Flowers bring with them the smile of the Divine.
– The Mother
I have been to Chennai a number of times. I have lived in Bangalore but somehow Pondicherry which is a few hours’ drive from either of these places remained elusive to me. It almost became a mythical place about which I have heard stories from an uncle who left everything a long time back and went and spent his life in the Aurobindo Ashram. With time, I started reading about it and the place seemed pretty ‘surreal’ with its Tamil and French Quarters separated by the canal, the sun and sand, the Aurobindo Ashram, Auroville, the city of dawn and above all its association with Sri Aurobindo and his spiritual collaborator Mirra Alfassa, better known as The Mother.
So finally when we landed in Chennai last October and took the taxi to Pondicherry, I was brimming with excitement. I must have asked our driver too many questions and halfway down the trip via NH45, he felt I needed a break. I am still not convinced whether it was him or me who needed the break more! Anyway, I was not complaining as he promised ‘authentic’ South Indian filter coffee. We stopped at Only Coffee and I immediately fell in love with the place. The coffee was spectacular and so too was the service. Also loved the cool and colourful message board dotted with peppy messages.
The next few days were spent in pure bliss. We stayed in a resort outside the town in Poornankupam Village (accessible via an auto from the main town). The adjoining beach is clean and offers one an opportunity to walk aimlessly for hours. The beach is indeed a photographer’s delight especially in the morning; early morning if I may add as it gets pretty hot by 7.30.
During our visit to the Aurobindo Ashram, I noticed flowers and more flowers. I was intrigued and enquired whether flowers have any special significance to the Ashram. I came to know that The Mother had said “Flowers speak to us when we know how to listen to them. It is a subtle and fragrant language.” According to The Mother, “Each variety of flower has its own special quality and meaning. By establishing an inner contact with the flower, this meaning can be known.”
Here are some examples:
The next day we made our trip to Auroville. The shady path to the Matrimandir was dotted with plaques with messages on it depicting the flowers and their significance. The messages seemed so apt in the context of the world we live in and did provide food for thought for me. Here are my favourites:
If this interests you, you may consider checking the site ‘Blossom like a flower’ where the spiritual significance of nearly 900 flowers have been described.
Pondicherry, especially the area surrounding the ashram is best explored (don’t miss the by lanes) by foot. The buildings, the streets transport you to a world which we sadly miss in urban India today. Here is a picture which I am extremely fond of. The scooter (not the gearless ones which we have grown used to) against the wall of an old building reminded me of how diverse and beautiful our country is!
Before I end, I wanted to share another picture which I had taken on the way to the beach from our resort. These idols lay neglected in front of a small temple. I made an attempt to understand their significance but wasn’t successful. It was good that way though. I want to remain intrigued about Pondicherry and hope to make more visits in the days to come.
If you have never been to Pondicherry, do visit it soon!
Image source: http://www.aurosociety.org/
All other images used in the post were taken by me.