(In The New Way, Volumes 1&2, Appendix I consists of extracts from the Mother’s Talks on the Matrimandir. In 1981, a more complete version of these dialogues was released by the editor. They appeared in L’Agenda de Mere, Volumes 10 and 11. To provide our readers with this fuller version, we shall be reproducing these dialogues in this and the next issue of Vishaal, omitting only what is not directly related to the genesis of the Temple.)
31 December, 1969
Do you know Paolo, have you seen him? He is nice.
He is nice. But as a matter of fact, I have something on that subject. Yesterday I had a visit from Paolo and Nata together, and Paolo explained to me a sort of inspiration he had regarding Auroville. I found it very beautiful, very good, very good, very important. So I said to him: It is absolutely necessary that you yourself speak directly to the Mother about this. So, when can you receive Paolo?
Will I be able to hear him? Because the difficulty is that people do not know how to speak, they speak too fast, and I cannot follow them. Tell me what he wants to say.
He says that as of several years the energies of Auroville have been dispersed: they are egotistical, each one wants to build his small hut, his little thing, or, at best, he hopes to build a super-city which will be an improvement over all the existing cities in the world. In this Auroville what is lacking is an axis; a centre is lacking. What is lacking is a unification of consciousness around a centre, around an axis. So he says that in the past pyramids were built, cathedrals were built, and around those symbolic constructions consciousnesses were unified…
(The Mother nods in agreement.)
…and elevated and purified. Well, it is necessary that in Auroville an axis, a centre, a temple symbolic of the new world one wishes to create is built, and that all the consciousnesses unite in the construction of that pyramid of the new world or of that temple of the new world — and at the same time that will help to bring down what should be expressed there.
That is very good, that was the first idea: there was a centre and the city was organised around it. But now they are doing the contrary! They want to build the city and put the centre after…
And that is why it is not working, he says. He says: we must begin with that, and if one doesn’t, nothing will be done.
That was my first impression. But how can we make Roger [the architect of Auroville at that time] understand that? I don’t know. Because it is Roger who changed; he is the one who wanted to start with ‘Auromodele’, that is by trials and experiments.
What this produces is that people are occupied with their little stories and their little huts and there is no ‘cement’, the Thing that would lift them above themselves and their small concerns.
Theoretically, he is right.
Oh, yes, And it is strange, because when he was speaking to me about it, I saw almost, I was seeing. He is a person who could ‘bring that down’.
Yes, he has the power.
But why doesn’t he meet Roger?
He said to me, Should I speak with Roger about it? He says it is a problem if he speaks to Roger, he will withdraw or…. So I told him: No, don’t speak about it with Roger; speak to the Mother, it is the Mother who will say what has to be done.
I am seeing Roger tomorrow and I can tell him. Paolo is an architect, isn’t that so?
You’re the only one who has an authority over Roger.
Yes…no, if I tell him, ‘Do it’, he will not say no, but he won’t do it!…he must be convinced…. All that I can do is to tell him that I know of the idea and that I approve of it fully, and that I am asking him to see Paolo and come to an agreement.
Yes, in any case, when he was speaking to me, I felt the inspiration and the ‘Thing’ that was ready to come.
It is ready to come! I have known this for a long time! It is there [gesture above], and it is waiting.
Well, he is in contact with that.
He was speaking, one felt that he had contacted the true thing. While others are thinking only about bringing millions, making propaganda, — they are doing things completely the other way around.
I believe that Paolo and Roger have not met yet.
Yes, they have. But Roger’s point of view is very materialistic.
I am worried that he will immediately say, ‘Why is he interfering?’
No, if I tell him, he won’t say that…
You are the only one who can…
No, I must speak to him about it.
Yes, sweet Mother, because they are putting the cart before the horse.
(After a silence)
I believe that they don’t even have the land. That is the difficulty. Because one fixed the centre of the city and there is still a large portion of that centre which belongs, I believe, to the government; and they are in the process of negotiating for it.
Roger’s idea is an island at the centre, with water around it, and it is running water which will provide the complete water supply for the city; when it has passed through the city, it will be sent to a factory, and from there it will go out for the irrigation of all the surrounding cultivation. So this centre is like a vast lake, and in the middle there is what we called at first the ‘Matrimandir’ — which I, myself, always see as a very big room, and absolutely bare, which receives a light that comes from above, which would be concentrated on a place where there would be — whatever one wants to put as the centre of the city. At first, we had thought of Sri Aurobindo’s symbol, but one can put whatever one wants. Like this, with a ray of light that always strikes it, that turns, turns, turns…, with the sun, you understand. If that were well done, it would be very good. And then underneath, so that people can sit and meditate, or simply rest, nothing, nothing, nothing except something comfortable underneath so that they can sit without getting tired, with probably some pillars, which would serve as backrests at the same time. And that, that is what I see always. A high room, so that the sun could enter as a ray according to the time of day, and strike the centre which will be there. If that is done, it will be very good….
Then, about the rest, it is all the same to me. They can do what they like. In the beginning there was the idea to make an apartment for me, but I will never go there, so it is not worth it, it is completely useless….
And then, the reply is always the same: But we don’t have any money!
But, sweet Mother, what I think and what Paolo has touched also, is that if sincerely these…let’s say twenty or fifty Aurovilians would join their hearts in the construction of that pyramid or that temple of the new world, that would BRING the money, millions.
It will come. It is not a question of ‘searching for millions’, it is first necessary to unite their consciousnesses around something.
That is the key to the millions.
Explain to Paolo everything I have said…. In this way we will have something very good.
But evidently what is needed…. There are material difficulties: for that island, water is needed – naturally, otherwise it wouldn’t be an island. For water, there is not enough underground water.
But before building the island one can start to build the ‘temple’ itself…. It is necessary to start by lifting a stone.
Yes, that can be done.
That is what is important, that people take a first stone with their hands and that they place it, and that in that they unite — because they will never become united through their little and their small concerns.
Yes, that would be much better.
Obviously, logically, or rather, psychologically, it is a mistake to build around and the centre after.
How can we make him understand that?…
Since we want to do ‘something else’, the minimum is to have faith in something else.
Yes. I will speak to Roer about it tomorrow and I will ask him to see Paolo.
I think that to a certain degree Paolo can bring in money, if he is interested.
Good. That is, build before it is even an island.
For the outside of this kind of temple, Roger had thought of making a big lotus. But then this interior, this play of light, I do not know if that would be possible with a lotus shape.
If they could both collaborate…if they could both come together, and if one of them would always be here, one or the other of them, if there were always one of the two here, with a single plan they had made ― then it would go much quicker, a hundred times quicker.
This idea of a ray of sun, that…when I look, straightaway that is what I see. And a ray of sun which could come at all times — it would be arranged in such a way that it enters all the time [a gesture following the movement of the sun]. And then, there would be something there, a symbol, which would be at the same time upright so that it can be seen from all around, and flat so that it receives the light fully…. And let it not become a religion, for heaven’s sake!
You know, I am in contact with certain Ethiopians (I believe it is the country that has remained most Christian throughout the world). And there is a young man who is Secretary at the embassy in Delhi (the Ethiopian Embassy), who is completely taken, completely, and so… [laughing] it was his birthday two days back, and he came with a present….something in wood (ebony), this big, and on one side there was my picture, and on the other side there was Sri Aurobindo’s. In the middle there was a cross…in silver. On this cross, on top where the two arms meet, there was my symbol to one side and Sri Aurobindo’s to the other. What came into his head?!…
And naturally as soon as I saw it, when he put it on my lap…as soon as I saw it, this came [a gesture of a massive descent], as a response to the will of Christianity to transform itself. And it was so powerful, there was such a powerful vibration, that I had the impression that it was ACTUALLY HAPPENING….
The cross is the symbol of transformation: Matter penetrated by the Spirit; and the juncture of the two arms is the transformation. A formidable Force came, like that, so that that cross becomes really…the flower of the transformation.
But I didn’t say anything to him! And even he doesn’t know, that is he didn’t think — he didn’t think about it, he did it instinctively.
That the Force is working, there is not even the shadow of a doubt. And there is such a great… (how to say)…will, very active: NO RELIGION, no religion, no religious forms. But naturally, people immediately…. So, that is the reason why I leave people very free. That is the reason why I had not insisted on the construction of the centre first, because precisely it becomes the old cathedral, the old temple, the old stuff first [the Mother makes a gesture of embedding in the ground], and then everything becomes organised around: religion. We DO NOT WANT religion.
Yes, but one can ‘bring down’ something other than religion.
But one doesn’t bring it down! It is people who have it! They are so small, they need a religion, or at least they believe they do.
They need it, I have seen…I have received some letters that I am answering… [the Mother searches through some papers near her.] They arrive every day. And Sri Aurobindo has written some admirable things on this…just recently, yesterday or the day before, I answered a question concerning an Aphorism of Sri Aurobindo in which he wrote that atheism was NECESSARY because of religions and their misdeeds. Someone asked me a question and I replied.
Men are still very small.
But there is an interesting sign: in northern Europe, in Sweden and Norway and Denmark, there are priests who write to me. There is one who is the head of a church, there is one who is the head of a monastery. They write to ask and to say that they want to collaborate to come out of…. It is very strong there. There are one or two who have sent me their photos, asking me to help them. They are doing a work, they are working for Auroville there. That means….
But even our children have such stupid reactions! There is a girl here who wrote to me, because I had mentioned that the Consciousness had descended on Earth, it was concentrated on Earth to help human beings to prepare for the transformation. She said to me: “How is it that men have been left without help for such a long time?” It’s enough to make you scream in desperation!…I had to control myself in order not to tell her: My dear child [laughing], you are really stupid!
Who could be able to find a way to execute that? Because there is no lack of sun here…. Of course there are days when there isn’t any, but after all there are many days when it is shining — so that from all sides, from no matter what angle, the ray falls. It should be arranged like that. It is a question of geometry.
You can speak to Paolo about it, because if he had an idea….
When he spoke, 1 felt he had the power to bring that down.
Yes. And that is what is needed: something, a symbol ― we will find what is needed, we will see — of course like an altar, but what? A symbol that at the same time receives the light directly from above and from the side.
And then no windows, you understand? The rest in a sort of penumbra; and that, like a light…it would be good, it would be very good. I would like someone who could feel that. I don’t know if Roger is able to, but Paolo is.
And if it were properly done that would already be useful for people. It would be a crystallisation of something…. They will begin to say that it is sun worship! [Laughs]. Oh, you know, I am used to all sorts of stupidities!
The idea of Roger and his group is to have industries which can bring in money for Auroville, then….
They are wrong, they are wrong!
That is, instead of it being done quickly it will take centuries!
And then, it would be starting from the old idea, the old concept.
It is necessary to start from something else.
It is out of fear of religions.
One can very well do this not as a religion but as the symbol of the new world.
Yes…someone is needed who understands this — maybe Paolo will.
Surely. And he has the power to convince people, I believe.
Yes, I will see Paolo. It would be better if he would come a day when you are here because I might not be able to hear him…it disturbs people to have to speak loudly. Then, Saturday perhaps? And I will speak to Roger about it tomorrow, that is, I will tell him that he should see Paolo who has some excellent ideas, — that he come to an understanding with him.
It is very simple. We shall try to make Roger understand and to create a collaboration between them. Roger will not tell me no — but he will do nothing (!), you understand. It is like that! But anyway, if he can, if they can understand each other, if that agrees with Roger, then that is good, there won’t be any difficulties. But if he can’t then it is necessary that Paolo be here when Roger is away, and then that we….!
You understand, for me it is like this! [The Mother laughs.] Because Roger has enough work (he has a formidable amount of work). It is not that we are taking work away from him. It is that if he refuses to do it, we will do it, that’s all.
I will see if they can come together on it.
For me now things are no longer exclusive, at all. I see very well the possibility of using the most contrary tendencies AT THE SAME TIME…with a little ableness; that is all. It is not exclusive. I don’t say: ‘Ah, no, not that!’ No, no, no: everything together. That is what I want: to arrive at the point of creating a place where all the contraries can unite.
That…unless one can do that… [gesture of turning round and round] that continues, one continues.
That is good. Yes, I understand: the thing is to build the centre, even if we cannot build the island. Perhaps Paolo can convince Roger. I will speak to him tomorrow, to start the new year.
There. Then, I wish you a good year.
We are changing the decade this time. It is necessary to shake up all of that.
So new and so small…in order to grow.
3 January, 1970
Yes, there is something interesting. I was feeling something for a long time, then we talked of it the other day, and I saw it. I spoke about it to Roger, I told him to see Paolo and I also told him that I had seen what should be done. Of course he did not say no, he said yes to everything, but I felt that he did not have much intention…. But anyway, this is what happened. I saw clearly, very, very distinctly…. That means that it was like that and that it is still like that, it is there [gesture indicating an eternal plane]. The interior of this place….
You should tell this to Paolo.
Should I tell him right away? Well…I can speak more easily if I am alone with you.
Then tell me, sweet Mother.
I can describe it. It came, like that. It will be a kind of tower which will be like the inside of a column. No windows. The ventilation will be artificial, with those machines [the Mother points to an air-conditioner] and only a roof. And the sun which strikes the centre. Or when there is no sun — at night and on cloudy days — an electric spotlight. And the idea is to build immediately a sort of sample, or model, holding about a hundred people. When the town is built and the experiment has been done, a large one will be made — but then it will be very big, to hold a thousand to two thousand people…and the second one will be done around the first; that means that the first one will not go away until the second has been finished. That is the idea.
Only, so as to talk about it to Paolo, and if possible…if I see that it is possible to talk of it to Roger. I would like to have a plan. I will have it made — not myself, because I can’t any more; I would have been able to do it at one time, but now I don’t see clearly enough. I will have it made this afternoon, in front of me; a plan, and with this plan I would be able to really explain well. But to you, I wanted to simply say what I have seen….
It will be a tower with twelve facets, each facet represents a month of the year; and above, the roof of the tower will be like that. [The Mother makes a gesture.] And then inside there will be twelve columns. The walls and then twelve columns. And right at the centre, on the ground there is my symbol, and above that four symbols of Sri Aurobindo, which are joined, which form a square; and above that, a globe. A globe which is, if possible, made of transparent material, and with (or without) light inside it, but the sun ought to strike the globe; then according to the month, the time, it will be from here, from there, from there… [gesture indicating the movement of the sun] do you understand? There will always be an opening with a ray entering. Not a diffused light; a ray which strikes it, which should strike it. To be carried out that requires a technical knowledge, and this is why I want to make a drawing with an engineer.
And then there will be no windows or lights inside the room. It will always be in a kind of light shadow, day and night — by day from the sun, by night from artificial light. And on the ground nothing, except a floor like this one [in the Mother’s room]. That means first wood, (wood or something else), then a sort of rubber foam, thick, very soft, and then a carpet. Carpet everywhere. And the twelve columns are for people who need to support their backs.
And then people will not come for a regular meditation or anything of that kind (but the inner organisation will be made afterwards). It will be a place for concentration. Not everyone will be able to come. There will be a time in the week or a time in the day (I don’t know) when visitors will be allowed to come, but anyway no mixture. A fixed time or a fixed day for showing it, and the rest of the time only for those who are…serious, serious, sincere, who want to learn to concentrate.
So I believe that that is good.
It was there [gesture above] I still see it when I speak of it — I see. As I see it, it is very beautiful, it is really very beautiful…a sort of penumbra: one can see, but it is very tranquil. And then very clear and very bright rays of light, (the spotlight, the artificial light, must be somewhat golden; it must not be cold — that will depend on the spotlight) fall upon the symbol. A globe made of a plastic material or…I don’t know.
If it is possible, yes. For the small temple, the globe will not need to be very big. If it were as big as this (about 30cm) it would be good. But for the big temple it will have to be big.
But how will the big temple be constructed? On top of the small one?
No, no, the small one will go away. But the big one will be built afterwards, and in vast dimensions…the small one will only go when the big one is built. But, of course, for the town to be finished, one must reckon on twenty years or so, for everything to be really in order, in its place. It is like the gardens: all the gardens which have been made are for now, but in twenty years all that will have to have other dimensions; then, it must be something really…really beautiful. And I wonder what material to use for this globe, the big one?… The small one, in crystal perhaps, a globe like that (30cm). I think that will be enough. One must be able to see the globe from every corner of the room.
It doesn’t need to be lifted too high above the ground either?
No, Sri Aurobindo’s symbol does not need to be big. It should be so big.
Twenty five or thirty centimetres?
At the most, at the very most.
That means that it will be about eye level.
Eye level, yes, that’s it.
And a very tranquil atmosphere. And nothing, you know, some great columns… We have to see if the columns are in some style…if they will be round, or if they also have twelve facets…? And twelve columns.
And the roof in two sections?
Yes, a roof in two sections in order to receive the sun. It must be arranged in such a way that the rain cannot enter. It is unthinkable to have something to open and close when it rains, that is not possible. It must be arranged in such a way that the rain cannot enter. But the sun must enter as a ray; not diffused. So therefore the opening must be of a limited size. It needs an engineer who really knows his job.
And when will they start?
For me, I would like it to begin straightaway, as soon as the plans are available. There are only two questions: first the plans (workers can be had) and then the money…I believe that it is possible with this idea of making a small temple. Of course ‘small’ is a manner of speaking! Because it still needs to be quite big so that it can easily hold a hundred people. A small scale to begin with, and then they will learn by making it, and the big one will be made only when the town is finished, not immediately.
I spoke about it to Roger, who said to me the next day: ‘Yes, but it will require time to prepare.’ I didn’t say anything of all that I’ve just told you, I spoke only of doing something. And afterwards I had the vision of this room; so I don’t need anyone any more to see what it should be; I know. And an engineer is more necessary than an architect, because an architect…it must be as simple as possible.
I told Paolo what you had seen, this large empty room. He understands well. He was also seeing this large empty room. Well, empty — that simply means a form.
But a form…like a tower, but…that’s why I would like to have a sketch, to show it. Twelve regular facets, and then there must be a wall which is not upright, a wall a little like this [slightly inclined gesture], I don’t know if it is possible. And inside twelve columns. And then an arrangement must be found to catch the sun. Twelve facets arranged in such a way that at every time of the year it can enter. It needs someone who knows his job well.
The outside…I did not see the outside, I did not see it at all. I saw only the inside.
I wanted to explain to Paolo when I had the papers. It would be easier, but since you have called him…
Since it has been decided to build this temple, I have seen; I have seen its interior. I have just tried to describe it to Satprem. But in a few days from now I will have some plans and drawings, so I will be able to explain it more clearly. Because the outside, I don’t know at all how it looks, but the inside I know.
P: The outside comes out of the inside.
It is a kind of tower with twelve regular facets, which represent the twelve months of the year, and absolutely empty…and it must be able to hold from a hundred to two hundred people. And then, to support the roof there will be within it (not outside), twelve columns, and right at the centre, well, the object of concentration…. And with the help of the sun, all year round the sun should enter as a beam (not diffusely, an arrangement must be made so that it can enter as a beam). So according to the hours of the day, and the months of the year, the ray will turn; there will be an arrangement above, and the beam will be directed onto the centre piece. In the centre there will be the symbol of Sri Aurobindo, supporting a globe. A globe which we will try to make from something transparent, like crystal or…a big globe. And then people will be allowed in to concentrate [laughs]; to learn to concentrate. No set meditations, nothing of all that, but they should stay there in silence, in silence and concentration.
But this place is absolutely…as simple as possible. And the floor, done in such a way so that the people are comfortable, that they are not thinking about this pain or that pain!
P: It is very beautiful.
And in the middle, on the ground, my symbol. At the centre of my symbol we will place in four parts, like a square, four symbols of Sri Aurobindo, upright, supporting a transparent globe. That, that has been seen.
So I am going to have some small plans made by an engineer, simple, to show, and then I will show them to you when they are ready. And then we will see.
For the walls, probably they will have to be in concrete.
P: The whole structure can be in reinforced concrete.
The roof should probably be at an angle, and then at the apex there will have to be a special arrangement for the sun.
You said that the walls would be slightly at an angle.
It will be either the walls at an angle or the roof which must be at an angle — whichever is the easiest to do. The walls, they could be made straight and the roof at an angle. And the upper part of the roof resting on the twelve columns, and above that the arrangement for the sun.
And inside, nothing, nothing, but the columns. The columns, I don’t know, we will have to see if they should be made with facets (like the roof with twelve facets) or simply round.
Or simply square — it is to be seen.
And then, on the floor, we will put something thick and soft. Here, you are comfortable as you are sitting? Yes? There is first wood, and then this kind of rubber, and over it a carpet of wool.
With your symbol?
Not the carpet. The symbol, I had thought it best to make it in something lasting.
P: It should be in stone.
The symbol…everything will be around it, of course, the symbol will not cover it all, it will be only in the middle of the space — [laughing] one shouldn’t sit on the symbol! That is in the middle. The proportion of the symbol in relation to the whole will have to be seen very carefully, in relation to the height.
P: And the room quite large?
Oh yes, it should be…. It should be like a sort of shadow with the rays of the sun, so that the ray can be seen. A ray of sun. Then according to the hour of the day, the sun will turn (the hours of the day and the months of the year). And then at night, as soon as the sun disappears, spotlights will be lit which will have the same effect and the same colour. And day and night the light will remain there. But no windows, or lamps or things like that — nothing. Ventilation with air conditioning machines (that can be done in the walls, it is very easy). And silence. There one does not speak! [The Mother laughs.] That will be good. So as soon as my drawings are ready, I will call you and show them to you…
P: Very well.
(The Mother gives two red roses to Paolo and he leaves.)
I didn’t ask him if he had seen Roger because… Roger is entirely in the ‘practical’ atmosphere of the moment.
That’s good. It has to get going!
You see this is what I have learned; the failure of the religions is because they were divided. They wanted one to be religious to the exclusion of the other religions; and all their knowledge has failed because they were exclusive; and man has failed because he has been exclusive. And what the new consciousness wants (it is on this that it insists) is no more divisions. To be able to comprehend the spiritual extreme, the material extreme, and to find…to find the point of union, there where…that becomes a real force.
From the practical point of view I will try to make Roger understand. But I have seen…. What is needed is that when Roger is here he should be occupied with ‘Auromodele’, the practical side of things, all of that (it is necessary, that is very good), and for this construction of the centre, Paolo should be the one to do it. So I would like Paolo to stay here when Roger goes; that Paolo remain here when Roger leaves, and we will do it with Paolo. Only I don’t want them to feel that it is one against the other(!). They must understand that it is to complement each other. I believe Paolo will understand.
But Roger will take it as an encroachment.
Perhaps, but I will try. I will try.
No, when I told him that it was necessary to make the Centre, that I had seen it and that it ought to be done, he did not object. He only told me ‘But that will take time.’ I told him — no, it must be done straightaway. And that is why I am having these kind of sketches made by an engineer to show him, because it is not work for an architect, it is work for an engineer, with very precise calculations for the light of the sun, very precise. It must be someone who really knows. The architect has to see that the columns are beautiful, that the walls are beautiful, that the proportions are exact — all that is very good — and then the symbol at the centre. The aspect of beauty, naturally it is the architect who ought to see to it, but all the questions of calculation…and the important thing is that, the play of the sun on the centre. Because that becomes the symbol — the symbol of the future Realisation.