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Matrimandir Newsletter

October 2003


In the Chamber Vestibule

It is 5:25 pm on a Monday evening in October.
I am sitting on the wooden bench in the outer vestibule of the Inner Chamber. It is a very special spot indeed, for only from this bench, a few meters outside the Chamber, can you see at a single glance both the white interior of the Chamber and the grey wall outside. More than that, from the same spot you can see the whole upward-sweeping curve of the inner skin of Matrimandir.

The vestibule, some 2 meters wide and 6 metres long, is built in between the massive double concrete ribs that rise upwards and form one of the four structural arcs of Matrimandir's sphere. The other vestibule, outside the chamber on the western side, is not yet accessible for entering or leaving the Chamber, for the ramp on that side has not been made usable yet.

Here, where one sits on duty at the eastern door, people put on white socks (to keep the Chamber carpet clean), then pass through two sets of doors to enter the Chamber. The first is a curtained mesh door that keeps the bugs out and then, a couple of meters further on, the two large white marble doors are set flush with the inner face of the Chamber's marble walls.

From my station this evening I can see through the partly open curtains of the mesh doors. Inside the Chamber, two dozen people are sitting in concentration. I can see the crystal globe on its stand of Sri Aurobindo's symbols. Behind the globe stands one of the 12 stately round columns that ring the crystal in a wide circle, and the far wall of the Chamber appears as a hazy whiteness. All is white: only the crystal's stand is gold.

There is a complete stillness, a quietude, - the massive peace of the Room occupies the outer vestibule as well…

Suddenly, into this dense silence, there comes the thrum of the start of a heavy downpour. The sound of the rain rises in intensity, increasing to a velvety roar.

One is wrapped completely in this cleansing sound, as it answers the silent flood from the Chamber's interior.

 

After some time the sound of the rain begins to dissipate as the monsoon clouds drift further away. My attention is drawn to the inner skin. The full sweep of the concrete space-frame has been covered with a translucent layer of tracing paper. For one year we have been using this simple 'screen' to test samples of glass and fabric as options for the coloured inner skin. The most recent tests, using a newly available fabric made of glass fiber embedded with a silicone resin, have proven to be very positive. We are now proceeding with this option, and should soon be able to see a large section of the inner skin completed in this way. The fabric will be mounted in the aluminum profile frames which are already being fixed in place. It will be a light weight and relatively quick-to-assemble solution to a challenge that has long proved difficult to resolve.

Matrimandir, inner skin

 

Still on my wooden bench, looking through the mesh doors to the whiteness of the Chamber, I hear from behind me, outside the Matrimandir, the call of a peacock after the rain. The call is lone and distant, coming from far off in the forests that surround the Matrimandir gardens area. The forests will have welcomed the heavy rain, for the year has been very dry. The peacock symbolizes "victory".

In between the peacock's perch in the forest, and my own in the vestibule lie the workshops of Matrimandir, east of the sphere. These last two months have seen a lot of activity there. This was because some of the workshops - mainly those concerned with marble work and carpentry, as well as our stockroom and generator room - were in the way of the construction of the last of the 12 'small' petals of Matrimandir. This petal will form a part of the garden of "Perfection". By making small additions and extensions to one large workshop lying just beyond the petals area, we have been able to make space for all the sections that had to be moved (except, perhaps the generator!).

All the marble and carpentry materials have been shifted and the roofs and walls are gone from several of the sheds that were in the way. Only the foundations and pillars are left to be removed. Some of these foundations have been in place since the very first years of Matrimandir - 1971 and 1972, so their disappearance marks a significant state of change here. The memories of all that has happened here over the decades, under these roofs and within these walls, are fond indeed…..

It will not be too long, two to three years we believe, before all the remaining workshops will have served their purposes and can then be removed to make way for the growth of the 12 beautiful gardens of Matrimandir.

The workshops will go, and the gardens will grow up, but some things will not change, like the sound of the rain and of the peacocks calling in the forest, and the silent whiteness of the Chamber at the center of it all.

Contact: matrimandirauroville.org.in

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