Loretta reads Savitri:Two.VI "The Kingdoms and Godheads of the Greater Life" part 4
|Loretta reads Savitri
Book Two: The Book of the Traveller of the Worlds
Canto VI: The Kingdoms and Godheads of the Greater Life
Part 4 of 5, pages 189-195
In this part of the canto, we stay with the king. He tries to understand Life in all of her creations, here in the greater life. Sri Aurobindo is going to describe life's manifestations in many different places, all of them very familiar to us; and often very dear to us. Sometimes he speaks about things that we might not have thought of as being life itself. And we see Life now in her impossibly rich complexity, on so many different levels.
But, always, his descriptions of life – and therefore, of the seekings of the king – lead to a question, or they lead to a mystery, or to something that is not really finished or complete, or fulfilled. The traveler king is always faced with something that slips away – something whose true longings are never satisfied.
The king is totally involved with Life here. He sees her, he feels her; and he enters into her depths. The king becomes all that Life is or longs to be. He thinks with her thoughts, and journeys with her steps. He lives with her breath, and scans with her eyes. And he does all this to learn the secret of her soul.
But finally, in the greater life, life cannot satisfy the great seeker of truth. This is the great yogi king who is doing this for earth and men. He wants to find out what's wrong. And as Life is here, she never satisfies him, and she never satisfies herself either. The things she creates in the kingdoms of the greater life are not enough for her, not enough for the king, and not enough for all those who seek the highest – for those who really want to live in their soul, and want to live in the truth-consciousness of the Supreme.
This broadcast begins and ends with the same Sanskrit mantra. It is one chosen to put around Mother's reading of some of the words in this part of the canto. Sunil has put it into his Savitri music. And the source of this mantra is not known:
- "In all beings, moving and unmoving,
- Far and near, in front or in the rear,
- I see above and below and aside
- Thy form, O Krishna who has infinite forms.
- "Lo, I am wholly merged in the ocean of Thy beauty.
- I see there neither the end nor the middle nor the beginning.
- Speechless I am, Motionless evermore, utterly bewildered:
- Where am I? Who am I? I know not, O Lord.
- "I bow to Thee, I bow to Thee, O Lord who has the whole universe as his forms;
- I bow to Thee, I bow to Thee, O Lord whose force transcends all thought.
- I bow to Thee, I bow to Thee, the ocean of all wonders,
- O mighty Lord, giver of bliss, I bow to thee. I bow to thee."
In this part of the canto, we get to live the things that Sri Aurobindo lived. It's always true when we read his poetry in Savitri.
In 1946, in a very long letter, he wrote:
- “I have not anywhere in Savitri written anything for the sake of mere picturesqueness or merely to produce a rhetorical effect; what I am trying to do everywhere in the poem is to express exactly something seen, something felt or experienced; if, for instance, I indulge in the wealth-burdened line or passage, it is not merely for the pleasure of the indulgence, but because there is that burden, or at least what I conceive to be that, in the vision or the experience. When the expression has been found, I have to judge, not by the intellect or by any set poetical rule, but by an intuitive feeling, whether it is entirely the right expression and, if it is not, I have to change and go on changing until I have received the absolutely right inspiration and the right transcription of it and must never be satisfied with any à peu près or imperfect transcription even if that makes good poetry of one kind or another.”
There are so many experiences here, packed into so much beauty; it lifts us into lovely places just to read these lines.
So now we will meet the king as he follows in Life's fine and mighty trails, “Across the leaping springs of death and birth” (p.188). He has already “scanned her subtle tangled weird designs // And the screened difficult theorem of her clues” (p.188). Now we will see him wandering:
- In the labyrinth pattern of her thoughts and hopes
- And the byways of her intimate desires (p.189)
He is straying among fugitive scenes. From her forms, “A thousand baffling faces of the Truth” (p.189) look at him with unknown eyes. He always meets a veiled and seeking force. “All ways she leads him” (p.193), but none is sure.
… In the labyrinth pattern of her thoughts and hopes And the byways of her intimate desires, In the complex corners crowded with her dreams And rounds crossed by an intrigue of irrelevant rounds, A wanderer straying amid fugitive scenes, He lost its signs and chased each failing guess. Ever he met key-words, ignorant of their key. A sun that dazzled its own eye of sight, A luminous enigma’s brilliant hood Lit the dense purple barrier of thought’s sky: A dim large trance showed to the night her stars. As if sitting near an open window’s gap, He read by lightning-flash on crowding flash Chapters of her metaphysical romance Of the soul’s search for lost Reality And her fictions drawn from spirit’s authentic fact, Her caprices and conceits and meanings locked, Her rash unseizable freaks and mysteried turns. The magnificent wrappings of her secrecy That fold her desirable body out of sight, The strange significant forms woven on her robe, Her meaningful outlines of the souls of things He saw, her false transparencies of thought-hue, Her rich brocades with imaged fancies sewn And mutable masks and broideries of disguise. A thousand baffling faces of the Truth Looked at him from her forms with unknown eyes And wordless mouths unrecognisable, Spoke from the figures of her masquerade, Or peered from the recondite magnificence And subtle splendour of her draperies. In sudden scintillations of the Unknown, p.190 Inexpressive sounds became veridical, Ideas that seemed unmeaning flashed out truth; Voices that came from unseen waiting worlds Uttered the syllables of the Unmanifest To clothe the body of the mystic Word, And wizard diagrams of the occult Law Sealed some precise unreadable harmony, Or used hue and figure to reconstitute The herald blazon of Time’s secret things. In her green wildernesses and lurking depths, In her thickets of joy where danger clasps delight, He glimpsed the hidden wings of her songster hopes, A glimmer of blue and gold and scarlet fire. In her covert lanes, bordering her chance field-paths And by her singing rivulets and calm lakes He found the glow of her golden fruits of bliss And the beauty of her flowers of dream and muse. As if a miracle of heart’s change by joy He watched in the alchemist radiance of her suns The crimson outburst of one secular flower On the tree-of-sacrifice of spiritual love. In the sleepy splendour of her noons he saw, A perpetual repetition through the hours, Thought’s dance of dragonflies on mystery’s stream That skim but never test its murmurs’ race, And heard the laughter of her rose desires Running as if to escape from longed-for hands, Jingling sweet anklet-bells of fantasy. Amidst live symbols of her occult power He moved and felt them as close real forms: In that life more concrete than the lives of men Throbbed heart-beats of the hidden reality: Embodied was there what we but think and feel, Self-framed what here takes outward borrowed shapes. A comrade of Silence on her austere heights Accepted by her mighty loneliness, p.191 He stood with her on meditating peaks Where life and being are a sacrament Offered to the Reality beyond, And saw her loose into infinity Her hooded eagles of significance, Messengers of Thought to the Unknowable. Identified in soul-vision and soul-sense, Entering into her depths as into a house, All he became that she was or longed to be, He thought with her thoughts and journeyed with her steps, Lived with her breath and scanned all with her eyes That so he might learn the secret of her soul. A witness overmastered by his scene, He admired her splendid front of pomp and play And the marvels of her rich and delicate craft, And thrilled to the insistence of her cry; Impassioned he bore the sorceries of her might, Felt laid on him her abrupt mysterious will, Her hands that knead fate in their violent grasp, Her touch that moves, her powers that seize and drive. But this too he saw, her soul that wept within, Her seekings vain that clutch at fleeing truth, Her hopes whose sombre gaze mates with despair, The passion that possessed her longing limbs, The trouble and rapture of her yearning breasts, Her mind that toils unsatisfied with its fruits, Her heart that captures not the one Beloved. Always he met a veiled and seeking Force, An exiled goddess building mimic heavens, A Sphinx whose eyes look up to a hidden Sun. Ever he felt near a spirit in her forms: Its passive presence was her nature’s strength; This sole is real in apparent things, Even upon earth the spirit is life’s key, But her solid outsides nowhere bear its trace. p.192 Its stamp on her acts is undiscoverable. A pathos of lost heights is its appeal. Only sometimes is caught a shadowy line That seems a hint of veiled reality. Life stared at him with vague confused outlines Offering a picture the eyes could not keep, A story that was yet not written there. As in a fragmentary half-lost design Life’s meanings fled from the pursuing eye. Life’s visage hides life’s real self from sight; Life’s secret sense is written within, above. The thought that gives it sense lives far beyond; It is not seen in its half-finished design. In vain we hope to read the baffling signs Or find the word of the half-played charade. Only in that greater life a cryptic thought Is found, is hinted some interpreting word That makes the earth-myth a tale intelligible. Something was seen at last that looked like truth. In a half-lit air of hazardous mystery The eye that looks at the dark half of truth Made out an image mid a vivid blur And peering through a mist of subtle tints He saw a half-blind chained divinity Bewildered by the world in which he moved, Yet conscious of some light prompting his soul. Attracted to strange far-off shimmerings, Led by the fluting of a distant Player He sought his way amid life’s laughter and call And the index chaos of her myriad steps Towards some total deep infinitude. Around crowded the forest of her signs: At hazard he read by arrow-leaps of Thought That hit the mark by guess or luminous chance, Her changing coloured road-lights of idea And her signals of uncertain swift event, p.193 The hieroglyphs of her symbol pageantries And her landmarks in the tangled paths of Time. In her mazes of approach and of retreat To every side she draws him and repels, But drawn too near escapes from his embrace; All ways she leads him but no way is sure. Allured by the many-toned marvel of her chant, Attracted by the witchcraft of her moods And moved by her casual touch to joy and grief, He loses himself in her but wins her not. A fugitive paradise smiles at him from her eyes: He dreams of her beauty made for ever his, He dreams of his mastery her limbs shall bear, He dreams of the magic of her breasts of bliss. In her illumined script, her fanciful Translation of God’s pure original text, He thinks to read the Scripture Wonderful, Hieratic key to unknown beatitudes. But the Word of Life is hidden in its script, The chant of Life has lost its divine note. Unseen, a captive in a house of sound, The spirit lost in the splendour of a dream Listens to a thousand-voiced illusion’s ode. A delicate weft of sorcery steals the heart Or a fiery magic tints her tones and hues, Yet they but wake a thrill of transient grace; A vagrant march struck by the wanderer Time, They call to a brief unsatisfied delight Or wallow in ravishments of mind and sense, But miss the luminous answer of the soul. A blind heart-throb that reaches joy through tears, A yearning towards peaks for ever unreached, An ecstasy of unfulfilled desire Track the last heavenward climbings of her voice. Transmuted are past suffering’s memories Into an old sadness’s sweet escaping trail: p.194 Turned are her tears to gems of diamond pain, Her sorrow into a magic crown of song. Brief are her snatches of felicity That touch the surface, then escape or die: A lost remembrance echoes in her depths, A deathless longing is hers, a veiled self’s call; A prisoner in the mortal’s limiting world, A spirit wounded by life sobs in her breast; A cherished suffering is her deepest cry. A wanderer on forlorn despairing routes, Along the roads of sound a frustrate voice Forsaken cries to a forgotten bliss. Astray in the echo caverns of Desire, It guards the phantoms of a soul’s dead hopes And keeps alive the voice of perished things Or lingers upon sweet and errant notes Hunting for pleasure in the heart of pain. A fateful hand has touched the cosmic chords And the intrusion of a troubled strain Covers the inner music’s hidden key That guides unheard the surface cadences. Yet is it joy to live and to create And joy to love and labour though all fails, And joy to seek though all we find deceives And all on which we lean betrays our trust; Yet something in its depths was worth the pain, A passionate memory haunts with ecstasy’s fire. Even grief has joy hidden beneath its roots: For nothing is truly vain the One has made: In our defeated hearts God’s strength survives And victory’s star still lights our desperate road; Our death is made a passage to new worlds. This to Life’s music gives its anthem swell. To all she lends the glory of her voice; Heaven’s raptures whisper to her heart and pass, Earth’s transient yearnings cry from her lips and fade. p.195 Alone the God-given hymn escapes her art That came with her from her spiritual home But stopped half-way and failed, a silent word Awake in some deep pause of waiting worlds, A murmur suspended in eternity’s hush: But no breath comes from the supernal peace: A sumptuous interlude occupies the ear And the heart listens and the soul consents; An evanescent music it repeats Wasting on transience Time’s eternity. A tremolo of the voices of the hours Oblivious screens the high intended theme The self-embodying spirit came to play On the vast clavichord of Nature-Force. Only a mighty murmur here and there Of the eternal Word, the blissful Voice Or Beauty’s touch transfiguring heart and sense, A wandering splendour and a mystic cry, Recalls the strength and sweetness heard no more. ...
- Letters on Poetry and Art, p.343