« Awakened to the meaning of my heart
That to feel love and oneness is to live
And this the magic or our golden change,
Is all the truth I know or seek, Ô sage. »
« Yet for joy and not for sorrow earth was made »
Sri Aurobindo – Savitri
Sri Aurobindo’s legacy
Always, there has been that cry of love undone in front of death, that No of fire in front of that No of stone. That something in Man which does not accept—and it was always love that faced that inexorable Negation. It is in front of this that the burning is the most intense and the old wound becomes the Wound of the Earth itself. Tears were never useful but sometimes a heart is seized by a sublime will. These are our most beautiful myths and they date back earlier than the ruins of Thebes when Isis, indomitably, was going down to “the lords of the necropolis” to patch up the dismembered body of Osiris, the one she loved. Always, there has been that will to vanquish death, that love stronger than death—we say “myths”, but in these “unexisting” dreams are hidden the most powerful springs of the human race and its foreknowledge of a power to come. From Isis and Osiris’ posthumous union was born he who was called “the child”, Horus, the Pharaohs’ ancestor, the golden Hawk… Who is this mysterious child born from beyond the grave, from vanquished death?
Later, there has been Dèmèter, the “Great-Goddess” of the Earth and Zeus’ spouse, whose daughter, Korè, was abducted by Pluton, the “Lord of Hell”. It was the birth of the Eleusian Mysteries that repeated the union of Heaven and this mortal Earth, giving birth to the “Divine Child”—this child from beyond earth, stronger than death: our soul… which has not yet conquered its power over death. The myth is already widening. But the Child, our child, always remains beyond earth.
Then, there was the moving legend of Orpheus, the “mythical” bard who descended into Hell to take away his beloved Eurydice from the old death—and his chants, his love, even won the hellish Hadès’ heart of stone. He found his Eurydice back… for a short while. Distressed by this second death, Orpheus withdraws alone in company with wild animals which understand him better, perhaps. But Man always tries, this is what makes him sublime among all the wild species.
Even before Eleusis, even before Ménès, the first Egyptian Pharoah near Abydos, or his contemporary, around the year three thousand before our era of consenting dead, there was the legend of Savitri whose love wrests her beloved spouse, Satyavan, from death. It is in the Mahabharata that we find this legend and it is from there that Sri Aurobindo has drawn his prodigious epic of some twenty-three thousand eight hundred and thirteen verses, though by giving it a vaster, cosmic meaning: Earth snatched from death. For this death is always here, but perhaps not for ever.
I climb not to thy everlasting Day,
Even as I have shunned thy eternal Night.
…Earth is the chosen place of mightiest souls
Earth is the heroic spirit’s battlefield…
Thy servitudes on earth are greater, king,
Than all the glorious liberties of heaven…
In me the spirit of immortal love
Stretches its arms out to embrace mankind.
Too far thy heavens for me from suffering men.
Imperfect is the joy not shared by all.
Oh to spread forth, oh to encircle and seize
More hearts till love in us has filled thy world!…
Are there not still a million fights to wage?…
Are there not still unnumbered chants to weave?…
I know that I can lift man’s soul to God,
I know that he can bring down the Immortal down…
I sacrifice not earth to happier worlds…
This « he » is Satyavan. HE CAN.
He is the soul of Earth fallen (or in-graved) in Ignorance and in the reign of Death. It is this soul of the Earth that Savitri, daughter of the Sun, comes to deliver—Savitri, the Mother of the worlds in a human body and Satyavan’s spouse.
The first canto of Sri Aurobindo’s epic concludes with this verse: “citation” Fate would have it so—is our Earth going to die once more? Sri Aurobindo had started to write Savitri soon after his return to India, before the beginning of the last century, and in 1950, a few months before his departure, he was still revising the “Book of Fate”. This epic is Sri Aurobindo’s legacy—his exploration, his question in front of this incurable human race (so it seems).
And yet Man can. But he does not know that he can: it is his colossal Ignorance.
He does not know his own Mean, he, the son of the Immortal—and if he is the son of the Immortal, he should have—he has—all the Means of the Immortal. He let himself be bound by false knowledge and false salvations and naturally, Death is reigning, since we live from her and her false means.
Savitri comes to “break the iron Law”.
I bow not to thee, O huge mask of Death,
Black lie of night to the cowed soul of man…
I am immortal in my mortality…
I trample on thy law with living feet.
And here is the constant theme of Savitri: you are, you are…—and who are you? who are you choosing? and you can.
A Spirit who is no one and innumerable,
the one mystic infinite Person of his world
Multiplies his myriad personnality,
And sits in each immortal and unique.
A mutual debt binds man to the Supreme:
His nature we must put on as he put ours;
We are sons of God and must be even as he…
Our life is a paradox with God for key
But how to “break this iron Law” ?… It is the fabulous exploration of the “King”, Savitri’s father, pioneer of the species—no epic in the world ever told so many secrets with so much beauty. It is Sri Aurobindo’s own experience under a “poetic” cover: « This is no literature, no poetry « , Mother exclaimed, « this is an exact description, step by step, paragraph by paragraph, page by page. »
The Vedas have returned at the time of the “final obscurity”.
And his central discovery, his central and step by step exploration, can be gathered in one single verse of Savitri that we can read with amazement because we always went to the other end of things
Make the abysm a road for Heaven’s descent
It is our paradox. It is the Divine Paradox under our coat of Darkness. If we had come from Darkness, there would only be Darkness for us, forever. But we never went to look there.
« The remedy is at the very core of the evil. » Mother said.
Only, it is more difficult.
It is our human Challenge.
The life you lead conceals the light you are…
Out of the Immortal’s substance you were made;
Your actions can be swift revealing steps,
Your life a changeful mould for growing gods.
A Seer, a strong Creator, is within…
Author’s of earth’s high change, to you it is given
To cross the dangerous spaces of the soul…
And meet the Omnipotent in this house of flesh
And make of life the million-bodied One.
It is this path through the abyss that Sri Aurobindo and Mother have cut in their own body. In Savitri, one can recognise Mother.
Then through a tunnel dugin the last rock
She came out where there shown a deathless sun.
It is our very roots, dark, unconscious, asleep, that contain the whole tree of our new Evolution—the other end of that “black envelop” surrounded from all sides, down as well as up, by an immortal Sun.
He drew the energies that transmute an age
says the King in Savitri.
And all these millions of years which seem to us so long:
Only beginnings are accomplished here..
What now we see is a shadow of what must come.
MOTHER TALKS ABOUT « SAVITRI »
(A report written from memory by Mona Sarkar)
On the 18th January 1960, when a young sadhak met the Mother for a personal interview, She said to him: « I shall give you something special; be prepared. » The next day when he again met Her, She spoke in French first about how to kindle the psychic flame and then in this connection started speaking about Sri Aurobindo’s great epic Savitri and continued to speak at length.
The sadhak, after returning from the Mother, wanted to note down immediately what She said, but he could not do so because he felt a great hesitation due to his sense of incapacity to transcribe exactly the Mother’s own words. After nearly seven years, however, he felt a strong urge to note down what the Mother had spoken; so in 1967 he wrote down from memory a report in French. The report was seen by the Mother and a few corrections were made by Her. To another sadhak who asked Her permission to read this report She wrote: » Years ago I have spoken at length about it(Savitri) to Mona Sarkar and he has noted in French what I said. Some time back I have seen what he has written and found it correct on the whole. »(4.12.67)
On a few other occasions also, the Mother had spoken to the same sadhak on the value of reading Savitri which he had noted down afterwards. These notes have been added at the end of the main report.
A few members of the Ashram had privately read this report in French, but afterwards there were many requests for its English version.
A translation was therefore made in November 1967. A proposal was made to the Mother in 1972 for its publication and it was submitted to Her for approval. The Mother wanted to check the translation before permitting its publication but could check only a portion of it.
– Do you read Savitri?
– Yes Mother, yes.
– You have read the whole poem?
– Yes, Mother, I have read it twice.
– Have you understood all that you have read?
– Not much, but I like Poetry, it is because of that I read it.
– It does not matter if you do not understand it – Savitri, read it always. You will see that every time you read it, there will be something new revealed to you. Each time you will get a new glimpse, each time a new experience; things which were not there, things you did not understand arise and suddenly become clear. Always an unexpected vision comes up through the words and lines. Every time you try to read and understand, you will see that something is added, something which was hidden behind is revealed clearly and vividly. I tell you the very verses you have read once before, will appear to you in a different light each time you re-read them. This is what happens invariably. Always your experience is enriched, it is a revelation at each step.
But you must not read it as you read other books or newspapers. You must read with an empty head, a blank and vacant mind, without there being any other thought; you must concentrate much, remain empty, calm and open; then the words, rhythms, vibrations will penetrate directly to this white page, will put their stamp upon the brain, will explain themselves without your making any effort.
Savitri alone is sufficient to make you climb to the highest peaks. If truly one knows how to meditate upon Savitri, one will receive all the help one needs. For him who wishes to follow this path, it is a concrete help as though the Lord himself were taking you by the hand and leading you to the destined goal. And then, every question, however personal it may be, has its answer here, every difficulty finds it’s solution herein; indeed there is everything that is necessary for doing the Yoga.
« He has crammed the whole universe in a single book. » It is a marvellous work, magnificent and of an incomparable perfection.
You know, before writing Savitri Sri Aurobindo said to me, « I am impelled to launch on a new adventure; I was hesitant in the beginning, but now I am decided. Still I do not know how far I shall succeed. I pray for help. » And you know what it was?
It was – before beginning, I warn you in advance – it was his way of speaking, so full of humility and divine modesty. He never… asserted himself. And the day he actually began it, he told me: « I have launched myself in a rudderless boat upon the vastness of the Infinite. » And once having started, he wrote page after page without intermission, as though it were a thing already complete up there and he had only to transcribe it in ink down here on these pages.
In truth, the entire form of Savitri has descended « en masse » from the highest region and Sri Aurobindo with his genius only arranged the lines – in a superb and magnificent style. Sometimes entire lines were revealed and he has left them intact; he worked hard, untiringly, so that the inspiration could come from the highest possible summit.
And what a work he has created! Yes, it is a true creation in itself. It is an unequalled work. Everything is there, and it is put in such a simple, such a clear form; verses perfectly harmonious, limpid and eternally true. My child, I have read so many things, but I have never come across anything which could be compared with Savitri. I have studied the best works in Greek, Latin, English and of course in French literature, also in German and all the great creations of the West and the East, including the great epics; but I repeat it, I have not found anywhere anything comparable with Savitri. All these literary works seem to me empty, flat, hollow, without any deep reality – apart from a few rare exceptions, and these too represent only a small fraction of what Savitri is. What grandeur, what amplitude, what reality: it is something immortal and eternal he has created. I tell you once again there is nothing like it in the whole world. Even if one puts aside the vision of the reality, that is, the essential substance which is the heart of the inspiration, and considers only the verses in themselves, one will find them unique, of the highest classical kind. What he has created is something man cannot imagine. For, everything is there, everything.
It may then be said that Savitri is a revelation, it is a meditation, it is a quest of the Infinite, the Eternal. If it is read with this aspiration for Immortality, the reading itself will serve as a guide to Immortality. To read Savitri is indeed to practise Yoga, spiritual concentration; one can find there all that is needed to realise the Divine. Each step of Yoga is noted here, including the secret of all other Yogas. Surely, if one sincerely follows what is revealed here in each verse one will reach finally the transformation of the supramental Yoga. It is truly the infallible guide who never abandons you; his support is always there for him who wants to follow the path. Each verse of Savitri is like a revealed Mantra which surpasses all that man possessed by way of knowledge, and I repeat this, the words are expressed and arranged in such a way that the sonority of the rhythm leads you to the origin of sound, which is OM.
My child, yes, everything is there: mysticism, occultism, philosophy, the history of evolution, the history of man, of the gods, of creation, of Nature. How the universe was created, why, for what purpose, what destiny – all is there. You can find all the answers to all your questions therein. Everything is explained, even the future of man and of the evolution, all that nobody yet knows. He has described it all in beautiful and clear words so that spiritual « adventurers » who wish to solve the mysteries of the world may understand it more easily.But this mystery is well hidden behind the words and lines and one must climb to the required level of true consciousness to discover it. All prophecies, all that is going to come is presented with a precise and wonderful clarity. Sri Aurobindo gives you here the key to find the truth, to discover the consciousness, solve the problem of what the universe is. He has also indicated how to open the door of the inconscience so that the light may penetrate there and transform it. He has shown the path, the way to liberate oneself from the ignorance and climb right up to the superconscience; each stage, each plane of consciousness, how they can be scaled, how one can cross even the barrier of death and reach immortality. You will find the whole journey in detail, and as you go forward you can discover things altogether unknown to men. That is Savitri, and much more yet. It is a real experience – reading Savitri. All the secrets that man possessed, he has revealed, – as well as all that awaits him in the future; all this is found in the depth of Savitri. But one must have the knowledge to discover it all, the experience of the planes of consciousness, the experience of the Supermind, even the experience of the conquest of Death. He has noted all the stages, marked each step in order to advance integrally in the integral Yoga.
All this is his own experience, and what is most surprising is that it is my own experience also. It is my sadhana which he has worked out: Each object, each event, each realisation, all the descriptions, even the colours are exactly what I saw and the words, phrases are also exactly what I heard. And all this before having read the book. I read Savitri many times afterwards, but earlier, when he was writing he used to read it to me. Every morning I used to hear him read Savitri. During the night he would write and in the morning read it to me. And I observed something curious, that day after day the experiences he read out to me in the morning were those I had had the previous night, word by word. Yes, all the descriptions, the colours, the pictures I had seen, the words I had heard, all, all I heard it all, put by him into poetry, into miraculous poetry. Yes, they were exactly my experiences of the previous night which he read out to me the following morning. And it was not just one day by chance, but for days and days together. And every time I used to compare what he said with my previous experiences and they were always the same. I repeat, it was not that I had told him my experiences and that he had noted them down afterwards, no, he knew already what I had seen. It is my experiences he has presented at length and they were his experiences also. It is, moreover, the picture of our joint adventure into the unknown or rather into the Supermind.
These are experiences lived by him, realities, supracosmic truths. He experienced all these as one experiences joy or sorrow, physically. He walked in the darkness of inconscience, even in the neighbourhood of death, endured the sufferings of perdition, and emerged from the mud, the world-misery to breathe the sovereign plenitude and enter the supreme Ananda. He crossed all these realms, went through the consequences, suffered and endured physically what one cannot imagine. Nobody till today has suffered like him. He accepted suffering to transform suffering into the joy of union with the Supreme. It is something unique and incomparable in the history of the world. It is something that has never happened, he is the first to have traced the path in the Unknown, so that we may be able to walk with certitude towards the Supermind. He has made the work easy for us. Savitri is his whole Yoga of transformation, and this Yoga appears now for the first time in the earth-consciousness.
And I think that man is not yet ready to receive it. It is too high and too vast for him. He cannot understand it, grasp it, for it is not by the mind that one can understand Savitri. One needs spiritual experiences in order to understand and assimilate it.The more one advances on the path of Yoga, the more one assimilates andthe better. No, it is something which will be appreciated only in the future, it is the poetry of tomorrow of which he has spoken in The Future Poetry. It is too subtle, too refined,- it is not in the mind or through the mind, it is in meditation that Savitri is revealed.
And men have the audacity to compare it with the work of Virgil or Homer to find it inferior. They do not understand, they cannot understand. What do they know? Nothing at all. And it is useless to try to make them understand. Men will know what it is, but in a distant future. It is only the new race with a new consciousness which will be able to understand. I assure you there is nothing under the blue sky to compare with Savitri. It is the mystery of mysteries. It is a super-epic, it is super-literature, super-poetry, super-vision, it is a super-work even if one considers the number of lines he has written. No, these human words are not adequate to decribe Savitri. Yes, one needs superlatives, hyperboles to describe it. It is a hyper-epic. No, words express nothing of what Savitri is, at least I do not find them. It is of immense value – spiritual value and all other values; it is eternal in its subject, and infinite in its appeal, miraculous in its mode and power of execution; it is a unique thing, the more you come in contact with this, the higher will you be uplifted. Ah, truly it is something! It is the most beautiful thing he has left for man, the highest possible. What is it? When will man know it? When is he going to lead a life of truth? When is he going to accept this in his life? This yet remains to be known.
My child, everyday you are going to read Savitri; read properly, with the right attitude, concentrating a little before opening the pages and trying to keep the mind as empty as possible, absolutely without a thought.The direct road is by ‘the heart’. I tell you, if you try to concentrate really with this aspiration you can light a flame, the psychic flame, the flame of purification in a very short time, perhaps in a few days. What you cannot do normally, you can do with the help of Savitri. Try and you will see how very different it is, how new, if you read with this attitude, with this something at the back of your consciousness; as though it were an offering to Sri Aurobindo. You know it is charged, fully charged with consciousness; as though Savitri were a being, a real guide. I tell you, whoever, wishing to practise Yoga, tries sincerely and feels the necessity for it, will be able to climb with the help of Savitri to the highest step of the ladder of Yoga, will be able to find the secret that Savitri represents. And this without the help of a Guru. And he will be able to practise it anywhere. For him Savitri alone will be the guide, for all that he needs he will find in Savitri. If he remains very quiet when before a difficulty, or when he does not know where to turn to go forward and how to overcome obstacles, for all these hesitations and these incertitudes which overwhelm us at every moment, he will have the necessary indications, and the necessary concrete help. If he remains very calm, open, if he aspires sincerely, always he will be as if led by the hand.
If he has faith, the will to give himself and essential sincerity he will reach the final goal. Indeed, Savitri is something concrete, living, it is all replete, packed with consciousness, it is the supreme knowledge above all human philosophies and religions. It is the spiritual path, it is Yoga, tapasya, sadhana, everything, in its single body. Savitri has an extraordinary power, it gives out vibrations for him who can receive them, the true vibrations of each stage of consciousness. It is incomparable, it is truth in its plenitude, the truth Sri Aurobindo brought down on the earth. My child, one must try to find the secret that Savitri represents, the prophetic message Sri Aurobindo reveals there for us. This is the work before you, it is hard but it is worth the trouble.
If you are depressed, if you feel miserable, if you do not succeed in anything that you undertake or else if what happens is always the contrary of what you expect, however much you try – if it has come to such a pass that you lose your temper, life becomes disgusting and you are unhappy, then immediately take Savitri and, after a moment’s concentration, open it at any page and read. You will see that all your misery disappears like smoke. And you will have the strength to overcome the worst gloom of sorrows; you will no more feel that which tormented you. Instead you will feel a strange happiness, a reversal of consciousness along with the energy and force to conquer everything, as though there was nothing impossible. And you will feel this inexhaustible joy that purifies all. Read just a few lines and that is sufficient to establish the contact with your inmost being. Such is the extraordinary power of Savitri.
Or else after reading, if you concentrate very deeply, then you can find the solution to what was tormenting you. You just have to open it randomly and without thinking and you will have the answer to your problems. Do it with faith and simplicity, the result is certain.