While the Inner Chamber of the Matrimandir has been open for some years, all the Petal Chambers around the Matrimandir have opened only recently. The Mother specified the colours for each of them and equated each of the twelve colours with one of the twelve qualities of the Universal Mother. In the order of the colour spectrum, starting with red and ending with violet, these are: Courage, Progress, Receptivity, Aspiration, Perseverance, Gratitude, Humility, Sincerity, Peace, Equality, Generosity, and Goodness.
On my recent trip to Auroville, I had the privilege of practicing concentration in four of the Matrimandir Petal Chambers. This occurred on different days. The following describes some of my personal experiences.
The chamber is dark. It takes some time for my eyes to adjust. The first thing I can see clearly, just at eye level and seeming to float on the wall, is an elliptical panel that is lit from behind. The light shines softly through a series of concentric shapes. The innermost shape is a luminous oval egg that is cut in half by a vertical line. This is an image of the first act of creation, a division of the light from the darkness. All manifestation of multiplicity issues from this.
The mandala anchors me in that dark sea of colour that surrounds the smooth surface of the marble circular platform, where I sit peacefully on a white cushion. The mandala reminds me of an eye, reflecting my own vision back to me. As I sit in the Petal of Goodness, I feel that the colour is closely related to compassion. Later, I find, connected with this petal, a quote from Sri Aurobindo: The violet is the light of Divine Grace and Compassion. Later again, I learn from Shanta – the artist who worked for many years on the interior design of the petals – that the vertical line dividing the oval egg is the line of Sincerity, which cuts to the essence of every creative act.
Aspiration (golden yellow):
If the Matrimandir as a whole symbolizes a supreme dawn, appearing as a sun arising from the earth, it could also be seen as the head of a new human being emerging from the heart of the earth. This new cosmic baby has a multi-faceted vision, glancing in all directions like a great bee, as sunlight flashes in the gold mosaics of the Matrimandir discs. In the Petal of Aspiration with its golden-yellow colour, I feel like a bee in the cup of a flower. The colour of the frescoed walls becomes as rich in potential as fertilizing pollen, as perfect in meaning as gold. This tone of fertility and potential perfection surrounds me in an egg-shaped chamber of coloured light. Yes, all around me breathes Aspiration.
Receptivity (light orange):
In the Petal of Receptivity, the mandala is formed of twelve alternating rays of ellipses and dashes. The pattern of twelve suggests movement and intensifies the metaphor of dynamic wholeness. All of a sudden, and quite unexpectedly, I feel the image of a sacred city coming out of nowhere, descending into me and occupying my inner space. It seems to have a pre-existent, independent identity, like a living archetype or a pattern of light that can find habitation within us.
Courage (crimson red):
I sit in the Petal of Courage, immersed in redness, but it is not a red that I have ever seen before. The red of blood, of tomatoes, of wine, of poppies – these are reds I know. But this red has something indescribable – a quality of mystery. Its mysterious quality would seem to suggest that there is a mystery in courage. And this is true. To act with courage means to take a risk of some kind, to make a leap into the unknown.
I meditate in Courage on the morning of the day when I return home to Europe . A few days ago, I learned that one of my oldest and dearest friends there has a terminal illness and has only a short time to live. I gather my thoughts and emotions and prepare to face the situation. I surrender and open my heart to the quality of Courage and concentrate on the mandala.
The shapes in the Courage mandala are organically varied quadrilaterals in a series of horizontal rows, suggesting a force that is not circular and radiant, but four-square and powerfully contained. To me, this mandala becomes a shield for a courageous warrior who is well-grounded, concentrated, and full of inner strength.