News & Notes 630:Reflections on “Piero’s Interview Part 2”

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630 icon.jpg   News & Notes 630
2 January 2016

Reflections on “Piero’s Interview Part 2”

“In the mass of things and the long course of Time, whatever may be the appearances of this or that epoch or moment, the growth of Light is there and the struggle towards better things does not cease.”

Sri Aurobindo
Letters on Yoga – II, p.178

One of the ways to understand the Matrimandir and Auroville is through what Sri Aurobindo says in the above words. The human journey through the ages results in the end in the “growth of light”. And now comes the Matrimandir and Auroville as powerful aids because they set you on the sunlit path.

While the Matrimandir cannot be said to be complete so long as the Gardens and the Lake and the tall trees at the periphery are not in place, still it has started received widespread attention. In fact, in the current year itself two exquisite volumes of photographs, Matrimandir – Hymn to the Builders of the Future by Dominique Darr and Matrimandir and the Park of Unity by Ireno Guerci have been published. This trend will continue for a long time to come. It is therefore greatly appreciable that François Gautier has taken the initiative to film the interview of Piero and Gloria, who were, we could say, the engineering pillars of the Matrimandir.

A few Phases of Matrimandir’s Progress

On 12th November 2015, the second part of the filmed interview with Piero was shown at the Cinema Paradiso. Each step of constructing Matrimandir was an episode and putting those episodes together would make an inspiring book. Here, I will mention just a few of the episodes I could gather from the interview.

With the Mother’s approval, Alain Grandcolas brought hundreds of manual workers from nearby localities for making the foundation of Matrimandir and completed the work. Then, for preparing a detailed structural design of the building, a staff member of the Indian Institute of Technology in Chennai “Santhanam” took up the work in close consultation with Piero.

During the early phase of the Matrimandir, having searched in vain the required quality of marble in India, Madanlal Himatsingka and Piero travelled to Italy and found the required quality in Lasa, purchased it and had it dispatched to India. When the time came for installing the 12 columns in the chamber, Piero tracked down a dealer in Italy with the help of a friend.

When the time came to make Sri Aurobindo’s gold-covered symbol to uphold the crystal, Michael Bonke of Varuna took the designs to Germany and got it done there.

The crystal globe? Enter Carel Thieme of Auroville Today, the then chairman of Auroville International. At the instance of Piero, Carel found a firm of Schott in Mainz, Germany which could cast the blank for the globe, provided the firm of Zeiss in Oberkochen could do the shaping and polishing into the global form. Then begun a fundraising campaign by Auroville International. Then the Crystal globe, an object of wonderment – because it constituted the world’s largest transparent and perfectly round crystal sphere – became a reality.

When the time came to change the Heliostat computer installed on top of the building from the old one working with DOS to the new one working with Windows, it become necessary to translate the program from “Basic” to “Visual Basic”, a young competent American came, lived for 6 months, completed the long and tedious job, and left!

As a Lotus flower rises from the mud – nature’s miracle – so Matrimandir rose from the earth – a miracle of the inspired human spirit.

As Piero was leaving the show, I told him: “You have given something of perennial value to the soul of the earth and India”. He humbly thanked me and replied, “If it hadn’t been me, somebody else would have done it.”

Piero might be right when we recall the Mother’s words, “The Matrimandir is directly under the influence of the Divine and certainly He arranges things better than we could do ourselves.” (Oct. 1971, Words of the Mother – I, p.225)

Thank you, François Gautier, for filming the interview for posterity.


(Note: This is highly abridged version. For full text, see Auroville Intranet post dt. 20 December 2015 or write to aryadeep (at) Also, both first and second part of the interview with Piero can be viewed on YouTube.)