Clusters of purple lilies are blooming near the Matrimandir office. Next to them are smaller groupings of golden ‘prayer’ flowers, a sprinkling of pink ones and a few which are simply a brilliant white. This profusion of color has been brought about by the recent spell of unseasonable rain, hardly normal for the month of March here in Tamil Nadu.
One has the feeling that perhaps these flowers are celebrating something. And what might that be? Their simple flower hearts may well be celebrating the arrival of the gardens themselves, for this month marks a wide opening towards the development of these long awaited companions to the Matrimandir structure. To paraphrase the garden designers here, these twelve gardens will form a “necklace” of beauty around the building.
And at the same time, the work in the Garden of Unity next to the Banyan tree has been given a large push.
It is a very special time indeed. The gardens have been gestating for a long time. In fact the Matrimandir Nursery, originally created to propagate the different varieties of plants that would be needed, was begun in the early 1970’s, just when the work on concreting the four pillars of the Matrimandir started. The nursery still holds large collections of orchids,
hibiscus, plumeria and numerous other wonderful plants.
We have referred many times in these newsletters to Mother’s conversations regarding the gardens, how she wanted them to be a place of utmost beauty and peace, and how each of the twelve gardens was to manifest the very atmosphere indicated by the names She gave for each garden: Existence, Consciousness, Bliss etc…
Over the last three decades several attempts have been made to begin the gardens or specific gardens in one corner or another of the compound ….areas of green and patches of color have appeared and flourished for a time….some of those traces remain, others have passed into history.
This year however, with the work on the Matrimandir structure mostly over, the flow of energies has turned strongly towards the manifestation of the gardens with more emphasis than ever before. People’s attention and will are focusing in a strong resolve to accomplish this next phase in the overall growth of the Matrimandir project: now is the time to build the gardens, the time for the appearance world of colors and living forms that have waited so long to flower here. It is a creative time, with many people collaborating on this next phase of the work.
There are two distinct arenas of this action at present. Within the Garden of Unity, near the Banyan tree, there is an arc of six circular islands of green; the center of this arc touches on a twelve meter wide pool. And this pool is surrounded on the opposite side by a semicircular mini-amphitheater whose steps are clad in red sandstone, steps that will be divided by an aisle of water cascading over sculpted blocks of stone. This is the layout for Unity garden which has been designed and has been being built in sections for some years now.
But the energies for its completion, for finishing the stone pathways and benches, and building the cascade and the central fountain in the circular pool, are only now getting into full flow.
The scene in this area today is one of considerable activity. The pathways are being given their final curves and levels. Concreting of their foundations is imminent. Then the islands of green will be re-contoured, made ready to receive a denser and more drought-resistant grass on their outer slopes. The curved benches at the center of these islands will be provided with some kind of shade. A lot of work needs to be done and the energies of many people are now directed towards this goal. The feeling of finally getting down to work is good indeed!
Working on the new shapes of the paths in the garden of Unity
The second arena of activity has for its scope the full sweep of the twelve main gardens of the Matrimandir, which lie just beyond the petals in a ring around the main structure.
Over the last two years a gardens design team has been working here on an overall scheme for the gardens and, in particular, on detailed designs for the first three gardens, which the Mother named Existence, Consciousness and Bliss. During two weeks in February and March, these designs and background ideas were shared with the Auroville community in
an exhibition held in the design office at Matrimandir. Many people came to view the plans, study the models and listen to an introduction given by the designers.
The response from the community has been very supportive and positive, and the Matrimandir team has taken this as an encouragement to go ahead with this long-awaited phase of the work.
The plan of the gardens of Existence, Consciousness and Bliss
The general plan proposed for the first three gardens appears above. On the right, the first garden, Existence, features a very large rock positioned at a slope set in a field of white stones. Beneath the sloping face of this massive rock there will be a small fountain, like a fresh spring welling up from the white stones around it. These stones will form an oval and be surrounded by a ring of hibiscus bushes signifying “Psychic consciousness inExistence”
This, of course is a very simplified description of the garden that has taken the designers so many months to create! There are many subtle details and surely as the execution begins on the ground, the details of the design will evolve even further: for one thing is absolutely certain, and that is that they will grow and become established over time.
The evolutionary character of the gardens was something that the late Roger Anger, the architect of Matrimandir, emphasized several times during his last years here.
A presentation of the new gardens design
Considering what the Mother has said about the gardens, - that they will be “perhaps the most beautiful thing in the world with regard to physical, material nature,” – this is not an easy task!
We can start the gardens from the level where we are today, but slowly they will evolve beyond that level.
We will learn gradually, as our intuition grows, how to capture the essence of each garden’s atmosphere – in the structure of the garden, in the plants it contains, in the arrangement of the stones, in every curve of the pathways.
Indeed, Paolo Tommasi, one of the prominent designers who had earlier formulated a design for the gardens, recently told the present design team, “Each design team will choose its own symbols for the 12 different gardens: these will be based naturally on their cultural background. But to bring that great Beauty into these gardens, to create that supreme Beauty that the Mother wanted, it will be very much a matter of the details. God is in the details, in the relation of each plant with the others, in the positioning of each stone, this is how one will begin to capture the very special atmospheres that the gardens must hold.”
And so we begin. We will have much more to say about the gardens over the coming months and years as they grow and develop. We will record all the developments and try to give you a living picture of the work in progress. It is going to be a wonderful time, a new phase, in this adventure that is the building of the Matrimandir.
|Please note the new timings for visits to the Chamber:
Bookings : 2:00 to 4:00 p.m. daily
Concentration : 9:30 to 10:30 a.m. daily
First-time visits : 10:00 to 11:00 a.m. daily
Address for donations and correspondence:
(Please make your cheque, money order or DD payable to ‘Matrimandir’)
MATRIMANDIR – AUROVILLE 605 101 – TAMIL NADU – INDIA
Tel: Bookings +91-0413-262-2268; Finance, 262-2228;