Access to The Matrimandir, called by The Mother ‘The Soul of Auroville', is restricted. According to the Mother's guidelines, access is only for those who are ‘serious and sincere'. She specified that visitors would only have access at a designated ‘time of the day' or ‘a day in the week'.
One of the greatest challenges for Auroville is the implementation of the instructions given by the Mother for access to Matrimandir. The Matrimandir attracts hundreds and sometimes thousands of visitors a day, but it is not a tourist or pilgrim resort. It is and remains a place for silent consecration and dedication to the Divine. In particular, the atmosphere in the Park of Unity – the area which includes the Matrimandir, the Matrimandir gardens, the Amphitheatre and the Banyan Tree – must be maintained at the highest level – silent and sacred – and cannot be allowed to diminish because of throngs of visitors. To regulate access, the Matrimandir Access Group has elaborated policies for special guests, visitors and Aurovilians.
The first visit
The point of entry for most visitors is the Visitors Centre. It offers information about Auroville through exhibitions, leaflets, brochures, books and DVDs. Introductory videos on Auroville and the Matrimandir are shown and long-time Aurovilians are present to answer questions and assist people. The Visitors Centre also houses boutiques that sell a wide range of Auroville products, a spiritual bookshop, and a cafeteria.
First-time visitors to Auroville are invited to watch a short introductory video on the Matrimandir. Then they can obtain a pass to visit the viewing-point, a garden located at the southern border of the Park of Unity which offers a full view of the Matrimandir, the Amphitheatre and the Banyan Tree. The viewing-point can be reached after a fifteen-minute walk along a shaded footpath; for the handicapped and elderly, an electric shuttle – a non-polluting, silent mode of transport which helps maintain Auroville's environment – is available.
The visit to the viewing-point is essential for first-time visitors to get an impression of the area. After this first visit they can contact the Matrimandir booking office and make a reservation to participate in a guided tour of approximately 90 minutes.
This tour offers an explanation about the significance and meaning of the Matrimandir, followed by a visit to the Banyan Tree and a concentration in the Inner Chamber for 10-15 minutes.
Having once visited the Chamber, it is possible to attend the regular one hour concentrations, but always subject to availability of places as the Chamber can only accommodate 68 persons at a time. All regular visitors are asked to make a booking, which can be made up to seven days in advance.
Reception of special guests
A major task of the Matrimandir Access Group is arranging visits of ‘Special Guests' or Very Important Persons (VIPs). Those arranging the visit of ‘Special Guests' are asked to give prior intimation of the visit, preferably a few days in advance. Special Guests are received by a long-time Aurovilian at the Visitors Centre or at the Matrimandir and then are shown around.
Unlike VIPs, the visits of VVIPs are largely beyond the control of the Access Group. When the President of India visited Auroville on December 22nd, for example, security virtually took over. More than 30 cars entered the Park of Unity and the President's car drove up to the Matrimandir entrance. The Access Group hopes that in future no cars and armed police will come into the area.
With the increasing number of visitors, it became necessary to make a policy for the Aurovilians. Before Matrimandir was ready, everybody had free access. Some Aurovilians included the Park of Unity in their jogging tour or walked their dogs, and many brought their friends or relatives. This is no longer possible. Aurovilians and Newcomers continue to have free access to the Park of Unity at any time, but access to the Inner Chamber will be limited to the early morning, mid-day and evening hours. During one hour each day individual Aurovilians and Newcomers may bring two guests, very close friends or family members, into the Inner Chamber provided they remain with them all the time.
All these regulations have been made with one objective: to maintain the spirit of the place, and allow all those who are serious to concentrate and experience the presence of the Truth. As The Mother wrote on November 15th, 1967, ‘The Mother's Shrine will be an empty place, empty of all material things, meant only for meditation, concentration and prayer... and I hope, filled with light, spiritual force and the presence of the Truth.' The Matrimandir welcomes all sincere seekers.
The Matrimandir is not the focal centre of any religion.
Here we do not have religion. We replace religion by the spiritual life, which is truer, deeper and higher at the same time, that is to say, closer to the Divine.
For the Divine is everything, but we are not conscious of it. This is the immense progress that man must make.
On access to The Matrimandir
People will not come for “regular meditations” or anything of the kind …
it will be a place for concentration.
Not everyone will be allowed in …
There will be a fixed time or a fixed day to show the visitors, and the rest of the time only for those who are... serious – serious, sincere, who truly want to learn to concentrate…
No fixed meditations, nothing of the sort, but they will have to stay there in silence
silence and concentration.
The Mother, 3rd January 1970.
See also: Matrimandir access policy on our website