Loretta reads Savitri:Four.IV "The Quest" part 2

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Transcript of:
Savitri: Book Four, Canto IV, part 2 of 2
by Loretta, 2018 (26:56)
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Savitri Book 4 Canto IV icon.jpg  Loretta reads Savitri
Book Four: The Book of Birth and Quest
Canto IV: The Quest
Part 2 of 2, pages 381-386
Loretta Savitri single icon.png

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Savitri is travelling her fated road – she is going to her first meeting of her lifetime partner, her eternal partner of her soul, Satyavan. This journey is bringing her to the cosmic work that she took birth for. Last time, Savitri passed through populated cities, where she slept in the palaces of kings. Then she journeyed on, through hamlet and village, where men tilled the soil. And then on into nature's free and griefless spaces – beautiful wilderness.

Like a swift hope journeying among its dreams
Hastened the chariot of the golden bride. (p.379)

At the point where we stopped reading Sri Aurobindo's story last time, the way he had written it seemed like it was on many levels. It left us wondering if he was just speaking about Savitri, or if he was speaking about the Divine Mother, or if he was speaking about the Divine Mother who is our mother earth. And perhaps he was speaking about all three – as he often does, on many levels.

Sri Aurobindo has been telling us about Savitri's divinity from the first time we ever met her, way back in Book One. Here, as she draws closer to her divine partner, he tells us how the outer experiences on the way have more and more spiritual reality in men's lives. Now she experiences these things on her journey. But still, the first sentence in this part of the canto seems to speak of all three levels of Savitri. He writes:

A few and fit inhabitants she called
To share the glad communion of her peace (p.381)

But we still don't know if that's the Divine Mother, the mother earth, or Savitri in her travels. But now Sri Aurobindo begins to write to us about the great yogis and sages – the great saints who do their sadhana and make their homes in wild and remote places. They stay far from the common worldly lives of men. Stories of these great yogis are known all over the world. And they've always had a magical attraction all their own. Like some mystic, living, fairy tale, some spiritual thing that calls to people on a spiritual quest, they draw spiritual seekers of all ages. They come from all over India, people seek these masters – and they come from other countries as well. Sri Aurobindo speaks of it here, where he says:

Far-wandering seekers on the Eternal’s path
Brought to these quiet founts their spirit’s thirst (p.382)

A very well-known and very much loved example of this is in Paramhamsa Yogananda's book, Autobiography of a Yogi. From his early childhood, all Yogananda wanted to do was to go to the Himalayas and find the yogis who lived there in caves, doing their yoga. He tells in detail how his family wanted him to stay in the family life. But at a young age, he ran away from home to seek his guru in the Himalayas. And then he tells about how his brother had to search him out, and stop him in the midst of his flight, and bring him home again.

Yogananda also tells other stories about yogis in the Himalayas – and it's not uncommon for some spiritually realized person here in India to tell a similar story about themself today. In ancient India, it was the custom for kings to have a spiritual guru. The sons of kings were often sent to go live in a remote forest hermitage, with a great yogi or sage. They remained in these ashrams for several years. It was part of their education – part of their training and preparation to become kings and rulers of their people. Sri Aurobindo tells us about them when he writes about king-children, “The Infants of the monarchy of the worlds, / The heroic leaders of a coming time” (p.382). And here Sri Aurobindo tells us about several types of these yogis, saints, sages; through his words comes the great love and respect that the Indian heart and soul has always felt for these special developed beings, down through the ages.

Sri Aurobindo begins to speak about Savitri again after he has described many of these sages and yogis. In the swift language of poetry that conveys many, many, many words with a few words, he tells us how they live; he tells us what they do; what kind of yoga they do. And he shows us how they succeed in their particular chosen path of spiritual practice. All of these are ways to reach the consciousness which Sri Aurobindo has called the Supermind – the pure existence, consciousness and bliss that has always been the final goal, no matter where the seeker is.

But you could call this the ‘old’ kinds of yoga. And Savitri only moves on, past these spiritual pathways. Sri Aurobindo has taught that this realization should be our realization; and we are here to make it manifest in all the aspects of our daily life. The yogis and sages that he speaks of here have gone to places of solitude to attain this consciousness. They will not emerge again; they will not come back to the general world. They won't take part in what could be called ‘worldly activities’. And so the world is not transformed. A few people go to them, but that's all.

Savitri does her yoga for living a life in the world. She transforms the world around her, with her own consciousness anchored in these ultimately high realizations. She chooses a full, rich, complete life with her soul-mate. And this is what we're all supposed to do – not just the one, not just the other. As Mother says, it's much harder – but this is Sri Aurobindo's Yoga.

We will see throughout Savitri's story that she refuses everything that would take her away from the true purpose of her birth into the world. Death tries to tempt her with many things; the Supreme tries to tempt her with many things; but there is no reward or gift great enough to tempt her – not even for a single second.

And when Sri Aurobindo comes back to Savitri's story, there's no longer any question about who he's speaking of. We don't hear about the Divine Mother, or mother earth; he says, “The golden virgin in her carven car / Came gliding” (p.384) into these places of meditation and solitude. Or she rested in a peaceful hermit grove; or she was drawn to the holy presence of a temple. She is conscious of the great bygone voices, and the freedom of the seers and the sages in the atmosphere around her. And “Awake in candid dawn or darkness mooned, / To the still touch inclined the daughter of Flame” (p.384). But she rose from her rustic couch at dawn, and went impelled on her unfinished way, to follow “the fateful orbit of her life / Like a desire that questions silent gods” (p.385).

Then we are with Savitri as she leaves all traces of man's life behind. Still moving towards her spirit's divine fate, she passes through mountains and forests, and they disclose to her that they are the doors to the Divine. “Thence to great solitary tracts she came,” (p.385), traveling through the mountains and forests that are empty – the strange empty lands, through fields and pastures, through desert spaces where she now sleeps out under the great desert night and thirsty sands.

Still unaccomplished was the fateful quest;
Still she found not the one predestined face
For which she sought amid the sons of men.
A grandiose silence wrapped the regal day:
The months had fed the passion of the sun
And now his burning breath assailed the soil.
The tiger heats prowled through the fainting earth;
All was licked up as by a lolling tongue.
The spring winds failed; the sky was set like bronze.

The Book of Birth and Quest, “The Quest”...


A few and fit inhabitants she called
To share the glad communion of her peace;
The breadth, the summit were their natural home.
The strong king-sages from their labour done,
Freed from the warrior tension of their task,
Came to her serene sessions in these wilds;
The strife was over, the respite lay in front.
Happy they lived with birds and beasts and flowers
And sunlight and the rustle of the leaves,
And heard the wild winds wandering in the night,
Mused with the stars in their mute constant ranks,
And lodged in the mornings as in azure tents,
And with the glory of the noons were one.
Some deeper plunged; from life’s external clasp
Beckoned into a fiery privacy
In the soul’s unprofaned star-white recess
They sojourned with an everliving Bliss;
A Voice profound in the ecstasy and the hush
They heard, beheld an all-revealing Light.
All time-made difference they overcame;
The world was fibred with their own heart-strings;
Close drawn to the heart that beats in every breast,
They reached the one self in all through boundless love.
Attuned to Silence and to the world-rhyme,
They loosened the knot of the imprisoning mind;
Achieved was the wide untroubled witness gaze, p.382
Unsealed was Nature’s great spiritual eye;
To the height of heights rose now their daily climb:
Truth leaned to them from her supernal realm;
Above them blazed eternity’s mystic suns.
Nameless the austere ascetics without home
Abandoning speech and motion and desire
Aloof from creatures sat absorbed, alone,
Immaculate in tranquil heights of self
On concentration’s luminous voiceless peaks,
World-naked hermits with their matted hair
Immobile as the passionless great hills
Around them grouped like thoughts of some vast mood
Awaiting the Infinite’s behest to end.
The seers attuned to the universal Will,
Content in Him who smiles behind earth’s forms,
Abode ungrieved by the insistent days.
About them like green trees girdling a hill
Young grave disciples fashioned by their touch,
Trained to the simple act and conscious word,
Greatened within and grew to meet their heights.
Far-wandering seekers on the Eternal’s path
Brought to these quiet founts their spirit’s thirst
And spent the treasure of a silent hour
Bathed in the purity of the mild gaze
That, uninsistent, ruled them from its peace,
And by its influence found the ways of calm.
The Infants of the monarchy of the worlds,
The heroic leaders of a coming time,
King-children nurtured in that spacious air
Like lions gambolling in sky and sun
Received half-consciously their godlike stamp:
Formed in the type of the high thoughts they sang
They learned the wide magnificence of mood
That makes us comrades of the cosmic urge,
No longer chained to their small separate selves,
Plastic and firm beneath the eternal hand, p.383
Met Nature with a bold and friendly clasp
And served in her the Power that shapes her works.
One-souled to all and free from narrowing bonds,
Large like a continent of warm sunshine
In wide equality’s impartial joy,
These sages breathed for God’s delight in things.
Assisting the slow entries of the gods,
Sowing in young minds immortal thoughts they lived,
Taught the great Truth to which man’s race must rise
Or opened the gates of freedom to a few.
Imparting to our struggling world the Light
They breathed like spirits from Time’s dull yoke released,
Comrades and vessels of the cosmic Force,
Using a natural mastery like the sun’s:
Their speech, their silence was a help to earth.
A magic happiness flowed from their touch;
Oneness was sovereign in that sylvan peace,
The wild beast joined in friendship with its prey;
Persuading the hatred and the strife to cease
The love that flows from the one Mother’s breast
Healed with their hearts the hard and wounded world.
Others escaped from the confines of thought
To where Mind motionless sleeps waiting Light’s birth,
And came back quivering with a nameless Force,
Drunk with a wine of lightning in their cells;
Intuitive knowledge leaping into speech,
Seized, vibrant, kindling with the inspired word,
Hearing the subtle voice that clothes the heavens,
Carrying the splendour that has lit the suns,
They sang Infinity’s names and deathless powers
In metres that reflect the moving worlds,
Sight’s sound-waves breaking from the soul’s great deeps.
Some lost to the person and his strip of thought
In a motionless ocean of impersonal Power,
Sat mighty, visioned with the Infinite’s light,
Or, comrades of the everlasting Will, p.384
Surveyed the plan of past and future Time.
Some winged like birds out of the cosmic sea
And vanished into a bright and featureless Vast:
Some silent watched the universal dance,
Or helped the world by world-indifference.
Some watched no more merged in a lonely Self,
Absorbed in the trance from which no soul returns,
All the occult world-lines for ever closed,
The chains of birth and person cast away:
Some uncompanioned reached the Ineffable.
 
      As floats a sunbeam through a shady place,
The golden virgin in her carven car
Came gliding among meditation’s seats.
Often in twilight mid returning troops
Of cattle thickening with their dust the shades
When the loud day had slipped below the verge,
Arriving in a peaceful hermit grove
She rested drawing round her like a cloak
Its spirit of patient muse and potent prayer.
Or near to a lion river’s tawny mane
And trees that worshipped on a praying shore,
A domed and templed air’s serene repose
Beckoned to her hurrying wheels to stay their speed.
In the solemnity of a space that seemed
A mind remembering ancient silences,
Where to the heart great bygone voices called
And the large liberty of brooding seers
Had left the long impress of their soul’s scene,
Awake in candid dawn or darkness mooned,
To the still touch inclined the daughter of Flame
Drank in hushed splendour between tranquil lids
And felt the kinship of eternal calm.
But morn broke in reminding her of her quest
And from low rustic couch or mat she rose
And went impelled on her unfinished way p.385
And followed the fateful orbit of her life
Like a desire that questions silent gods
Then passes starlike to some bright Beyond.
Thence to great solitary tracts she came,
Where man was a passer-by towards human scenes
Or sole in Nature’s vastness strove to live
And called for help to ensouled invisible Powers,
Overwhelmed by the immensity of his world
And unaware of his own infinity.
The earth multiplied to her a changing brow
And called her with a far and nameless voice.
The mountains in their anchorite solitude,
The forests with their multitudinous chant
Disclosed to her the masked divinity’s doors.
On dreaming plains, an indolent expanse,
The death-bed of a pale enchanted eve
Under the glamour of a sunken sky,
Impassive she lay as at an age’s end,
Or crossed an eager pack of huddled hills
Lifting their heads to hunt a lairlike sky,
Or travelled in a strange and empty land
Where desolate summits camped in a weird heaven,
Mute sentinels beneath a drifting moon,
Or wandered in some lone tremendous wood
Ringing for ever with the crickets’ cry
Or followed a long glistening serpent road
Through fields and pastures lapped in moveless light
Or reached the wild beauty of a desert space
Where never plough was driven nor herd had grazed
And slumbered upon stripped and thirsty sands
Amid the savage wild-beast night’s appeal.
Still unaccomplished was the fateful quest;
Still she found not the one predestined face
For which she sought amid the sons of men.
A grandiose silence wrapped the regal day:
The months had fed the passion of the sun p.386
And now his burning breath assailed the soil.
The tiger heats prowled through the fainting earth;
All was licked up as by a lolling tongue.
The spring winds failed; the sky was set like bronze.
 
END OF CANTO FOUR
END OF BOOK FOUR