Or one could say Inside the Death Star as one has to admit that in this construction phase photograph the Matri Mandir bares a striking resemblance. What with the scam-girl drama it's taken me a bit of time to get around to reporting on my recent trip to Pondicherry and Auroville but now the dust has settled I will proceed :
So actually I was very impressed by the Matri Mandir, so much so that I extended my trip by an extra day so I could go inside once again. It's an amazing structure and going inside is like, to carry on the Star Wars theme, entering the Inner Sanctum of the Jedi Temple or like some ancient Atlantean Hall of Wisdom. I tried to get some inside photo's off the web but to no avail so I'll try my best to describe it.
The whole sphere is suspended above a white marble lotus water feature underneath which receives a ray of light which passes right through the central axis of the structure from the very top. When one goes inside, the curved walls are subtly lit in rose shades of colour with a kind of matrix structure spanning the inner surface. One is required to put on a pair of clean white socks (supplied) and is silently ushered through a doorway onto one of two upwardly spiraling suspended ramps which resemble the double helix of DNA.
Ascending as if through open space, spiraling upwards around the central column of light, one is awed into stillness by the magnificence of the place. Reaching about half way up the sphere one enters into the inner chamber. It is a large open circular space 24m in diameter and about 18m high. On the floor is a thick white luxurious carpet and twelve huge white columns reach up to the ceiling. The whole place is kept at a refreshingly cool temperature and in total silence.
A shaft of pure white light is focused in through the central apex of the curved roof and sent directly downwards into a huge, perfectly spherical clear quartz crystal ball which diffuses a portion throughout the otherwise dark chamber and sends the rest downwards to the lotus pond below. One takes ones place on one of 48 meditation mats laid out in perfect order around the hall, closes ones eyes and sits quietly.
The place has an atmosphere of deep stillness and is certainly conducive to meditation. The consort of Sri Aurobindo, 'Sweet Mother', specified and oversaw every detail of the inner structure and decor and said she would guarantee there would be a strong presence of the divine there.
Surrounding the great globe are twelve 'petals', or individual meditation chambers, each embodying one of several different noble qualities such as courage, generosity, aspiration etc. and each with it's own particular colour scheme and symbology.Clearly, the pure white, silent and zen-like inner chamber represents the simplicity and stillness of pure consciousness (white light) and the more outer aspects represent the diverse manifest aspects of that pure consciousness (all the colours and qualities of the rainbow).
As I said after jumping through all of the initial hurdles required I was impressed. Now I am able to go there freely and meditate inside for one hour between 9.30am and 10.30am with prior booking the day before. It is pretty cool. At the end of the day one doesn't really need any grand structures such as this to meditate in, Guatama the Buddha became Enlightened under a simple tree, but I have to say the Matri Mandir is impressive and I can certainly see myself revisiting and meditating there again from time to time.
Talking about trees there is also a 400 year old Banyan tree next to the Matri Mandir which is quite amazing. Banyan trees can become really huge and spread out over a large area. In order to support the bulk of the massive branches the tree sends down tendrils which take root in the earth and form new trunks. So one tree can actually create a small forest all by itself, all connected together to one original central core.
There were other aspects to my 3 day trip such as getting hit on by a gay Indian man on the town bus (offer declined), forming a bit of an infatuation with a hot French woman at the Matri Mandir bag deposit office, watching some movie footage from the 1950's of the Sri Aurobindo Ashram which resembled a Hitler Youth parade (complete with a slight variation on the 'sieg heil' salute), eating a meal in the Auroville 'Solar Kitchen', which prepares over 1000 meals a day by collecting sunlight to form steam for cooking, and making a few visits to the Indian sweet shop for Kulfi (very rich Indian ice-cream) and various other edible delights.
My next adventure is looking very likely to be a cross country train journey to Kerala on Monday night to be with Amma (famous hugging saint) for 10 days in her Ashram. Looks like I am going together with my Indian chess/meditator friend Batel Valsaram and a Swiss dude, Andreas/Satyajit, who has been living in India for a number of years. After that I am open. I have a few leads on various yogis, swamis, ashrams and gurus around Kerala I can follow up and then, I can come back here or I can proceed gradually north towards the Himalayas....................
It's a hard life with so many decisions to make but somehow, day by day, I am managing.