Matrimandir: An Impressionistic Picture

 

RISING from the womb of the earth like an apocalyptic vision, a huge ribbed globe, a wonderful feat of architecture! Based on and supported by four concrete pillars, it lifts itself like a great ball and hangs suspended, as it were, in mid-air. This unadorned marvel of nude symbolic beauty stands at the far extremity of the world on a sandy plain. Above, the sunlight dances upon it, the serene blue canopy of the sky stretches endlessly; while below, as far as the eye travels, there is nothing but the thick green foliage of palm, neem, tamarind and eucalyptus. Far away ripple the blue waves of the Bay of Bengal. Such is the unique creation named ‘Matrimandir’.

“Whose brain-child is this, God’s or man’s?” one wonders as one stands in silent contemplation. We have seen the superb Taj Mahal, ‘a tear-drop on the cheek of Time’; also the Sun Temple of Konarak with its thousand carved images of the three worlds, which held us breathless. And then there are the temples and gopurams of the South, rising tier after tier from a broad-based pedestal and tapering to a narrow wedge, pushing into the vast Inane. The famous Swe Dagon pagoda of Rangoon left my young mind stunned with amazement at its golden image of the Buddha seated in calm padmasana majesty, his hand outstretched in a gesture of universal compassion. Even the Eiffel Tower, a stupendous engineering feat, lurks in my memory. But this novel marvel, shorn of all external grandeur, modern in conception, simple in plan — as simple as the orb of the moon — yet in its internal structure beautiful and complex at the same time, bewilders the imagination…

On our first visit, Piero, the engineer, described to us how, when the entire project would be complete and the crystal is placed in its royal centre upon Sri Aurobindo’s symbols, the sunbeam would fall upon it; then the walls cased in marble would shine with a quiet glow, and the columns — radiant and puissant — would stand in a circle around the magic globe. Thus from the very summit of the temple, the Sun-God’s thousand rays, gathered to a point, would pass through the crystal and right through the building below, into the Earth-Mother’s womb in the form of a lotus pond beneath the structure. In this way the Truth-Consciousness would be symbolically united with inconscient matter…

On our second visit a month or so later, we saw that the work had advanced considerably. As we were about to enter the hushed sanctum, the guard gave us white socks to wear, in order to prevent any dust from being carried inside. It was the same hall, but with the great difference that now the crystal had been installed upon Sri Aurobindo’s symbols.

All was as Piero had promised, with the ray of light passing through the aperture and striking the crystal in the centre. Whichever way we turned, we saw the small point of light, reflected in the globe. After we had passed a few minutes in absorbed silence, we were each given a cushion to sit on, so that we might meditate wherever we liked in the clear-obscure chamber. For myself, except for a mystic feeling of profound stillness during my own meditation, I could not enter into any communion with higher occult powers.

When we emerged from the enclosed hall, gorgeous scenery met our eyes. Below us spread an empire of green foliage, with the white, pavilion like house of Auroville nestling here and there, and the sea in the distance…

In conclusion, I would say that the Matrimandir, even though still in the process of construction, is unique in its conception, architecture and ultimate purpose. Nothing like it exists anywhere else. With its completion, we shall enter the twenty-first century, anticipating the vast potential of the new era upon the earth that it promises to usher in.

It is interesting to note that Champaklal, even in his enfeebled condition of health towards the end of his life, visited the Matrimandir. A group of Aurovilians gave him a wonderful welcome, carrying him up to the central chamber, and receiving his blessings.

He visited Matrimandir a number of times during its construction and on one occasion — 7th January, 1986 — he had a powerful vision there which was later recorded in a Matrimandir Newsletter and the book Visions of Champaklal (Sri Aurobindo Ashram Press, 1990). The following are extracts from the record:

As soon as I stepped in, she saturated me. I entered an altogether different world. I had to struggle to keep my eyes open. The whole of Matrimandir seemed to be rolling from side to side. So I opened my eyes and saw that Matrimandir was steady, but again as I shut my eyes, Matrimandir appeared to be tossing and turning like before. Once more I opened my eyes and found that it was stable. This happened three times. I don’t recollect when actually it ceased tumbling. Later it started whirling slowly like a merry-go-round. Suddenly it was spinning very fast. Then its pace slowed down and it began to plunge down, deep down in the abyss. Finally when it got settled a marvellous figure was seen. As soon as it touched Matrimandir, I do not know what happened but I fell back to my original place inside the Matrimandir.

Now the walls were transparent and luminous. Then gradually they were interchanging their colours many times. Eventually they appeared to be translucent, of a brilliant and resplendent golden colour. I could see very vividly far off objects on all sides, all in one expansive gaze. It was a fantastic sight! Around Matrimandir, up to a certain distance, there were different kinds of beautiful bright and fascinating flowers and plants of varied colours and hues, never seen before. Behind them were numerous trees of various kinds. Many of them were adorned with lovely, glistening blossoms while many were of lustrous colours. Beyond them, very far, there was a vast open space in the midst of which shone an exquisite radiant and magnificent throne of superb workmanship and golden glow….

My eyes turned again to the throne and I saw that the golden light was continuously emanating from it. It seemed that the Mother was seated there in her golden translucent body. Again it appeared that Sri Aurobindo was there. In between, time and again was seen an incredible vision of the two in one body. It seemed to be a transparent body but I could not comprehend how it was inside…

The Mother and Sri Aurobindo, two together in one body, were seen in front of each and everyone at the same time, in a benediction pose, with their right hand showering grace and love. What an indescribable scene of wonder and beatitude! Everything became quiet and peaceful. Suddenly an ear-piercing resounding victory conch was heard. Simultaneously the children were seen wonder-struck as their physical bodies were slowly and gradually undergoing change and they became youthful. The young people turned strong and well built while the aged were transformed into the prime of youth. The animals and birds were released from their genetic lineage and were seen in different beautiful forms. Now it started drizzling and then pouring; the novelty of the phenomenon was that it rained in many different colours and finally in silver and gold… Eventually the rain stopped and nothing but the golden light was visible everywhere.

All of a sudden my glance fell on the upper portion of Matrimandir and I beheld a blazing, glorious, ravishing and golden sun covering the entire firmament! Instead of heat, it effused golden light and delightful coldness. My gaze went back to the throne and I saw everyone (men, women, children, birds, animals) standing in adoration in a posture of Namaskar (folded hands in obeisance). It was a peerless spectacle. Everything appeared to be golden. Instantaneously, a cascade of golden light from the sky poured into Matrimandir. At this time I sensed that a number of persons were sitting nearby but I could not see them clearly. I had a feeling that the golden light fell on all and penetrated inside. The whole hall was suffused with golden light. Now one could not see anything except the golden light. Suddenly Sri Aurobindo’s and the Mother’s hands of blessing were seen caressing not only my head but everyone’s. Everything became peaceful. Once again a sweet melody was heard. My eyes opened. It is just impossible to formulate in words the impact of this moment on my body…”

Now I would like to speak about the Divine Mother, in whose supramental vision the entire inner Chamber was revealed in the minutest detail. She called together some of her devotees from her West and asked them to execute her vision on the material plane. Long discussions with them followed, and at last the entire plan was finalised. Transcriptions of some of these discussions have appeared in her Centenary Volume 13. I shall quote a few relevant portions, in which the Mother sets forth her ideas in her own words. They make fascinating reading, particularly in the light of the reality Matrimandir is now becoming.

She says:

“For a long time I had been feeling something, then we spoke about it the other day and I saw it… I had seen what should be done… I saw clearly — very, very distinctly… that is to say it was like that and it is still like that, it is there (gesture indicating an eternal place) … the interior of this place.

“It will be a tower with twelve facets, each facet represents a month or the year; and up above, the roof of the tower will be like this (gesture indicating a roof which slopes upwards from the sides to the centre) … the interior of this place.

“And then, inside there will be twelve columns. The wall and then twelve columns. And right at the centre, on the floor, there is my symbol and above it four of Sri Aurobindo’s symbols, jointed to form a square, and above that… a globe. If possible a globe made of transparent material, and with or without light inside, but the sun should strike the globe: and then according to the month, the time, it will be from here, from there, from there (gesture indicating the movement of the sun). You understand? There will always be an opening with a ray. Not a diffused light: a ray which strikes…

“And then, there will be no windows or lights inside. It will always be in a kind of clear half-light, day and night — by day with sun, by night with artificial light. And on the floor, nothing just a floor like this one (in Mother’s room). That is to say, first wood (wood or something else), then sort of rubber foam, thick, very soft, and then a carpet. A carpet everywhere, everywhere except at the centre. And people will be able to sit everywhere. And the twelve columns are for people who need support for their backs.

“And then, people will not come for a regular meditation… it will be place for concentration. There will be a time in the week or a time in the day when visitors will be allowed to come, but anyway, no mixture.

“So I think that is good. It was there (gesture upward). I still see it when I speak of it — I see. As I see it, it is very beautiful, it is really very beautiful… a sort of half-light: one can see, but is very tranquil. And then very clear and very bright rays of light (the spotlight, the artificial light must be rather golden, it must not be cold — that will depend on the spotlight) onto the symbol. A globe made of a plastic material or… crystal perhaps.

“After we decided to build this temple, I saw it, I saw it from the inside… I did not see the outside. I did not see it at all, I saw only the inside.

“And the important thing is this, the play of the sun on the centre. Because that becomes the symbol — the symbol of the future realisation.

“You see, this is what I have learned: the failure of religious. It is because they were divided. They wanted people to be religious to the exclusion of the other religions; and every branch of knowledge has been a failure because they were exclusive; and man has been a failure because he was exclusive. And what the new consciousness wants (it is on this that it insists) is: no more divisions. To be able to understand the spiritual extreme, the material extreme, and to find… to find the meeting-point, the point where… that becomes a real force.”

One question asked was whether disciples from the Ashram should work on the Matrimandir with the Aurovilians: the Mother answered:

“It is not possible. All the people of the Ashram who are of working age are all working, they have all got their work.”

When the questioner insisted, “… without the inner force of the people of the Ashram mingling with the Aurovilians, the people from Auroville will remain what they are… Otherwise there is no hope,” She replied:

“Oh no! He does not know. It is all in the mind, it is all mental. Who knows? It is only when one sees. Not one of them sees. Not one of them sees. All thoughts, thoughts, thoughts…. Thoughts do not build.

“You know, I do not believe in external decisions. I simply believe in one thing only: the force of Consciousness which is making a pressure like that (crushing gesture). And the pressure goes on increasing… which means that it will sift out the people. I believe only in that — the pressure of Consciousness. All the rest are things that men do. They do them more or less well, and then it lives, and then it dies, and then it changes, and then it gets distorted, and then… everything they have done, it is not worth the trouble. The power of execution must come from above, like that imperative (gesture of descent)! And for that, this (Mother points to her forehead), this must keep quiet…”

The world has been presented with two divine epics: one is Sri Aurobindo’s Savitri, which is already in our midst: the other is the Mother’s epic still under construction, the Matrimandir. The first has a body of sound, the other a body of sight and silence: both are unique and mantric in character, unconceived by an human brain.

The world is racked with violence: life has lost its sanctity, a dark Power has eclipsed the light of faith, truth and love. At this critical juncture, the Matrimandir is rising like a tower of peace and harmony, and its completion will establish the Golden Era.

 

(Courtesy: Auroville Today. August 1992, pp. 5-6)
(Reprinted in Mother India, January 1993)

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