temple of the mother

Matrimandir  means “Temple of the Mother”. Tourists flock to this icon in the centre of the international city. No surprise, really. The structure is fascinating. A golden sphere alike a giant ferrero rocher or golf ball. Only, this sphere is the “soul of Auroville”. There is an inner chamber. The structure is set in gold. There is cyclical imagery everywhere.

Around the structure are twelve petals named by the Mother: Sincerity, Humility, Gratitude, Perseverance, Aspiration, Receptivity, Progress, Courage, Goodness, Generosity, Equality, Peace. The first eight represent attitudes toward the Divine, the last four attributes towards humanity.

Around the petals are twelve gardens named by the Mother: Existence, Consciousness, Bliss, Light, Life, Power, Wealth, Utility, Progress, Youth, Harmony, Perfection. 


Auroville truly is a unique community, attracting individuals of all nations, tongues, faiths, professions, backgrounds. But. There are many rules in Auroville (one of the paradoxes to the “freedom” found in this utopian society). One process is the permission required to enter the Matrimandir. There is a film you must watch before viewing the site. Let’s just say being sent into a dark room on my first day to watch a documentary that told me to renounce my religion was daunting to say the least…

Entry into the Matrimandir itself is screened. Day tourists might only see the exterior from a distance (at the Viewing Point). If you want a tourist-taste of meditation, you can get a pass for a twenty minute session, but you require a guide (an Aurovillian) to take you through the Park of Unity and into the Inner Chamber . If you are in Auroville for a longer stay you can obtain Visitor passes by invitation, and these allow you to visit without a guide for a forty-five minute meditation.

Due to our connections in the community, our group had the opportunity to attend the longer morning sessions as often as we desired. In the end I visited the Inner Chamber two times, and a third time only for the Park of Unity. Below are some more of my reflection/reaction from the first confronting visit.

The earth, the floating orb, the trees, these are all created.
These are not Creator.

The Park of Unity reminds me of a movie-style set. There are no words to describe it. There are workers tending to the gardens, and they look like puppets. Slaves of the vision. There is perfection. Each grass kept, each flower bed set. Nothing amiss. I didn’t want to go inside the Matrimandir, I just wanted to remain under the Banyan tree. To pray to my Father, thanking him for making such an extraordinary creation, and for making me, for taking me on this journey. Under the tree I felt at peace in His presence. Gazing upon those strong roots, struck by how much stronger my God is… that He created those roots! 

As we sat under the big Banyan Tree in the garden, one of the elder Aurovillian women told us that the tree in Asian culture symbolises mortality. It made me think of how the whole thing is so sad, missing the eternal life found in Christ. There is no consideration of beyond this life, of eternal dwelling with said “Divine”, with God. Instead there is such an obsession with now, with attaining perfection, with achieving a level of actualisation, realisation, faith, knowledge, meditative excellence, peacefulness, solitude, seeking to define oneself and measure ones standards of self against the Mother’s twelve petals, those twelve desirable attributes. These are all esteemed.

When we sat around the petals at the lotus pond underneath the Matrimandir, I chose to perch on the stairs. It didn’t seem right to sit atop of an abstract ideal to harness the characteristics. I sat there instead and kept returning to God, dwelling on His character. He is the source of all desirable characteristics.


We cannot will or wish said character traits upon ourselves. 
We can try and strive, but to what avail?

We were led in single file into the Matrimandir. Above the entrance is a symbol. Searching online later, my classmates tell me it is a Satanic symbol, associated with occult practices and the illuminati … No comment needed. Once inside, you must place white socks over your bare feet before ascending. Shoes outside, you slide on this slip of purity, scared to step. Then you go around in circles on the inside, led to the meditation room. While in the Inner Chamber there were lyrics going through my head:

“Worthy is the lamb who was slain,
Worthy is the king who conqured the grave,
Worthy is the lamb who was slain.”

Over breakfast that morning I had opened Revelation and read those same words. What a stark contrast it was to then be inside that room, without the Word to meditate on. Sitting, praying, watching. We all sat in a circle around the crystal ball in the centre of the room. What were other people doing? Where they sleeping? Meditating? Praying? Singing songs in their head? Restless? At peace?


The crystal ball in the heart of the Inner Chamber is a picture of what Auroville imagines to be the Divine
… a blank, clear, translucent sphere of reflective self….
How solemn

Source: http://integralyoga-auroville.com/auroville/matrimandir

Twenty minutes disappeared that first time, and forty-five the following time. All the while I was thinking of the tower of babel and how we as humans like building our own temples. These structures that are so beautifully crafted but which separate us – both from Creator and from each other. If Auroville privileges human unity, then it is curious that there is no shared belief system, no common doctrine, no objective truth for one to hold onto. There is no depth to the spiritual foundation, there is a skeleton, but where is the heart of stone turned flesh? Where is the body and the blood? Where is the name above all names?  Where is the relationship to God as Father, the Spirit interceding for us, Christ our advocate before the throne of God.

Before I realised the term literally translated to “Temple of the Mother”, I wondered why this non-religion had a sacred place for ritualistic practice. Surely they could see the parallels to religious practice? The Matrimandir reminded me of Buddhism and the extravagant temple I visited in Cambodia where the interior and exterior were laced in gold. These temples and structures are articheturally incredible and I praise God for the ability and creativity He has given man to make these things… But it greatly saddens me that we have come to worship these instead of God, to see these as sacred instead of Him.


Why is there so much investment in maintaining these special places, these sacred sites?
What is most sacred?

Being in the presence of God, being with God, communing with Him, fellowship in the Spirit – this is not confined in my mind or my belief nor limited to a physical site or holy place. The inner chamber echoed to me of the curtain being torn in two. All I could think about was how Jesus was missing. Before Jesus the high priests in the temple were the only ones who could enter the inner chamber and pray to God directly. But Christ crucified saw the curtain split in two. He is our great high priest. He issued a new covenant, bought with His blood. There is no more separation, no division, no need to cleanse or purify, for his blood is enough. His name is above all other names. He is the only way, truth, life. The only way to get to the Father is through him. He invites us into his Fathers house.

I couldn’t help but think how the whole concept of Matrimandir is buying into this construct, but not true communion with God. There are practices and rituals, but no personal and relational connection. I do not need a special chamber to pray. I do not need to wear white socks and ‘ascend’ and ‘descend’ into the inner chamber. A flashing light signified time was up  in the chamber and we were seen out. But there were “guards”, “watchers”, people standing at every point of the way, guiding and leading us. Oh what a sorry state!


We were like sheep.
I was following.
But very aware that this was not my Shepherd I was following.

I was not liking this voice, this direction. I wanted to laugh while on the spiral walk way, the curtained circular ramp. Seeing thirty bodies in sync, in single file, piling down this pipeline of an alternate reality. So many lost souls. I was praying protection for us. Renouncing Satan and all his minions, works and ways. Asking God to reveal himself to those there, so that they could see and know Jesus. Praying the armour of God. Singing to him.

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Respond from the Heart