One of the best ways to get to know Sri Aurobindo Ashram in Pondicherry is by visiting the various Departments of the Ashram, where work is done for practising Nishkam Karma, the way of the Bhagavad Gita, as an offering to the Divine.
This is the reason why every member of the Ashram had been given some work by the Mother, based on their need or aptitude.
Initially, many of these Departments were started by the Mother so that the Ashram could simply be self-sustaining.
Over time, some of them became income generating units but the purpose behind it, WORK AS A PART OF INTEGRAL YOGA, remains the same.
If you take the Non-guided Tour, you will meet at the Autocare Office and the vehicle will take you point to point and the driver will guide you towards the entrance and will wait for you at the drop off point in the stipulated time. You will get approximately 15 minutes at each location
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.
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.
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.
One can go there just to absorb and experience the atmosphere.