Wednesday, January 24, 2007

My own feeling are to privilege Darshan as embodiment

The ultimare cathedral as Matrimandir (virtuality and imagination) by Richard Carlson by Rich on Tue 23 Jan 2007 12:31 PM PST Permanent Link
Having a chance after three years to go to the last few meditations at Matrimandir before its official "grand opening," I could not help but to consider this statement from the preceding article I posted on the Ultimate Cathedral:
“Whoever stands in the Sistine Chapel sees with his own eyes the image of God full-length in all His glory, and even his aging face. Furthermore, he also sees Him behind as though hovering with him at the time of the Creation. In his work, Michelangelo corresponds to God, because he succeeds in describing the human point of view like that of God, while he hovers at the side in the background, to witness the fateful events. The Chapel, like ritual structures that preceded it, is an "instrument" helping believers to bring about a collapse of the Universe infinite wave function of the Biblical stories, to a discrete state concealed in the consciousness singularity of the believer.”
So would this translate into the Matrimandir story as well? One does not have to be a Structuralist to see that the experience it facilitates shares some of the mytho-poetic qualities of the "ultimate cathedral"; does it not? And what if as these authors suggest this same experience could be induced as part of the consensual hallucination of cyberspace? Would its semiotic operation be also to collapse the universal wave function into the singularity of individual consciousness; folding the divine into its evolving moment?
Or could the collapse of the wave function into the singularity of the aspirant just more simply be called: crystal silence? (which is also the title of a song by the jazz composer Chick Corea) Since the silence gathering of consciousness seems to be the resultant experience?
And what about the claim the authors make that in cyberspace:
“ can see in this description an expression of quantum mechanics in which particles are in a state of super-position, that is to say, at the same time in every location in space (net), until the act of differentiation is carried out, (action on net data), leading to the collapse of the super-position wave function to a discrete state absorbed by the surfer's consciousness. The surfer too is in a state of super-position and is part of the Universe wave function that comprises everything. Man's consciousness indeed influences the reality in his vicinity via cyberspace”?
If true that one could partake of the cathedral experience which interrupts the space/time field of surface consciousness in cyberspace, what happens when the collectivization of consciousness is shifted, from the intensive space of the “localized” cathedral” into a million individual multi-verses of singular nodes (homes) as we become transfixed by the light wave and crystal technology of an emerging epoch. (e.g. via the connectivity of light waves (fiber optic) and crystals (silicon) )
Could the self same cyberspace of streaming capitalism which virtualizes the commodity form convey electronic Darshan as well?
I suppose if one could have a large enough telematic experience “the whole house itself a projection apparatus, - as envisioned by Apple or if we are unlucky by Microsoft -. The warping of our experience space time by the superposition of particles may indeed deliver quite a phenomenological kick, just as does good cinema now! But how will individual embodiment express itself within such a virtualized collectivity?
My own feeling are to privilege Darshan as embodiment (the singularity being embodiment itself) rather then an experience to be had by gazing through a crystal screen into the anamorphosis of cyberspace; a process of virtualization or an outering of the body.
In such virtual spaces minds may meet, but will they leave their bodies behind as so much data trash. Or is the function of noospheric collectivization meant for something different, as Teilhard would have us believe, the preparation for the emergence of another order of being, of a God yet to come? -with all the caveats of false gods implicit -.
Or could Virtual Reality not only collapse space but concretize time as well to convey - as Gebser would say - Verition?
Ronald Purser in his excellent essay on Gebser and the limits of cyberspace presents two alternatives regards the collapse of the “virtual” wave function in two different applications of virtual reality, which I interpret as being to immerse oneself in the samsaric imagination – which the alchemist called the imagitio phantastica - and the other to body forth creative imagination of “imaginito vera”
The former process leads not to the integral structure of Gebser, but rather to a hyper-mental dimension where the noospheric connectivity of collectivized consciousness ends in the nilhilisim of streamed consumption; our subjectivities interpellated in the windowed environments of virtual corporatism ?
My own feelings is that the vanishing into technology which critical theorist warn of involves the imaginito phantastica (in SA associative imagination) and the technological vanishing into the human which is detailed in a life divine requires sadhana and the deployment of what Sri Aurobindo calls creative imagination.
The latter could induce the anamorphosis envisioned by Jaron Lanier, as a tool which facilitates creative imagination; the imagination of Blake & Goethe (imaginito vera). But transformed as an emergent mode of imagining, in which a collectivity can come to share the illumined internal states of its co-evolving multiplicity. Could what Sri Aurobindo refers to as “creative imagination" be facilitated or conveyed to a wider planetary collectivity through the experience of virtuality? Is peak experience in the cathedral itself merely a form of virtuality? (as Joyce seemed to allude to in his pre-history of cyber space)
And where would such creative imagination, in its feedback loop with technicity, ultimately leads us; toward facilitative embodiment or uploading into the machine?
I have included passages from the Future Poetry and the Life Divine which describe the transformative action of the creative imagination, now what would happens if such creativity could be shared simultaneously at a billion singularities of crystal light around the globe? Would a new form of collective consciousness suddenly light up? Or merely collapse into a billion singular interpretations, leaving the world as alienated as before ?
Well maybe this subject would have been something better left to the imaginations of Stanislaw Lem, Italio Calvino, or Jorge Borges, if they were still with us, but for the record here is Sri Aurobindo on the ordering power of creative imagination:
“For the image making power of the human-mind, its imagination, which is in his physical life only an indispensable aid to his acquisition of knowledge and his life-creation, may in a higher scale become a creative force which would enable the mental being to live for awhile amid its own images until they dissolve in the souls pressure”
“Man because he has acquired reason and still more because he has indulged his power of imagination and intuition is able to conceive an existence higher than his own and even to envisage his personal elevation beyond his present state of existence.”
“The imagination transformed by Supermind acts on one side as a power of true image and symbol, always an image or index of some value or significance or other truth of being. On the other as an inspiration or interpretative seeing of possibilities and potentialities no less true than the individual things”. (1949)

Monday, January 22, 2007

Sharing useful views related to the teachings of Enlightened Spiritual Masters

The Life Divine Orkut description: A Bliss, a Light, a Power, a flame-white LoveCaught all into a sole immense embrace...Welcome to The Life Divine...! The Life Divine has been created with a purpose of sharing useful views related to the teachings of Enlightened Spiritual Masters...
language: English (US) category: Religion & Beliefs
owner: Subramanian Arunachalam moderators: Sathish, Pankaj, Chandramouli, ROHEETH, Ramanathan type: public forum: non-anonymous location: Lucknow, Uttar Pradesh, 226001, India created: May 17, 2006 members: 48
The Supreme Knowledge 2 12/22/2006
Amma says... 8 12/9/2006
Very Important- Little Improvement 3 11/27/2006
Very Important 2 11/25/2006
Precautions are useless after the crisis. 3 11/8/2006

Why is this many groups of same name?

sharad 11/24/2006 9:33 AM Very Important Hello Every One, I'm Sharad, i'm devoted to Mother and Sri Aurbindo. the one thing i want to ask all of you is WE All ARE DEVOTED TO ONE DIVINE then why is this many groups of same name. If we all are in one group then we can communicate well and also help each other in sadhana etc., hope you all understand my feeling. I wish there was only one group where we all devoties can communicate and be united... NOW IT BECOMES A BIT CONFUSING WHICH GROUP TO JOIN??? AND ITS NOT POSSIBLE TO SEND MESSAGES TO ALL GROUPS.... CAN WE ALL THINK OVER THIS MATTER AND MERGE ALL THE COMMUNITIES OF THE MOTHER AND SRI AURBINDO TO ONE GROUP.
Subramanian 11/25/2006 1:19 AM One Soul - many forms, and many forms are necessary to manifest different things in different ways... And the same person plays different roles according to the situation - say son/daughter, husband/wife, father, mother and brother/sister and so on and so forth. And in the multitude lies the Play of the Lord. Having only one Group for that matter may not solve the purpose. One who likes the ideal of a particular person may follow the person, and there is no compulsion to follow this or that...!

The direct mantric impact of Sri Aurobindo's remarkable poetics

Re: The Mother on Savitri (in appreciation) rjon Sun 21 Jan 2007 12:34 PM PST I want to thank you again for posting this RY. I've been inspired by the Mother's advice and begun reading Savitri again, starting from the beginning, one Canto per day. And I'm seeing/feeling a whole new level of its amazing grace. Your perceptive explanatory posts are providing a splendid complement with the direct mantric impact of Sri Aurobindo's remarkable poetics. In appreciation, ~ ron

Thursday, January 18, 2007

The "true body" is the subtle physical

Debashish Wed 17 Jan 2007 09:57 PM PST
"The sheer self-discovery of the soul" reaches us to a point where "an absolute stillness" meets us. This "swallows up the sense." Until this point, whatever preparatory experiences one may had have, the world's reality persists through the instrumental nature of prakriti in the senses which iacts to stabilize the "images" of the world, giving it its persistent reality to our experience, now experienced and known as an "unreality."
What RH is saying about "lengthening", "deepening", etc. pertains to the sound-experience of the words and how this gives them their effect and power. I am not convinced about this argument, however, since my experience is that the words are equally powerful to a silent reading. After all, the "true body" is the subtle physical. DB

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

The music and suggestive images of Savitri have a very remarkable effect

SRI AUROBINDO CENTRE FOR CONSCIOUSNESS STUDIES home texts events Consciousness and Its Transformation - Contents page The following article is based on a presentation made during the Second International Conference on Integral Psychology, held at Pondicherry (India), 4-7 January 2001. The text has been published in: Cornelissen, Matthijs (Ed.) (2001) Consciousness and Its Transformation, Pondicherry: SAICE
Savitri, A key to Sri Aurobindo’s “psycho-cosmology”
It had been intended to hold this afternoon’s session in the garden of Savitri Bhavan, the institution I am associated with. But unexpected blessings from the Rain Gods have made us shift here to a more sheltered position. The building we are sitting in is the Sri Aurobindo World Centre for Human Unity. It was built with funds received from the Indian Government in connection with the 125th Birth Anniversary celebrations for Sri Aurobindo. It is intended to serve as the seed of a centre for Higher Studies and Research in the light of the vision and teachings of Sri Aurobindo and the Mother. So it is very appropriate that we should be here together this afternoon, and I would like to add my own thanks to the appreciation that has already been expressed to the organisers and participants of this Conference. I have found all the presentations stimulating and valuable, and in what I have to say you are likely to hear some echoes of topics that have been raised by various speakers over the last days.
As you perhaps know, one aspect of the Mother’s vision of Auroville was that of a “Universe-City”, a township essentially devoted to unending education, constant progress, both individual and collective. So far we have been able to build up a number of schools of different kinds, serving different target groups of children and youngsters; and there have been a wide variety of opportunities for informal adult education. But a need is now being felt for more established resources and structures to support on-going education, to interconnect the many researchers who are working independently here, and to enable constructive networking with other –researchers and research institutions around the world who would be interested in knowing more about our experiences and in sharing their own with us. So a proposal is now being prepared for submission to the Government of India, to request support for setting up such an institution here. Within the context of that organisation, Savitri Bhavan will serve as the base for the faculty of Sri Aurobindo and the Mother Studies, focusing especially on the core-areas of the teachings which lie at the basis of Auroville: the philosophy, psychology and yoga-practice of Sri Aurobindo and the Mother.
The Savitri Bhavan project has grown up over the last six years, out of the deep interest that many Aurovilians feel in Sri Aurobindo’s epic poem Savitri. Amongst all his many writings, the Mother has given a special place to this work, which she has characterised as “The supreme revelation of Sri Aurobindo’s vision”. As such, Savitri has been read in Auroville from the very earliest days, both individually and in groups. But in 1994, it was decided to start a Savitri Study Circle, which would meet not only to read but also to discuss and explore Savitri together. And to some of the people in the Circle there came the inspiration that there should be a place in Auroville which could become an inspiring centre of Savitri studies, housing all kinds of materials and activities to enrich our understanding and enjoyment of Sri Aurobindo’s revelatory epic, and above all, to have a very special atmosphere. For learning and research in Auroville is meant to be not purely academic and intellectual. Intellectual learning has its place and value, but here we would like to place even more emphasis on experiential learning and research—experiences that can really lead to a change of consciousness. That is the aim of Savitri Bhavan—it means “The Abode of Savitri”—which is open not only to Aurovilians but to everyone, from wherever they come, who has an interest in Savitri and the teachings of Sri Aurobindo and the Mother. And we are fortunate that this project has won the blessings and support of some of those most closely associated with them—for example Dr. Nirodbaran, Sri Aurobindo’s scribe for Savitri; Amal Kiran, the poet-disciple to whom Sri Aurobindo wrote a number of letters explaining his intentions and methods in creating Savitri; and Huta, the young woman whom the Mother trained to work with her on illustrating Savitri, and who has allowed us access to uniquely illuminating materials connected with their 18-year long collaboration.
As coordinator for the educational activities of the Bhavan, I have been invited to make a presentation to you. I am not a psychologist, but a lay-person with a long-standing interest in psychology, which, as we have been reminded in the last days, Sri Aurobindo defined as “the science of consciousness”. And I speak to you today as a follower of Sri Aurobindo and a child of the Mother. I shall be using their terminology and speaking from that standpoint because I am not competent to do anything else—and because I feel this is really the most useful thing I can do. I shall try to give you a small taste of some of the unique materials that have been entrusted to our care.
The title of my presentation perhaps requires a little explanation: Savitri as a Key to Sri Aurobindo’s psycho-cosmology. “Psycho-cosmology” is my own coinage—a kind of shorthand term for what forms the conceptual basis of our research here—a basis which to Sri Aurobindo himself was of course not “conceptual”, but experienced. This coinage evokes two aspects that are of cardinal importance in Sri Aurobindo’s message. While he has explored and revealed the complexities of individual psychology with unprecedented completeness, he has at the same time linked our individual psychology with an explanation of the workings of the universe, giving the human individual a meaningful position in the cosmos.
At the beginning of Book Two of Savitri the protagonist, King Aswapati, the father of Savitri, has a vision of the many planes of consciousness rising like one of the temple towers that we see here in South India, with many levels, each peopled with their own beings, animals and houses, rising one above the other up into the sky.

There, walled apart by its own innerness
In a mystical barrage of dynamic light
He saw a lone immense high-curved world-pile
Erect like a mountain-chariot of the Gods
Motionless under an inscrutable sky.
As if from matter’s plinth and viewless base
To a top as viewless, a carved sea of worlds
Climbing with foam-maned waves to the Supreme
Ascended towards breadths immeasureable;
It hoped to soar into the Ineffable’s reign:
A hundred levels raised it to the Unknown.
So it towered up to heights intangible
And disappeared in the hushed conscious Vast
As climbs a storeyed temple-tower to heaven
Built by the aspiring soul of man to live
Near to his dream of the Invisible.
Infinity calls to it as it dreams and climbs;
Its spire touches the apex of the world;
Mounting into great voiceless stillnesses
It marries the earth to screened eternities.
Amid the many systems of the One
Made by an interpreting creative joy
Alone it points us to our journey back
Out of our long self-loss in Nature’s deeps;
Planted on earth it holds in it all realms:
It is a brief compendium of the Vast.
This was the single stair to being’s goal.
A summary of the stages of the spirit
Its copy of the cosmic hierarchies
Refashioned in our secret air of self
A subtle pattern of the universe.

This Canto is entitled “The World-Stair”.

Its steps are paces of the soul’s return
From the deep adventure of material birth,
A ladder of delivering ascent
And rungs that Nature climbs to deity.

This refers to the evolutionary process up out of Matter to higher levels of consciousness. But before this process began, there was an involution, of consciousness into the Inconscient:

Once in the vigil of a deathless gaze
These grades had marked her giant downward plunge,
The wide a prone leap of a godhead’s fall.

Elsewhere, this cosmic hierarchy of planes is described similarly:

Ascending and descending twixt life’s poles
The seried kingdoms of the graded Law
Plunged from the Everlasting into Time,
Then glad of a glory of multitudinous mind
And rich with life’s adventure and delight
And packed with the beauty of Matter’s shapes and hues
Climbed back from Time into undying Self,
Up a golden ladder carying the soul,
Tying with diamond threads the Spirit’s extremes.
In this drop from consciousness to consciousness
Each leaned on the occult Inconscient’s power,
The fountain of its needed Ignorance,
Archmason of the limits by which it lives.
In this soar from consciousness to consciousness
Each lifted tops to That from which it came,
Origin of all that it had ever been
And home of all that it could still become. (p. 88-89)

We can see something of this in one of the many illustrations which the Mother prepared for Savitri. This drawing was made around 1964 or 65, when the Mother was working with a young woman in the Ashram, Huta, on a project of illustrating selected passages from Savitri. The Mother herself was a very accomplished artist. She studied art in Paris in the 1880s. Her first husband was a painter, and she personally knew many of the famous names of that time, including Monet, Rodin, and Rouault. She encouraged many artists in the Ashram, and she told Huta that she was training her for a new kind of painting that would be able to express subtler levels of consciousness. The Mother herself has explained how they worked, saying:
Savitri, this prophetic vision of the world’s history, including the announcement of the earth’s future,—Who can ever dare to put it in pictures?
Yet, the Mother and Huta have tried it, this way. “We simply meditate together on the lines chosen, and when the image becomes clear, I describe it with the help of a few strokes, then Huta goes to her studio and brushes the painting.”
It is in a meditative mood that these “meditations” must be looked at to find the feeling they contain behind their appearance.
This particular picture is a diagram of twelve different planes of consciousness, from the Inconscient at the bottom, up through the body, life and mind planes, followed by the four planes of what Sri Aurobindo calls Higher Mind, then Overmind, the plane of the Gods, and above that the planes of Ananda, Chit-Tapas, and Sat, which mark the limit of the Manifestation. Beyond is the Unmanifest. When preparing this drawing as an aid to Huta the Mother explained to her that those who have intuited the Unmanifest have often spoken of it as “the Void”, and thought of it as empty. But, she said, it is not empty. It is in fact packed with potentiality. What Sri Aurobindo has done, she explained, is to go into that realm of unmanifest potentialities, to seize and bring down into the manifestation a completely new possibility—the Supermind, the principle of a New Creation.
The Mother explained too that she perceived these successive planes of existence as qualities of light, each with its distinctive colour. But expressing these qualities of light in pigment, in paint was not easy. Huta had to make many successive attempts before the Mother pronounced herself reasonably satisfied with the result.
These planes are levels of universal manifestation. But in the passage from Savitri which we have noted, Sri Aurobindo tells us that, through the involution, all of them have contributed to and become part of the earth we live on, and that they are accessible to human experience. Individually we can experience them in our innermost self, if we become aware enough; and eventually, through the process of evolution, the whole creation has to climb back up the stair of existence and recover its origin. So far we have attained only the Mind level. The best is all to come.
We may note several important points which follow from this vision of man’s place in the cosmos:

— In Sri Aurobindo’s world-view consciousness is primary. He has referred to Matter as “sense created mould of Spirit”. In fact each of these planes corresponds to a mode of consciousness, and a relation between what Indian philosophy refers to as Purusha and Prakriti, or Chit and Shakti ... conscious awareness, and the expressive force of that consciousness.
— The complementary relation of involution and evolution implies that evolution has direction and purpose. It is not just a chance configuration of original plasma that has somehow accidentally given rise to the anomalous appearance of organised Matter, burgeoning Life, and inexplicable Mind. These are the external signs of an inner drive towards ever more complex and delightful forms in which Spirit or Consciousness may express itself, experience itself, recognise and enjoy itself.
— Each individuality is a projection, a partial expression of some divine uniqueness, which in the involution becomes “ego”. Dr. George Matthew showed us the other day that as individuals we can be considered to be constantly co-existent on all planes from the Supreme to unconscious matter, and that the process of self-realisation means recovering identity with the Origin and Source of which we are projections. But Sri Aurobindo tells us that we do not have to lose our individuality when we re-attain the level of original consciousness. To do so we have to lose our distorted ego sense; but since our true Source is some quality of divine potentiality, we can choose to retain a true individuality for action in the world, even when united in consciousness with the Source.
— Evolution takes place, starting from the Inconscient, both individually, with the development of the psychic being, and generally in Nature, which manifests new forms, species, corresponding to the levels of consciousness generally attained; and both individual and group and Nature in general are equally expressions of the involved Divine. Everything in Nature, including inconscient Matter and every life-movement, is essentially divine, and can, when the process of evolution is complete, express the divine Will and Delight.

These points give Sri Aurobindo’s world-vision its special dynamic and optimistic character. This “psycho-cosmology” is the consistent basis of all Sri Aurobindo’s major writings. In his different books he has dealt with various areas of interest: English literature, Indian culture, world history, human society, and so on. In most of them he has spoken the language of the intellect, and set out to answer the human mind’s need for rational conviction. This is because, from the individual point of view, any means which helps us to come into contact with our true individuality is helpful, and progressive from the evolutionary standpoint; in human beings, since the human race is representative of Mind in this evolutionary process, the intelligent will is “the priest of the sacrifice”.
But for most of us the intelligent will is driven not merely, not even primarily, by reason and intellect. All the other planes of being act on us too. Very dominant in our ordinary psychology are the vital or life planes. Their principle, though in us often distorted by ego and desire, is Delight. And the response to and quest for Beauty is one of the very powerful motives which can help to carry us beyond our limited ego-selves towards a wider and higher identification. In one of his aphorisms, Sri Aurobindo says,

If mankind could but see though in a glimpse of fleeting experience what infinite enjoyments, what perfect forces, what –luminous reaches of spontaneous knowledge, what wide calms of our being lie waiting for us in the tracts which our animal evolution has not yet conquered, they would leave all and never rest till they had gained these treasures.
Sri Aurobindo, Essays Divine and Human, p. 423

Art and Beauty in all forms can be, and have been, ways of linking our ordinary human mentality with higher, intensified states.
While the Mother was a painter and musician, Sri Aurobindo was a poet. In the Essays on the Gita, he has contrasted the language of the Gita, which is designed to satisfy, he says, an intellectual difficulty, to that of the Upanishads with

... its free resort to image and symbol, its intuitive form of speech in which the hard limiting definiteness of intellectual utterance is broken down and the implications of words are allowed to roll out in an illimitable wave of suggestion ...
Sri Aurobindo, Essays on the Gita, p. 264

in an attempt to evoke the highest spiritual truth, which can be lived, can be seen, but can only be partially suggested.
We can make a similar comparison between The Life Divine, which for many years was Sri Aurobindo’s “best-seller”, and Savitri, which has overtaken it in popularity over the last decade or so. One gentleman expressed what many have confirmed, when he explained that while both works present intellectual difficulties, he found that the music and suggestive images of Savitri had a very remarkable effect on him, even though he felt that he was not understanding them. In fact they gave some glimpse of those future states lying ahead of us.
Sri Aurobindo in fact was aiming, as he has explained in The Future Poetry, for a level of linguistic expression that could be termed “mantric”. Since this theme was touched upon in an earlier session, I would like to conclude by adding a few reflections of my own on this topic.
That sound-waves have physical effects is now generally accepted and scientifically demonstrated. A moment’s reflection will convince us that sound waves in the form of words can have powerful mental and emotional effects on human beings—and that these may lead to consequent physical effects. This applies whether the words are heard physically through the ear, or only subtly in the mind.
It therefore does not seem irrational to accept that sound waves in the form of mantra—words uttered with a conscious intent by a being who is in a heightened state of consciousness and possesses a capacity of powerful mental formation—may have effects on a hearer that extend to several different levels of consciousness—mental, vital, physical and “spiritual”.
For mantra-japa to have a lasting effect on the physical consciousness and the body, constant repetition over a long period may be needed. But many sensitive people can attest that simply hearing the Mother’s voice reciting lines from Savitri can have a remarkable effect, that is at the very least both delightful and uplifting. So let us close by hearing a recording of her reading of a few of the lines quoted above, from Canto One of Book Two, accompanied by some music of the Ashram composer, Sunil Bhattacharya.

Then suddenly the narration freezes at the end of Canto 2

Mangesh Nadkarni
Introduction – 3

We have now acquainted ourselves with the legend of Satyavan and Savitri as it is found in the Mahabharata. The first draft of Savitri that Sri Aurobindo wrote between 1916 and 1918 was primarily a re-telling of this legend. But as he gradually discovered its potential to be the central vehicle of his spiritual message, he began recasting this first draft from about 1928, more systematically from about 1930, and continued working on it until a few weeks before he left his body in December 1950. He has himself explained in a letter why he took so long to finish Savitri:

…if I have not poetical genius, at least I can claim a sufficient, if not an infinite capacity for painstaking: that I have sufficiently shown by my long labour on Savitri. Or rather, since it was not labour in the ordinary sense, not a labour of painstaking construction, I may describe it as an infinite capacity for waiting and listening for the true inspiration and rejecting all that fell short of it, however good it might seem from a lower standard, until I got that which which I felt to be absolutely right.
(Letters on Savitri in Savitri (1993))

The final version of Savitri that thus emerged shows some departures that Sri Aurobindo has made from the original Mahabharata story. These departures are mostly of the nature of giving a great deal of expansion to some parts of the story and dealing with some other parts rather briefly. I do not think that the great Vyasa would have disapproved of any of these departures because in almost all cases they bring out what was implicit in Vyasa’s legend. Sri Aurobindo breathes a new life and power into this Vedic myth. Besides, these adaptations enhance the symbolic meaning of the story.

We will take up the issue of symbolism at a later point in our study. Here I would like to take a close look at some of the departures from the Mahabharata legend that we find in Savitri. Together with this I will also try to indicate how the entire epic is structured – what Books of the epic poem deal with what part of the story. This will provide you with a good road-map of Savitri and enable you to open the poem at any canto of any Book and immediately grasp what part of the story is being dealt with in that canto. We may not be able to complete the discussion of these topics in one instalment; it will have to be continued in one or more of the instalments to follow. We will, however, conclude this instalment as usual with an excerpt from the epic poem presented for your appreciation.

Departures in Savitri from the Mahabharata Legend

1. The Mahabharata Legend:

Aswapati is an ideal king firmly established in dharma. He has all the blessings of life but he is issue-less. So with the intention of getting a son he engages himself in arduous austerities for eighteen years. He thus worships goddess Savitri with all devotion. Pleased with his austerities and devotion, goddess Savitri emerges out of the sacrificial fire and grants him the boon of a daughter. She assures him that a beautiful and effulgent daughter will be born to him and that this boon is being bestowed upon him at the instance of Brahma, the Creator, himself. This part of the story is narrated in about 20 slokas in the Mahabharata legend. The description of Aswapati’s austerities or penance, however, takes actually no more than six lines.

Sri Aurobindo’s Savitri

Aswapati’s yajna or penance of eighteen years becomes in Sri Aurobindo’s epic “Aswapati’s Yoga”. Yajna or sacrifice is a Vedic concept which is often misunderstood. Its primary objective is not, as is generally believed, to obtain material prosperity during one’s life time and the blessings of heaven after death. Nor does its performance entail observance of certain rituals. It is basically a profound psychological or spiritual practice or discipline which enables man to pass from the world of mortal existence to the vast world of the immortal spirit. It is a path that leads to life immortal (amritatatwaaya gacchati), says the Rig Veda. Sacrifice in the Veda thus represents a symbolic process which enables man to rise into the highest spiritual status. In Savitri, this is the kind of sacrifice, sacrifice in the Vedic sense, that Aswapati undertakes.

The description of this yoga takes 10974 lines, spread over twenty-two cantos – cantos 3, 4 and 5 of Book I, all the fifteen cantos of Book II, and all the four cantos of Book III. It is worth examining why Sri Aurobindo needs such a vast canvas to describe what Vyasa manages to do in about six lines?

Very early in Canto Three of Book I we begin to see that Sri Aurobindo’s Aswapati is “a thinker and toiler in the ideal’s air” and that he is “A colonist from immorality”. Further details about him reveal to us that although he is described as King Aswapati in this epic poem too, he personifies in many ways the sensitive modern man in search of a perfect life for himself and his fellowmen here on earth. In his concerns and in his aspirations, he is almost our contemporary. He seems to be familiar with what the East and the West have so far contributed to make the human legacy so rich and varied – religion, spirituality, liberal arts, culture, science and technology. He too like his counterpart in Vyasa’s legend, performs austerities, not external rites and rituals, but he follows an inner spiritual discipline, a yoga. Why does he perform this yoga? In spite of what mankind has achieved through its long and difficult struggle, man’s life here on earth is still riddled with suffering, evil, limitations of various kinds and finally death. Man has tried in vain to change this situation through science and technology, through effecting changes in his social and economic institutions, through political revolutions. Nor have traditional religions and spiritual practices helped change this situation in any radical and permanent way. A realisation of this prompts Aswapati to seek a creative power, a Truth which will transform human life and bring to it an integral perfection, so far only dreamt of but not realised in reality. Towards this end he undertakes a triple yoga. Sri Aurobindo has explained in one of his letters the nature of this yoga (Letters on Savitri, in Savitri, 1993, page 778):

Aswapati’s Yoga falls into three parts. First, he is achieving his own spiritual self-fulfilment as the individual and this is described as the Yoga of the King. Next, he makes the ascent as a typical representative of the race to win the possibility of discovery and possession of all the planes of consciousness and this is described in the Second Book: but this is also yet only an individual victory. Finally, he aspires no longer for himself but for all, for a universal realisation and new creation. This is described in the Book of the Divine Mother.

Cantos 3 (“The Yoga of the King; The Yoga of the Soul’s Release”) and 5 (“The Yoga of the King: The Yoga of the Spirit’s Freedom and Greatness”) of Book I describe Aswapati’s yoga through which he attains his psycho-spiritual transformation. Canto 4 (“The Secret Knowledge”) describes the deeper knowledge which the yoga reveals to him. The world around us is to a large extent a creation of our ego and therefore as long as we remain closed within the cocoon of our ego, we can not see the world as it is. For that one needs to rise above one’s ego and take a stand in the consciousness of one’s soul. This is what Aswapati achieves during the first phase of his yoga. And then he realises that this world is as yet an imperfect manifestation of the Supreme Reality and it is destined to evolve further towards a great fulfilment, and a perfect manifestation of the Divine Reality. He also realises that for this to happen the Truth-Light must be found and with it “earth’s massive roots” must be struck so that the world may “manifest the unveiled Divine”.

This realisation prompts him to be a “Traveller of the Worlds”. He wishes to explore the various worlds; these are worlds made of substances other than the gross-physical substance of which our world is made. Until modern enlightenment put blinkers on our eyes and made us blind to all non-physical reality, religions and spiritual traditions in all parts of the world assumed the existence of these non-physical worlds. Aswapati’s experiences of this travel through all the worlds from the subtle physical to the highest manifested spiritual worlds are described in Book II. Canto 1 ( “The World-Stair” ) of Book II describes the varied worlds which Aswapati sees as a world-pile, a huge column of worlds rising from the plinth of Matter. It also describes how this macrocosm is reflected in the microcosm of our inner being. Thus Aswapati becomes a traveller basically of the inner worlds. He travels through four kinds of worlds – physical worlds (Canto 2), vital worlds (Cantos 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9) mental worlds (Cantos 9, 10 and 11) and spiritual worlds (Cantos 12, 13, 14 and 15). It should, however, be noted that the description of Aswapati’s experience of the spiritual worlds in also found in Books I and III of the epic as well.

As he reaches the apex of the spiritual worlds, he feels strongly pushed into the world of Nirvanic experience. This is the theme of Canto 1 (“ The Pursuit of the Unknowable”) of Book III. Aswapati refuses to regard the Nirvanic state as the highest possible state attainable by man because that state takes him out of this world and leads him to a dissolution of his being and merger with the static Brahman. This amounts basically to an escape from this world and undoubtedly the escape brings a tremendous liberation from all that plagues man here in his earthly life – dualities of pleasure and pain, sense of being finite and limited etc. But Aswapati had undertaken this arduous route to find ways of bringing fulfilment and perfection to life in this world not to escape from it. So he deliberately retraces his steps from the Nirvanic region and takes a leap into the Transcendental world. He has to take this step because so far whatever he has done, and all the worlds he has explored have not revealed to him the secret of bringing perfection to life on earth. Here on the topmost verge of the Overmental world he feels the presence of the Supreme Divine Mother, the Creatrix of this world. All this is described in Canto 2 ( “ The Adoration of the Divine Mother”) of Book III. Here I would like to draw your attention to a glorious passage which you will find on pages 314 and 315. This passage is a mantric invocation, a veritable stuti “laud”, “ a hymn of praise’ offered to the Divine Mother. Sanskrit literature contains many wonderful examples of such hymns, and Sri Aurobindo has now created a few of these in English as well.

At the head she stands of birth and toil and fate,
In their slow round the cycles turn to her call;
Alone her hands can change Time's dragon base.
Hers is the mystery the Night conceals;
The spirit's alchemist energy is hers;
She is the golden bridge, the wonderful fire.
The luminous heart of the Unknown is she,
A power of silence in the depths of God;
She is the Force, the inevitable Word,
The magnet of our difficult ascent,
The Sun from which we kindle all our suns,
The Light that leans from the unrealised Vasts,
The joy that beckons from the impossible,
The Might of all that never yet came down.
All Nature dumbly calls to her alone
To heal with her feet the aching throb of life
And break the seals on the dim soul of man
And kindle her fire in the closed heart of things.
All here shall be one day her sweetness' home,
All contraries prepare her harmony;
Towards her our knowledge climbs, our passion gropes;
In her miraculous rapture we shall dwell,
Her clasp shall turn to ecstasy our pain.
Our self shall be one self with all through her.
In her confirmed because transformed in her,
Our life shall find in its fulfilled response
Above, the boundless hushed beatitudes,
Below, the wonder of the embrace divine.

At last in this transcendental realm Aswapati sees the world of perfection he has been looking for – the Supramental world. In sections 3 and 4 of Canto 3 (“ The House of the Spirit and the New Creation”) of Book III is a description of what we can take to be the future Supramental creation. Nowhere in Book III does Sri Aurobindo use the word “Supermind’; it is referred to as a “vast Truth-Consciousness”. Consider these lines which describe this new world:

A new and marvellous creation rose.
Incalculable outflowing infinitudes
Laughing out an unmeasured happiness
Lived their innumerable unity;
(lines 224 – 227, page 323)

In Canto 4 (“The Vision and the Boon”) of Book III, Aswapati prays to the Divine Mother to send on earth an emanation of hers who alone would be able to bring down to earth this new consciousness he has found in the transcendental world. The Supreme Divine Mother advises Aswapati to be patient because in her view man is not yet ready for the descent of this new consciousness. But Aswapati is disconsolate, and strongly urges the Divine Mother to grant him his request for the sake of the long-suffering humanity. Finally, the Divine Mother accedes to his request and assures him that an incarnation of hers will be born on earth who will make it possible for man to conquer death and all the inadequacies it represents so that the Life Divine blossoms on earth. And the passage in which this assurance is given is once again one of the magic passages in Savitri.

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.”

This brings us to the end of Book III and also of Part I of Savitri.

Please note that the description of Aswapti’s yoga begins with Canto 3 of Book I and concludes with Canto 4 of Book III. The description of Aswapati’s yoga thus accounts for the whole Part I of the epic except Cantos 1 and 2 of Book I. How are these two cantos related to the rest of this epic? Canto 1 (“The Symbol Dawn”) of Book I describes the dawn of the day on which Satyavan was fated to die. Since the death and the resuscitation of Satyavan are the two central events of this story, we can say that the epic begins ‘in media res’, right in the middle of the action. Such a beginning is in keeping with the Western tradition. “The Symbol Dawn” is a description not only of the dawn of that fateful day, but it also evokes in a sensitive reader images of several other dawns as well. Then in the second section of this Canto we are told how Savitri too awoke on that morning as well. Then in Canto 2 (“The Issue”), we are given the first full view of Savitri as she looked on that fateful morning. (An excerpt from this canto was presented for your appreciation at the end of our instalment 2.) The issue of Savitri’s life is

Whether to bear with Ignorance and Death
Or hew the ways of Immortality,
To win or lose the godlike game for man,
Was her soul’s issue thrown with Destiny’s dice.
(Lines 233- 236, p. 17)

Then suddenly the narration freezes at the end of Canto 2 – around the forenoon of the fateful day. There is a flashback to Savitri’s antecedents. “A world’s desire compelled her mortal birth” says the very first line of Canto 3 of Book I. To understand this line – what was the world’s desire, and how it compelled Savitri’s birth, etc. we need to know of Aswapati and of his triple yoga. And this is described as we have seen in Cantos 3, 4 and 5 of Book I and in Books II and III. The narration of the story which freezes at the end of Canto 2 of Book I is picked up again in Book VIII. In the meanwhile the flashback keeps us busy with that part of the story which deals with Aswapati and his yoga, Savitri’s birth, her growing up into a beautiful maiden, her going into the world to seek a partner for life, her meeting with Satyavan and falling in love with him, Narad’s prophecy and the problems it creates for Savitri. All this brings us to Book VII, which describes what happened four days before the fateful day – Savitri takes up a very difficult yoga to prepare herself for the fateful day prophesied by Narad. Book VIII then picks up the story from where it was left in Canto II Book I and what happened after the forenoon of that day elapsed and the noon arrived. Satyavan died in the forest around noon that day.

Vyasa’s Legend

1. The Mahabharata story then goes on to report that when the child was born she was called Savitri, since she had been given by the goddess of that name. There is no reference at all here to the notion of Savitri being a divine incarnation, even if it was present in the Vedic origins of the myth. Here we are told how Savitri grew up into a fair and beautiful young girl like the Goddess of Fortune herself incarnate.

Sri Aurobindo’s Savitri

In Sri Aurobindo’s epic, the birth of Savitri is clearly the birth of an Avatar, of a divine incarnation. Aswapati had undertaken the arduous yoga to free humanity from the clutches of the forces of obscurity, inconscience, inertia and negation. This can be achieved only if the Supramental consciousness is brought down on earth. This is a stupendous task beyond the capacities of any normal human being. That is why he prays to the Supreme Divine Mother for an incarnation of hers on earth. . “Mission to earth some living form of thee” says Aswapati. Savitri’s birth is this birth of the Divine into a human body. This and her childhood which shows clearly the stamp of greatness of her spirit are described in Canto 1 (“The Birth and Childhood of the Flame”). As Savitri grows into a young maiden of exquisite inner and outer beauty, she also acquires a varied knowledge of many philosophies and sciences, of arts and crafts. Her eminence is recognised by all around her, and because of this no prince dares to approach her seeking her hand in marriage. All this is the theme of Canto 2 (“ The Growth of the Flame”) of Book IV.

Vyasa’s Legend

2. Savitri grows up into a radiantly beautiful young woman and looks like a goddess (devarupini). One auspicious day Savitri, pays a visit to the temple, offers prayers and oblations to the gods, and goes to see her father. When she approaches him, she touches his feet in obeisance and offers him the prasad and flowers she has brought from the temple. Aswapati sees that his daughter has grown to full youth and is beautiful like a goddess but feels distressed that she is yet unmarried. He deems it a failure on his part not to have found for her a suitable husband. Because of her great beauty and radiance, no prince dares to come forward. Aswapati therefore asks her to go out into the world to seek a young man who would be her companion for life.

Sri Aurobindo’s Savitri

The way Sri Aurobindo describes this event is somewhat different. Aswapati in Sri Aurobindo’s epic is a great and accomplished yogi. Therefore he is in communion with the spiritual planes and forces that constantly act on the human plane and mould the happenings and movements here. He has a strong feeling that man’s aspiration for a perfect life on earth is going to be fulfilled. Suddenly one day he hears a heavenly voice which says that a great destiny awaits mankind but man is unable to rise to it since “ The Gods are still too few in mortal forms”. As the Voice withdraws, he sees Savitri in front of him. This occasions another glorious description of Savitri, this time as seen by her father. (We will study this passage at the end of this instalment.) He sees her as a “shining answer from the gods” to all his perplexity about man’s future. Then suddenly his lips open up and there come out of his mouth “words from Fate” He tells her that her spirit has not come down like a star alone. There must be someone who is on earth, “ the second self her nature asks”. He asks her to venture through the deep world to find her companion for life. She must find this person who will give voice to what is yet mute in her. This command of her father sinks deep into Savitri’s consciousness and works like a mantra. She departs on her quest. All this is described in Canto 3 (“The Call to the Quest”) of Book IV. This is followed by Canto 4 (“ The Quest”) of Book IV. In this canto we have a travelogue of sorts, describing what Savitri saw during her year-long journey across the whole of Bharatvarsha (India of that time) – the urban scene as well as the rural scene and the scene in the forests where lived Rishis, and seekers of truth of various kinds. Almost a whole year has gone by in this journey, and on a bright day in summer she happens to come to a forest grove, which proves to be her journey’s end. We will continue this study of the points of departure that Sri Aurobindo has made in the story of Savitri and Satyavan in our next instalment.


Before concluding this instalment, as usual we will take a close look at a passage from Savitri. The passage I have chosen gives us another portrait of Savitri. In the previous instalment we saw Savitri as she looked on the morning of the fateful day of Satyavan’s death. The passage I am presenting below shows Savitri as seen by her father at the peak of her maidenly beauty and radiance. I have just mentioned in the foregoing paragraph how one day Savitri comes to meet her father. As we have noted, her flaming beauty keeps all would-be suitors away from her; they adore her from a distance. That morning she had gone to the temple to offer worship to the deity. (This is a detail we learn from Vyasa.) And immediately after offering the worship she comes to see Aswapati, her father. He has just heard a voice which prophesies a great future for mankind. As soon as the voice stops, Aswapati sees young and radiant Savitri approaching him. This is how he sees Savitri at that moment.

The Voice withdrew into its hidden skies.
But like a shining answer from the gods 110
Approached through sun-bright spaces Savitri.
Advancing amid tall heaven-pillaring trees,
Apparelled in her flickering-coloured robe
She seemed, burning towards the eternal realms,
A bright moved torch of incense and of flame 115
That from the sky-roofed temple-soil of earth
A pilgrim hand lifts in an invisible shrine.
There came the gift of a revealing hour:
He saw through depths that reinterpret all,
Limited not now by the dull body's eyes, 120
New-found through an arch of clear discovery,
This intimation of the world's delight,
This wonder of the divine Artist's make
Carved like a nectar-cup for thirsty gods,
This breathing Scripture of the Eternal's joy, 125
This net of sweetness woven of aureate fire.
Transformed the delicate image-face became
A deeper Nature's self-revealing sign,
A gold-leaf palimpsest of sacred births,
A grave world-symbol chiselled out of life. 130
Her brow, a copy of clear unstained heavens,
Was meditation's pedestal and defence,
The very room and smile of musing Space,
Its brooding line infinity's symbol curve.
Amid her tresses' cloudy multitude 135
Her long eyes shadowed as by wings of Night
Under that moon-gold forehead's dreaming breadth
Were seas of love and thought that held the world;
Marvelling at life and earth they saw truths far.
A deathless meaning filled her mortal limbs; 140
As in a golden vase's poignant line
They seemed to carry the rhythmic sob of bliss
Of earth's mute adoration towards heaven
Released in beauty's cry of living form
Towards the perfection of eternal things. 145
Transparent grown the ephemeral living dress
Bared the expressive deity to his view.
Escaped from surface sight and mortal sense
The seizing harmony of its shapes became
The strange significant icon of a Power 150
Renewing its inscrutable descent
Into a human figure of its works
That stood out in life's bold abrupt relief
On the soil of the evolving universe,
A godhead sculptured on a wall of thought, 155
Mirrored in the flowing hours and dimly shrined
In Matter as in a cathedral cave.
Annulled were the transient values of the mind,
The body's sense renounced its earthly look;
Immortal met immortal in their gaze. 160
Awaked from the close spell of daily use
That hides soul-truth with the outward form's disguise,
He saw through the familiar cherished limbs
The great and unknown spirit born his child.

(Pages 372 – 373)

“The Voice” in line 109 refers to the voice just heard by Aswapati. This Voice now recedes into its unseen source. As if as an answer from the gods to what the Voice had said, Savitri, bright, and resplendent with the glory of youth, appeared on the scene. The Voice talked about a glorious future for man and mentioned what had thwarted the coming of this future so far – there are not enough Gods on earth yet. You can see the clear suggestion here – Savitri is born to make good this inadequacy in man. Her life’s mission is to transform the half animal and half divine human race into a fully divine one. (Lines 110 – 111)

Savitri came advancing through a column of tall trees; she was wearing a colourful apparel. What did she look like? She looked like a moving torch of incense and flame burning towards the eternal realms above held aloft by a pilgrim’s hand in an invisible shrine which had the sky as its roof and the earth as its ground soil. (Lines 112 – 117) The appropriateness of this comparison of Savitri to a torch of incense and flame held aloft by a pilgrim hardly needs any comments. But notice that the poet is taking us with every such deft stroke closer and closer to the inner being of Savitri. He doesn’t seem particularly interested in portraying for us a clear image of the outward form of Savitri.

This sight of Savitri brings to Aswapati a sudden revelation. He now begins to see with a deeper sight and this sight enables him to see more truly than the mere superficial physical sight. He now suddenly sees Savitri as the embodiment of the delight behind this world. Then in four lines the poet raises this description step by step to a height where our understanding and imagination feel almost breathless in wonder. Savitri is a wonderful creation of the Divine artist who has carved her like a nectar cup for thirsty gods. She is described as the breathing Scripture of the Eternal’s joy and a net of sweetness woven out of golden fire. (Lines 118 – 126)

Now the poet describes Savitri’s delicate face, her brow, her long, dark and thick hair and her eyes and then her limbs. Each one of these brings to the transformed sight of Aswapati intimations of her inner nature. Her delicate face is like a parchment made of gold-leaf on which are seen letters which remind us of her several sacred births in the past; she looks like a serene world-symbol chiselled out of life. (Lines 127 – 130) Her eyebrows and the forehead which together make her facial expression give one the impression of clear, stainless heavens; her forehead in particular, looks like a powerful and secure seat of meditation. The curve of her eyebrows look like the brooding line of infinity. (Lines 131 – 134) Then comes the description of her eyes under the dreaming breadth of her forehead amid her thick dark tresses of hair; they are like seas of love and deep contemplation; they look at the world around them and marvel at it and see the distant truths. (Lines 135 – 139)

Her limbs seem to suggest a deathless meaning. Like the contours of a golden vase, they seem to carry the rhythmic cry of bliss of the silent adoration of the things upon earth for the perfection their heavenly counterparts manifest. (Lines 140 – 145) The outer physical form of Savitri had grown transparent to Aswapati’s vision and he could see through it the manifesting deity within. (Lines 146 – 147) The external sight and sense could not capture the full significance of the harmony of the outlines of her form since it seemed to be a symbol of a Power. This is the power that is born again and again through a mysterious descent into a human figure. This line brings to mind the great lines in the Gita in which the Lord explains the mystery of Avatarhood: “ though I am the Lord of all existences, yet I stand upon my own Nature and I come into birth by my self-Maya (Gita IV: 6). Each time the Avatar stands in bold relief in this evolving universe. He is a veritable godhead who leaves a permanent mark on the thought of the race like a sculpture mounted on the wall of thought, and his influence is reflected in the flowing stream of time and permanently enshrined in the temple-cave of matter. (Lines 148 – 155)

Aswapati now undergoes a great change and the ephemeral values of the mind undergo a change; the body’s sense gave up its limited earthly range, and the immortal in him met the immortal in Savitri. (Lines 156 – 160) He is now awakened from the limiting spell of the ordinary consciousness which is incapable of seeing the soul-truth because of the disguise of the outward form; he now saw through the loved and familiar figure of his daughter, the great and unknown spirit who was born as his child. (Lines 161 – 164).
(Mangesh Nadkarni retired as professor of Linguistics a few years ago. He enjoys sharing with as many people as possible what he receives from his study of Sri Aurobindo and the Mother)

Sunday, January 14, 2007

All that I am doing may be too much of mentalisation. And yet...

Kim Fri 12 Jan 2007 07:55 AM PST I so appreciated reading this article. Thank you all for posting it. I love Savitri, first introduced to it in Debashish's wonderful classes in Los Angeles and then reading and studying it on my own. I like so much the idea of approaching it from the heart, reading it with a blank mind, and learning it by heart as well. I notice that when I memorize a particular passage, the mantric qualities of the writing connect to the psychic center and through the memorization, I am able to carry that connection all through the day, reciting favorite lines sometimes many times over. It's uplifting somehow, as is the article. Thanks again for posting it.
RY Deshpande Sat 13 Jan 2007 07:05 AM PST What a beautiful comment you have made, Kim! Heart-touching! Savitri can certainly be an upasana grantha, a Book for Spiritual Practices. In fact it is, and everything is available in it. That makes me a bit introspective also. All that I am doing in the context of Savitri's awaking on the fated day, may be too much of mentalisation. It may have its own value, and pleasure, but as upasana--well, I don't know. What do you say? and others, that we have now Sonia Dyne's article here. By the way, I had read it earlier also. And yet... RYD

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

There is nothing on earth which is comparable to Savitri, excepting perhaps The Life Divine

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SAVITRI Showing 212-221 of 221 first <> next > last
1/3/2007 6:19 AM Not only our earth-nature gives such negative reactions, it does some repulsion:Inflicting on the heights the abysm's law, It sullies with its mire heaven's messengers: Here “abysm” refers to our material world, which has it’s own laws like limitations, ignorance, inconscience, death, etc. in contrary to the “abysm”, Sri Aurobindo speaks of “heights” which naturally refers to The Supreme or His Region, from where the Truth descends. The earth-nature “Inflicts” the laws of our material world on such heights. Sri Aurobindo holds a mirror here. We always tend to “confine” the Divine according to our limitations or even to be on a fair side even according to our convenience. One general example. If you ask some one “Where is God?” 99% of the chances are that he or she may show you a temple. Temples are the places where a particular deity, which is a semblance of a particular form of Grace of The Supreme, is profoundly instituted for our concentration. But we limit – if it can be said so - Divine only to temples and we do the things against Him in other places, just making it convenient for us to carry our illegal activities. Not just this, our material nature does not accept the message of the “heaven’s messengers” and “sullies” then with “mire”. Here “mire” means a lot. Forget about accepting the Divine’s message, we humiliate the messengers, just like what happened with Jesus Christ.
1/3/2007 6:20 AM Its thorns of fallen nature are the defence It turns against the saviour hands of Grace; It meets the sons of God with death and pain.Whenever a messenger from the Supreme comes here with a message and conveys the same to us, our “fallen nature” which Sri Aurobindo compares to thorns, puts up certain defense against such “sons of god” and turns these thorns as return for their “saviour hands of Grace”. The Grace of Supreme always protects us from any sort of difficulties or problems or difficulties. But our nature, for which ignorance and inconscience are the Bliss, constantly rejects His Grace and it always makes us to take up a path that takes us away from Him. Further Sri Aurobindo says, our nature “meets the sons of the God with death and pain”. For the messengers like Jesus Christ, not only our Nature’s response was “pain” and “death”, I personally feel one more dimension to these words here. If we do not accept the message from the Divine, through such messengers it gives them pain, a sharp pain. They suffer a lot because of our reluctance to them. Any reluctance or ignorance shown to by us to them is their “death”. Because they sacrifice their Perfection, take a mortal birth, live in a mortal body, to uplift our Consciousness, and lead us to Supreme. And if we do not accept their message and be those values, their sacrifice is going waste. To us The Mother and Sri Aurobindo have given us a message, a message to evolve from earth-nature to Divine Nature, to Super Human Nature. The Mother has promised us that She will take us to our real destiny. The only things we are supposed to do are aspire higher and higher for such Nature, and reject all the things which diverts us from the Divine Path and finally a Total and Integral Surrender. Let us complete this discussion with a prayer in Her Lotus Feet to bestow us with the aspiration that leads us to reject all the things which keeps us away from Her and enables us to surrender ourselves totally & integrally
1/3/2007 6:23 AM References1. Sri Aurobindo's Savitri: An Apporach and A Study by Sri A B Purani.2. The Book of Beginnings by Sri M P Pandit.3. A Savitri dictionary by Rand Hicks.4. The Bhagavad Gita with Text Translations and Commentaries by Sri Aurobindo.
1/9/2007 4:56 AM Savitri Book 1 Canto 1 Post 17The next post of Savitri we shall discuss is as follows:A glory of lightnings traversing the earth-scene, Their sun-thoughts fading, darkened by ignorant minds, Their work betrayed, their good to evil turned, The cross their payment for the crown they gave, Only they leave behind a splendid Name. A fire has come and touched men's hearts and gone; A few have caught flame and risen to greater life. Too unlike the world she came to help and save, Her greatness weighed upon its ignorant breast And from its dim chasms welled a dire return, A portion of its sorrow, struggle, fall. To live with grief, to confront death on her road,-- The mortal's lot became the Immortal's share. MEANINGS OF SOME DIFFICULT WORDSChasm = A deep opening or crack on the earth's surface, or on a rock.Dire = Awful, Dreadful, or disastrous in consequences; boding ill.In the last post we discussed how our human nature or earth-nature meets the sons of God, the messengers of the Supreme, the saviors, with death and pain, that is it reacts in a negative way o behaves opposite to Divine Nature. Sri Aurobindo continues to explain the results of the same now in next few lines.A glory of lightnings traversing the earth-scene, “the earth scene” is often traversed by “A glory of lightnings”. The messengers of the Supreme, the sons of Gods are here referred to as the “lightnings” by Sri Aurobindo. Every thought of theirs, every message they give to us is like a ray of light, bright and luminous. But why Sri Aurobindo says they are like lightening but not light? Let us see:
1/9/2007 4:56 AM Their work betrayed, their good to evil turned, Not only our ignorant minds makes us to be reluctant about the message spread by the Great men, it even makes us think that the works of these Great men are betrayal of something and the good they have done to mankind or they intend to do for us is termed as evil. We can see many of such examples now days. Some people in the media and in our society who call themselves as “Buddhi Jeevis”, have developed a habit of “exposing” the sacred organizations and people. They can go down to any level to achieve the same. The cross their payment for the crown they gave, The saviors who descend as the Grace of Supreme, they us a “crown”. Here “crown” carries a lot of significance. You can take it as Consciousness, Grace, Love, Delight from Supreme, which acts as a protection to us and leads us higher and higher towards Him. But in return, what they get in return? “The Cross”. This is a reference to Jesus Christ’s crucification. Cross also means negation or negligence. What we give them is negligence in return to what they have brought for us.Only they leave behind a splendid Name. Therefore, when earth-nature meets the sons of Gods with death, what remains is their great Name. Sri M P Pandit concludes this paragraph saying that “Man succeeds in pulling down everything” in his “The Book of Beginnings”.
1/9/2007 4:57 AM A fire has come and touched men's hearts and gone; A few have caught flame and risen to greater life. Sri Aurobindo gives the net results of the discussion so far about human nature and its reaction to divine, in these lines. The Grace of The Supreme, when it descends from above it is like a “fire” that completely reduces our material nature to ashes and ignites a flame of aspiration in our hearts. And after that the fire retires. You use the match stick to light the candle, once the candle is lit; you no longer need the match stick! And also remember from our previous discussions “Only a little the god-light can stay”. Then it is our Sadhana to maintain the fire of that aspiration, and reject all that which tends us to move away from the path and a total and integral surrender, which leads us to a “greater life”, where one stays eternally in static oneness with the Supreme One, and gets unchained from the binding of the death. But such are very few who are capable of catching this fire. And very few who sustains it. Too unlike the world she came to help and save, Savitri has descended in this material world to “help and save” this world. But she is “too unlike the world”, that is Her nature is Greater than the nature of human minds or earth nature. Her greatness weighed upon its ignorant breast And from its dim chasms welled a dire return, A portion of its sorrow, struggle, fall. Our ignorant minds and ignorant world can sustain the Greatness of The Divine Mother, Savitri, in their natural states. And Sri Aurobindo compares the same to a physical or natural process. Whenever certain greater force acts on a brittle material like a rock, it gets cracked and anything hidden behind, may be water or some gas it shoots out. Our world is very brittle. Please remember from our previous discussions:A vaster Nature's joy had once been hers, But long could keep not its gold heavenly hue Or stand upon this brittle earthly base.
1/9/2007 4:58 AM Therefore, this brittle world is like crust of our “sorrows, struggles and fall”. When the Greatness of the Divine Mother is compelled on our world, it gets cracked to its deep and our sorrows, miseries, struggles well out and The Divine Mother accepts them to relieve us from them and gives us the Love and Protection and makes us strong and strong to receive Her Greater Self. But this happens provided the conditions of The Mother are satisfied and we already know what these conditions are. Therefore, Savitri, The Divine Mother, descends to relieve us from all our struggles, miseries, and falls. But we need to be conscious about it. Until then, The Mother veils Her Greatness, she remains in the unknown form, within us. Similarly Savitri too was forced:To live with grief, to confront death on her road,-- The mortal's lot became the Immortal's share. “To live with grief, to confront death” are inevitable to “The mortal’s lot” that is they are our parts, but not the Divine Mother’s. Grief is something natural to us and so is the battle with the death. But The Divine Mother is from the world of the Supreme, the world of Immortals, and yet she accepts our human limitations, to be with us in the veiled form, and to guide, lead, and sustain us till we achieve our ultimate aim of life. She takes up all the sorrows, miseries of all her children so that we may be relieved and aspire to grow higher and higher, beyond our ignorance, inconscience, and mortality.
1/9/2007 4:58 AM Here these lines give us answers to some of questions related to The Mother and Sri Aurobindo. Whatever Sri Aurobindo has written in Savitri is His own Yoga, Sadhana and experiences. So it applies to Him as well as The Mother. We know that Savitri and our Mother are one or the same. Some devotees ask questions like “Why Sri Aurobindo and The Mother suffered like humans?”The first thing is they never suffered like humans. Who knows they bore the sorrows of how many devotees? Can any one imagine? They relieved us by that. What we need to know is always what appears on top on surface to our human eyes, is not always the real side, and what’s important is the truth behind the superficial appearance. Another question in the same line “Why Sri Aurobindo and The Mother did not cure themselves? When they could cure so many devotees because of their Sadhana?”And the most famous one is “Why they left their physical envelope?”. I can not use the word “die”, which generally some people use, while they ask this question.The answer is common for both the question. The Mother and Sri Aurobindo did their Sadhana for the whole mankind, for the whole nature, for the whole universe, but NOT only and only for themselves, because they were not selfish. Sri Aurobindo left his physical envelope to create base for the manifestation of the Supramental Consciousness. And then it was The Mother who executed the manifestation of the same, and once when Her work was over, she left Her physical envelope and now is with us, profoundly, in “Sookshma Sharira”, leading us to Supramental Consciousness. Therefore, when we all ready to receive the Supramental Consciousness, The Mother and Sri Aurobindo will return to us. Till then they are doing their Sadhana being in the “Sookshma Sharira”, for us, because what The Mother assured to us? “You just do 1% of the Sadhana required. Rest I will do it for you!” Therefore, once again the pointer comes to our Sadhana.
1/9/2007 5:00 AM Therefore, once again the pointer comes to our Sadhana. Therefore,Let us aspire for the Grace and Love of The Divine Mother,Let us reject all that deviates us from finding Her Grace and Love,Let us surrender ourselves totally to Her. References:1. The Book of Beginnings by Sri M P Pandit.2. Sri Aurobindo's Savitri: An Approach and a Study by Sri A B Purani.3. A Savitri Disctionary by Sri Rand Hicks
1/9/2007 8:48 AM SAVITRITo begin a thread on Savitri is truly a great job, a true service to Sri Aurobindo and The Mother. Savitri is a Mantra, as has been rightly told by THEMOTHERSCHILD. It is a Revelation. It can be said that it is a Mantra and a Revelation not from any Plane of the Mind — from the beginning to the end, Savitri bears the Touch of the Supramental Consciousness. Even if some lines are from the plane of the Illumined Mind or even the Overmind, it always bears the Touch of the Supermind. That is why, It is unique, new, uncomparable. There is nothing on earth which is comparable to Savitri, excepting perhaps The Life Divine.
One particular line from Savitri has been the source of an endless source of courage, strength, inspiration, hope, Love, Blessings and Protection to me in my personal life for more than four decades. The line is well known, but it was and is to me a very very powerful Mantra that could make me stand against all odds and difficulties and problems, even enemies, the agents of the Anti-Divine forces!The line is : All can be done if the God-touch is there.If you have a true and living aspiration, that is the proof the that the Divine has touched you from within. That is the God-touch. If you have that within you, you can surmount the mountains of all difficulties, all problems of whatever magnitude.
Sri K R Srinivasa Iyengar has written in his magnum opus Sri Aurobindo:"All over Savitri are scattered lines that seem to be charged with this drive of powerand grace of Grace:He found the occult cave, the mystic door Near to the well of vision in the soul, And entered where the Wings of Glory brood..."According to The Mother, Savitri is "prophetic vision of the world's history, including the announcement of the earth's future."
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Thursday, January 04, 2007

The Wonder that is Savitri

A Spiritual Biography of Savitri
by RY Deshpande on Mon 01 Jan 2007 04:36 AM PST Permanent Link
The Radiant Daughter—as we have in Sri Aurobindo’s Epic Savitri
Sri Aurobindo’s Savitri: That is the story of Savitri given to us by Vyasa. Sri Aurobindo found it a perfect tale to convey the evolutionary achievements and possibilities through it. Indeed, it has all the power to express his and the Mother’s accomplishments, the siddhis they established dynamically in the earth-consciousness. The finest boon we have in Sri Aurobindo’s Savitri is the descent of Krishna and Kali after removing the obstacle that was standing across the path of the divine Event, the antagonist aspect of the God of Death.
In his record of early days Sri Aurobindo wrote, in 1916, about the work he and the Mother were engaged in: “When the Unity has been well founded, the static half of our work is done, but the active half remains. It is then that in the One we must see the Master and His Power,—Krishna and Kali.” Sri Aurobindo was at that time waiting for the final arrival of the Mother to join him to accomplish the active half of the work. The occult-yogic truth is: the Lord wills; she executes. His is the samkalpa. Hers is the kriyā-kārya. Both together form the divine action or daivī kārya. In that action is the glory of this evolutionary earth. In that decisive achievement is the arrival of Krishna and Kali. To put it in the metaphysical language, this should mean that it is thus that the Supermind will directly and operationally belong to the evolutionary line also. However, its descent shall not mean the descent of the Transcendent itself; it will always be the necessary descents of its powers. That is the divine action envisaged in Savitri.
The story of Savitri has such an occult basis as its background and therefore it distinctly foresees the prospects of enlarging consciousness in the splendour of love, beauty, joy, knowledge, power, sweetness, harmony, the creative working of the Truth-Idea in the richly effulgent and ever-growing dimensions of the Infinite. Though not expressly stated so, the suggestions in the traditional story are unmistakable. All this makes the Savitri-tale spiritually significant, eventful. It shows her not only as a firm-minded young woman; she is one having exceptional qualities, qualities which put her apart from everybody around. In the Mahabharata narrative Savitri is presented, as we have already seen, as a radiant daughter, kanyā tejasvinī; she is beautiful like a damsel of heaven, devarūpinī; she is dhyānayoga-parāyaņā, an adept in the Yoga of Meditation; she is one who is learned in the lore that has come down the tradition, is fully conversant with the Shastras, is an observer of the difficult vows.
In the epic given by Sri Aurobindo, Savitri came to live with grief, to share the mortal's lot, to stay the wheels of doom, to confront death. This was the great divine task she was engaged in. For that she made the sacrifice of her suffering to the presiding Deity, surrendered herself completely to the Will of the Supreme. Indeed, in it she attempted all and achieved all. In it she received the most wondrous boon of divine life on earth.
Sri Aurobindo makes all these qualities definite by calling her the Daughter of Infinity, the living power of the incarnate Word, the breathing Scripture of the Eternal's joy, the Wielder of the Conqueror's Sword, one who is the Slave of God to execute God's Will in the evolutionary Creation. His descriptions about her appear in different contexts, bringing out the respective powers of her embodiment. He utilises the legend to give mantric form to his and the Mother's avataric work. As a matter of fact, Savitri is not only a legend and a symbol, a symbol describing the conquest of death; it is also a double autobiography. The story is just a literary device to tell all these occult-spiritual things.
The Mother herself says how Savitri reveals her experiences. "You know, Savitri is an exact description--not literature, not poetry (although the form is very poetical)--an exact description, step by step, paragraph by paragraph, page by page; as I read I relived it all. Besides, many of my own experiences that I recounted to Sri Aurobindo seem to have been incorporated into Savitri. He has included many of them." She was astonished to see its realism to such exactness.
Obviously as an aspect of the narrative technique, Sri Aurobindo has used the epic form to kind of represent a time-line. But this may not correspond, point to point, to the sequence in which the experiences might have actually occurred. Our sense of historicity may not be directly applicable in treating this biography of Savitri as one would expect in a conventional book presenting the life of the Mother. But perhaps we could say that the time-line in Savitri is the time-line of the evolutionary process which is intimately linked up with the yogic Tapasya of Aswapati and the executive Karya of Savitri.
It is the second aspect which we shall be seeing in the present study, with a compilation entitled A Spiritual Biography of Savitri drawn from Sri Aurobindo's epic. This is an attempt to live in Savitri from a certain point of view and an active participation from the readers of the SCIY webzine by way of comments, clarifications, suggestions will be a possible collective mode of enriching ourselves in the Wonder that is Savitri. We shall see every week passages, of about 30-40 lines, from Savitri in the sequel as is in the original text.