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Matrimandir Newsletter February 2008
A great Hall, empty – except for one vertical Light Ray striking a translucent crystal globe at its centre. A great white Space…dazzling. It is this Silent Place for concentration, this 12-sided inner Hall that the Mother saw in vision. Concerning the exterior structure she directed with flexibility the work of the Auroville architects associated with chief architect Roger Anger, selecting from various designs and models the one now in construction….The great Hall, 24 metres in diameter, will have 12 sides of white marble and a floor covered with a soft white carpet. At the centre of the Hall, at floor level, will be the Mother's symbol, with four of Sri Aurobindo's symbols standing at right angles from the centre petals of the Mother's symbol to form a square on which rests the translucent globe. From the zenith of the Hall, through an optical lens in an aperture in the roof, the sunlight will fall in a direct ray to strike the globe at its exact centre. When there is no sun, electric reflectors will send a ray – also a concentrated, not a diffused light – exactly there upon the centre of the crystal globe to provide uninterruptedly the presence of the vertical Ray. ‘ All is symbolic' , She said. Especially important in the Mother's vision is this play of the sun upon the centre, for this is the symbol of the Future Realization.
‘ And every symbol hides a living power' .
This then will be the place for those who are, as The Mother said, ‘ serious – serious, sincere – who want to learn to concentrate themselves '. Admitted in order to learn, they will remain there in the Silence, and in the Concentration. …for those seekers, the serious, the sincere who want to learn, there will be something of the initiatory…
It is clear that the Matrimandir is not to be a temple in the religious sense of the past. In the silence enwrapping the structure now one recalls the Mother's warning that it is not to become the place for a religion. “What I understood from the Mother”, the chief architect once told Matrimandir workers, “was that Matrimandir is to be a place, a receptacle in which to receive the Supramental consiousness-force. The Truth-consciousness. This is the starting point, the centre, the spirit of the city that wants to be the living embodiment of an actual human unity …Matrimandir, its soul.”…
The importance of building the Matrimandir is reflected in its precedence over all other permanent construction work in Auroville. The chief architect: “I understood from the Mother that Matrimandir, as a receptacle for spiritual energy, Force, is the instrument of the evolving Supramantal consciousness. That the city may be guided by Truth in all its aspects…an economy, social structure, education, arts, agriculture, industries developing according to Truth.”
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The above passages were written in December 1974 and appeared in the January 1975 issue of Sri Aurobindo's Action journal under the title, ‘Matrimandir Meditation: The First Four Years'. The author was Seyril Schochen, an American disciple of the Mother and Sri Aurobindo who joined Auroville and was an ardent Matrimandir worker. By nature she was a poet and playwright. What she described then is what we can see today at Matrimandir. The vision was always so clear, so strong, even when there was nothing on the ground! Of course this was the Mother's vision and it had a certain tangibility given that Her words, Her description carried the power to convey what She was talking about. The early Matrimandir workers all shared the dream of Her vision, but none more clearly than the chief architect, Roger Anger, with whom the Mother spent many hours discussing the Matrimandir. The Mother wanted the Matrimandir to be built right away, and a high priority was given to its construction. Roger collaborated closely with Piero Ciccionesi, an architect in his own right who undertook the engineering and contracting of Matrimandir, and also Paolo Tommasi, to whom the Mother had spoken about the Inner Chamber very early on and who was much involved in the design for the Inner Chamber. Roger also had overall responsibility for the plan and design of Auroville, but for many years his major occupation was the Matrimandir in all its details. Though he lived in France , he came at least twice a year to Auroville to attend to the many issues that arose in connection with building an international township and the construction of Matrimandir. He visited almost every day and gave his attention to each and every detail. He never tired in his search for perfection and was constantly rethinking various details to see how he could improve them. The vision of the completed Matrimandir was always in front of his eyes and last September, he was able to see this dream finally materialized. And thank goodness for that, since it turns out that it was to be his last trip to India and Auroville: Roger left us on Tuesday, the 15 th of January, in France . During that final visit he said to someone here, “I have come to finish the Matrimandir.” From the moment he first presented the rosewood model of the Matrimandir under the Banyan tree in 1971, when the foundation stone was laid, right up to the moment he last set eyes upon the finished sphere, Roger's determination to complete the work given by the Mother guided him through the many obstacles that arose in the process. There was a brief period when he ‘withdrew', pursuing other works in France and taking some distance from what was at that time a divided Auroville, but he took fresh courage and returned to complete what he had started, finalizing a Master Plan for the city and giving a fresh push to Matrimandir's construction.
As a tribute to his long and intimate relationship with Matrimandir and Matrimandir workers, we offer a few photographs of him in action on the site, attending to the innumerable details that required his input. And we acknowledge our deep debt of gratitude to him for his immense contribution to Matrimandir and Auroville, and to the Mother for choosing him to be Her instrument. We shall miss him, and his strong voice that spoke always in defence of the Mother's vision of how the special atmosphere of the Matrimandir should be respected so as to allow this instrument of the new Consciousness can do its work in the world. Quoting again from the same article as we began with, by Seyril, “How was the Matrimandir an instrument for the spiritual evolution? Shri Madhav Pandit of the [Sri Aurobindo] Ashram described it in 1973 at the Matrimandir Workers Camp: ‘What the Mother's embodiment has been to us here, the full-fledged Matrimandir will be to the whole of humanity….In the course of her life on earth, the Mother has established links with many levels of cosmic existence. Each of these helps the parts of the cosmic being relate themselves to the Truth-light. This spiritual mechanism will also be embodied in the Matrimandir. Not only will the Truth-light and Consciousness radiate from the Matrimandir, but also the means of realizing them will remain dynamic. It will be a Lighthouse, a receptacle for the new Consciousness descending.”
The rosewood model of Matrimandir being displayed under the Banyan tree on 21 February 1971
Navajata, Roger Anger, Nolinida and Gene M. at the laying of the foundation stone on the same date (21.2.1971)
Roger holding the wooden model of Matrimandir (c. 1972)
Roger on the 2 nd level with Piero, Ruud Lohman, Jacqueline, and Alain Grandcolas and his wife Hashi (c. 1986)
Roger with the new design for the golden discs (c.1990)
Roger touring the site with his team (1995)
Roger and Jacqueline on the second level (1994)
Final cladding of the Amphitheatre with red Agra stone in progress
Roger having a close look at the steelwork for the benches on the first level.
Roger and Paolo Tommasi, under the Banyan tree (c. 2003)
Roger and Jacqueline studying the details of the entrance to the conical staircase (c. 1999)
On one of his last visits, Roger was given a demonstration of how the sliding doors that cover the four main entrances to Matrimandir will work (2005)
A short work report
The red square in the North (Mahakali) pillar shield
True to her strong and often stormy nature, Mahakali's symbol marking the North pillar entrance of Matrimandir was fixed on the structure during the rain swept days at the tail end of the winter monsoon. The red square at the center of the large four-petalled disc was bolted in place above the steps on the North entrance to the sphere on the 14th of December. The four petals surrounding the central square were carried to the structure during breaks in the heavy rain and fixed in a few days by our unstoppable disc team. There was a reason for this push to work on through the rain: the President of India was coming to visit on the 22 nd of December, and all the work at the North pillar had to be finished and the scaffolding removed two days before her arrival. By the 20 th , all six parts of this special disc had been mounted. In the quiet and semi-darkness of that evening, the red-centered disc looked down on the North entrance -- a touch of personality added to the overall pattern of golden discs covering the Matrimandir.
The sunshine returned and the President, Mrs Pratibha Patil, did indeed arrive just before noon on the 22 nd . On her way up to the Chamber for a few moments of concentration she passed beneath this symbol. It looked so strong and sovereign with the bold red square at its center held by the wide golden petals.
Meanwhile, in the gilding workshop the centerpiece for the Mahasaraswati (West) pillar – a blue triangle - is well on its way to completion. This four-petalled disc will soon be put in place, completing the entrance shield on the West by early February.
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