Jothi Charles

When I had first seen the painting “Spirit of Auroville”, long before coming to live in Auroville, it left a lingering impression of beauty in the mind. Recently in Auroville, thanks to Shraddhavan, I received a copy of the same painting published as a card by Huta, the painter herself. As I looked at it more closely this time I was drawn to the symbolic meaning of the colours and forms it was composed of and what I observed and understood were quite significant.

The central figure of the painting is a celestial woman in flowing robes and coloured hair expressive of an occidental form. But her face is contemplative, sweet and expresses inner communion and peace, the characteristics seen at the other end of the cultural spectrum, the eastern world. The woman concentrates on the golden pollen of a vast flower with white petals and sends beams of golden light towards it. The pollen by its shape, colour and texture immediately brings to mind the image of the central structure of Matrimandir, the soul of Auroville and the light being golden, according to Sri Aurobindo’s symbology implies it is of Supramental origin.

Some time ago there was a suggestion that copies of the painting be displayed in public places in Auroville and so I naturally tried to look at it from the point of view of the public. It seemed to me that a common viewer may see the celestial woman of the painting as a western goddess which together with the splashes of gold occupying substantial central space in the painting, may have the impression that the Auroville Spirit is essentially about physical beauty, wealth and perhaps even hedonistic life, the dominant features of the west. For the more perceptive among the viewers -who might have registered the sweetness of the fairy like woman’s countenance – it might mean that Auroville spirit is essentially about manifesting divine love through material riches.

But all these impressions recede when the true theme of the painting is understood. The golden light represents the supramental, which in Sri Aurobindo’s symbology, is a transformative consciousness. The painter being an artist in Sri Aurobindo Ashram it can be safely assumed that that is what her intention is in the choice of the colour. Further according to the master, the Supramental is Truth consciousness and it is with its descent that safe manifestation of love and riches become possible. In a conversation in the Agenda it is seen that the Mother recalls Sri Aurobindo’s insistence on the manifestation of Truth before love. He wrote: “To bring the Divine Love and Beauty and Ananda into the world is, indeed, the whole crown and essence of our yoga. But it has always seemed to me impossible unless there comes as its support and foundation and guard the Divine Truth—what I call the supramental—and its Divine Power.” So “The Spirit of Auroville” painting is not about showering riches or love or both as it might appear to ordinary or refined perceptions respectively.

I turned over the picture card and it had a quote from the Mother saying Truth does not depend on any external form. And I also remembered having read that a supramental being would be a being of Truth and have a body that is plastic to the Divine Will. According to those predictions the real Spirit of Auroville may have a form that will be determined by the Divine Will and it is not a fixed thing, not even in the way the painting has brought out because that cannot be but a glimpse, an artistic representation of a great dynamic Truth as it appeared to her at a particular time.

Surely it is wisdom on canvas for the initiated and I am grateful for this opportunity to share what I received from it.