumes were needed for the actors, she asked a sadhika to start a department where these could be made. Thus in 1943 this department started unofficially. It was one of the first departments to be run directly under the guidance of the Mother. It became official on the 1st of June 1964. It now does beautiful batik work, fabric painting, and hand embroidery on dress material. It also does crocheting, tatting, knitting, lace-work and patch-work.
Address: 20, Jawaharlal Nehru St., Pondicherry - 605001
Hand-weaving is the method of forming a pliable plane of threads by interlacing them rectangularly: the process of passing the weft between taut, alternately raised warps, as in the basic weave, or between other selected warps, and pressing it into place. One of the most ancient of crafts, hand-weaving still survives today because of the innovation that it allows in design. Hand-weaving began in the Ashram in 1940. Originally the products of the Ashram Weaving Department were meant only for Ashramites. Since 1954, the bed-sheets, bed-covers, napkins, towels which are hand-woven here are available for visitors.
Address: S.V. Patel Salai, Pondicherry - 605001
Till 1960 all the needle-work done in the Ashram was exclusively for the Mother's personal use. Later on, with the increase of workers in the department, the variety in embroidery work and the quantity of production have increased. But, as in the beginning, the effort has always been towards beauty and perfection and the spirit still remains to be one of offering and dedication. Today the devotees who come to Pondicherry like to buy products from here as a token of remembrance of Mother's Grace. The products sold here are exquisite and include all kinds of embroidered and fabric painted items like children's clothes, sarees, dress materials, kerchieves, bags and table-mats.
Address: 27, Francois Martin St., Pondicherry - 605001
Once a sadhika made a few batik pieces at home and gave them to the Mother. Appreciating them very much, the Mother told her to continue the batik work. So, like most departments in the Ashram, this one too was born, spontaneously, of a wish expressed by the Mother. Begun on 9th August 1969, the Batik Section does traditional batik and tie and dye work on items such as kerchiefs, scarves, table-mats and dress material. Batik is a method of printing coloured designs on cloth by waxing the parts that are not to be dyed. Tie and dye is a method of producing dye patterns on fabric by tying the parts of the fabric that need to be protected from the dye.
Address: 25, St Louis St., Pondicherry - 605001
The marbling of paper is an ancient art first practised in Japan in the ninth century. Completely realised by hand, it consists in producing certain patterns and effects by means of colours on water. A piece of paper or silk is laid on the water, so that the flowing patterns get imprinted on it. The marbling unit in the Ashram started as a hobby in 1965. Some sadhaks experimented with this art form and offered marbled handmade paper to the Mother. Later they extended the marbling process to silk. As it was widely appreciated, the Mother permitted the sale of these products. From 1970 onwards the unit took up work on a big scale with the production of sarees, scarves, stoles, ties, kerchiefs, dress material and dupattas on pure silk and pure silk chiffon, for sale locally and abroad. Today marbling has developed into a fine art form to which the Marbling Group has undoubtedly the credit of having added certain refinements, apart from having been among the first to adopt the process successfully to silk fabrics.
Address: 32, Compagnie St., Pondicherry - 605001
Originally "Handweberei Hablik-Lindemann" started as a firm in Germany. When the daughter of the late owner of this firm came to Pondicherry, she brought along some of their products and a complete set of German handlooms and equipment. The products were shown to the Mother. Appreciative as She was of all artistic endeavour, She encouraged her and told her to continue the work here under the original German name and logo. Handweberei Hablik-Lindemann, which started in 1966 comprises two units: handweaving and handicrafts. In the handweaving unit, cloth, bedspreads, placemats and napkins are made. The handicrafts unit specialises in wall hangings, crochet items and stuffed toys. The products are sold outside Pondicherry to "The Contemporary Arts and Crafts" in Bombay, and "The Shop" in Delhi, as well as abroad. Foreign visitors may place orders and receive them by post. There is no showroom in Pondicherry, the visitors are welcome to visit the unit.
Address: 52, Rue Suffren, Pondicherry - 605001
During her days in France, the Mother often used an alcohol based lotion called "Friction de Foucaud". When she settled down permanently in Pondicherry, a sadhak used to import this skin freshener for Her. A few years later the import of "Friction de Foucaud" was banned. So the basic essences were imported and added to alcohol to make the lotion here. For this work a laboratory called "Laboratoire Senteurs" was started in 1968 in a sadhak's house. Again, problems arose when the import of the essences from France was also banned. So an alternative was created to the essence of "Friction de Foucaud" which proved to be a success. This lotion is now known as "Friction - a skin freshener". Through its showroom "Fleurs en Flacon", Laboratoire Senteurs prepares and sells a number of products such as perfumes, deodorants, shampoos, hair-lotions and rose water. Fleurs en Flacon also sells a wide variety of gift items such as embroidered and painted garments, designer stationery, handicrafts and Ayurvedic products. It also undertakes gift wrapping, packaging and tailoring work.
Address: 1, Rue St Gilles, Pondicherry - 605001
Cottage Industries manufactures incense sticks and incense cones. This unit started in 1949 to fulfil the needs of the Ashram and its devotees. A few years later as the demand grew, the unit started supplying them to a wider clientele. Today Cottage Industries is known for the quality of its products and its emphasis on the use of herbal and natural ingredients in the manufacturing process. Its incense sticks and cones are sold in Sri Aurobindo Centres all over India and in about a dozen countries abroad.
Showroom Address: 3, Rangapillai St., Pondicherry - 605001
Auroshikha Agarbathies was started in 1973 in a community called Udavi situated in a village near Auroville with two objectives: providing employment to the villagers, thereby raising their standards of living, and producing high quality incense sticks for export. Since 1973 Auroshikha has become increasingly popular. Apart from supplying to a well developed domestic market, t also exports agarbathies to more than 24 countries. It has received several Export Awards in recognition of this fact. The products are acknowledged as being of the finest quality. All products of Auroshikha including a wide range of agarbathies in attractive packaging, perfumed oils, incense holders and perfume sachets are on display and sale at the Auroshikha showroom located near the Ashram main building.
Showroom Address: 24, Marine St., Pondicherry - 605001
Sometime in 1956, the Mother expressed her wish to start an Ayurvedic dispensary. She sent a message to a devotee in Gujarat, who was an Ayurvedic doctor, "Tell him I shall be very happy if he comes here and takes up this work. I like this system more than allopathy." In response to this call he came to settle down permanently in the Ashram and started started the Ayurvedic Section 22nd Feb, 1957. On that occasion the Mother gave the following message: "In this new activity, the knowledge of the past must be illumined by the revelation of today." Today the Ayurvedic Section is noted for its organised and systematic methods of preparing medicines and treating diseases. Its patent preparations such as jeevan-kesari, sudarshan churna, drakshadi vati and dantamanjan are highly appreciated and are sold in various Sri Aurobindo Centres of India. Out-patients requiring special treatment can visit the Ayurvedic Section for consultation.
Address: 23, Dumas Street, Pondicherry - 605001
Mother did not like the Ashramites going to the outside restaurants to eat, so she made The Cottage Restaurant where the food is made with the best ingredients. There are two sections: the restaurant and the annexe. The restaurant offers snacks, sweets, savouries, and cooled fruit juices. The Annexe offers snacks, sweets, kulfi, and cooled fruit juices.
Address: 15A, Capitaine Marus de Zavier St, Pondicherry - 605001
Beauty is the Divine language in forms. It is with this inspiration that Auroform began in 1975 as a unit which designs buildings, interiors, and produces high-quality furniture. Today, with clients all over India, Auroform has acquired a national reputation for the design and quality of its work. Aurofurn which began in 1982 designs and manufactures very high quality leather articles such as bags, footwear and also upholstered furniture such as chairs and sofas. Its products are available in select boutiques in major Indian cities. Prospective clients are welcome to drop in at the Auroform Office for consultation.
Address: Rue Francois Martin, Pondicherry - 605001
In 1936-37, The Mother purchased an old building near the Ashram, from a very miserly Chettiar gentleman, who, sensing The Mother's eagerness to buy the building which was so close to the Ashram, charged an exorbitantly high price. So Mother, with a touch of humour, named it "Harpagon" after the main character of Molire's "L'Avare", who was extremely avaricious. Harpagon workshop was opened in 1938, to meet the various requirements of the construction of Golconde. Golconde is an Ashram building designed by the Mother, where devotees from all over the world stay. Since then the Harpagon workshop has expanded to handle all types of mechanical work and to produce the machines, utensils and athletic equipment that the Ashram requires. Its products have gained national recognition for their quality and are in demand by companies such as Larsen & Toubro, Bharat Aluminium Company and Dunlop. Harpagon is especially known for its steel utensils.
Showroom Timings: 8.30 am - 12.30 am, 3.00 pm - 7.00 pm.
Like the Harpagon Workshop, the Wood Working Unit of the Ashram was opened to meet the needs of Golconde. Later on, this unit went on to fulfil many of the Ashram's furniture requirements. These include the wooden furniture for Sri Aurobindo's room in 1945 and the Mother's room in 1957. Today the Harpagon Wood Working Unit sells its products to all. Renowned for the high quality of its furniture made out of Burma teak and rose-wood, it also produces beautifully carved furniture with a melanin finish. In addition to making all types of furniture for residences and individual customers the unit also makes furniture for hotels, office furniture and wooden counters, partitions and ceilings for banks and other establishments. Among its customers have been large companies like Lucas TVS, Indian Airlines and Salem Steel Plant.
Address: 3, Rue Dupuy, Pondicherry - 605002
A tip for dialing phone/fax numbers:
The Country Code for India is 91.
The Area Code for Pondicherry is 0413.
When dialing from outside India, the zero in the area code needs to be omitted.
For example, from the US, dial 01191-413 followed by the local number.
There was a recent change in phone numbers in Pondicherry - older numbers were 6digits.
The new numbers are 7 digits starting with 2, then the old 5 digits.
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Last modified on 11 Nov 2002