The winter monsoon brings periods of heavy rain to the building site of Matrimandir; it is always a challenge to keep everyone busy when the rains sweep in.
Some twenty people got busy with a new job: breaking up the left over bits of red Agra sandstone to make red gravel. We will use this material to create the pathways in the garden of Consciousness. The stone will be mixed with lime and a little cement to create an attractive pathway. It will be great to utilise part of the mountain of sandstone bits that are lying around here since the days when the outer slopes of the 12 petals of Matrimandir were being clad. The entire Amphitheater and the main pathways that frame the 12 gardens also made extensive use of this stone, so our heap of leftovers is huge indeed and we have waited long for an opportunity to make use of it. This is a great job for a rainy day and we have had plenty of those recently…... The sound of hammers chipping at the stone bits echoes the sound of the rain beating down on the roof of the shed where this work is being done.
The main elements of the garden of Consciousness are nearing completion; only its pathways remain to be put in place.
The cladding of the main pond is almost over, with just its edges waiting to receive their greenish cuddapah stone. The cascade of seven steps leading down from it has been completed and the waterproofing of the lower shallow pond area is finished too. Soon we will be able to begin testing the cascade with water to determine the precise rate that is needed to create the series of small waterfalls the design calls for.
The plantation of this garden is also well advanced, as we took advantage of the rains to plant the Hibiscus specific to this garden, as well as many other flowering plants. They include Consciousness One with the Divine Consciousness (a double pink Hibiscus) and Power of Supramental Consciousness (a double golden Hibiscus with a red center). The other flowers chosen by the designers for this garden include orange Crossandra, named Supramental Influence in the Subconscient as well as the pink variety, named Psychic Light in the Subconscient, and the white Plumbago, Presence, along with the multicolored Lantana, Supramental Influence in the Cells. Bands of Korean grass have been planted over the last few weeks to separate the areas where the flowers are concentrated. The particular flower chosen by The Mother for this garden -- the double yellow or golden Hibiscus which She named Supramental Consciousness-- is yet to be planted as it must wait for the work on the pathway to be completed first. By the upper edge of the pond, at the crest of the wave form that delimits the boundary for the planted area of this garden, dozens of bamboo grass and lemon grass plants named Help have been placed. Two Champak bushes whose creamy and fragrant yellow flowers Mother named Supramentalized Psychological Perfection and a dwarf Barringtonia (Supramental Action) have also been planted near the crest. And inside the pond, once it has been completed, the Mother’s flower, the white Lotus which She named Aditi (Divine Consciousness), will be planted.
The completed cascade in the garden of Consciousness
The garden of Bliss, next to Consciousness, is just about to move off the drawing table and onto the land. The basic soil contouring has been ready for some time -- the red earth has been shaped according to the design. Presently we are working out the details of the sprinkler arrangements, electrical lines and lighting needs before we move ahead. The more of this infrastructure planning that can be done before we start any serious work on the ground, the better. So there are ongoing discussions among the irrigation team, the designers, the electricians, and now we are just about ready to start.
At the centre of this garden there will be a large circular open area, 18 meters wide, which will be simply surfaced with white sand. Within this circle there will be seven small raised basins, arranged according to the position of the stars in the constellation of the Seven Rishis (also known as the Big Dipper). The garden designers have chosen this image because in Indian tradition this constellation is said to be the home of the seven Angiras Rishis, who are connected with the liberation of Ananda (Bliss) in the lower worlds. As a special feature, the largest of these seven basins will have a fountain overflowing its edges in a multitude of small drops, each of which will produce a different musical sound. It will be called “the fountain of a thousand drops”. Finding a way to build this musical fountain will surely be a joyous and challenging task for someone! This central area of white sand will be surrounded by a series of gently descending earth terraces bordered by the significant flower Mother chose for this garden, named Ananda (a small single cream-colored Hibiscus). Pathways will lead up the steps and between these terraced areas towards the central circle.
On the other side of the garden of Consciousness, the garden of Existence is ready now with the white pebble arrangement in the central area having been completed. The garden seems content to be and to grow.
Over in the Garden of Unity near the Banyan tree, a specialist in stone work has been giving the finishing touches to the white granite cladding of the cascade that that flows down to the 12m wide pond there. After several months of trials, we have created the first full-scale model of the fountain which rises out of this pond. Each evening, and for some time during the mornings, this fountain with its many jets comes alive, shooting up a spray some 3.5 meters high at the center, a hint of how it will look when it is finished. Now is the time for the specialists, both in lighting and in fountain design, to give their input, their feedback on this pool and fountain, so that it can be brought to perfection and finalized. In a wonderfully timed visit, an experienced lighting designer recently found his way here. At once ideas flowed forth as he brought his extensive experience to bear on our design needs. It was the right thing at the right time, a wonderful occurrence like so many others that have enabled us to move ahead with the manifold challenging work at Matrimandir.
Meanwhile, the rains begin again…people run for shelter; some take up tasks kept aside for just such rainy days. Some people clean and organize our stockroom while others delve into the underground rooms of the Amphitheater, cleaning and making order in corners that might have been neglected during the hot summer months. Roofs all over the site have been patched up in preparation for the monsoon season. Everywhere, from our offices to the stockroom and the laundry and the tea room…all are now dry, rain-proof and ready to get us through another monsoon season.
You may know that the ring of buildings, offices and workshops around the Matrimandir Gardens oval will all be removed one day to make way for the lake and future park. In the beginning of the construction and throughout the 80’s and 90’s, these buildings were much closer to the crater that houses the main structure, and most of them were roofed with bamboo and thatch. Over the last decade or so, as the main structure was completed and the work moved away from the sphere towards the gardens and the layout of its 12 radial pathways and bordering oval road, many of these workshops were pulled back to their present positions outside the oval road. These temporary buildings are now roofed with removable ferrocement channels or modular roofing sheets. This collection of workshops and storerooms is mostly concentrated on the eastern side of the gardens, where the original workshops and office were located in the early 1970’s. Our present office is also on the edge of the oval on the northwestern side. This is where all the visitors to the Matrimandir are currently received. But all these temporary structures will have to go in time, for they stand in an area destined for the future park and lake. For now we have to preserve and prop up these existing structures, some of which are now 36 years old, knowing that one day,-hopefully not too distant future - they will have to be removed.
The time for that shift hasn’t come yet… our workshops are still busy fabricating metal items for the gardens and even finishing touches for the main building. Our stone-cutting sheds are very active, producing slabs to clad the ponds and pathways in the gardens. All this work, especially for the gardens, will go on for some more years. So we are obliged to keep our existing facilities in operation at their present locations to carry on this phase of the work.
The signal to move in earnest will come when the construction of the lake, in whatever form and dimension, becomes imminent. The Mother was very clear that the Matrimandir should be surrounded by an isolating body of water, so we know that moment will come. Only the time scale remains unknown. So we move on with the work, maintain the facilities in the best shape we can. The timing of future events has never been known much in advance at Matrimandir: we carry out the work at hand, knowing that the next step will come in its own time.
Address for donations and correspondence:
(Please make your cheque, money order or DD payable to ‘ Matrimandir ')
MATRIMANDIR – AUROVILLE 605101 – TAMIL NADU – INDIA
Bookings: Tel (+91) (0413) 262-2268; accounts: 262-2228