Sri Aurobindo The Mother Essay Conclusion
by Jayaram V
Sri Aurobindo was born in Calcutta on August 15,1872. In His life time, he wrote extensively on a number of spiritual subjects and his integral yoga, explaining the process of the descent of higher levels of consciousness and the way they would transform life and consciousness upon earth eventually. He believed in the evolution of consciousness and the possibility of humans evolving into super humans through self-effort and divine centered living. He believed in the importance of silence, austerity, purity and surrender to allow the Divine Mother to work through one's mind and body and prepare them for the descent of supramental consciousness.
In his efforts, he was assisted greatly by the Mother, who remained with him in the Ashram. After he decided to practice silence, she took over the responsibility of managing the Ashram and providing guidance to the followers who sought her help. Sri Aurobindo left this world on December 5th, 1950. The Mother continued his work in the earthly plane until she passed away in the seventies. In this section we are presenting a few essays and writings of Sri Aurobindo and The Mother for our reader's benefit.
The religion which embraces Science and faith, Theism, Christianity, Mohamedanism and Buddhism and yet is none of these, is that to which the World-Spirit moves.
All religions have saved a number of souls, but none yet has been able to spiritualize mankind. For that there is needed not cult and creed, but a sustained and all comprehending effort at spiritual self-evolution.
Vedanta says rather, "Man, thou art of one nature and substance with God, one soul with thy fellow-men. Awake and progress then to thy utter divinity, live for God in thyself and in others." This gospel which was given only to the few, must now be offered to all mankind for its deliverance.
There are two works that are perfectly pleasing to God in His servant; to sweep in silent adoration His temple floors and to fight in the world's battle-field of His divine consummation in humanity.
God's servant is something; God"s slave is greater.
Our ideal is not the spirituality that withdraws from life but the conquest of life by the power of the spirit.
Suggestions for Further Reading
Importance of Savitri
Savitri is Sri Aurobindo’s supreme prophetic revelation in poetic form. In it he has laid open the Supreme’s deepest secrets and for one who knows how and where to look, who knows how to understand, all the answers to man’s deepest, oldest, most profoundest and fundamental questions are there. As the Mother says “He has crammed the whole universe into a single book” - (Mona Sarkar - Sweet Mother I pg 22). It is mystic poetry of the highest calibre and Sri Aurobindo has taken particular care to maintain the inspiration at a very high level and has in fact used Savitri as means of rising to ever higher levels of consciousness, sometimes writing and rewriting 10-12 times.
In a letter of 1936, he says “I have used Savitri as a means of ascension. I began with it on a certain mental level, each time I could reach a higher level I rewrote from that level. Moreover I was particular – if part seemed to me to come from any lower levels I was not satisfied to leave it because it was good poetry. All had to be as far as possible of the same mint. In fact Savitri has not been regarded by me as a poem to be written and finished, but as a field of experimentation to see how far poetry could be written from one’s yogic consciousness and how that could be made creative.” (Letters on Savitri pg 727/728.)
And again “Savitri is a work by itself unlike all others. I made some eight or ten recasts of it originally under the old insufficient inspiration. Afterwards I am altogether rewriting it, concentrating on the first Book and working on it over and over again with the hope that every line maybe of a perfect perfection – but have hardly any time now for such work (CWSA Vol 27 Pg 211).
And in another letter of 1936 he says “... Moreover, there have been made several successive revisions each trying to lift the general level higher and higher towards a possible Overmind poetry. As it now stands there is a general overmind influence, I believe, sometimes coming fully through, sometimes colouring the poetry of the other higher planes fused together, sometimes lifting any one of these higher planes to its highest or the psychic, poetic intelligence or vital towards them. ( Letters on Savitri pg 729)
Savitri is overmind poetry, written from what we call the plane of the Gods – the overmind consciousness.
The Mother says the following about Savitri, “It‘s captivating, Savitri! I believe it’s his message – all the rest is preparation, while Savitri is the message” (Mother’s Agenda 4 Pg 69).
“This Savitri is wonderful, he foresaw everything, saw everything, everything, absolutely everything, there isn’t one point he left unexplored!” (Mother’s Agenda 4 Pg 103).
Speaking of her Savitri translation work, she says, “I do it exclusively for the joy of being in a world --- a world of overmental expression (I don’t say supramental, I say overmental), a luminous, marvellous expression through which you can catch the truth.” (Mother’s Agenda 4 pg 37/38)
And at another place
“ I am not doing it (translating Savitri into French) to show it to the people or have anyone read it but to remain in Savitri’s atmosphere, for I love that atmosphere--- I know that light. I am immediately plunged into it each time I read Savitri. It is very, very beautiful light.” (Mother’s Agenda 3 pg 338)
This light, she has described, at another place as “ ..… that light (of Savitri) – you know, immediately I enter something purely white and silent, light and alive: a sort of beatitude.” (Agenda 4 pg 24)
And further in the Agenda She says “Every time you read it again, it’s new. But that’s a very interesting phenomenon. Every time I read Savitri, I feel as if I am reading it for the first time, really. It’s not that I understand differently, it’s that it’s completely new. I never read it before! It’s odd. It’s at least the fourth time I read it.
And truly there is everything in it. All the things I’ve discovered lately were there and I hadn’t seen it. It’s odd.
The first time I read it was a revelation; it hung together perfectly well from beginning to end, and I felt I had understood (I did understand something). The second time I read it, I said to myself, “But this isn’t the same thing as what I read! ….”. It hung together, it made up a whole -- and I understood something else. Then, recently when I read, at every passage I said to myself, “How new this is! And how the things I have found since are there!” Today again, that’s how it is, as if I read it for the first time! And it puts me into contact with the things I have just discovered.
It’s a miraculous book!” (Agenda II pg 142)
The legend and symbolism of Savitri
The complete title of Sri Aurobindo’s epic is Savitri – A legend and A Symbol.
The legend part relates to the legend of Savitri as appearing in the Mahabharata. As Sri Aurobindo says in his author’s note “The tale of Satyavan and Savitri is recited in the Mahabharata as a story of conjugal love conquering death. But this legend is as shown by many features of the human tale, one of the many symbolic myths of the Vedic cycle.” The Pandava’s on losing the game of dice were condemned to spend 12 years in the forest. While wandering through the forest, they arrive at the hermitage of Rishi Markandiya. After narrating the troubles and hardships faced by them especially Draupadi, Yuddishtra asks Rishi Markandiya if ever there was another woman who had to face such hardships, whence the Rishi narrates the story of Savitri.
King Aswapati of Madra did not have progeny and advancing in years, he performed severe austerities for 18 years to please Goddess Savitri, the consort of Brahma, the creator, to get the boon of 100 sons. Pleased with Aswapati’s devotion and dedication, the Divine Goddess appeared before him and granted him the boon, as per the wishes of Brahma, of a daughter who would be exceptional in all respects. Accordingly a daughter was born to Aswapati who is named Savitri in honour of the Goddess.
On reaching marriageable age, the King asks Savitri to go around the country and seek a husband for herself. Accordingly, Savitri goes around the country and returns home after 2 years having met and chosen Satyavan, a prince and son of deposed, exiled and blind King Dyumatsena, now living in exile in the forest.
As it would be when Savitri tells of her choice to the King, Sage Narada is also present, and who prophesies that Satyavan is destined to die after a year. In spite of protests from her parents, Savitri weds Satyavan and goes to live in the forest with him and his parents. She performs severe austerities and on the fateful day accompanies Satyavan to the forest, where at noon, as predicted, Lord Yama, the God of death, comes and take the soul of Satyavan. Savitri follows him and with her pleasing, wise and respectful words and manners wins the favour of the Lord Yama and gets 5 boons from him, including the release of Satyavans soul from the clutches of death.
This then in a nutshell is the legend part, a tale of conjugal love and its triumph even over death. Since time immemorial Savitri has been the ideal placed before all Indian women.
In the legend Sri Aurobindo saw a symbol and it is this he has brought out in his Savitri. As the Mother says, “He said, Savitri, a legend and a symbol; it’s he who made it a symbol. It’s the story of the encounter of Savitri, the principle of love, with Death and it’s over Death that she won the victory, not in life. She could not win the victory in life without winning the victory over death. “(Agenda vol 6 pg 225)
And as Sri Aurobindo himself has written in a letter dated 15.9.1931
“The lines I quoted from myself are not in any published poem, but in the unfinished first book of “Savitri, a legend and a symbol” which was in intention a sort of symbolic epic of the aim of supramental yoga.” (CWSA vol 27 pg 261)
Savitri is the symbol of the supramentalisation of matter, the divinisation of the physical. It is a prophecy of what will be – the Divine plan and sanction for the manifestation. It is a symbol of the victory of love over Death, the victory of the eternal YES of the lover over the eternal NO, the negation of Death, the inconsient, the falsehood.
Keeping only the outer structure, Sri Aurobindo has completely recast the ancient tale, in the light of his experiences and realisations, into what the Mother terms “ Savitri, the supreme revelation of Sri Aurobindo’s vision” (Words of Mother I pg 24)
And the scope of his vision and experiences and realisations is so staggeringly large that nothing is left out from Savitri.
The Mother “There’s EVERYTHING in this Savitri! And to be able to describe those experiences like that, he must have had them” (Agenda 10 pg 258)
And at another place
“I am reading Savitri, the second book, I think, the transformation of the King, his experience. I had read it very long ago, I didn’t remember at all, not at all; these days I have been reading it again… and it’s like a detailed description of the experience my body is now having! Extraordinary, when I read it again, I was flabbergasted.
It’s absolutely as if my body were trying to copy that! And I didn’t remember at all, not in the least… which would mean that Sri Aurobindo had SEEN the thing – did he see it, or did he experience it? I don’t know… And that’s what he regards as the supramentalisation of the physical being (Agenda 10 pg 274)
And at still another place, The Mother says
“This analogy between the ancient form of the spiritual revelations and Savitri, this blossoming into poetry of his prophetic revelations is... what could be called the most exceptional part of his work. And what is remarkable (I saw him do it) is that he changed Savitri: he went along changing it as his experience changed.
It is clearly the continuing expression of his experience.
There were whole sections he redid completely which were like descriptions of what I had told him of my own experiences. Nolini said this. When I recently reread Savitri, some phrases were very familiar and I said to Nolini, “How odd these are almost my very words!” And he replied, “But this has been changed, it was written differently; it has BECOME like this! As the thing became more and more concrete for him, he changed it. The breath of revelatory prophecy is extraordinary! It has an extraordinary POWER!
What struck me is that he never wanted to write anything else. To write those articles for the Bulletin was really a heavy sacrifice for him. He had said he would complete certain parts of the Synthesis of Yoga, but when he was asked to do so, he replied, “No, I don’t want to go down to that mental level!” Savitri comes from somewhere else altogether. And I think that Savitri is the most important thing to speak about.” (Agenda 2pg 377/78)
Savitri is the record of the seeing, the experiences, the realisations of Sri Aurobindo and the Mother. It is not mere poetry, not mere imagery, not mere rhetorical words. It records their actual and concrete spiritual realisations. Here is what Sri Aurobindo himself says “ Savitri is the record of seeing, of an experience which is not of the common kind and is often very far from what the general human mind sees and experience.” (CWSA vol 27 pg 342)
“I have not anywhere in Savitri written anything for the sake if mere picturesqueness or merely to produce rhetorical effect; what I am trying to do everywhere in the poem is to express exactly something seen, something felt or experienced…” (CWSA vol 27 pg 343)
And again at another place
“This is not the method of Savitri. Its expression aims at a certain force, directness and spiritual clarity and reality. When it is not understood, it is because the truths it expresses are unfamiliar to the ordinary mind or belong to an un-trodden domain or domains or enter into a field of occult experiences; it is not because there is any attempt to a dark or vague profundity or at an escape from thought. The thinking is not intellectual but intuitive or more than intuitive, always expressing a vision, a spiritual contact or a knowledge which has come by entering into the thing itself, by identity.” (CWSA vol 27 pg 316)
And finally here is what the Mother has said about Savitri:
“1) The daily record of the spiritual experiences of the individual who has written
2) A complete system of yoga which can serve as a guide for those who want to follow the integral sadhana
3) The yoga of the Earth in its ascension towards the Divine
4) The experiences of the Divine Mother in her effort to adopt herself to the body She has taken and the ignorance and the falsity of the earth upon which She has incarnated. (Words of the Mother I pg 24)
Sri Aurobindo has said that his life is not on the surface to be seen and written about. And here in Savitri he has himself disclosed his and the Mother’s deepest, most secret experiences, realisations, visions. Savitri can truly be said to be Sri Aurobindo’s and the Mother’s autobiography, their spiritual autobiography and for one who knows how to understand, where to look, all is revealed. The Mother told a disciple, Mona Sarkar about Savitri. “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 and phrases are also exactly what I heard. I read Savitri many times afterwards, but earlier, when he was writing, he used to read it to me. Every morning I used to (listen to) him read(ing) 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 for 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. And it was not just one day by chance but for days and days together. And every time 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 noted them down afterwards, no, he knew already what I had seen. It was 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” (Mona Sarkar, Sweet Mother I pg 26)
Symbolism of the main characters of Savitri
In our endeavour to know Savitri it would be helpful to know the main protagonists, the main characters of Savitri. In the author’s note to Savitri Sri Aurobindo says “Still this is not a mere allegory, the characters are not personified qualities, but incarnations or emanations of living and conscious Forces with whom we can enter into concrete touch and they take human bodies in order to help man and show him the way from his mortal state to a divine consciousness and an immortal life.”
The first character we take up is Aswapati, the literal translation of which is the Lord of the Horse. In the author’s note to Savitri Sri Aurobindo says “Aswapati, the Lord of the Horse, her human father, is the lord of Tapasya, the concentrated endeavour that helps us to rise from the mortal to the immortal plane;” (authors note Savitri). In Indian tradition, the horse is a symbol of force, energy more particularly vital energy, the life force, that which animates us and energises us to do action and deeds. It is the symbol of the vital being in us. As sri Aurobindo has mentioned numerous times in his correspondence and as anyone who has taken the spiritual path knows, it is the vital being with its likes and dislikes, desires, emotions, passions etc. which is the chief obstacle to the spiritual path. And when converted, surrendered to the divine work, it the chief aid to it. As the name suggests, Aswapati, is the master of his vital and life forces. His vital is surrendered and a great aid in his spiritual quest. Aswapati was no ordinary man. As Sri Aurobindo writes in Savitri about Aswapati:
“His was a spirit that stooped from larger spheres
Into our province of ephemeral sight,
A colonist from immortality.
A pointing beam on earth’s uncertain roads,
His birth held up a symbol and a sign;
His human self like a translucent cloak
Covered the All-Wise who leads the unseeing world.
Affiliated to cosmic Space and Time
And paying here God’s debt to earth and man
A greater sonship was his divine right. “
(Savitri Book I , Canto 2 pg 22)
The Mother commenting on the lines from Savitri, some of which we have quoted above, says – “This is the description of the one through whom Savitri was born. Sri Aurobindo says that it is through the intermediary of somebody who did not belong to the earth but came from the higher and freer regions… this is the description of the one who are not purely human, but whose origin is far higher, far greater, and whose existence is much longer than the existence of the earth. When these come upon earth, it is to help the whole of humanity to rise towards the highest consciousness (About Savitri part three).
Aswapati belongs to a wiser, a higher world. He embodies the ‘world’s desires’ – the human worlds desire for deliverance from ignorance and death. He has come to this world only to help uplift it towards the Divine and for this he undertakes severe spiritual discipline, passing from plane to plane, until he is face to face with the divine Mother, whom he implores to descent and incarnate on earth and change its destiny, its fate.
Here is how Sri Aurobindo puts it in Savitri:
“O radiant fountain of the world’s delight
World-free and unattainable above,
O Bliss who ever dwellst deep-hid within
While men seek thee outside and never find,
Mystery and Muse with hieratic tongue,
Incarnate the white passion of thy force,
Mission to earth some living form of thee.
One moment fill with thy eternity,
Let thy infinity in one body live,
All-Knowledge wrap one mind in seas of light,
All-Love throb single in one human heart.
Immortal, treading the earth with mortal feet
All heaven’s beauty crowd in earthly limbs!
Omnipotence, girdle with the power of God
Movements and moments of a mortal will,
Pack with the eternal might one human hour
And with one gesture change all future time.
Let a great word be spoken from the heights
And one great act unlock the doors of Fate.”
(Savitri Bk 3 canto 4 pg 345)
This is the boon Aswapati seeks from the Divine Mother and in answer to his prayer the divine Mother grants him the boon sought.
“O strong forerunner, I have heard thy cry.
One shall descend and break the iron Law,
Change Nature’s doom by the lone spirit’s power.
A limitless Mind that can contain the world,
A sweet and violent heart of ardent calms
Moved by the passions of the gods shall come.
All mights and greatnesses shall join in her;
Beauty shall walk celestial on the earth,
Delight shall sleep in the cloud-net of her hair,
And in her body as on his homing tree
Immortal Love shall beat his glorious wings.
A music of griefless things shall weave her charm;
The harps of the Perfect shall attune her voice,
The streams of Heaven shall murmur in her laugh,
Her lips shall be the honeycombs of God,
Her limbs his golden jars of ecstasy,
Her breasts the rapture-flowers of Paradise.
She shall bear Wisdom in her voiceless bosom,
Strength shall be with her like a conqueror’s sword
And from her eyes the Eternal’s bliss shall gaze.
A seed shall be sown in Death’s tremendous hour,
A branch of heaven transplant to human soil;
Nature shall overleap her mortal step;
Fate shall be changed by an unchanging will.”
(Savitri Bk 3 canto 4 pg 346)
In fulfillment of this boon, the divine Mother incarnates as Savitri, daughter of Aswapati. Savitri is the incarnation of the Divine Mother, taking human birth, in response to the aspirations of the world, the aspiration to be delivered from death, ignorance, falsehood – from suffering and sorrow – from the iron law of fate. She has come to change the destiny of the world, to unlock the doors of fate, to replace the eternal No of death with eternal yes of the beloved. She has come to save the soul of the world symbolized by Satyavan. Sri Aurobindo says “ Savitri is the Divine word, daughter of the sun, goddess of the supreme Truth, who comes down and is born to save,” (Authors note to Savitri).
As the Mother says, “Savitri is really a condensations, a concentration of the universal Mother – the eternal universal Mother, Mother of all universes from all eternity – in an earthy personality for the Earth’s salvation. And Satyavan is the soul of the Earth, the Earth’s jiva. So when the lord says, ‘he whom you love and whom you have chosen’ it means the earth. All the details are there! When she comes back down, when Death has yielded at last, when all has been settled and the supreme tells her, ‘Go, go with him , the one you have chosen,’ how does Sri Aurobindo describe it? He says that She very carefully takes the SOUL of Satyavan into her arms, like a little child, to pass through all the realms and come back down to earth. Everything is there! He hasn’t forgotten a single detail to make it easy to understand – for someone who knows how to understand. And it is when Savitri reaches the earth that Satyavan regains his full human stature. (Agenda vol 2 pg 25)
And at another place, the Mother reveals the importance of earth and the secret of the Divine Mother’s birth on it.
“Let’s take Savitri, which is very explicit on this: the universal Mother is universally present and at work in the universe, but the earth is where concrete form is given to all the work to be done to bring evolution to its perfection, its goal. Well, at first there’s a sort of emanation representative of the universal Mother, which is always on earth to help it prepare itself; then when the preparation is complete the universal Mother herself will descent upon earth to finish her work. And this she does with Satyavan – Satyavan is the soul of the earth. She lives in close union with the soul of the earth and together they do the work; she has chosen the soil of the earth for her work, saying “HERE is where I will do my work.” Elsewhere (Mother indicates regions of higher consciousness), it’s enough just to be BE and things simply ARE. Here on earth you have to work.
There are clearly universal repercussions and effects, of course, but the thing is WORKED OUT here, the place of work is HERE. So instead of living beatifically in Her universal state and beyond, in the extra –universal eternity outside of time, She says, ‘No, I am going to do my work HERE, I choose to work HERE.’ The supreme then tell Her, ‘what you have expressed is My will …’ I want to work HERE, and when all is ready, when the earth is ready, when humanity is ready (even if no one is aware of it), when the Great Moment comes, well … I will descend to finish my work.’
That’s the story. (Agenda vol 2 pg 316)
Here are a few lines about Savitri from Savitri:
A deep of compassion, a hushed sanctuary,
Her inward help unbarred a gate in heaven;
Love in her was wider than the universe,
The whole world could take refuge in her single heart.
The great unsatisfied godhead here could dwell:
Vacant of the dwarf self’s imprisoned air,
Her mood could harbour his sublimer breath
Spiritual that can make all things divine.
For even her gulfs were secrecies of light.
At once she was the stillness and the word,
A continent of self-diffusing peace,
An ocean of untrembling virgin fire;
The strength, the silence of the gods were hers.
In her he found a vastness like his own,
His high warm subtle ether he refound
And moved in her as in his natural home.
In her he met his own eternity.
(Savitri book 1 Canto2 pg 15/16)
As already indicated above, Satyavan symbolizes the Soul of the earth, the world’s soul. Sri Aurobindo says, “Satyavan is the Soul carrying the divine truth of being within itself but descended into the grips of death and ignorance.” (Authors Note) and further, he is “ the symbol of the ‘soul’ descend into the kingdom of death.”
Satyavan is no ordinary person. He is exceptional in all respects.
About Satyavan, Sri Aurobindo has Sage Narad say the following, in Savitri:
“A marvel of the meeting earth and heavens
Is he whom Savitri has chosen mid men,
His figure is the front of Nature’s march,
His single being excels the works of Time.
A sapphire cutting from the sleep of heaven,
Delightful is the soul of Satyavan,
A ray out of the rapturous Infinite,
A silence waking to a hymn of joy.
A divinity and kingliness gird his brow;
His eyes keep a memory from a world of bliss.
As brilliant as a lonely moon in heaven,
Gentle like the sweet bud that spring desires,
Pure like a stream that kisses silent banks,
He takes with bright surprise spirit and sense.
A living knot of golden Paradise,
A blue Immense he leans to the longing world,
Time’s joy borrowed out of eternity,
A star of splendour or a rose of bliss.
In him soul and Nature, equal Presences,
Balance and fuse in a wide harmony”
(Savitri Bk 4 Canto 1 pg)
Further Sri Aurobindo has the Supreme Lord say the following about Satyavan, in Savitri:
“He is my soul that climbs from nescient Night
Through life and mind and supernature’s Vast
To the supernal light of Timelessness
And my eternity hid in moving Time
And my boundlessness cut by the curve of Space.
It climbs to the greatness it has left behind
And to the beauty and joy from which it fell,
To the closeness and sweetness of all things divine,
To light without bounds and life illimitable,
Taste of the depths of the Ineffable’s bliss,
Touch of the immortal and the infinite.
He is my soul that gropes out of the beast
To reach humanity’s heights of lucent thought
And the vicinity of Truth’s sublime.
He is the godhead growing in human lives
And in the body of earth-being’s forms:
He is the soul of man climbing to God
In Nature’s surge out of earth’s ignorance.”
(Savitri book 11, Canto 1, pg 703)
Satyavan is the human soul descended into this world of inconsicient, Death and falsehood. Satyavan is us, the divine portion of us, our soul, our true individuality. And it is to save him, to save us that the Divine Mother descends into this dark and sorrowful world. This is the great sacrifice of the Divine Mother which Sri Aurobindo describes so beautifully in his short book The Mother – (ch. VI pg 17) (CWSA vol 32)
“In her deep and great love for her children she has consented to put
on herself the cloak of this obscurity, condescended to bear the
attacks and torturing influences of the powers of the Darkness
and the Falsehood, borne to pass through the portals of the birth
that is a death, taken upon herself the pangs and sorrows and
sufferings of the creation, since it seemed that thus alone could it
be lifted to the Light and Joy and Truth and eternal Life. This is
the great sacrifice called sometimes the sacrifice of the Purusha,
but much more deeply the holocaust of Prakriti, the sacrifice of
the Divine Mother.
The same thoughts expressed in Savitri
“Our life is a holocaust of the Supreme.
The great World-Mother by her sacrifice
Has made her soul the body of our state;
Accepting sorrow and unconsciousness
Divinity’s lapse from its own splendours wove
The many-patterned ground of all we are.
An idol of self is our mortality.”
(Savitri Book 2 Canto 1 pg 99)
Satyavan’s human father is Dyumatsena, the blind and exiled king of Salwa. Sri Aurobindo writes “Dyumatsena, Lord of the Shining Hosts, father of Satyavan, is the Divine Mind here fallen blind, losing its celestial kingdom of vision, and through that loss its kingdom of glory.” (Authors note – Savitri)
The Divine mind in its plane has the powers of illuminations and intuition and gets knowledge through identity while descended here in physical world, it gets knowledge though deduction, logic and adding of pieces. It loses its celestial vision and glory and is thus symbolically represented as being blind and exiled from its kingdom.
After Savitri wins the victory over Death, Dyumatsena regains his sight and kingdom, symbolizing the Divine mind regaining it celestial vision and kingdom.
Death represents, is the symbol, of inconscient and falsehood, of darkness and nescience in which the world is yet plunged, which is yet the bedrock of this emerging humanity, emerging out of this world of mortality, darkness and falsehood into the world of immortality, light and truth. As long as the inconscient is not conquered, not made consciousness, death shall exist and eternally question life. Death is not only the physical death of the body, but is also desire, lust, jealousy, hatred – as the Upanishads say – hunger is death - hunger for food, for fame, for power, lust for kingdom, for women etc. – all this is death for it narrows and darkness, our knowledge our consciousness keeping us bond in duality, making us believe that we are this body/vital /mind – separate from other bodies/vitals/minds – forgetting our true individuality, our soul, our divine legacy, our divine heritage. And also as said in the Mahabharata, unconsciousness is death – unconsciousness of our true nature, our true identity. Only when death is abolished will the divine life be established and it’s to abolish death and replace it with love and to abolish duality and replace it with unity consciousness that Savitri has come. As Savitri says after her victory of death and return to earth with Satyavan’s soul
“Awakened to the meaning of my heart
That to feel love and oneness is to live
And this the magic of our golden change,
Is all the truth I know or seek, O sage.”
(Savitri Bk XII epilogue page 749)
Why to read Savitri
After going through the major characters in Savitri, we examine the question-- why to read Savitri? We have already seen the importance attributed by Sri Aurobindo and The Mother to Savitri, but here is what the Mother says about reading Savitri.
“It may be said that Savitri is a revelation, it is a meditation, it is a quest of the infinite, of the Eternal. If it is read with this aspiration for immortality, the reading itself will serve as a guide towards immortality. To read Savitri is indeed to practice yoga, spiritual concentration; one can find there all that is needed to realise the Divine. Each step of the yoga is noted here, including the secret of all other Yogas. Surely, if one follows sincerely what is revealed here in each verse one will finally reach the transformation of the Supramental Yoga. It is truly the infallible guide who never abandons you; its 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 possesses by way of knowledge and I repeat this, the words are expressed and arranged in such a manner that the sonority of the rhythms leads you to the origin of sound, which is OM” ( Sweet Mother Luminous notes pg 47/48 )
And at another place
“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 there all the answers to all your questions. Everything is explained, even the future of man and of the evolution, all that nobody yet knows. He has expressed them in beautiful and clear words so that spiritual adventurers who wish to solve the mysteries of the world many understand it more easily. But the mystery is well hidden behind the lines and one must rise to the required level of true consciousness to discover it. All the prophecies, all that is going to happen is presented with a precise and wonderful clarity. Sri Aurobindo gives you here the key to find the Truth, to discover the Consciousness, to solve the problem of what the Universe is. He has also indicated how he has opened the door of the Inconscience so that the light may penetrate there to transform it. He has shown the path, how to liberate oneself from the Ignorance to climb up to the superconscience; each stage, each plane of consciousness, how one can scale them, how one can cross the very barrier of death and attain Immortality. You will find the entire route in detail, and as you go forward you can discover things altogether unknown to man. That is what Savitri is, and yet much more. It is truly an experience –reading Savitri. All the secrets that man possesses, he has revealed them, as well as all that awaits him in the future; all this is found in the depths of Savitri; but one must have the knowledge to discover them, - 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 needed in order to advance in the integral way in the integral Yoga. (Sweet Mother’s Luminous words pg 48-49)
And yet again, she says,
“These are experiences lived by him, realities, supra cosmic truths. He experienced all these as one experiences joy and sorrow in a physical manner. He has walked in the darkness of inconscience, even in the neighbourhood of death, endured the suffering of the perdition, and he has emerged from the mud, the word – misery, to breathe the Sovereign plenitude and to enter the Supreme Ananda. He has traversed them all, these realms, borne the consequences, suffered and endured physically what one cannot imagine. Nobody till today has suffered like him. He has 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, it is for the first time that we see it appear in the earth – consciousness (Sweet Mother – Pg 50/51)
Lest we take too superficial reading and understanding with mind as knowledge and start believing we have understood Savitri, here are 2 caveats, warnings from the Mother
“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 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 by the mind, it is meditation that Savitri is revealed (Sweet mother – pg 50)
“Savitri is occult knowledge and spiritual experience. Some part of it can be understood mentally – but much of it needs the same knowledge and experience for understanding it. Nobody here except myself can explain Savitri. One day I hope to explain it in its true sense.” (Our light and delight – by Amal Kiran pg 185)
This does not mean that we should not read Savitri, for the Mother herself has said that Savitri will give us the experiences which will help us in understanding it, only we should be on our guard in taking too mental an understanding as understanding , as knowledge.
How to read Savitri
Lastly we see, as to how Savitri should be read. The Mother has said “ 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 through that – the heart. I tell you, if you try to really concentrate with this aspiration you can light the flame, the psychic flame, the flame of purification in a very short time, perhaps in a few days. What you cannot do normally, you will do it 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 Savitri were a being, a real guide. I tell you whoever wants to practice yoga, if he tries sincerely and feels the necessity, he will be able to climb with the help of Savitri to the highest rung 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 practice it anywhere. Savitri by itself will be his guide, for all that he needs he will find in Savitri. If he remains absolutely quiet when he is faced with a difficulty, or when he does not know where to turn in order 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 absolutely calm, open, if he aspires sincerely, always he will be as if led by hand. If he has faith, the will to give himself and the essential sincerity, he will reach the final goal. ( Sweet Mother - luminous notes –pg 51/52)
And finally I end with this conversation of Mother
“Disciple: I’m re-reading ‘Savitri’
Mother: Lucky man! I would love to read it again. And the more you read the more marvelous it becomes.” (Agenda vol 2 pg 283)
1. Savitri by Sri Aurobindo (1970 edition with letters on Savitri)
2. Mothers Agenda in 13 volumes
3. Sweet Mother—Luminous Notes by Mona Sarkar
4. Our Light and Delight by Amal Kiran
5. About Savitri Part III
6. Words of the Mother I
7. Letters on Poetry and Art (CWSA vol 27)
8. The Mother by Sri Aurobindo (CWSA vol 32)