Collaboration - Journal of the Integral Yoga of Sri Aurobindo and the Mother Summer 1995, Vol. 21, No. 1 ESSAY Savitri and the mystic hero's journey by Rod Hemsell This is the last article in a four-part series exploring the ramifications of Sri Aurobindo's epic Savitri as mantric poetry. Part 4. The Journey
Everything depends on the Word. For it is the word of creation, the very sound that brings to birth the worlds, the luminous goddess-form of the Supreme: Tat savitur varam rupam jyotih parasya dhimahiyannah satyena dipayet.
and it shall illumine us with the Truth. For as Sri Aurobindo affirms often enough in Savitri, "She is the golden bridge, the wonderful fire ... She is the Force, the inevitable Word."
It is arguable, perhaps--the seer having received this boon of drsti, sruti, smrti in a clairaudient trance, as the simultaneous inevitable revelation of the truth of his realization, thence to be delivered forth by him as mantric verse for the subsequent illumination of fit hearers--that this sacred word might best be read, and received, by the listening heart of a clairaudient silence. And for those gifted with clairaudience (as we know from Sri Aurobindo's diaries that he was) and disposed to receiving the supramental revelation, this might well be true. But Sri Aurobindo's theory of mantra, the text of Savitri itself, and our experience, seem to support rather emphatically the notion that it is the audible sound, with its dynamics of pitch, rhythm, image, and conceptual spiritual content that has a unique potential and power to effect in the fit outward hearer the experience of which it speaks, and of which it is the living symbol.2
It is to demonstrate the truth of this hypothesis, at least in part, that we have undertaken the Savitri/Agenda experiment--a series of immersion workshops in which we simply allow the Word to be heard and absorbed, in as clear and deep a manner as we can manage at the present time. And in the context and atmosphere thus created by Savitri, we turn to the Mother's Agenda with the aspiration to hear and know as profoundly and intimately as possible her experience of transformation. The effect of this attempt thus far has been overwhelmingly gratifying. And it has made dramatically clear the fact that the experience of transformation narrated by Sri Aurobindo in Savitri and by the Mother in her Agenda are one and the same. The two together create a resonance that seems to literally dissolve the membrane that separates our worlds and unite us with them in a remarkably vivid and tangible sense.
This of course will not seem too surprising to those who are familiar with their work. But what can be surprising is the degree to which one finds oneself brought face to face with their experience and into a deeply luminous identity with Sri Aurobindo, the Mother, and the work of transformation. And that of course is the point, whatever else may be said.
It is tempting, however, to take this a step further, or in fact several steps further--to grasp the extraordinary quality of the experience in its total reality, and somehow establish its importance on solid ground for ourselves and for any who might wish to pursue such a process, enter the worlds of Savitri and Satyavan with eyes open, and as the Upanishad says, "to truly find our foundation." And yet, perhaps it is only the experience itself that can achieve these goals, which certainly exceed anything that mind as we know it can analyze. Its validity is to be found only in the revelation itself, which proceeds from the Truth. And this finding is the process that Savitri narrates and establishes in us. She is the supramental force as She issues forth in goddess-form from the Divine Mother, as She descends into the consciousness and speech of the supramental Avatar, as She enwraps the subtle body of the Earth and takes physical birth in the body of the Mother, to reveal the soul and tapasya of the transformation of Death and the evolution of immortal life, and as She enters our space in the form of mantric vibration. One must simply become a channel for the sound that is Savitri and receive Her without reservation.
There are innumerable instances in Savitri that illustrate, comment upon, and reveal this truth. Perhaps a negative argument in support of this notion can be made at this point, bearing in mind that the written page is dumb, and the only real proof is in the hearing. To attempt an example, nonetheless, let us look at the first few lines of the canto titled "The Adoration of the Divine Mother."
A stillness absolute, incommunicable, Meets the sheer self-discovery of the soul; A wall of stillness shuts it from the world, A gulf of stillness swallows up the sense And makes unreal all that mind has known, All that the labouring senses still would weave Prolonging an imaged unreality.
I don't know how one can have the experience of the elongation of the "All" in the next to the last line, and then of the lengthening, depending, and slowing of sound that occurs with "still would weave" culminating in the extremely elongated and heavy "Prolonging," which qualifies in an indescribably accurate way the sense of the final term "unreality," without reading these lines aloud, instrumentally. The net result of reading instrumentally is to invite that stillness absolute into the spaces we are so accustomed to being filled with sensational unrealities. And that experience of stillness is a prerequisite of all that follows. It is not difficult to understand this conceptually; it is fundamental to most spiritual discipline. But Savitri has the power to actually bring about such an emptiness and stillness, instantaneously deeper than meditation usually can achieve even with considerable effort. And then we are prepared for the uplift that follows:
But where is the Lover's everlasting Yes, And immortality in the secret heart, The voice that chants to the creator Fire, The symbolled OM, the great assenting Word, The bridge between the rapture and the calm, The passion and the beauty of the Bride, The chamber where the glorious enemies kiss, The smile that saves, the golden peak of things?