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.

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