Aeon Centre of Cosmology (ACC), situated on the land known as Skambha, was established in 1986 near Perumalmalai in the Palani Hills of Tamil Nadu, South India, by Patrizia Norelli-Bachelet (Thea). The Centre ‒ 17 km below the tourist area of Kodaikanal ‒ stretches across acres of hillside and pastures, bordering the Gangavar River. Aeon Centre of Cosmology is supported by Aeon Trust, a not-for-profit Educational Trust registered by the Home Ministry of India, holding 80G status.
Aeon Centre of Cosmology: Early History and Current Activities
In January 1987, Thea wrote to her newly appointed Board of Trustees about the founding of her Centre:
The focus of this past year has been the founding of the permanent site for our Aeon Centre of Cosmology, with considerable success. Its location is a very sacred place and propitious for our work. I would like to point out that this is not an ‘ashram’ in the traditional sense of the word. Nor is it a conventional educational institution.
For this reason I am calling it a ‘centre’, meaning a central focus of a new force working in the world, where people may come who are interested in the new Consciousness that is manifesting on Earth, a place where they can come into contact with the living essence of that Consciousness and learn to become channels for its expression in life. To establish the ‘life divine’ of Sri Aurobindo’s vision. This is a centre of cosmological/yogic studies, by an applied cosmology, and a practice of Sri Aurobindo’s revolutionary Supramental Yoga.
Because of this newness, it is not possible to compare ACC to any other place on Earth, find models for this work in any other organization or ashram. We are ‘hewing a path’, and therefore it is often not possible to explain a work that is unveiling itself before the clear lines of its new course have been traced. We are discovering and disclosing a completely new path, ‘a new way’.
…. This work can be a beacon, a stable point in the midst of a dying civilization. For this reason I have named the new land ‘Skambha’, that ‘Support of the world’ sung of in the Arthavaveda,
that ‘cosmic pillar’, that ‘axis mundi’. When all else falls and collapses, Skambha shall ever remain.’ With blessings, Thea
ACC’s Founder – Thea (1938-2016)
Thea was drawn to India by the Mother in 1971 where she received many keys of knowledge which led to profound realisations regarding the continuation and fulfillment of Sri Aurobindo’s work in India and the world. The greatest key proved to be the Mother’s original vision and measurement of the Inner Chamber of her temple—and its luminous core, which the Mother describes as “the symbol of the future realisation.” Another key was The Gnostic Circle – a term she used to describe the configuration of the Vedic Year with its 9 planets and 12 months within 360 degrees. The Tenth Day of Victory, Volumes 1 and 2 are an autobiographical account of her extraordinary initiation into the Supramental Yoga and what was revealed to her thereafter.
Thea recently passed on 9 October 2016. Her departure leaves behind a world-wide family of friends and students who are infinitely grateful for her part in the descent of Supramental Gnosis in our Age of Aquarius, introducing a higher understanding of our place in the evolutionary scheme, and paving the way for the higher manifestation of the Divine in the world.
ACC’s Ongoing Work
Aeon Center of Cosmology/Skambha is the base where Thea’s research is being archived and her books promoted. It remains the place where students live a life of dedication and study the Supramental Gnosis of Sri Aurobindo, the Mother and The New Way of Thea.
One of the first actions Thea took upon founding ACC was to establish a branch In the USA for the promotion and distribution of her articles, video conferences and her books. Aeon Group: A Corporation for Spiritual Renaissance, based in upstate New York, continues that commitment. For cover art, excerpts, and a description of each of her books, see Aeon Books.
Many of the early plans inaugurated for a permanent foundation for Thea’s research and for her yoga have been achieved. Aeon Centre of Cosmology is now ready to enter a second phase of expansion and development. Visitors to Skambha always comment on its exquisite planning and construction, honoring every tree and stone and contour of the land. It is hard to believe the estate was once a bare terraced mountainside. Thea’s primary concern always included improvement of the environment as well as the living standards of the people from the adjacent villages.
In a document she wrote in 1989, titled Project Proposal, Cheese Factory and Related Services, is a detailed description of her objectives and the situation at that time. Perumalmalai was considered a rural territory with a population of about 1500, and the region which once had housed thick shola had been significantly denuded by contractors over the years. The people employed on the estates were primarily a floating population of immigrants from Sri Lanka who had very sporadic work; their homes were mostly mud and thatch roof. The road passing down into the valley from the main Palani Ghat Road was ‘more akin to a river-bed and not fit even for walking’.
In this proposal, Thea states that the Trust and Aeon Centre of Cosmology had a role to play: “We do not believe in charity. We do believe in Development. Nor do we believe in a development which benefits only a few, and usually the more affluent. The Aeon Centre of Cosmology does not wish to grow in the midst of poverty. And it is ideally situated and prepared to bring about an integral development of the small area where it operates. It is the aspiration of the organization that this valley will one day be in a position to stand as a model for the rest of India, in particular the hilly regions…”.
Aeon Trust and Aeon Centre of Cosmology have acquired a reputation over the years of integrity and seriousness of purpose. The result has been that with little funding Thea, her students and staff have enriched the lives of the local people. Second generation children are now attending college, or finding employment in Skambha’s various businesses which support the objectives of Aeon Trust.
The Role of the Cow and the Horse at Skambha
In India, since Vedic times, the Cow and the Horse have been regarded as living symbols of Consciousness and Force, respectively. The important role played by these animals at the Aeon Centre of Cosmology is described by Thea in an early issue of The Vishaal Newsletter:
In the Vedic Age both Cow and Horse were sacred symbols—and they were often coupled to convey a single truth… The Cow symbolises Light and pure Consciousness. Indeed, the Sanskrit word for cow, ‘go’, means also light or ray (of the Sun). In the Rig Veda, however, the Cow was much more, the word being pregnant with meaning. She was synonymous with the Supreme Mother Aditi, and hence a symbol intimately connected with a creation in matter.
Taken alone, the Cow as synonym for Aditi, the Mother of Unity or undivided pure consciousness-being, is as if lacking the effective power she is supposed to possess in order to give shape through the Divine Maya to the material creation…
The Horse is the propelling power, the movement, the speed which allows for solidified bodies to come into being (hence the Upanishad presents the material universe in the figure of a horse)…. The Horse is hence that movement of the Supreme Consciousness without which no form can arise… The horse, we may say, is the materialisation of energy. By consequence in the Rig Veda it is the energy in the ‘cave’ which, when released, provides the vehicle and fuel for extension of the boundaries from mind to Supermind.