Loretta reads Savitri:Four.I "The Birth and Childhood of the Flame" part 2
|Loretta reads Savitri
Book Four: The Book of Birth and Quest
Canto I: The Birth and Childhood of the Flame
Part 2 of 2, pages 353-358
We have seen the birth of the flame in the seasons of the year; now she's coming. Savitri is now taking birth. The Divine Mother's consciousness is manifesting in a human body. We all manifest in a human body when we take birth. We all experience going through the link of soul with form. Each of us coming at our personal level of conscious development, coming into the life that our souls have chosen, to have the experiences that we need for our growth, and to play our own unique part in the Supreme's plan for this cosmos.
Here, where Sri Aurobindo describes Savitri's childhood, he's describing Mother for us. He's describing what Mother was like as a child. And in everything that he says about her, we can feel his deep abiding love for her. We can feel his respect, how much he honors her, and how wonderful he thinks that the Mother is.
Mother said that she was conscious from her birth. When she was only four years old, she was sitting in meditation. She said that there was a little tiny armchair in her room, just the size for a small child ‒ and she would sit in meditation, and feel, and see within, a white light above her. And she could feel the light entering into her and working in her brain.
By the age of five, Mother knew that she had a special work to do. When Savitri is born, Sri Aurobindo says, “At once she seemed to found a mightier race” (p.355). And this is what both Sri Aurobindo and Mother came here to do. He says:
- Her spirit kept the stature of the gods;
- It stooped but was not lost in Matter’s reign. (p.356)
All of his descriptions of this very great being's growth through childhood are a gentle comparison with mankind ‒ and a description of the way we all take birth, and grow into childhood and then beyond. But first, he tells us that Savitri had returned from the transcendent planes. And again she had to carry the load of things that comes with a material breath, with being in a human body.
He says that it is to strive with our darkness and our pain. He says that Savitri took again her divine unfinished task, to “make dumb Matter conscious of its God”. The Divine Mother always keeps her will that “hopes to divinise clay” (p.354). And that will has put on the earthly shape of the newborn baby Savitri.
And we know that the Yoga of Sri Aurobindo aims at eventually divinizing our matter. Things have come to this point in the cosmos, in the progress of the consciousness, that now physical Matter can be “conscious of its God” (p.354). And this was the work of the Yoga ‒ ultimately the goal of the Yoga. And this is their work and our work.
In Book One, Canto II, called “The Issue”, Sri Aurobindo introduces Savitri to us; and he tells how beautiful she is, how loving and how caring. And he already gives us a hint of the serious work that the Divine Mother will have to do in this life. Here are some of the things that he says about it:
- To wrestle with the Shadow she had come
- And must confront the riddle of man’s birth
- And life’s brief struggle in dumb Matter’s night. (p.17)
- To win or lose the godlike game for man,
- Was her soul’s issue thrown with Destiny’s dice. (p.17)
- A conscious frame was here, a self-born Force. (p.18)
- A work she had to do, a word to speak (p.19)
- She matched with the iron law her sovereign right:
- Her single will opposed the cosmic rule. (p.19)
- Across the awful march no eye can see,
- Barring its dreadful route no will can change,
- She faced the engines of the universe;
- A heart stood in the way of the driving wheels:
- Its giant workings paused in front of a mind,
- Its stark conventions met the flame of a soul. (p.20)
And also (not so clearly, but,) in this, we are brought back to the very beginning of the king's travels, when he learns that Life took the plunge into inconscient Matter. It was then that he started his journey to follow life's evolution all the way to the supramental consciousness, all the time looking for the Divine Mother ‒ to ask her to come and fix all the problems here. And it is only in the supramental consciousness (which we recently saw) that he actually has a conversation with her. And then she promises to come.
But he tells us here ‒ in this canto that we're going to read ‒ that since that time, “A Mother-wisdom works in Nature’s breast” (p.354)</span) to divinise clay and make matter God-conscious. And here it has taken birth again in human form, in Savitri.
As Sri Aurobindo tells us about Mother's childhood in “The Birth and Growth of the Flame”, again and again he tells us that there are things about this body that are new for the earth. Here are some of the things that he says:
- Outlined by the pressure of this new descent
- A lovelier body formed than earth had known. (p.354)
- Alone mid men in her diviner kind.
- Even in her childish movements could be felt
- The nearness of a light still kept from earth (p.355)
- An invisible sunlight ran within her veins
- And flooded her brain with heavenly brilliances
- That woke a wider sight than earth could know. (p.356)
- And from her eyes she cast another look
- On all around her than man’s ignorant view. (p.357)
- As from the soil sprang glory of branch and flower,
- As from the animal’s life rose thinking man,
- A new epiphany appeared in her. (p.357)
So we will start with Savitri's birth, and we will see her as she begins to grow, and begins to move beyond being a child.
This broadcast begins and ends with a Sanskrit mantra from the Rig Veda. It was written by the seer and sage Vasishta (often called ‘Veda Vasishta’, because he wrote so much of the Vedas). It was translated into English by Sri Aurobindo. It sings of the light of the dawn and its rays, as it manifests its own birth in all things. So it is again ‒ like Canto I, Book One of Savitri, “The Symbol Dawn” ‒ the dawning of consciousness. Here, dawn leads the white horse that has perfect sight. Sri Aurobindo used to write to the ashramites about the things they saw in their dreams. There's a section in the Letters on Yoga about the subtle symbols that various animals represented. It's a large section about subtle symbols; and people who want to know what they're seeing in their dreams might find the information there.
The horse is the symbol of force, or power, or energy. White is pure: purity. So the white horse, which the dawn is bringing, is pure power. And Sri Aurobindo also says that “The Horse is the symbol of Power in motion — often of the Power that makes for rapid progress in sadhana.”
Last time, we had a hymn to Agni from the Rig Veda ‒ the divine flame that brings consciousness. And we find that dawn is also a symbol of Agni.
The mantra tells us that dawn is bringing the gods' eye of vision; she is leading the white horse that has perfect sight. Sri Aurobindo says that dawn is the leader of our spiritual wealths, and brings the happiness that comes with truth. It is well-known that one can explain what the Rishis saw in more than one way, when they read these old shlokas. But at least we know that dawn is bringing us the gods' eye of vision ‒ the way the gods see. Bringing us this consciousness. Bringing us the pure power that has perfect sight. And perhaps even giving rapid progress to our yoga.
And we hear that this new dawning of consciousness is born in all things, including us. Sri Aurobindo says that the Vedic dawn is the inner dawn which brings man all his varied fullness, so he can be truly the enjoyer of the infinite delight of the vast existence. And this mantra is therefore speaking of the work the Divine Mother has taken birth for here.
Here it is:
Devānāṁ cakṣuḥ subhagā vahantī,
śvetaṁ nayantī sudṛśīkam aśvam;
Uṣā adarśi raśmibhir vyaktā,
citrāmaghā viśvam anu prabhūtā.
“Happy, bringing the gods’ eye of vision, leading the white Horse that has perfect sight, Dawn is seen expressed entirely by the rays, full of her varied riches, manifesting her birth in all things.”
Savitri, The Book of Birth and Quest. “The Birth and Childhood of the Flame”.
... In this high signal moment of the gods p.353 Answering earth’s yearning and her cry for bliss, A greatness from our other countries came. A silence in the noise of earthly things Immutably revealed the secret Word, A mightier influx filled the oblivious clay: A lamp was lit, a sacred image made. A mediating ray had touched the earth Bridging the gulf between man’s mind and God’s; Its brightness linked our transience to the Unknown. A spirit of its celestial source aware Translating heaven into a human shape Descended into earth’s imperfect mould And wept not fallen to mortality, But looked on all with large and tranquil eyes. One had returned from the transcendent planes And bore anew the load of mortal breath, Who had striven of old with our darkness and our pain; She took again her divine unfinished task: Survivor of death and the aeonic years, Once more with her fathomless heart she fronted Time. Again there was renewed, again revealed The ancient closeness by earth-vision veiled, The secret contact broken off in Time, A consanguinity of earth and heaven, Between the human portion toiling here And an as yet unborn and limitless Force. Again the mystic deep attempt began, The daring wager of the cosmic game. For since upon this blind and whirling globe Earth-plasm first quivered with the illumining mind And life invaded the material sheath Afflicting Inconscience with the need to feel, Since in Infinity’s silence woke a word, A Mother-wisdom works in Nature’s breast To pour delight on the heart of toil and want And press perfection on life’s stumbling powers, p.354 Impose heaven-sentience on the obscure abyss And make dumb Matter conscious of its God. Although our fallen minds forget to climb, Although our human stuff resists or breaks, She keeps her will that hopes to divinise clay; Failure cannot repress, defeat o’erthrow; Time cannot weary her nor the Void subdue, The ages have not made her passion less; No victory she admits of Death or Fate. Always she drives the soul to new attempt; Always her magical infinitude Forces to aspire the inert brute elements; As one who has all infinity to waste, She scatters the seed of the Eternal’s strength On a half-animate and crumbling mould, Plants heaven’s delight in the heart’s passionate mire, Pours godhead’s seekings into a bare beast frame, Hides immortality in a mask of death. Once more that Will put on an earthly shape. A Mind empowered from Truth’s immutable seat Was framed for vision and interpreting act And instruments were sovereignly designed To express divinity in terrestrial signs. Outlined by the pressure of this new descent A lovelier body formed than earth had known. As yet a prophecy only and a hint, The glowing arc of a charmed unseen whole, It came into the sky of mortal life Bright like the crescent horn of a gold moon Returning in a faint illumined eve. At first glimmering like an unshaped idea Passive she lay sheltered in wordless sleep, Involved and drowned in Matter’s giant trance, An infant heart of the deep-caved world-plan In cradle of divine inconscience rocked By the universal ecstasy of the suns. p.355 Some missioned Power in the half-wakened frame Nursed a transcendent birth’s dumb glorious seed For which this vivid tenement was made. But soon the link of soul with form grew sure; Flooded was the dim cave with slow conscient light, The seed grew into a delicate marvellous bud, The bud disclosed a great and heavenly bloom. At once she seemed to found a mightier race. Arrived upon the strange and dubious globe The child remembering inly a far home Lived guarded in her spirit’s luminous cell, Alone mid men in her diviner kind. Even in her childish movements could be felt The nearness of a light still kept from earth, Feelings that only eternity could share, Thoughts natural and native to the gods. As needing nothing but its own rapt flight Her nature dwelt in a strong separate air Like a strange bird with large rich-coloured breast That sojourns on a secret fruited bough, Lost in the emerald glory of the woods Or flies above divine unreachable tops. Harmoniously she impressed the earth with heaven. Aligned to a swift rhythm of sheer delight And singing to themselves her days went by; Each minute was a throb of beauty’s heart; The hours were tuned to a sweet-toned content Which asked for nothing, but took all life gave Sovereignly as her nature’s inborn right. Near was her spirit to its parent Sun, The Breath within to the eternal joy. The first fair life that breaks from Nature’s swoon, Mounts in a line of rapture to the skies; Absorbed in its own happy urge it lives, Sufficient to itself, yet turned to all: It has no seen communion with its world, p.356 No open converse with surrounding things. There is a oneness native and occult That needs no instruments and erects no form; In unison it grows with all that is. All contacts it assumes into its trance, Laugh-tossed consents to the wind’s kiss and takes Transmutingly the shocks of sun and breeze: A blissful yearning riots in its leaves, A magic passion trembles in its blooms, Its boughs aspire in hushed felicity. An occult godhead of this beauty is cause, The spirit and intimate guest of all this charm, This sweetness’s priestess and this reverie’s muse. Invisibly protected from our sense The Dryad lives drenched in a deeper ray And feels another air of storms and calms And quivers inwardly with mystic rain. This at a heavenlier height was shown in her. Even when she bent to meet earth’s intimacies Her spirit kept the stature of the gods; It stooped but was not lost in Matter’s reign. A world translated was her gleaming mind, And marvel-mooned bright crowding fantasies Fed with spiritual sustenance of dreams The ideal goddess in her house of gold. Aware of forms to which our eyes are closed, Conscious of nearnesses we cannot feel, The Power within her shaped her moulding sense In deeper figures than our surface types. An invisible sunlight ran within her veins And flooded her brain with heavenly brilliances That woke a wider sight than earth could know. Outlined in the sincerity of that ray Her springing childlike thoughts were richly turned Into luminous patterns of her soul’s deep truth, And from her eyes she cast another look p.357 On all around her than man’s ignorant view. All objects were to her shapes of living selves And she perceived a message from her kin In each awakening touch of outward things. Each was a symbol power, a vivid flash In the circuit of infinities half-known; Nothing was alien or inanimate, Nothing without its meaning or its call. For with a greater Nature she was one. As from the soil sprang glory of branch and flower, As from the animal’s life rose thinking man, A new epiphany appeared in her. A mind of light, a life of rhythmic force, A body instinct with hidden divinity Prepared an image of the coming god; And when the slow rhyme of the expanding years And the rich murmurous swarm-work of the days Had honey-packed her sense and filled her limbs, Accomplishing the moon-orb of her grace, Self-guarded in the silence of her strength Her solitary greatness was not less. Nearer the godhead to the surface pressed, A sun replacing childhood’s nebula Sovereign in a blue and lonely sky. Upward it rose to grasp the human scene: The strong Inhabitant turned to watch her field. A lovelier light assumed her spirit brow And sweet and solemn grew her musing gaze; Celestial-human deep warm slumbrous fires Woke in the long fringed glory of her eyes Like altar-burnings in a mysteried shrine. Out of those crystal windows gleamed a will That brought a large significance to life. Holding her forehead’s candid stainless space Behind the student arch a noble power Of wisdom looked from light on transient things. p.358 A scout of victory in a vigil tower, Her aspiration called high destiny down; A silent warrior paced in her city of strength Inviolate, guarding Truth’s diamond throne. A nectarous haloed moon her passionate heart Loved all and spoke no word and made no sign, But kept her bosom’s rapturous secrecy A blissful ardent moved and voiceless world. Proud, swift and joyful ran the wave of life Within her like a stream in Paradise. Many high gods dwelt in one beautiful home; Yet was her nature’s orb a perfect whole, Harmonious like a chant with many tones, Immense and various like a universe. The body that held this greatness seemed almost An image made of heaven’s transparent light. Its charm recalled things seen in vision’s hours, A golden bridge spanning a faery flood, A moon-touched palm-tree single by a lake Companion of the wide and glimmering peace, A murmur as of leaves in Paradise Moving when feet of the Immortals pass, A fiery halo over sleeping hills, A strange and starry head alone in Night. END OF CANTO ONE