Building a ‘New Earth’
Every so often a story comes along that captures the spirit of Auroville in a unique way, bringing to light aspects of its deeper purpose of transforming the world we live in to create a spiritualized life on our planet. ‘New Earth’ is one such story, captured in a colourful coffee table book with hundreds of vivid flower mandala images accompanied by a few short texts. Conceived and photographed by Avigal Lemberger, the book is intended as a meditative opening to the language and significance of flowers and mandalas.
The New Earth story started on October 13, 1972 when Auroculture brought an all-flower compost to The Mother who “put her lovely hands on it and meditated on it.” This original batch has been constantly added to, and taken from, in a homeopathic manner, so that a direct link back to Mother’s first touch and concentration remains. Before her passing, Auroculture designated Avigal to follow in her footsteps with the work of creating this ‘New Earth’.
The gathering of fallen flowers for composting has continued since on a daily basis. In addition to collecting from the Matrimandir’s garden, every Sunday at 4am the team heads early to the Samadhi in the Sri Aurobindo Ashram to pick up those flowers which will not be reused or given as prasad (blessing) and bring them back to Auroville.
The harvested flowers offer a last flourish of their beauty and vibrations in daily and uniquely created mandalas before they become part of the alchemical New Earth. It is these fleeting images which are so vibrantly captured in this book. Sometimes the colours and shapes that are chosen later reveal deeper meanings and synchronicities, one example being the Indian national colours of orange, green and white emerging in one mandala only for the creators to later realize it was Indian Republic day.
Mother attributed a profound spiritual significance to flowers and named plants to indicate the inner attributes they bring. In response to a question of whether flowers kept their force after decaying Mother replied:
“Perhaps it brings energy to the soil, that’s quite possible; but still, when it decays it is good only to make manure to grow other flowers. But if it dries up, it is preserved, it can remain for quite a long time”. CWM Vol 6., p 231.
Auroculture was convinced that the vibrational work with flowers had a power to affect not just Auroville but also the world. She wrote, “Through observations it has been seen that the manifestation of a higher consciousness in matter through plants is not only a possibility but a reality. Mother has given to us a whole book full of vibrations She has identified while meditating with flowers. She has very much used flowers for Her Divine Work and also to change circumstances and happening.
“In the many years of collecting tons of flowers and making earth out of them, it has been regularly observed that wherever these flowers were used new things manifested and there was a change in the environment… Transformation flowers would change things and with Prosperity flowers abundance resulted… Plants that have been planted in this substance made from flowers and treated in a special way transfer their energy change of structure or consciousness to other plants of the same species… This work is very fascinating and if done more extensively will one day lead us to many still undreamed of possibilities.”
Auroville has a history and ethos of working with nature to transform eroded land back to forest. This vibrational flower mandala offering, and the composting of those flowers, combined with the blessing that came through Mother’s hands onto the soil is a special addition to the Auroville story of working deeply with nature to transform the very earth we live and walk on.
For more information: newearth.org.in
Interview with Avigal,
author of ‘New Earth’
Auroville Today: Has the ‘New Earth’ been created daily since the 1970s?
Avigal: Yes – it started with Auroculture, who did it religiously every day. At first she didn’t have a proper composting place in Auroville. Only in 1999 was she assigned a pukka place in the Matrimandir gardens. Auroculture was a special woman, a true sadhak. She was into earth making since the 1970s. For her it was more like ‘let’s make the earth’. For me, the form and shape are also crucial, and that resulted in flower mandalas.
Auroville Today: How did it come about that Auroculture designated you to become her successor?
It’s a story of Grace. I visited India in 2001 before starting a PhD and immediately felt my spirit say “this is your home”. I changed my doctoral thesis to the ‘Future of Religion and Spirituality’, spending months in different ashrams in India before I came to the Sri Aurobindo Ashram where I was suddenly mesmerised by everything. I realised I was not here to study intellectually, and started volunteering cleaning the flowers for the Samadhi and in time I began accompanying the Golden Chain group who came to work in the Matrimandir gardens on alternate Sundays and so got to meet Auroculture.
Five years before Auroculture left her body, she had a stroke, but she was still lucid and looking for an Auroville newcomer to continue this work. I was asked if I could come and work there.
I had no intention to move to Auroville at that time, but was free from August, so I arrived as a volunteer and started work seven years ago. At first I thought it would take a few years to fully move here – my mother was still in her body – but it was offered to me so I took it. It was absolutely a Grace. So I came for the flowers, which are my anchor in Auroville. I feel it’s much bigger than me and whatever is happening around us.
How was the book designed?
I worked with a wonderful graphic designer, Vivechana and with Dr. Vandana (the publisher) who makes flower remedies with Mother’s flowers. I would sit at home and send a bunch of mandala pictures and Vivechana would intuitively know where to place them in the book. The words are not important – the mandalas speak for themselves, they don’t need me to add anything, although for every mandala there is a story. The quotations in the book would just come to me when I opened the computer and saw Mother and Sri Aurobindo’s writings.
I do not want people to feel they have to read cover to cover, the purpose is to get a feel of it. At the end of the book are tiny mandalas, an endless world. We have a website where we post a daily mandala picture. They are evolving all the time. I really wish I could understand a fraction of it. I am there as a vessel and not so important in this process.
Can you elaborate on the power of flowers?
Open a little to a flower and you will get everything, the power is there. There is no need to say anything. The same goes for mandalas: they are not meant for the intellect. You can really feel vibrations through flowers, they are the subtle worlds coming to life and they make this energy very accessible. For this work of creating the New Earth, flowers are a great way to tap into the energy that is there.
One of my favourite quotes in the book is from Sri Aurobindo about how perfection and harmony are signs of the divine.
It is this bondage to a perpetual stamp of imperfection and disharmony that is the mark of the undivine; a divine life on the contrary, even if progressing from the little to the more, would be at each stage harmonious in its principle and detail. It would be a secure ground upon which freedom and perfection could naturally flower or grow towards their highest stature, refine and expand into their most subtle opulence.
Sri Aurobindo, CWSA Vols 21-22, p 404
Do you see the ‘New Earth’ as a metaphor for the type of new world Auroville is wishing to create?
Yes, Auroculture used to say this. In the first batch she made, Mother concentrated on it and Auroculture felt that Mother put all the information she needed for the rest of her life into that earth. We always leave a little bit, to retain a culture from the beginning. Auroculture used to tell me that she had a voice in her head which said. “If you want a new body, you have to make New Earth.” Auroculture wanted it to grow special food with its special vibration and Auroculture said when she fed it to spinach they had five times the normal size. It came to me that this New Earth has the quality of the biblical Garden of Eden, and how the Earth was supposed to be before we exploited it.