AuERA Living is a joint initiative to create a visionary path to retired life in a community that provides one with dignity, harmony and health in a sustainable manner. The goal is to create communities that inspire people to make the very most of life, without many of the concerns that come with getting older. Pullat Devadas Menon reports.
“A time comes when we feel that it is not necessary for us to expect anything from the world. It is not that the world cannot give anything to us, nor that we cannot take; but it is not necessary to take. We can become so mature that we are content within ourselves. The contentment has matured into the ripe fruit of permanent experience, and then we live a life of what is generally called retirement. The life of retirement is not an idle life of sleeping; it is a further advanced state above the grhastha (householder), where the energy conserved and the potency that is inside is totally oriented towards a higher aspiration. The retirement is only from the distractions of life, not from the duties of life. Now the activity that was earlier externally motivated in many ways becomes directed internally. Here is the time when we become a friend of all – sarvabhUtahite ratAh (Bhagavad Gita 12.4). We are not merely a friend of people, but even the very elements will bend before us. This is traditionally designated as the vanaprastha (retired) stage.”
Indian wisdom traditions has divided the human life into four stages
1. Brhamacharya (period of training to acquire dharma);
2. Grahastha (family life);
3. Vanaprashtha (life after 60/retired); and Sanyaasa (life of renunciation).
The above quotation describes best what the retired life should be. People in India, that traditionally had the joint family concept of living, today experience the emergence of nuclear families with children/grandchildren mostly living far away from their native locality or abroad. Many of their inherited/existing homes are increasingly becoming more difficult to maintain or even to live in. There are thus an increasing number of people in their sixties that are faced with the prospect of having to live their post sixty years alone. With the increase in life expectancy this has easily become 25 years or more post retirement. Not only do they have to live alone, but they are further burdened with the need to cook, clean and maintain their living premises all by themselves. AuERA Living, a joint initiative of Punarnava Ayurveda Trust [www.punarnava.org] and Vaidyagramma Community Trust, is an idea born out of this reality to create a visionary path to retired life in a community that provides one with dignity, harmony and health in a sustainable manner. The goal: to create communities that inspire people to make the very most of life, without many of the concerns that come with getting older.
The word AuERA is formed out of the chemical name for gold – aurum – and Era joined together to represent Golden Era, literally the golden years of one’s life! AuERA is attempting to raise the bar on what retirement living is all about. It defines the most advanced measure of sustainability in a world of increasing uncertainties and acts to diminish the gap between current limits and ideal solutions. Imagine a life where – all your material needs are taken care of without having to transact in currency of any kind! every activity is aimed to enhance the quality of your life! you are surrounded by people living together without the need to compete! the living principles are designed to easily have a life of health, harmony and happiness! We seek to build a community where every space is designed to function as elegantly and efficiently as a flower: a space conforming to the bioregion’s characteristics; a space that is committed to – being eco-friendly and self-sustainable generating and conserving energy harvesting, storing and judiciously using water engaging in natural farming to maximally take care of food needs from within the community itself responsibly managing the waste that is generated by engaging in recycling, re-using and restoring where possible the fulfillment of higher aspirations and most importantly, engaging in clean living The scale of change we seek is immense but not impossible. We are committed to this change in the interest of our own well being; in the interest of the well being of Mother Earth. And we believe that we deserve “Clean Living” in the last decades of our lives.
The highlights of this project include – spread over around 100 acres of land 1/3 will be the dwelling space and associated infrastructure; 2/3 is reserved for all the other sustainable initiatives including agro-forestry, water management, energy management, waste management, sustainability initiatives etc. maximal elimination of cash transactions of any kind within the community once one becomes a resident in this community healthy vegetarian food using the organic produce from within the community itself clean air and virtual elimination of chemical toxicity within the community energy from renewable sources such as solar, wind power, bio-gas etc. facility to live by the principles of Ayurveda thus enabling greater health and harmony in the golden years of one’s life common facilities such as walking tracks, guesthouse, clubhouse, tennis court, swimming pool, performance halls, stores etc. in close proximity to a children’s home and school, where the residents get the opportunity to share their life experience with the children and also partake of the youthful energy. The Community will be located in Thirumalayampalayam Panchayat, a suburb of Coimbatore district, Tamil Nadu. The village is situated along the hill sides of the Western Ghats around 12 km from the Kerala border and 27 km from Coimbatore International Airport. This location has been identified for two reasons: that of land availability, and the existence of the healing village of Vaidyagrama [http://www.vaidyagrama.com/about-us.php], whose service shall form an integral part of the Community. The Community shall be adjacent to Vaidyagrama itself.
The Google Map location of the area can accessed via the link below: https://www.google.co.in/maps/place/vaidyagrama+-+Ayurveda+healing+vill[email protected],76.9034577,352m/data=!3m1!1e3!4m2!3m1!1s0x3ba84369d114181f:0x59618962c1bbb482
The layout and facilities in the residences shall keep in mind the needs of the primary residents of over 60 years of age as well as the needs of others who might reside along with them. Some features of each residence include – a foyer, bedroom, bathroom, balcony and kitchenette will form the base unit based on unit size, the residence will have 2 or even 3 bedrooms and associated facilities all residences shall be based on vastu principles the primary styling will be along Kerala architectural lines the construction material used will be eco-friendly such as rammed earth, stabilized soil blocks, and other materials which are mostly locally available running hot water facility, 24 hour power backup, television, broadband internet, and other amenities will be provided to make for a comfortable contemporary residence, including air-conditioning in the bedrooms for those who desire it, even though our experience over the past several years at Vaidyagrama is that the constantly flowing cool winds from Western Ghats makes this unnecessary there will be no boundary walls and the clustered units will be surrounded by open spaces filled with flowering plants, shading and fruit trees
The common facilities include – all residences will be connected with walkways only vehicles powered by alternate energy will ply in the residential areas – this includes golf cars, bicycles etc. guest residences will be available to those wishing to experience the living style of the community for a period of time before committing to entering it, as well as for the regular visitors to Vaidyagrama who want to stay on for several months more at the completion of their health treatment at Vaidyagrama multiple kitchens catering to different cuisines as well as dining area where all the food for the residents is prepared according to holistic principles and prepared using wholesome ingredients and materials several stores spread across the campus that cater to the other daily needs of the residents. These stores shall cater to items of daily need which are provided freely to the residents as well as special items that the resident may require on a paid basis meditation and yoga space clubhouse, walking paths, swimming pool, tennis court, putting green, and an open air theatre are some of the other facilities that are being planned security for the Community shall be achieved without ‘walling in’ the Community, and relying more on modern communication and surveillance.
All efforts will be made to seamlessly merge the Community with the neighbouring society at large without compromising the security of the residents Health of the residents Quality healthcare of the residents is critical to the achievement of our vision of a life of ‘health and harmony’ during our golden years. In the journey towards this vision, we will be supported by our sister institution, Vaidyagrama Ayurveda healing village, around which the AuERA living community is being developed. Vaidyagrama, an initiative of Punarnava Ayurveda Coimbatore, currently treats patients from all over the world for both serious health issues as well as for promotive and rejuvenative healthcare through authentic Ayurveda. We have adopted Ayurveda as our primary healthcare provider at the community; and where the Ayurveda physicians deem it fit, other medical systems such as Allopathy will be applied. In addition to the full care in patient facilities at Vaidyagrama, the Community shall also have Ayurveda treatment centre within the community itself. This center will address primary healthcare problems such as fevers, colds, coughs, diarrhea, wounds, cuts and burns; and also assist and educate the residents with regard to promotive healthcare in relation to their daily routine and diet.
The primary promotive healthcare for the Community shall be geriatric care as prescribed by Ayurveda which includes the following – daily routine including taking care of the eyes, ears, nose, skin and tongue – Ayurveda in daily life [http://www.ayurvedaindailylife.org/] yoga abhyanga or simple oil application annual or once per two years panchakarma for 2-3 weeks at vaidyagrama hospital or as advised by the physician internal herbs and dietary and lifestyle restrictions for specific people based on condition There will also be an essentially equipped emergency medical centre. In the event the emergency or ailment cannot be handled by the in-house facilities or at Vaidyagrama, the same shall be cared for at nearby medical facilities as needed. A palliative care center is also being planned within the community. We are committed to creating an ‘optimum healing environment’, where the vision of ‘health and harmony’ can be achieved with the least possible stress. However, the optimum use of this environment lies in the hands of each of the residents; it is when they take the responsibility for their own life and living and healing, that this environment responds to their health needs.
Conclusion Overall the Community shall be built around the ‘15 factors for retirement successes’
Attitude toward retirement Directedness
Current life satisfaction
Projected life satisfaction
Life stage satisfaction
Dependents Family/relationship issues
Perception of age
Replacement of work functions
Punarnava Ayurveda Trust/Vaidyagrama Community
Trust Email: [email protected]
Websites: www.punarnava.org, www.aueraliving.life, www.vaidyagrama.com