It is a well-known mystic truth that the Divine is everywhere and the path is everywhere. Yoga is done within by moving through the subjective spaces of our being. It depends upon our attitudes towards outer circumstances rather than the circumstances themselves. One can be very near the Divine, even physically near as Ravana was at one time yet feel puffed up with the ego of bhakta, of being a specially privileged person in the egoistic sense, or an elite of humanity in the wrong sense of the word. These and many other forms of spiritual and other forms of ego can and do enter when one stays near the Divine, causing only so many more barriers between us and Him. One may even take it for granted that since one is staying in an Ashram one is already doing yoga by default. On the other hand, when one lives in usual modest surroundings or even challenging circumstances one often has a much better aspiration. Outside one cannot live without aspiration, trust and surrender since one is surrounded with an atmosphere that is full of poison. These are all well-known truths of spiritual life. The Mother and Sri Aurobindo have reiterated this a number of times.
However, as with any truth, a one-sided application of it would equally land us in ignorance. The complimentary side is about the significance of places and outer conditions and circumstances. A given place, such as Pondicherry, is charged with very special supramental vibrations of Truth that radiate from the Samadhi and spread in concentric circles to the entire world. Its highest intensity is here. So, the first reason for coming here is to open oneself to the Divine Force and Its workings which is much easier here due to the overwhelming intensity of these vibrations. After receiving this much-needed touch or recharging the batteries as it is called, one goes back to wherever one is to practice the Yoga.
A different matter is that when one starts living here, one begins to take this priceless divine treasure for granted. After a while, the play of subtle forces begins, often of a very difficult and dubious nature. This happens because one is very near to the sacred hearth, the yagna vedi. Then one is caught up in suggestions such as ‘there is no need to go to the samadhi since all is within”, thereby turning a great truth into utter falsehood. Or else suggestions like ‘The Mother is doing everything hence there is nothing that we need to do, again turning an ultimate truth into quite its opposite. One may even get caught up into a human play and since human beings and their outer nature is everywhere the same (outer nature is the last to change) then one ends up being busy with criticisms of others while losing precious time on the way. All these and many other things start which only delay the advance.
The purpose therefore of coming to the Ashram is twofold: to receive the direct Divine Touch on our outer as well as inner nature so that the psychic can hear the call, and the shock of the contact open an inner door for the further journey which can be undertaken anywhere and everywhere.
It becomes important to live here if and when the yoga enters the stages of physical transformation. It is much safer then to be surrounded by this constant outpouring in the very physical atmosphere of Her infinite Love and Grace and Force which supports the adhara during this period.
It is also a question of destiny. Some are destined to pursue the yoga, others outside the Ashram. This should not be seen in any such way as if one is superior to the other. Thoughts of superiority and inferiority belong to the ignorant lower consciousness and not to the eye of yoga. Therefore this tendency to look up at people just because they are staying here or are supposedly advanced sadhaka is not a very helpful thing and in some cases may actually delay or interfere with the progress. Yoga is directly between the soul and the Divine Mother. Others can be sometimes friends and brothers and co-travellers who may assist each other as children of the One Mother but never as intermediaries between the individual and the Divine Mother.
Then there are a class of bhaktas who don’t come here not because the yoga is easier or difficult, but because everywhere one feels the imprint of the embodied Divine. They receive the physical touch through these imprints, open as the flower to the sun and by giving themselves progress much faster. Such a class of bhaktas are rare but also found everywhere. But they do have a natural tendency to shift here because everything in them craves and longs for the bodied Divine. Others impelled by service to the Divine Mother can stay anywhere and engage in Her Work and express their devotion through service.
As many people, as many unique paths. If one is marked out for the yoga one will do it anywhere, whereas one not marked out for the yoga cannot do it anywhere.