• 20 Jul, 2024

The Mystery of Matri Mandir

The Mystery of Matri Mandir

The Matri Mandir, designed, inspired and guided through its construction by the Mother of Pondicherry Ashram, stands as a profoundly evocative symbol of a new age of truth consciousness on earth.

The Matrimandir is a subject that I have been interested in for a very long time. Way back in 1987—I had just discovered the Mother and Sri Aurobindo—I came upon two intensely fascinating books that were to change my whole way of thinking. Satprem’s Adventure of Consciousness, and Patrizia Norelli-Bachelet’s The New Way. While Satprem gently guided me into the Integral Yoga of Sri Aurobindo and the Mother, Norelli-Bachelet revealed to me the occult dimensions of the Matri Mandir—the Mother’s Temple—at Auroville. I had never visited Auroville, so had no idea of the Matri Mandir. But the moment I saw the image of the crystal on the cover of the book, I was as if pulled into a vortex. In a flash, Sri Aurobindo’s Yoga, almost wholly abstract for me till then, morphed into the compelling image of a giant crystal sitting upon Sri Aurobindo’s symbol.  

Norelli-Bachelet’s The New Way involves a lot of sacred geometry and architecture, esoteric numerology and symbology. It is rich, complex, challenging, mystifying. I know very few people who have gone through it all. Many have dismissed it as new-age mumbo jumbo with very little real mathematics—which is sad, because there’s so much to discover in the book, hidden in all that geometry and esotericism. Fortunately, I was not distracted by Norelli-Bachelet’s numerological-astrological theories and constructs: I was taken straightaway through a fascinating rabbit hole into something far more interesting and challenging: an entirely new way of looking at the physical world, as if every physical structure and event concealed, in plain sight, subtler layers of significances and meanings, as if everything everywhere has a hidden, an occult, significance. This physical world is not physical at all but symbolical. Everything—events, incidents, structures, movements—is a symbol of something that is behind. This universe itself is a symbol of something else, something behind it all, subtler, deeper, perhaps truer. Who knows?  

Have you seen the movie Contact? Judy Foster as Eleanor Arroway? I use this movie to explain what I feel the Matrimandir is. This science-fiction movie is based on a novel written by Carl Sagan, a mainstream scientist. There are certain movies and books, the Mother once said, which are inspired by a higher consciousness, they don’t come from the mental plane and the author just ‘receives’ the story. And I think that this movie is one of those. It is about contact with an extra-terrestrial civilization, about receiving detailed mathematical instructions to build a machine whose purpose no one knows till the machine is built and a person is put into it. It is then that the purpose of the machine is revealed but only to the person inside it. It is a machine to transport a human being to almost the other side of the galaxy through a wormhole, an Einstein-Rosen bridge, in a matter of a few minutes, a journey that would be almost impossible in normal physical spacetime.  

This was my first intuition about the Matrimandir: what if the Matri Mandir were some kind of a “consciousness device” whose true purpose we wouldn’t know until we ourselves were, in some intimate way, inside it?  

Perhaps the Matri Mandir is an occult consciousness device which intensifies consciousness, creates a field of concentration, which perhaps opens up a passage to the Supramental? Almost a concentrated consciousness field which would warp spacetime, just as gravity; something that connects our earth to the gnostic spheres, that serves as a bridge or a tunnel going right through all the resistances of terrestrial nature. Because if it were not so, just as it would take years to physically travel through spacetime to another galaxy, it will also take centuries to pass through this whole mass of human, terrestrial resistance. 

Let’s not take this lightly. This kind of resistance in matter is what compelled beings like Mother and Sri Aurobindo to give up their bodies. As Mother said after Sri Aurobindo’s passing that Sri Aurobindo had sacrificed his body because of the resistance of human nature; it was his plunge into the very Inconscience, the plunge of the Light into the dark to destroy the resistance once for all. That was a huge sacrifice. So, some possibility of another kind of intervention is needed, a possibility that needs to be planted on this planet. I think that this is one of the inner purposes of the Matrimandir.  

The Matrimandir, and especially the Inner Chamber, may be the “device” that intensifies consciousness. And the crystal is not just symbolic, it must have an occult significance too. The Mother associated transparency with sincerity, the transparency of the psychic. On the occult plane, may the crystal not be the “crystallization” of the psychic? I have a deep intuition that the crystal holds something of the Mother’s spiritual and supramental Force, that Force which she first infused into the pillars. This is a crystallization of the kind of consciousness needed to accelerate the Supramental process, to pull down and fix in a physical structure the vibrations of the Supramental. And then the vibrations can be received directly by anyone tuned into that frequency.

This is perhaps why the Mother insisted on concentration—not meditation, worship, or anything like that, only pure concentration. In my understanding, the kind of concentration that is demanded in the Inner Chamber is not the concentration on something . You cannot concentrate on a crystal or a ray of light unless you do it in a symbolic sense, or you use the symbol as the medium of the concentration. The ray is physical, but also symbolic of the unseen Supramental Sun. So what is it that you are going to concentrate on, really?

Concentration, in a way, is self-annulment. It is the kind of concentration that most of us don’t know because our concentration is so used to being a concentration on some object, idea, vision, or something. It is a concentration with object, whereas in the Matrimandir we are talking about a concentration which is without object or subject, something  that happens when self is annulled, when you have stepped back from name and form.

It is in that state of concentration that you realize the nature of the Matrimandir. The Matrimandir is not supposed to be outside at all. What you see outside is a structure. But when you are at that right frequency—or intensity—of concentration, the structure which is outside simply transfers itself to the inside. And you find that you are not in the Inner Chamber: you are the Inner Chamber. Your very concentration is the crystal. You are connected twenty-four hours, moment to moment, with that one ray of Light that is connecting you with the Sahasrara and working right down to your Muladhara. And suddenly that entire crystal thing is your occult body, and you grasp in a single moment the entire significance of something that is still not a reality of our mental-sensorial plane—a reality of tomorrow, perhaps.

For me, that is the real purpose and the real meaning of the Matrimandir. To open to a higher reality, a reality that will shape the future of the human species. But how does it work in the here and now? Is it shaping our future even in the present, as we live it day to day?

There are various layers of the Matrimandir's effect, or impact. The ‘effect’ of the Matrimandir will vary with the consciousness it affects. Whatever bhava or inner attitude a person goes in with, he or she comes out with a certain inner response, a certain subtle inner shift which will reveal itself according to the bhava, or the inner opening. The effect will be proportionate to the depth or height of consciousness of the being who is in contact with it. There is no way one can say this is the only way it will work.

Going back to sacred architecture—the Matrimandir seems to be built along certain definitive occult lines of transmission of Force, or Shakti, and a kind of a secret passage to the future. If you look deep enough, you will see the future, perhaps still concealed in symbol. But the symbol here is not the pillar or the petal or the crystal— the entire structure is the symbol. The whole of Matrimandir is the symbol. Once you intuit, or sense, the symbol, the symbol and the symbolized become one dynamic experience, and everything then becomes part of that dynamic experience, even the number play, the geometry, the design. Everything.

Every detail that has gone into the design has a significance, but the significances are revealed only when you have caught hold of the underlying symbolism, the underlying patterns. It is like the machine in Contact —everything is there, all the parts are there, the whole structure is there, but you cannot see what it is, the dots do not connect yet. Why is everything placed exactly the way they are placed? Does the spiral path leading up to the chamber mean something? What is the significance of the chambers themselves? And the pillars? Why twelve? And knowing something about the original design, the one given by the Mother, you also see what is not there, what was supposed to be there but is not, and even that resonates with the whole. You begin to see not just the physical architecture but a mathematical architecture as well; and something still deeper, more intricate, subtler, almost like poetry in matter.

And then the very location of Matrimandir. What is the significance of the geographical location of it? There must be a significance. I often think of the Mother’s statement that India is the psychic centre of the world. And might Auroville have a significant place in the subtle body of India? We all know the story: the Mother was looking for the exact location of the future Auroville. And she was taken to several places. But when she was brought to the location where the Matrimandir now stands, she said, “This is it.” There must be some significance here, something still to be understood—some relation between that location and what we call the terrestrial body of the earth.

I am not very sure that these questions that arise in us, and the answers, insights, intuitions that come in response, are meant to be shared. There are certain things which have to be self-revealed. The truth and the significance of certain things are to be understood or intuited in our inmost consciousness, when we are ripe enough to receive the knowledge.

I feel that the Matrimandir reveals itself in consciousness. I don’t think anyone will be able to explain the Matrimandir, and I don’t think that anyone is supposed to either. This is how it seems it is meant to be. And the more one understands the Matrimandir, the more one realizes that it is not meant to be explained. In fact, in a certain way, I don’t think it is even meant to be understood. There are several facets that do come together, some of the pieces of the puzzle do fall into place, but not all of it ever falls into place. And one cannot mentally synthesize this whole knowledge—at our level, I don’t think it is possible. So one just has to wait for for the revelations, the intuitions.

The Mother had the whole Matrimandir in her vision. It seems more and more to be some kind of a material extension of her body, or at least some kind of an emanation in matter, something that would extend her consciousness into a visible and tangible form, a material means of connecting to the Future. Recall the central symbolism—the Matrimandir, the new consciousness, arising out of earth, materially.

The mandir, even traditionally, was not really meant to be exclusively a place of worship, it was meant to be the materialization of the Divine, the Divine actually crystallizing itself in matter, assuming material form. That has always been the true occult purpose of a temple, a mandir, in India. This is the reason the architecture of mandirs was also very specific. One couldn’t construct a mandir any way one wanted. There was a certain architectural and geometrical norm that had to be strictly followed.

The primary installation of the Divine in a mandir was not even in the idol. The idol was used just as a point of reference because you needed a physical reference. But behind that it was establishing the Presence itself. The idol, the murti, was just a point of reference for the establishment— sthapana —of the Presence in matter, in material space. There is a lot of occult symbology in temple architecture, and the Matrimandir is not just another temple but a temple which I think is the prototype of the future temple, a temple to connect to the Supramental.  

Partho Sanyal

Writer and poet, Partho is an exponent of integral Vedanta, and is a follower of Sri Aurobindo and the Mother. He writes and speaks on Vedanta, Sanatan Dharma and Sri Aurobindo's integral Yoga.

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