Sunday, December 21, 2014

Part I: The Flawed Auroville Matrimandir

[This is the Preface and Part I of The Chronicles of the Inner Chamber; readers of this series may first want to read the blog's 'Introduction' and the Matrimandir Action Committee's 'Manifesto']

Those readers of Matrimandir Action Committee communications who live in India or who have had contact with Indian culture are very much aware of the fact that, to quote the Mahamaya, ‘…If the measurement of the temple is in every way perfect, there is perfection in the universe as well.’(XXII, 92.) It is unthinkable in India to establish a noble endeavour around a Symbol that is imperfect, flawed; or else distorted purposely or out of ignorance by impositions of the human ego. For these reasons all sacred art, sculpture and architecture were anonymously executed to lessen the prominence of the ego. In the place of honour there is, traditionally, the highest symbol of perfection, fashioned with meticulous care particularly in what concerns proportions and measurements. To stray from those ancient injunctions is unthinkable.

          Simply put, this perfect form then generates an atmosphere that UPLIFTS, or allows for an uplifting of the surrounding environment. The perfect form central to a town or any cherished endeavour in India is the MODEL TO EMULATE, to GROW INTO.

          In the Auroville Matrimandir we have just the contrary. We have a flawed, imperfect and deceptive form with no redeeming features. This is the focus not only of that community’s life but it has imposed itself and become the focus of the Sri Aurobindo Ashram as well, and has spread throughout the world via the numerous ‘centres’ connected to these establishments that have sprung up everywhere. All are part of a web woven from this central symbol-form. Most  caught in this web are Indians. The confusion is so great that they reject their own millennia-old tradition in favour of the Auroville theory that the Matrimandir ‘cannot be perfect because we are not perfect’. The flaws and distortions, if indeed they are there, are justified on the basis of a sanction established in 1974 for the community by Satprem on various occasions but particularly in his letter to ‘D’, dated 12 September 1974. We will quote from this letter further on because it entered MAC archives on 5. 2. 2003, sent to us by Paulette in defence of the Auroville Matrimandir. 

          There are a number of points that could be taken up for discussion in Satprem’s letter. MAC has officially replied to Paulette. If readers do not have that document in hand, it is available on our website or else we may be contacted at Here we must only add that there can be no sanction from any quarter for what Satprem’s letter advocates. Logic alone is sufficient to expose the off-centred poise in these exhortations.

          Lamentably, this was the ‘vision’ that Auroville chose in 1974, in contrast to what we offered: the Divine Measure that the Mother herself handed to those very people who would go on to lead the community, but after having first dismantled her Vision.

          That was the year of a great turning point or crossroads of destiny. We had made the perfection of the Mother’s Vision known to the architects and to all those who took an interest in the temple in the spring and summer of 1974, pleading with them to execute that Vision (nothing had been built yet) because it was PERFECTION.  Our files are replete with this documentation.

          The Matrimandir Talks had not been released by Satprem yet; that was to happen in 1975 after The Gnostic Circle was sent to press, the first publication in which this perfection was revealed, but without yet having the Mother’s own words on the significance of her Vision as recorded in those taped discussions. The executing architect released the Mother’s original plan to a select few in May of 1974, while The Gnostic Circle was in progress, on which basis the Matrimandir section of the book was written and published. Finally, when in the midst of the Urn controversy, he circulated the released transcripts sometime in late 1974-1975 (incomplete and strategically edited, we must add); they confirmed everything written in The Gnostic Circle regarding that Vision.

          This is the point. The Mother’s words were required only for the purpose of establishing beyond question what that perfect form is since errors had entered the plan drawn up by Udar, the Ashram engineer. A person of knowledge sees just that plan and knows what it is, its perfection, its purpose, and the laws it embodies and utilises to fulfil a superior function. This is the way Knowledge has been preserved in India for thousands of years; not only in India but throughout the ancient world. Even the sacred mantras are treated in the same way, with that same reverence for perfection in every detail; indeed, in deference to Mahasaraswati, the reigning Goddess of our Age. The disciple is trained to chant the riks and mantras flawlessly. The Word in such instances is just another ‘temple’. One is the ‘sound’ from the human temple; the other is the Word of the constructed form. Both embody that supreme perfection, - the one more ephemerally, the other more lastingly. Hence the greater emphasis on strict adherence to the commands of the Rishis in sacred architecture and sculpture. And though the aspirant himself is not yet an embodiment of that perfection, he knows that in concentrating on that Vision he can become THAT. This is his yoga of Perfect Works.

          Consider the model Satprem offers: forget the form of perfection with its centimetres (and ‘astrology’, i.e., the ancient traditions) and project your aspiration into what you build, whose actual form is only secondarily relevant, if at all. When you reach ‘perfection’ the Matrimandir will be perfect – spontaneously, he states.

          There are two major flaws in this concept which we would like to expose. One is described above and conforms to ancient traditions of all times: we start not by cementing our flaws but by reproducing as exactly as possible the Mother’s Vision in order that in the process we grow into that perfection.

          And second, Satprem’s exhortation does nothing but strengthen the ego of the instrument, a pitfall of yoga that Sri Aurobindo has detailed extensively in his writings on yoga. It can be succinctly conveyed as follows: It is not what you build but the consciousness of the builder; it is YOUR consciousness alone that matters, not the Mother’s Vision.

          In 1974, when offered the choice between the Mother’s Vision and Satprem’s, the builders of the Matrimandir chose the latter. This act of choosing had grave consequences as revealed in the document reproduced on page 4.

          Apart from the building itself, the next decisive ‘choice’ after that 1974 turning point was when the community, in an entirely misguided movement led by the same people involved in the temple issue, opted for Government control of the project, and finally a complete take-over. Auroville now belongs to the Government of India, a development totally against the Mother’s will and known to all those who spearheaded the drive into Government’s arms. That Divine Will was emphatically spelled out in the two letters we reproduce here. No amount of sophistry will alter in any way the Mother’s express will in this crucial matter.

          This is a coherent process. The choice of the temple plays itself out almost immediately in vital areas of the project’s life, guided by the same choice made for the Inner Chamber and, incredibly, spearheaded by the very same people. All the way down the line decisions must be influenced by the central symbol, the focus of the community’s life. It cannot be otherwise because it is the Law.

          Let us see how this works because in the process it will reveal the greatness of the Mother and how faithful and true she was to who she was.

Matrimandir Action Committee
February 18, 2003

[Part 1 continues with - 'A Letter of the Mother on "Auroville"']

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