The Vedic Altar Updated – Patrizia Norelli-Bachelet (Thea)
In the twelve essays which comprise The Vedic Altar Updated, Thea describes a contemporary Vedic altar – the inner chamber of the Mother’s Temple, the Matrimandir. Over a period of 18 days, in January 1970, the Mother, a co-worker of Sri Aurobindo, brought a remarkable vision of the inner chamber of a Temple from the plane of Truth-consciousness, called the Supramental, into the Earth atmosphere.
The Mother’s students and the architects could not understand the profundity of her vision; the structure built in Auroville India is not based on what she saw. Fortunately the Mother’s plan and recorded discussions survived; it was Thea’s yoga to decipher, explain and present this vision to the world. Essay 1 presents the essential theme: the Vedic Altar (vedi) was not a form of any type; ‘it was a process’. The major theme of the Rig Veda is a ‘journey’ or an ‘initiation’, the hymns present the different stages in this process which took place through the months and the years. Each person by virtue of birth on this earth made the same ‘journey’ in search of his/her soul.
The Vedic Altar with which we are familiar, which contains the idol or living essence of the deity it symbolizes, is a later evolution; it came about after a period of darkening of the Vedic light. It is not a higher evolution, but an attempt to remain faithful to the Vedic experience during a period in which the knowledge was forced underground at the close of the Vedic Age. The Hindu Temple lost the thread to the ancient way, concludes Thea; it is no longer an experience of initiation, or a journey taken to achieve a higher consciousness of immortality.
Although the Vedic knowledge became ‘hidden’ and eventually lost due to the elusiveness of Time, Hinduism continues to honour the Veda and acknowledges that whatever has come out of that Age arose from seeds that were planted in the fertile soil of the consciousness of the Vedic Seers. Sri Aurobindo wrote in his Secrets of the Veda that ‘for 2000 years no Indian has understood the Veda’.
The Vedic Altar Updated deals with another major theme, a question posed by Thea: ‘How does the Mother’s vision incorporate the measurement of the Year of 365 days?’ (ibid, essay 1). Thea calls the Matrimandir ‘the updated Vedic Altar (vedi)’. Just as the journey of the 365 day year was the main feature of the Vedic Sacrifice, so too in the Mother’s vision, the Earth’s revolution around the Sun in the period of 12 months or 365 days plays the same role it did for the Vedic Rishii. The journey through the cosmic Year is the central focus, it becomes ‘the principle deity of the sacrifice’.
On 3 January, 1970 the Mother told her disciples that she ‘saw’ a ray of light which descended from the ceiling to the top of the Globe (in the centre of the room/inner chamber). She gave it a specific measurement of 15.20 metres and went on to describe it as ‘the symbol of the future realization’. Thea explains that in 1974 through 1976, after the passing of the Mother, she came to a full realisation of the Mother’s plan, that the specific measurement of 15.20 metres is the measure of our Earth Year of 365 days:
‘… that the Ray was not merely a beam from the Sun. It was the Year…The symbol exceeded itself by becoming the Year via the Vedic process of correspondence.’ (essay 5)
Through the Laws of Correspondence, Thea indicates that the Temple’s floor diameter of 24 meters from wall to wall is the 24 hours of our Earth day; the 12 columns around the central globe/pedestal are the 12 months of the earth year. The Mother gave the Globe of light the measurement of 70 centimeters, and thus the globe is the landmass of India, whose latitude traverses 30 degrees and longitude traverses 40 degrees: 30+40 = 70. (essay 12).
It was Thea’s hope that as the seeker moves through these twelve essays, they would enter into a new Cosmic Model for our Earth based on a system of Equivalency and Correspondence which she states is ‘the hallmark of the Vedic Way’. This revolutionary way of seeing may pose some difficulty for the seeker of today, she writes, but the ancient Hermetic aphorism ‘As above, so below’ is not so esoteric as appears. It requires the seeker to enter into the same consciousness of unity as the ancient seers, as the Mother of Pondicherry: i.e. the human being is not an isolated entity but is part of a greater whole, ‘engaged in a single grand design for inhabitants of this Earth’ ( Essay 9).
Thea calls the Mother’s Temple, ‘the Temple for the New Age’, the Age of Aquarius, which Earth entered in 1926. The vision descended in India, the centre of the New Age and therefore it is in India that the new must be established all the while the old is being displaced. In a related article in the same book, Thea highlights the reason for an UPDATING of the Vedic Temple (Art and the Symbol Forms of Supermind, Part Two). Our cosmos has expanded in many ways, first of all from six to nine planets in our Solar System, and equally important the descent of the Supramental in 1956 brought with it a new harmony and fuller vision.
The Mother’s Temple not only builds on the early Vedic foundation, it explains and enhances it. The 15.20 cm descending solar Ray ‘displaces the traditional Hindu idols from a central position, but it does not negate their truth and place in the new dispensation’ (ibid,). The Mother’s updated temple shows how the process of renewal takes place in India, Thea states; it provides an example of how the energy hoarded in the past can be released and used as fuel for the rise of the new.
As one studies The Vedic Altar Updated, it becomes obvious that due to this expansion and complexity in the evolution of our earth, both feminine powers (shaktis) of The Mother and Thea were necessary to complete Sri Aurobindo’s mission. The Mother had the experience of seeing the Temple and rooting it into the Earth by giving it exact measurement. But there had to be an applied cosmology formulated so that we could understand its profound wisdom and essence, and that was the Yoga of Thea, the third in Sri Aurobindo’s Solar Line.
She provided a ‘script’ or a new cosmic language to give the descending knowledge in the Mother’s vision a gnostic meaning. Thea informs us that at the same time as the Mother saw the Temple in January 1970, she saw and recorded the book, The Magical Carousel – while living in a totally different part of the world. In 1974, after the Mother’s passing, she wrote The Gnostic Circle, and soon after, The New Way, volumes 1 & 2 (see www.aeoncentre.com). All of these books ensured that although the true Temple could not be erected, it was ‘built’, the knowledge has been preserved, ‘the Sanatana Dharma has been renewed… on fuller foundations, in accordance with the new cosmic harmonies’ (ibid).
Today, students are eager to know their Vedic roots; they want to know what is eternal or ‘sanatana’. Thea hoped that these essays could be used as a curriculum to acquaint students with a new cosmology that the Mother referred to as ‘the third way’, beyond science and spirituality.