Loretta reads Savitri:Four.II "The Growth of the Flame" part 1
|Loretta reads Savitri
Book Four: The Book of Birth and Quest
Canto II: The Growth of the Flame
Part 1 of 2, pages 359-363
Savitri is growing into a young woman. When Sri Aurobindo tells us about Savitri as she grows up, he's also telling us what life can bring to all of us. We know that he's telling us about Mother when she was young. And while he is describing Mother ‒ the way she experienced things, the way she learned things, and responded to things ‒ at the same time, he's describing someone who's open to receiving the highest forces, and who can manifest them. And express them, in the highest way.
It's teaching for all of us, as we remember our childhood, and as we are today. And everybody sees that now, very special children are coming. New beings are being born, as Mother predicted. And perhaps these new beings are doing things like Savitri did here ‒ like Mother did ‒ or even, more like they did.
At the beginning of this canto, Sri Aurobindo speaks about ‘godheads’. The godheads of the past, the godheads of the future. When he uses the word ‘godhead’, he means a subtle being (in this context). He means a living force that is a capacity or a quality; something which we can all have, and usually which we have in some degree or other.
In many cultures, this idea is very clear. There are, in the religious beliefs of many cultures, subtle beings ‒ gods and goddesses. And what these are, are forms of these qualities, these capacities, living subtly.
Here in Auroville, Matrimandir sits on four pillars which are named for four goddesses (‘goddesses’), who are well-known in India. They are living personalities, real and concrete on their plane. We can access them, and we can receive from them their powers and their forces ‒ their qualities.
The North pillar is called ‘Mahakali’. Mahakali is force and power. The East pillar is ‘Mahalakshmi’. Mahalakshmi is beauty and harmony. The South pillar is ‘Maheshwari’. She is wisdom and largeness. And the West pillar is ‘Mahasaraswati’. She is the power of work, and the spirit of perfection and order. ‘Maha’ means ‘great’. So you can have Saraswati, and Mahasaraswati: the fullest and greatest presence of this power here.
When Mother incarnated ‒ to take birth in her body here, on February 21st of 1878 ‒ she brought these qualities. She brought them in a very high level of development. She used them for her particular work to bring the new Force. And she also brought them so that we could have them ‒ so that we could have these qualities at the very high level. This will help us to receive and manifest the new consciousness.
In his book, “The Mother”, Sri Aurobindo speaks about each of these living godheads. He goes into beautiful, beautiful detail. It's a pleasure to read it and to learn; especially because it impacts us directly. It's in the last chapter of this little book, “The Mother”, Chapter VI.
In Savitri, Sri Aurobindo says that the young girl Savitri seems to draw the future's godheads like a magnet. So we see that she can contain Maha powers, great powers. Sri Aurobindo speaks of the thoughts going into cosmic vastnesses. And he's speaking of her thoughts; he says:
- The knowledge of the thinker and the seer
- Saw the unseen and thought the unthinkable,
- Opened the enormous doors of the unknown,
- Rent man’s horizons into infinity. (p.359)
So this one girl expands man's capacity, man's usual consciousness, out of its limits ‒ all the way to infinity.
When Sri Aurobindo speaks of all the things that make up Savitri's experience of life, mostly he speaks in the third person ‒ as though it's happening to someone else. He does this because he's saying that this is not only Savitri, but for all people. So he speaks impersonally instead of personally about her. But now and then, he refers to how she is progressing as she grows up. For example, he says: “Nature and soul vied in nobility” (p.359). Meaning that her human nature ‒ which in us is fairly obscured with lower movements ‒ is as noble as her soul. (And the soul has a great nobility ‒ it is a portion of the Supreme.) So these two things ‘vied’ ‒ you could say, took place from time to time, changed places ‒ but in nobility.
Elsewhere, Sri Aurobindo has written about human growth through aesthetics (the fine arts). The value of painting, singing, music, dance, sculpture, writing, architecture. Here, he says all of this briefly and poetically ‒ but he does say it. And we still receive the value that he's recommending for our human experience. It's a recommendation for the experience we should give others ‒ share with others ‒ and the experience that parents can give to their children as they grow up.
At one point, Sri Aurobindo also points out that Savitri is developed enough to know the limitations of science, and man's view of his world. Sri Aurobindo also tells us here about the spiritual power of words, and the power of poetry. Perhaps he's sharing his own aspirations with us ‒ his aspirations as a poet. Perhaps he's telling us of some of the possibilities and capacities of words and poetry that he discovered, and that he worked with since his childhood.
Maybe he's talking about the very book we are reading ‒ Savitri: A Legend and a Symbol. This is what he says about poetry:
- Poems in largeness cast like moving worlds
- And metres surging with the ocean’s voice
- Translated by grandeurs locked in Nature’s heart
- But thrown now into a crowded glory of speech
- The beauty and sublimity of her forms,
- The passion of her moments and her moods
- Lifting the human word nearer to the god’s. (p.361)
And this is what he said about the use of words:
- The word was used as a hieratic means
- For the release of the imprisoned spirit
- Into communion with its comrade gods.
- Or it helped to beat out new expressive forms
- Of that which labours in the heart of life,
- Some immemorial Soul in men and things,
- Seeker of the unknown and the unborn
- Carrying a light from the Ineffable
- To rend the veil of the last mysteries. (p.360)
And Sri Aurobindo ‒ the philospher-poet ‒ speaks of philosophy; he says:
- Intense philosophies pointed earth to heaven
- Or on foundations broad as cosmic Space
- Upraised the earth-mind to superhuman heights. (p.360)
Now, we know that science is limited; but at this point, we also know that science has found that our one galaxy is about one-hundred-thousand (100,000) lightyears across in size. It is only one of some one-hundred-thousand-million (100,000,000,000) galaxies. What a number! One-hundred-thousand-million ‒ which we can see. And of course, who knows how many we can't see.
Each one of these galaxies contains some hundred-thousand-million (100,000,000,000) stars. It's more than mind can grasp ‒ you really have to spend a lot of time thinking about it (!). And yet Sri Aurobindo, who was cosmically consicous, uses these words:
- Or on foundations broad as cosmic Space
- Upraised the earth-mind to superhuman heights. (p.360)
This is philosophy, according to Sri Aurobindo. Can we speculate that his philosophy was as broad as cosmic space?
Sri Aurobindo goes on to describe Savitri herself. She feels what is coming:
- A boundless knowledge greater than man’s thought,
- A happiness too high for heart and sense
- Locked in the world and yearning for release
- She felt in her; waiting as yet for form (p.362)
Savitri was aware of the universal self in all, but everyone around her could not receive what she had to give. They didn't yet have the consicousness. Sri Aurobindo describes how people receive her. It's just the beginning of the description ‒ the second part of this canto really explains to us how people saw the Mother. How she affected them; how they responded to her. Here, he says:
- A friend and yet too great wholly to know,
- She walked in their front towards a greater light,
- Their leader and queen over their hearts and souls,
- One close to their bosoms, yet divine and far. (p.363)
Savitri, The Book of Birth and Quest, “The Growth of the Flame”.
Canto Two The Growth of the Flame A land of mountains and wide sun-beat plains And giant rivers pacing to vast seas, A field of creation and spiritual hush, Silence swallowing life’s acts into the deeps, Of thought’s transcendent climb and heavenward leap, A brooding world of reverie and trance, Filled with the mightiest works of God and man, Where Nature seemed a dream of the Divine And beauty and grace and grandeur had their home, Harboured the childhood of the incarnate Flame. Over her watched millennial influences And the deep godheads of a grandiose past Looked on her and saw the future’s godheads come As if this magnet drew their powers unseen. Earth’s brooding wisdom spoke to her still breast; Mounting from mind’s last peaks to mate with gods, Making earth’s brilliant thoughts a springing-board To dive into the cosmic vastnesses, The knowledge of the thinker and the seer Saw the unseen and thought the unthinkable, Opened the enormous doors of the unknown, Rent man’s horizons into infinity. A shoreless sweep was lent to the mortal’s acts, And art and beauty sprang from the human depths; Nature and soul vied in nobility. Ethics the human keyed to imitate heaven; The harmony of a rich culture’s tones Refined the sense and magnified its reach To hear the unheard and glimpse the invisible And taught the soul to soar beyond things known, Inspiring life to greaten and break its bounds, Aspiring to the Immortals’ unseen world. p.360 Leaving earth’s safety daring wings of Mind Bore her above the trodden fields of thought Crossing the mystic seas of the Beyond To live on eagle heights near to the Sun. There Wisdom sits on her eternal throne. All her life’s turns led her to symbol doors Admitting to secret Powers that were her kin; Adept of truth, initiate of bliss, A mystic acolyte trained in Nature’s school, Aware of the marvel of created things She laid the secrecies of her heart’s deep muse Upon the altar of the Wonderful; Her hours were a ritual in a timeless fane; Her acts became gestures of sacrifice. Invested with a rhythm of higher spheres The word was used as a hieratic means For the release of the imprisoned spirit Into communion with its comrade gods. Or it helped to beat out new expressive forms Of that which labours in the heart of life, Some immemorial Soul in men and things, Seeker of the unknown and the unborn Carrying a light from the Ineffable To rend the veil of the last mysteries. Intense philosophies pointed earth to heaven Or on foundations broad as cosmic Space Upraised the earth-mind to superhuman heights. Overpassing lines that please the outward eyes But hide the sight of that which lives within Sculpture and painting concentrated sense Upon an inner vision’s motionless verge, Revealed a figure of the invisible, Unveiled all Nature’s meaning in a form, Or caught into a body the Divine. The architecture of the Infinite Discovered here its inward-musing shapes p.361 Captured into wide breadths of soaring stone: Music brought down celestial yearnings, song Held the merged heart absorbed in rapturous depths, Linking the human with the cosmic cry; The world-interpreting movements of the dance Moulded idea and mood to a rhythmic sway And posture; crafts minute in subtle lines Eternised a swift moment’s memory Or showed in a carving’s sweep, a cup’s design The underlying patterns of the unseen: Poems in largeness cast like moving worlds And metres surging with the ocean’s voice Translated by grandeurs locked in Nature’s heart But thrown now into a crowded glory of speech The beauty and sublimity of her forms, The passion of her moments and her moods Lifting the human word nearer to the god’s. Man’s eyes could look into the inner realms; His scrutiny discovered number’s law And organised the motions of the stars, Mapped out the visible fashioning of the world, Questioned the process of his thoughts or made A theorised diagram of mind and life. These things she took in as her nature’s food, But these alone could fill not her wide Self: A human seeking limited by its gains, To her they seemed the great and early steps Hazardous of a young discovering spirit Which saw not yet by its own native light; It tapped the universe with testing knocks Or stretched to find truth mind’s divining rod; There was a growing out to numberless sides, But not the widest seeing of the soul, Not yet the vast direct immediate touch, Nor yet the art and wisdom of the Gods. A boundless knowledge greater than man’s thought, p.362 A happiness too high for heart and sense Locked in the world and yearning for release She felt in her; waiting as yet for form, It asked for objects around which to grow And natures strong to bear without recoil The splendour of her native royalty, Her greatness and her sweetness and her bliss, Her might to possess and her vast power to love: Earth made a stepping-stone to conquer heaven, The soul saw beyond heaven’s limiting boundaries, Met a great light from the Unknowable And dreamed of a transcendent action’s sphere. Aware of the universal Self in all She turned to living hearts and human forms, Her soul’s reflections, complements, counterparts, The close outlying portions of her being Divided from her by walls of body and mind Yet to her spirit bound by ties divine. Overcoming invisible hedge and masked defence And the loneliness that separates soul from soul, She wished to make all one immense embrace That she might house in it all living things Raised into a splendid point of seeing light Out of division’s dense inconscient cleft, And make them one with God and world and her. Only a few responded to her call: Still fewer felt the screened divinity And strove to mate its godhead with their own, Approaching with some kinship to her heights. Uplifted towards luminous secrecies Or conscious of some splendour hidden above They leaped to find her in a moment’s flash, Glimpsing a light in a celestial vast, But could not keep the vision and the power And fell back to life’s dull ordinary tone. A mind daring heavenly experiment, p.363 Growing towards some largeness they felt near, Testing the unknown’s bound with eager touch They still were prisoned by their human grain: They could not keep up with her tireless step; Too small and eager for her large-paced will, Too narrow to look with the unborn Infinite’s gaze Their nature weary grew of things too great. For even the close partners of her thoughts Who could have walked the nearest to her ray, Worshipped the power and light they felt in her But could not match the measure of her soul. A friend and yet too great wholly to know, She walked in their front towards a greater light, Their leader and queen over their hearts and souls, One close to their bosoms, yet divine and far. ...