'Pondicherry'1Pondicherry derives from Puduhcheri, a new town. Yes, it is a new, an ever-new town, new from age to age.
In Agastya's time it was Vedapuri, the seat of Vedic knowledge. The truths of the Vedas are at once eternal and ever-new. Coming down to our own days, we find Vivekananda visiting Pondicherry in 1893, just a few months before embarking on his historic voyage to America, where the multitudes of people heard in him the voice of Eternity ringing across the ages, and saw in him the ineffable vision of God.
Vivekananda, the dearest disciple of Sri Ramakrishna; Tilak, the fearless champion of India's swaraj; Bharati, the patriot-bard of India's nationalism and independence; Sri Aurobindo, the Heaven-born prophet of India's independence and of the Life Divine — all hallowed the town with the dust of their feet.
Sri Aurobindo's choice of Pondicherry as the divinely ordained seat of his world-transforming sadhana led to visits by a number of distinguished leaders of the national movement — Lala Lajpat Rai, C. R. Das, Moonje Purushottandas Tandon and Rabindranath Tagore, to name only a few. In 1914 there occurred an epoch-making event in the history of the world. From Paris came a remarkable spiritual figure. Madam M. Alfassa, now known as the Mother of the Sri Aurobindo Ashram. It is she who by her divine Personality and far-seeing powers of organisation has changed the face of Pondicherry to a great extent, and is continuing to build a New Life in this ever-new town. The Vedapuri of old is again going to be the Vedapuri of the modern times — the meeting-place of East and West, the place of pilgrimage of the whole world.
SAI 71. From "The Disciple and the Master"↩