This is not any voyage story or any exaltation or glorification of any person or place. It’s just about confrontation of one’s own expectations, thoughts and beliefs, which can be easily understood by any open-minded thinker and a believer in humanity. Without even reading about this place or being briefed about the concept of its architecture, at every step inside that “Ashram” was reminding me of my own thoughts and beliefs. So, let me tell you the story of one of my fun trip, which led me to a place where I experienced my own learning and faith alive, written in the form of an architectural poetry. As soon as I entered inside the premises of this ashram, I found my thoughts and feelings overflowing everywhere just in front of me.
It was a sudden plan to visit Pondicherry, the first union territory I would have ever been, just to take a break from the day-to-day routine. I was too excited about this plan and countless times searched for the places to visit.
Pondicherry is a place of full of piquant beaches and picturesque French colony. Among a long list of various beaches and other tourist places, there was one name which popped up in each and every online search—Auroville.
Based on the research, what I came to know about it was that it is a temple which is nearby a beach named – Auro Beach. I was more excited about going to the beaches because of my fascination with water. However, I was not much interested in visiting any temple, but because of the interesting structure of Matrimandir, which amplified my interest to make all the effort to visit it. My companions were also not very enthusiastic about going there. However, I kept nagging that I want to go there and they had to agree.
So, finally on the second day of our trip, we decided to visit Auroville. It was around 8 kilometers from the place where we were staying. We started at 9:00 in the morning. A small road, full of greenery, led us to the place where I expected to see a lavish entry gate; and there I was entering through an ordinary and artless entry. I was a little surprised to see that, because I was expecting more lavish entrance as it was an Ashram. Mostly in India Ashrams are extravagant and luxurious place, something like a Museum, which you visit to see the beneficial preserved attainments (in a way, Museums are a far better place than an ashrams as it display worthy and educational acquaintances).
The entrance was bursting with vegetation and fresh drinking water junctions. There was an alley, hemmed in with plantation and a small pond roofed with flora. The surrounding appeared to me as an abandoned place. Gradually, after crossing half of the alley, I could see a building emerging from the plantation. I thought there would be some saint’s life-size depiction with a fresh-flower garland hanging on the wall or a sculpture standing at the center inside the building. I was getting ready to see some literature and pictures related to the saint’s work for the well-being of humanity—all the jittery, glittery and glamorized epitomes.
There I was, inside the hall, and at the entrance there was a table on which was laid various articles related to Auroville. Many of the inherent fundamentals of Auroville were mounted on the surrounding walls in massive frames. The visit started to seem like a waste of time. Disinterested in the tour, I entered into the adjoined hall where there were large-sized pictures of construction of The Mother’s Shrine or Matrimandir. Every picture had a story. I kept moving on while reading the descriptions at the bottom of each picture. Suddenly, I realized that there was a central piece with the model layout of Auroville habitation. I had a hunch that there is something interesting about this place.
The pictures of construction of Matrimandir made me curious to know more and more about this place. The model layout attracted me. As I moved towards it, I was amazed with the shape of the layout. It reminded me of a mother’s womb and specifically the place where Matrimandir is built, which was placed almost where a fetus resides inside the womb.
That thought was mesmerizing! I felt like I was missing something. So, I went back to the entrance hall and started reading the articles. The more I read, the more I was flabbergasted. That astonishing idea immediately got a hold of my mind. Auroville is not just an ashram of any proclaimed saint, but it is a small experimental city within the realms of Indian constituency, which is far beyond the boundaries of any country in this world. According to The Mother Mirra Alfassa, this township is not proclaimed by any country in this world as it meant to be a universal township where men and women of any country can live in peace and progressive harmony, above all race, dogmas and politics. Inside its periphery, there are no fences for people from a particular caste or country. It’s the place to realize human unity.
Castes and borders are really destroying the human race. There is hardly a human being who actually believes in humanity. Everyone is abided to follow a particular religion, culture and rituals by birth and most of the people don’t even give a second thought to the purpose of a religion and culture. Without even knowing that after all why they are following it, they are always ready to fight, kill or die in the name of their religion and culture.
In the world like this where a human being is the worst enemy of mankind, thinking about human unity is an auspicious thought itself. However, this lady not only dreamt of a place like this, but also worked out a real plan for a living embodiment of a township for the mankind.
A brilliant thought is involved in building the Matrimandir. It is the soul of the Auroville city, which is situated in a large area called “peace” and as the word describes itself, this is really a very peaceful area. The architecture of the surroundings of this shrine looks just like an ample metaphor of a mother’s womb, a symbol of creation and the most serene and secure domicile for a human being, in every aspect. This surrounding will be full of vegetation and water, just like liquor amnii or the placental fluid, which surrounds the fetus and provides it the essential nutrients to grow inside. At the center of this womb-shaped region there is the shrine, the dome looks like made up of numerous round cells from outside. Inside the chamber, the walls are white and a crystal globe lies at the center of the chamber, which spreads the solar energy what it receives through the opening at the cusp of the sphere. Acts, just like the placental connection between the outer world and the fetus.
Here, the whole Mother’s Shrine region appears to be a womb for a soul to connect it with the Supreme Energy, and grow and develop to get the manifestation of consciousness. You can call it a place of enlightenment—where your soul can get the answer to the aspiration of perfection beyond the boundaries of any religion and can understand the spiritual extreme of Almighty. The Mother’s Shrine is a symbol of the universal mother.
I sincerely salute the great lady, Mirra Alfassa, who didn’t only understand the true nature of humanity and dreamed of a place free of all the creeds and politics, but also materialized it in the form of Auroville.