The Journey with the Russian Singing Bells by Vera Lipen

(Auroville News and Notes, 31 March 2012)

Dear friends,

It is now four years that the Russian Singing Bells came to Auroville as an inspiration for the Russian Pavilion. It’s been a great adventure to be with the Bells, and I feel the time has come to summarize my experience and share it with you all.

In 2005 while still being in Moscow, I cherished the idea of Auroville as a very special place upon Earth where people of different nations would meet as representatives of humanity, aspiring to find one’s divine essence and grow into it to manifest the ideal given to us by Sri Aurobindo and the Mother. The International Zone with various cultural pavilions is meant to also house the Russian Pavilion one day. I was looking for something that I could bring from Russia to contribute to this work and by a pure chance I came across the bells, invented by the bell-master from Moscow Alexander Zhikharev. I was fascinated by the sound of this instrument that gave me the experience of plunging deep within and soaring high above at the same time, almost transporting me to another dimension. It was love that I wanted to share with Auroville, and it was that love that gave me strength to enter and carry on with the adventure, “Russian Singing Bells in Auroville”, learning to do many things that I’ve never done before.

Each time I touch the plate bell, I feel like a little miracle occurs. I have no words to describe this experience; just a surge of joy rises up and attention tunes up to something unheard. I ask people who come for the Bells’ programs to share what they feel while listening to these sounds. By now I have collected more than 350 precious feedbacks in several languages in my guest book. And I see that the message of the Bells is clearly heard. Here are the words of a young volunteer from Germany after the Bells program in the Tibetan Pavilion on the 11th of March this year: “… this instrument talks about peace, harmony and unity, well, not only sounds like it but it transmits these concepts to the core of the people who listen to it. You can feel such a peace within and almost a trance-like state not only when you listen to it but also when playing it. One more time thanks for bringing such an hour and a half of bliss into my day… Sonia.”

Many of you could attend the Bells’s programs at the Matrimandir Amphitheatre, as well as Sunday sessions at the Unity Pavilion. During this season 30 to 50 people came regularly for the mediations with the Russian Bells. Renowned visiting musicians joined their hearts around the instrument in creating harmony in sound together (Marc Vella, Tugay Basar, Kim Cunio, Heather Lee and others). Currently, I am working to prepare video of these unique moments for the Bells web-page.

During these four years a few thousand people have enjoyed these deeply resonating sounds in Auroville, and several hundred people from all the continents experienced the wonder of playing the instrument together – this magic way of communicating through harmonious sounds, without words, without knowing each others’ languages, in a single aspiration. Such is the unique way of contributing towards unity that came from Russia. And I would like once again to express my deep gratitude to Alexander Zhikharev for sharing with us the special gift of his talent, and also to many people in and outside Auroville whose help allowed this project to be and develop. The bell master has many more magical instruments to share with Auroville, and hopefully some of them would one day find their home in the Russian Pavilion. But for that the mutual efforts are required. All the encouragement and support for this project is most welcome. Your donations on the FS account 251873, “Russian Bells”, are highly appreciated.

Recently I felt that this sound should be brought out in the open in different parts of Auroville, especially of the International Zone. That is how two programs took place in March – in the Tibetan Pavilion and in the International house. I feel the terrain of the International Zone is waiting for us to come there, to fill it with our living presence.

Vera Lipen (contact for your suggestions)

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