It is a great pleasure to finally write to you after reading for years of your close association and devoted service to Sri Aurobindo and the Mother. What an experience it must have been being there in the early years among the first generation of sadhaks. It must sadden you terribly to see the conflict and chaos which has replaced such hopeful beginnings.
I am writing to you on behalf of a large community of devotees in the United States, individuals who have spent years in the study and practice of Integral Yoga. Knowing of our interest in the ongoing work of Sri Aurobindo and the Mother, a mutual friend, David Hogg, has generously shared with us copies of your recent correspondence. Of particular interest are your comments about Patrizia Norelli-Bachelet and the Matrimandir. While we have the greatest respect for your years of devoted service, Mr. Sethna, we are obliged to ask certain questions which arise as a result of some of your statements.
In your letter of 11.9.1993 responding to David Hogg’s letter suggesting that you might wish to consider publishing excerpts of Patrizia Norelli-Bachelet’s newsletter in your publication, Mother India, you write:
‘Patrizia’s writings cannot be a part of Mother India at present. They would not be quite harmonious with our vision (italics mine) or the work of Sri Aurobindo and the Mother.’
There are a number of disturbing implications in your reply, not the least of which is the suggestion of a test of ‘Aurobindonian Orthodoxy’ which one must pass to be in compliance with ‘your vision’. Would you please tell us whose vision this is, something about its parameters and specifically, on what points Patrizia’s writings do not qualify for publication.
In your 23.10.1993 letter you make a number of statements concerning Patrizia which presupposes a great deal about her work and state of consciousness. You state:
‘I feel that what she is doing is to found a new cult in which a view of the world according to her bent of mind is developed with some initiatives from the Aurobindonian spirituality.’
‘She is also a very intelligent person who is in touch with a source of inspiration in the subtle world, one with which I do not experience a deep affinity.’
Again we have this implication of exclusivity and orthodoxy which presumes to comment on the source and quality of her inspiration in relation to your own. Surely you will agree Mr. Sethna that statements such as these, made by someone of your stature in the community of devotees, can only be justified on the basis of specific and incontrovertible facts. Please be kind enough to provide us with the source and details of this evidence.
In fact, all of your letter suggests that you, and your colleagues, believe yourselves to be in exclusive possession of the Aurobindonian Truth. I suppose it is the arrogance of orthodoxy which allows you to dismiss without explanation anyone who questions the status quo. This has certainly been my experience, having yet to receive even the courtesy of a reply to thoughtful letters of inquiry written to members of the Auroville Board. But for you to use the pretence of Patrizia’s status vis-à-vis Sri Aurobindo and the Mother as grounds for ignoring factual issues is beyond arrogance, it is simply dishonest.
Many of us in the American community have spent years in the study of sacred architecture. We have come to appreciate the subtleties of Hindu Temple building and the profound meaning incorporated into their construction. When the ancient Vedic texts speak of the occult correspondence between the temple and the universe it is obvious they refer to its precise cosmic dimensions. And yet you authoritatively pronounce that, ’any inaccuracy which might have crept into the structure’ would not be considered important. My colleagues and I are particularly disturbed to read what utter disregard you seem to have for the impeccability of the Mother’s vision.
‘I cannot believe that the Mother’s Divine Consciousness is a stickler after exactness of measurement. She would not have made a radical issue out of any inaccuracy which might have crept into the structure of the Matrimandir.’
Surely Mr. Sethna with your years of experience in the ashram and close contact with the Mother, you must have heard her discuss the nature of the Supramental Vision. She described it as, ‘a vision of a higher order, a simultaneous vision and knowledge. A microscopic perception…absolutely precise and exact. A kind of felt vision and this vision is very precise, very precise of the value of vibrations in relation to a higher vibration.’ When she had the vision of what was to become the Matrimandir, she insisted that it be built according to her ‘seeing’. She said, ‘I no longer need anyone to see what it should be, I KNOW.’ She had seen the form of the temple directly on the plane of Truth-Consciousness and mentions over and over the importance of its symbolic meaning. When others would suggest alterations she would tell them, ’from the mental point of view it is very attractive, but in vision…’, or in response to a suggestion of substituting blocks for the columns she responded, ‘no, that has no meaning’. Her original plan was a symbolic and mathematical perfection evident to anyone having studied Indian sacred architecture as representing the very pinnacle of the Vedic Truth. Yet owing to the lack of vision and outright bad will of Piero and others, her immaculate vision was mutilated beyond recognition.
I have recently been invited to give a lecture on Sacred Architecture at the Cathedral of Saint John the Divine in New York City. It is the world’s largest gothic cathedral and one of the most progressive churches in America. It would have been my great pleasure to point to the Matrimandir as the greatest feat of sacred architecture yet to be realised on earth, to have described its sublime measurement, profound symbolism and Vedic content. Instead, I will speak of it in the context of a failed experiment, a Shadow of its intended truth, and a symbol of the Titanic Consciousness.
It is perhaps unfortunate Mr. Sethna that you have become the present focus of this controversy. Yet your prominence in the Ashram and your tacit support of the status quo through Mother India belie any question of your innocence. Your esteemed position denies you the luxury of unsupported private opinions and surely you must realise that the comments in your letters simply add spiritual weight to the Titanic Consciousness which has overtaken the ashram. When we in America read in the Indian press:
‘Auroville is a dream turned sour, a utopia gone to waste. Its concept of universal fraternity lies in tatters, torn asunder by factional fighting, power games, politics and nationality issues…’
The Illustrated Weekly of India
we find it simply unbelievable that a man of your obvious intelligence and spiritual stature can stand by and refuse to use your position and resources to help correct the problem. Instead we heard from you:
‘Please don’t drag me into any controversy. I have no desire to be mixed up in this matter. I am not defending anything that may have gone wrong with Auroville.’
In point of fact, your silent assent makes you a willing collaborator of this conspiracy of ignorance. Do you imagine that the Mother can use this kind of instrument for what she desired to manifest in Auroville. Perhaps if you knew that there are others who are beginning to ask questions, powerful people who are ‘extremely worried about the state of affairs in Auroville’, you might find the courage to use your position to speak out against the unconscionable abuses which are making a mockery of Sri Aurobindo and the Mother’s Truth….
Robert E. Wilkinson
Vice President, Aeon Group