This newsletter is about Matrimandir. In this newsletter we release two open-access versions of our books on Matrimandir. We also present two other books on Matrimandir from our catalog. You can also read this newsletter online here

Releasing print and open-access versions of “Matrimandir Journal”

Matrimandir, “Mother’s Temple,” is at the center of Auroville and the city is to radiate from this center into its manifold outward expressions. Mother spoke of Matrimandir as “the central force, the force of cohesion in Auroville.” The Matrimandir Journals, edited by Deepti Tiwari, look at these truths as remarks of the Mother and Sri Aurobindo while exploring the inward psychological and spiritual significance of the elements that compose the center.


The Matrimandir Journals are a search into the meaning and purpose of this vibrant spiritual symbol that is the centre of Auroville.

The Matrimandir seeks to embody Auroville’s soul and exemplify its aspiration to fashion “willing servitors of the divine consciousness”. From this concentrated wellspring, a dynamic peace radiates into the myriad activities of the township encircling it. Commenting upon symbols, Sri Aurobindo declares: “A spiritual symbol is only a meaningless ticket, unless the thing symbolised is realised in the spirit … A spiritual idea is a power, but only when it is both inwardly and outwardly creative.”

The Auroville experience demands an aeskesis that can be built only upon a secure foundation of balance, poise, and equilibrium. A dynamic equality is the key to building the new consciousness that is Auroville’s intention. However, there are paradoxes that need to be worked through to create the harmonious growth of consciousness in those who dedicate their lives to this experiment.

Auroville’s Charter offers a programme of self-development that a self-centred, egoistic human consciousness is not able to embody. The city is, therefore, a place of “research, study and experimentation” attempting to bring about a “collective realisation” manifesting “a higher and truer life”.

Yet these great idea-forces were called upon to be manifested upon a land subjected to forces of advanced desertification — a barren, wind-swept, red-laterite plateau. The first steps of Auroville’s material manifestation were grounded in the bleak actuality of available conditions.

Who were the pioneers? How did they turn this red dustiness to the green and flourishing tropical dry evergreen forest that stands today as a vibrant living example on how to redeem a seemingly lost landscape? In the non-hierarchical setting of this collectivity, with no outward ‘command centre’, what power held these early settlers together? How did they work through their multitudinous differences?

What force bound them to what seemed a distant purpose?

Are there answers to be found in Sri Aurobindo and the Mother’s writings?

It is Matrimandir, materially, psychologically, and spiritually that gives Auroville its true scope and dimension. Physically it occupies a substantial area of the township. Psychologically it embodies the point of Unity: The Mother said it was “the central force — the force of cohesion in Auroville”. Spiritually, it is both “the Soul of Auroville” as also “the living symbol of Auroville’s aspiration for the Divine”.

From its inception, the Matrimandir construction site has held a singular place in the evolution of this fledgling collectivity. Whatever else they were engaged upon in their daily lives, Aurovilians came together bodily to work together upon the structure. As the edifice rose from its foundation crater, it demanded long, sometimes continuous day/night concretings: The 4 pillars upon which the spherical structure stands, the different floors, followed by the spaceframe on which the golden discs are attached, all was the work of Aurovilians. There was then the regular scraping of the iron scaffolding, repeatedly removed and reused after polishing in new locations. Many hands, many moments filled with a sense of oneness, joy, and laughter; as of a single being in many bodies. Building Matrimandir has been labour of love, shaping the body for the soul of the city. It has invited the physical labour of hundreds of Aurovilians and the financial contributions of thousands of devoted beings from every corner of the world.

Today, the innumerable activities of this ‘city of dawn’ spiral outward from a tranquil heart of dynamic peace.

The Matrimandir Journals look at these truths as also remarks of the Mother and Sri Aurobindo while exploring the inward psychological and spiritual significance of the elements that compose the centre. Elucidating the first condition of Auroville’s Charter: “To live in Auroville one must be the willing servitor of the Divine Consciousness”, Mother explained that the Matrimandir symbolised the Divine Consciousness. The Journals bring forward a selection from the numerous splendours revealed by so comprehensive a spiritual symbol.

Read the open-access version of “Matrimandir Journal” here
Or, you can write to us to request the print version ☛
Or, you can pick up the print version from our shop in PRISMA, Aurelec or other bookstores in Auroville and Pondicherry.

Releasing open-access version of “Matrimandir Talks”

This book presents most of Mother’s Matrimandir talks, including how she conceived the idea for this special concentration and meditation building in Auroville. Her talks about this subject were with the architect Roger Anger, various disciples from the Sri Aurobindo Ashram, and various Aurovilians. Her reflections on such a project started early as 1954, and the talks ended with her passing on 17th November 1973. All other construction decisions after she had left had to be made by Aurovilians and the group of architects and disciples who worked with her on this project for about 8 years, from 1965 to 1978. The Matrimandir was finally officially opened in 2008. The book also contains an introduction by Debashish Banerji.


The present book chronicles the genesis of this structure, from idea to material form. It thus opens us to the virtual imaginary space of the Matrimandir, where all its past and its contexts co-exist. The Mother said she saw only the Chamber. The form and the name of the structure went through a variety of stages in all its aspects. Even when the name Matrimandir was arrived at, the Mother clarified that this was not a reference to herself as a personality, but to the universal Mother. This distancing from personality may also be seen in the charter as well as in the Mother’s pronouncements that Auroville should not be a place of religion. In Sri Aurobindo’s philosophical vision, the term “the Mother”, which he gave to Mirra Alfassa, represented the dynamic and creative Divine Consciousness, active through earth history as the evolutionary force and wisdom. The philosophical and spiritual content for this view was given by Sri Aurobindo in his text called The Mother (2012: pp. 1-26). It is the Consciousness described by this text that is behind Auroville and its soul, the Matrimandir.

A built structure at the center of the polis which belongs to no single or group of resident(s) but is dedicated to their collective and integral union resonates with an archaic paradigm of temple-cities, some of which (e.g. Chidambaram) are located close to Auroville. But it constellates also with modernist experiments in Europe, by architects such as Bruno Taut, (1880-1938),who envisaged garden cities with a spiritual architectural “crown” at their center.

In its construction, the Matrimandir provided a practical focus for the fraternity, universality and anarchism coded as ideals into the charter of Auroville, as its members of diverse nationality, ethnicity, gender and class, worked shoulder to shoulder, often without supervision, to give it shape. This plural painstaking effort of loving labor, sustained for thirty- seven long years of learning and working together in spiritual openness to circumstance, skill and intuition, cannot be overlooked as the process by which the vision of a collective soul was materially concretized. In keeping with the psychic aspirations of its participants, the whole magnificently exceeded by far the sum of its parts. The Matrimandir is, today, a psychic engine for the spiritual transmutation of human aspiration. Its empty, silent and vast openness, manifesting and exceeding the dreams of its builders, is its greatest strength.

It is impossible to specify the posthuman singularity of this soul of a community. Both material and metaphorical, it remains intangible in its virtuality. For all its symbolism and aesthetic taste, it is a space of concentration and nonduality. The sublime feelings evoked by it are both due to and not due to its aesthetics. Its symbolism has a deceptive plurality, in that, in its simplicity, it yet evokes an indefinable manifold of natural and cultural echoes – womb, earth, sun, tumulus, stupa, goddess – and functions as a heterotopia due to its novelty yet repetition of familiar idea- forms. Its solar and feminine symbolism are encountered in a temporal experience (a chronotope) as one is led to a space of translucency between waking and dreaming, the inner and the outer, open-eyed and closed eyed meditation, a non-dual space at once still and radically heterogeneous, empty yet plural.

As a symbol of sustainability, it has to be noted that this experience involves centrally a metaphoric and metonymic use of the sun as a symbolic and natural source of collective life. It thus unites the space like the hub of a wheel to the totality of the community and grants it an ecological significance as part of its integral structure. It belongs to each and all of its members, its spiritual content extended individually and uniquely by each, forming the inner sustenance of their collective lives in the polis. The Matrimandir is a material embodiment and constant reminder of the first tenet of Auroville’s Charter, as given by the Mother: “Auroville belongs to nobody in particular. Auroville belongs to humanity as a whole. But to live in Auroville one must be a willing servitor of the divine consciousness.”

You can pick up a copy of “Matrimandir Talks” from our little bookstore in PRISMA, Aurelec or other bookstores in Auroville and Pondicherry.
Or, you can write to us to request the print version ☛
Or, you can read the open-access version here

A new book from our catalog, “What is the Matrimandir?”

Two hours south of Chennai, south India, in Auroville, there is a monument called the Matrimandir – the Shrine of the Divine Mother. It was concieved of by two sages of the twentieth century, Sri Aurobindo and Mira Alfassa, known as the Mother, in order to expand human consciousness and to radiate a new light on this planet. Iris Gaartz is one Aurovilians among many who are fascinated by this monument and its powerful action. She listened to many people speak of their personal experience of this place. This book is a description of the Matrimandir and a compilation of these interviews.


What is the Matrimandir? What is this amazingly huge and vibrant phenomenon, this “golden globe”? What is it doing? What effect does it have on us, on the individuals that we are, on Auroville, on humanity, on the planet, and on …?

How is it operating? What is the “technology” behind it? What is really going on in and around it?

All these questions I have asked myself many times, and I have wondered who could answer them.

There are people who know very precisely the instructions that Mother gave during the time when She was in Her body, and especially in the last years of Her life when the construction of the Matrimandir was starting. Many very interesting compilations have been made with all Her conversations about the Matrimandir, Her visions, the drawings of them, and the information She gave to those She chose for its construction.

She had visions of the Matrimandir being accomplished, and She even saw details of it. Over time, these visions evolved. It seems as if it was a concept that slowly unfolded, taking shape under the influence of the Divine speaking mainly through Her, but also reaching through those who worked with Her on its conception and after Her passing.

Mother would say what She saw in a vision, and yet She would still remain quite open to the proposals of the architects and engineers who had to manifest it physically.

After Mother left Her body, some controversies arose among those who worked on its conception and construction. It took almost forty years to completely finish the Matrimandir. The gardens are still being conceived and built.

There are many people who were part of the construction team, who came to Auroville in the very first years, and who were the pioneers. Others joined later and participated in the finishing phases. All of these people to whom we owe this magnificent structure have wonderful memories. Most of them are very grateful to have been present at the early stages of this adventure. These memories have been compiled in different fascinating books and are very interesting to read.

But this is not what I was interested in.

My question remains: what is it that the Matrimandir is doing here and now, no matter what should have been done, no matter what has and has not been fully respected of Her instructions, no matter what has been done differently for a number of reasons.

I feel very clearly the immense power of the Matrimandir when I come close to it, when I enter it, and when I enter the Inner Chamber. I feel different stages of intensity while progressing toward the Inner Chamber, and have also had some interesting experiences over the years.

I came to the conclusion that nobody has clear answers to all these questions.

One morning in March 2017, it struck me when I woke up: nobody can answer these questions, but many of us have bits and pieces of answers to them. And to my knowledge, nobody has ever brought these pieces together. This puzzle is what I will try to solve in this book.

There is no way – I feel – to be completely knowledgeable about what the Matrimandir is in totality. I don’t think that the human mind can apprehend this. But at least I would like to bring together what can be assembled and see what comes out of this.

From that morning on, I have felt as if I was being taken by the hand and led from step to step, from person to person, in order to assemble the pieces of this puzzle.

The first step was to interview people. I first thought that I would have to make a public appeal to find people who felt able to talk to me on this subject. Then I realized that this was not necessary. Each person has led me to the following one(s), and I had no difficulty in finding enthusiastic people who were happy to share their own experience of the Matrimandir with me. Some of these are amazing. Some are so deeply sincere that I was touched by them.

There are many interviews of Aurovilian residents, some of guests, and some of Ashramites from Pondicherry.

My questions were always: what is your personal Matrimandir? What is your experience of it, and in it? What do you sense of it? Sometimes I would ask about the different components of the site, because many people have their preferred place. And even though they tend to go less often to other places, they still have some sensation or perception of them.

As this subject is likely to become quite personal, I gave everyone the option to have their name appear or to stay anonymous.

Most of the interviews have taken place in the gardens surrounding the Matrimandir, and principally in the garden of Consciousness, which I find to be a very inspiring place. Some interviews have been done by Skype.

Some interviews are very short, some are humble, some are long, some bring in more knowledge, many are not mental at all. I found beauty in all of them and hope that the reader will feel the same.

You can pick up a copy of “What is the Matrimandir?” from our little bookstore in PRISMA, Aurelec or other bookstores in Auroville and Pondicherry.

…and a classic bestseller from Ruud Lohman, “A House For the Third Millennium”

The one who has written these essays is no more. He left us on July 26th, 1986, just before the release of this book. Two months earlier his heart gave a serious indication of his delicate physical condition. A little later, while convalescing, he wrote, “It still feels as if the body is made of porcelain, very breakable.” And it happened.

Since the beginning of 1984, he gave a new turn to his Sadhana which developed through daily experiences — intense, deep and rich.

The last essay, written at the end of 1985, gives a hint of the lines he was following.

Ruud was totally involved in the work visible anchor of his sadhana. His love and consecration to it will outlive him.

First essay: Nightwatch at Matrimandir, or How I came to Auroville

Nightwatch at Matrimandir…

A cosmic spectacle; the black expanse above, the big black crater of Matrimandir’s excavation carved deep into the soil. The four pillars – two of which are completed and the other two nearing completion – are four huge ships coming together from the four corners of the earth to meet at this propitious spot.

Vastness, silence, a sort of solemnity reign supreme. Being alone for half the night with Matrimandir is like being a part of some occult, worldwide initiation into things unknown. Matrimandir watches me rather than the inverse.

A part of the person may feel lost in this great world: coming from the other end of the globe and now sitting on the edge of a deep hole in the middle of nowhere, somewhere in south India. Another, more subtle part of the person, knows it has been chosen to live and work at the very centre of the new world that is being born – hidden still and almost invisible, but with a sure force and a definite direction. Matrimandir is nowhere, in a sense; far from everything and everywhere. But we know it for sure to be in the very heart of everything, in the centre of a cosmic play of forces redirecting the universe towards the divine spirit which, almost palpably, seeks to manifest here and now.

So many visitors to Matrimandir are reminded, – strange sort of memory, – of the pyramids and other occult world loci. Behind the schoolbooks’ kind of history of kings and conquerors there is a history of souls seeking expression in art and architecture, but remaining hidden behind symbols which can be read by those who have the eyes to see. The Greeks had their Delphi, the place where the gods expressed their opinions and wishes through the oracles of the Pythia. Delphi was for them the centre of the universe, apparently of that world behind politics, art and the ordinary movements which were embodied in Athens. They called Delphi the “omphalos”, the navel of the earth, the occult centre where the vapours emerged transmuting the ordinary into the sacred and supernatural. But it is interesting to note that if Delphi was the navel, and the navel is the seat of the vital powers, were they not the vital gods and beings who expressed themselves in the vague and ambiguous oracles?

Matrimandir is related to a much higher principle, to the soul; of Auroville first, but undoubtedly to the universal soul as well. The Mother: “The Matrimandir will be the soul of Auroville and the sooner it is there the better it will be for everybody and especially for the Aurovilians.”

Nightwatch at the soul of the new creation…

The black expanse above continues to be black, but a play of lightness and delight transforms at every moment this monument under construction into a mind-blowing centre of the three worlds. A single spotlight guides our worker from the neighbouring Tamil village, who is on night-duty, to keep the recently concreted portion of the north pillar moist. Hundreds of insects of all shapes and colours and levels of evolution are attracted by the light, and they fly, jump and bump without any visible pattern against the lens of the spotlight. That’s how I came to Auroville too, – an insect from somewhere in the dark world, attracted by the one spotlight in the huge night, jumping and bumping around without any as yet visible pattern. The insect does not seek out the light, it is the light that draws the insect. After one and a half years in Auroville I still don’t know why or how I came. I did not choose to come here; rather I feel I was chosen. When I broke away from my previous life I told my confriars of the religious order of which I was a member, “As soon as I know why I am going, I may feel ready to come back.” Well, I still don’t know, but the more I discover something of a reason the surer I am that I won’t go back.

The possibility seldom arises to feel proud of being an Aurovilian when one knows that we are not here on account of personal merits but rather because of the difficulties each one of us represents so that these can be integrated and transformed in the evolutionary experiment of Auroville. We all bring with us a particular set of problems, forces, idiosyncracies as fuel for the cosmic fire. We also represent, each one of us, a particular aspect of the old world that has to be new-made.

I may have been chosen because I represented a strong force of the past age: religion. For fifteen years I was a member of a religious order, the Franciscans, and for eight of those years a Roman Catholic priest. In 1968 my superiors sent me, partly as a sociologist and partly as a missionary, to central India to set up an institute for community development. My old interest in yoga guided me towards a hatha yoga centre, but while travelling through India for the work of the institute, I tried to come into contact with other brands of Yoga as well. One day I found myself in Pondicherry, and the next day in Auroville. That was it! I thought that I left again following a ten-day visit, but I discovered more and more that it was just my body that left. After almost three years, the time I needed for the big step from religion to spirituality, I came back to Auroville and rejoined my soul. Simply, it had not left the place. It is not a nice experience to travel around India and, after my one-year’s assignment was over, to Pakistan and then once more to Holland, without a soul. One lives less than half a life, one is not there, not oneself. That must be the reason why so many people feel as if they have come home as soon as they enter the Ashram or, if it is their destination, Auroville.

I did not know why I suddenly broke away from my order and the church and the intimate circle of my confriars, who were real friends to me. I mentalized the reasons. The most comic one, though at that time I took my mind quite seriously, was to prepare a thesis on “Jesus and Sri Aurobindo” or something like “The Yoga of Jesus”. I spent my first night at the beautiful Ashram guesthouse Golconde; the next morning I took the bus to Auroville, and it “happened” to be the very day when the excavation of Matrimandir started. I joined the thirty or so people who carried red earth away from the excavation in baskets on their heads, and from that first moment I knew a lot of things.

I knew that the thesis would not be written, because the dialogue between the Great cannot be understood mentally but only by a plunge into identification. Carrying earth of Matrimandir promised to be the shortcut towards that. I also knew immediately that I would not go back to Holland; and before I knew it (it was something else in me that knew, or it was somebody else that knew for and in me), I had become an Aurovilian.

Auroville is far from being the perfect society yet, but being around here brings joy and peace on levels of the being which all the solemnities of my order and all the ordinations and celebrations of my Church never managed to touch.

I was a theologian. Theologically, I have not come anywhere near “solving” many of the mental problems involved in my transition from Rome to Auroville, from religion to “no religions”, from Jesus and St. Francis of Assisi to Sri Aurobindo and the Mother. But my little victory over theology is that I hardly care any more.

I had a restless nature; always searching, travelling, discovering, never settling anywhere, giving up things as soon as I thought I knew their secrets, not letting myself be tied to anything or anybody. And now I find myself in one place for a long time already, and without any desire to leave or to go anywhere else. It seems a common experience of most Aurovilians that they cannot live and breathe any more in any other place. As soon as we set foot outside Auroville, we feel a strong inclination to rush back. Some of us even feel “home sick” for Matrimandir when we are in Pondicherry!

I don’t know how and why I am here, but I know that it is a joy and blessing to be at the cradle of a new world and safely in the arms of the divine Mother.

And the amazing thing for me is this: the more I discover Sri Aurobindo, the Integral Yoga and Matrimandir, the more I feel that I have not really broken with my past life as a member of a religious order and an official representative of religion, but I experience that I am only now slowly becoming what I then, spiritually and occultly, was supposed to be.

You can pick up a copy of “A House For the Third Millennium” from our little bookstore in PRISMA, Aurelec or other bookstores in Auroville and Pondicherry.
Or, you can write to us to request a copy here

Also presenting “Sri Aurobindo 150th Birthday Celebration Exhibition,” an exhibition that went by…

This of paintings by Franz Fassbender is curated and presented by Franz Fassbender.

This exhibition ran in the month of August (2022) at the Aurelec Cafeteria Gallery.
You can see an archived online version here

…and, “The Ring of Brodgar,” an ongoing exhibition.

Writes Franz Fassbender, the curator of this exhibition – The Ring of Brodgar (or Brogar, or Ring o’ Brodgar) is a Neolithic henge and stone circle in Mainland, Orkney, Scotland. It is the only major henge and stone circle in Britain which is an almost perfect circle. Most henges do not contain stone circles; Brodgar is a striking exception, ranking with Avebury and Stonehenge among the greatest of such sites. The ring of stones stands on a small isthmus between the Lochs of Stenness and Harray. These are the northernmost examples of circle henges in Britain. Unlike similar structures such as Avebury, there are no obvious stones inside the circle, but since the interior of the circle has never been excavated by archaeologists, the possibility remains that wooden structures, for example, may have been present. The site has resisted attempts at scientific dating and the monument’s age remains uncertain. It is generally thought to have been erected between 2500 BC and 2000 BC, and was, therefore, the last of the great Neolithic monuments built on the Ness. A project called The Ring of Brodgar Excavation 2008 was undertaken in the summer of that year in an attempt to settle the age issue and help answer other questions about a site that remains relatively poorly understood. The results of the excavation are still preliminary. The monuments at the heart of Neolithic Orkney and Skara Brae proclaim the triumphs of the human spirit in early ages and isolated places. They were approximately contemporary with the mastabas of the archaic period of Egypt (first and second dynasties), the brick temples of Sumeria, and the first cities of the Harappa culture in India, and a century or two earlier than the Golden Age of China. Unusually fine for their early date, and with a remarkably rich survival of evidence, these sites stand as a visible symbol of the achievements of early peoples away from the traditional centres of civilisation…The Ring of Brodgar is the finest known truly circular late Neolithic or early Bronze Age stone ring and a later expression of the spirit which gave rise to Maeshowe, Stenness and Skara Brae.

This exhibition ran in the month of September (2022) at the Aurelec Cafeteria Gallery.
You can also see an archived online version here ☛