Better To Have Gone: Love, Death, and the Quest for Utopia in Auroville

By Akash Kapur

9/10
(9/10)

339 pages

My Sister Says- reviewed by Danna

 

“Better To Have Gone: Love, Death, and the Quest for Utopia In Auroville” by Akash Kapur is a history, memoir, and mystery set in an intentional community in Southern India. The community is based on the spiritual teachings of Sri Aurobindo and his acolyte, Mirra Alfassa, also known as the Mother. 

Founded in 1968 by the Mother, Auroville was intended to be a living laboratory where people could live in peace and harmony. The idealism of the late 1960s and early 1970s fused perfectly with the stated goals of Auroville. Spiritual seekers from all over the world came together to build a perfect society, including the author’s parents and the parents of his wife, Auralice.

After the death of the Mother, Auroville enters a dark period. Bitter and violent divisions over ideology and governance threatened to tear the group apart. The deaths of Auralices’ mother and stepfather during this time period is a mystery that Kapur attempts to solve. How did these two people come to die in Auroville?

In this book, Kapur examines a community created out of the wilderness in search of Utopia. The lofty ideals espoused at its beginning become a flashpoint as Auroville matures. I am fascinated by this core tension because it seems to play itself out over and over again at various points in history. 

Auroville survived it tumultuous past and remains in existence to this day. After decades in the United States, Akash and Auralice Kapur return to Auroville to raise their sons there.  Despite their complicated history with this community, there is something about the place that won’t let go.

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