Loretta reads Savitri:One.III "The Yoga of the King: The Yoga of the Soul's Release" part 1
|Loretta reads Savitri
Book One: The Book of Beginnings
Canto III: The Yoga of the King: The Yoga of the Soul's Release
Part 1 of 4, pages 22-27
Sri Aurobindo has written that the yoga of King Aswapati, Savitri's father – whose name in Sanskrit means 'the lord of the horse' – is really a description of his own yoga. In the writer's note at the beginning of the book, Sri Aurobindo says:
- “Aswapati, the Lord of the Horse, [Savitri's] human father, is the Lord of Tapasya, the concentrated energy of spiritual endeavour that helps us to rise from the mortal to the immortal planes.” (p.xvii)
People were always wanting to know about Sri Aurobindo's own practice. They wanted to know what his inner work was, what his yogic attainments were, what his powers were. But if we look through his letters, only here and there do we find something that he's written in answer to someone's question. But here, starting with Book One, Canto III – where we are – and going all the way through to the end of Book Two: The Book of the Traveller of the Worlds, Sri Aurobindo gives us some of his yogic practices, some of his achievements, some of his experiences, and even some of his powers. He once said that no one could really know the inner man. But at least he uses Savitri to communicate a lot about himself, and also to express the wisdom that he had. And of course he organised it in the way he wanted to communicate it to us, for our own progress.
In his letters on Savitri, Sri Aurobindo says that what happens to Aswapati in Canto III is “a psycho-spiritual transformation”. Starting on June 17th, 1909, the year before he came to Pondicherry, Sri Aurobindo kept a diary, a written record of his sadhana. He wrote his diary up to November 19th, 1920, and then there's a gap. But in December 1926, after he had his realisations and retired to his room, he started writing again. And he stopped on October 31st, 1927, and that's all that he did for his record of yogic practice.
The diary entries are very brief, and he uses Sanskrit words to describe the states of consciousness he reached. In fact, he couldn't have really used English words because the English language doesn't have words for these concepts. Our English translations take a lot of words to try and say something that in Sanskrit you say in one or two words.
Nobody saw Sri Aurobindo's written record of his own yoga for many many years. Finally, in 2001, it was published – and it was published under the title, the Record of Yoga. There's also a glossary to the Record of Yoga, with English translations of the Sanskrit terms. These terms and definitions were all taken from different places in Sri Aurobindo's writings, and so we have his thinking on what the English translation would be of the Sanskrit terms that he's using.
And now that we're starting to read about Sri Aurobindo's own sadhana in Savitri, we have the incredible good fortune to have someone who can give us some quotations from the Record of Yoga. And also some quotations from Sri Aurobindo's Vedic translations – because he's translated from the Vedas the things that he has also realised.
The person that's so kindly agreed to help us is Richard Hartz. Richard is an American scholar. He joined the Archives in 1980. He's a major member of the Archives team which prepares Sri Aurobindo's works for publication. Richard is a Sanskrit scholar, and he's the one who deciphers Sri Aurobindo's handwriting. He also works on all the Sanskrit writings. Richard is the final proofreader of all the publications before they go to press. And he's the one who prepared the Record of Yoga, and all the rest of Sri Aurobindo's Sanskrit work for publication. Richard also put together something called the “Glossary of the Record of Yoga”. He's the one who carefully searched through all of Sri Aurobindo's other writings to locate the terms used in an appropriate context, so that he could get the appropriate meaning. Even though Richard's really busy – he teaches in the higher course in the school, he lectures, he writes books, and he does all that with a very full schedule of Archive duties – he's agreed to find things for us in the Record of Yoga, and in other of Sri Aurobindo's Vedic writings. I don't think there is any other person in the world today who is so well-qualified to do this for us. It's a real gift.
When I read the quotations, I'll put the English words from the Glossary of Yoga – I'll put the English words in place of the Sanskrit words so that it makes sense to us.
As we meet Aswapati for the first time, in Canto 3, Sri Aurobindo tells us that a great being has come. And then he starts to tell us about the progress of this great being in a human body. He says:
- In the transient symbol of humanity draped,
- He feels his substance of undying self
- And loses his kinship to mortality. (p.23)
In the Record of Yoga Sri Aurobindo wrote on December 25th, 1913:
- “In the morning the full success of growth into a higher divine nature reasserted itself. There is a preparation, as was predicted yesterday in the writing seen with subtle vision, for the transfer of the knowledge to a higher ideality by enforcing more perfectly on the mortal & finite mind the vastness & compelling it to see the truth behind all suggestions even those apparently the most false.”
On the 25th of October, 1914, Sri Aurobindo wrote in his diary:
- “The truth is that there is an alternation of states, the divine & the human, the illumined and the partially obscure, where there is pale light, not the light of divine Truth. This alternation tends towards the elimination of the mortal and obscure and the normalisation of the divine and luminous.”
Aswapati is being turned to heaven's use by the secret hand of the cosmic Worker. And Sri Aurobindo writes:
- A Seer was born, a shining Guest of Time.
- For him mind’s limiting firmament ceased above. (p.25)
This image of the mind's limiting firmament is a Vedic image. And Sri Aurobindo translated this in his book The Secret of the Veda. Here is what Sri Aurobindo says the Vedas say about mind's limiting firmament:
- “Man rises beyond the two firmaments, Rodasi, Heaven and Earth, mind and body, to the infinity of the Truth, Mahas, and so to the divine Bliss. This is the 'great passage' discovered by the Ancestors, the ancient Rishis.”
Then he translates this:
- “The soul of man soars as the Bird, the swan, past the shining firmaments of physical and mental consciousness, climbs as the traveller and fighter beyond earth of body and heaven of mind by the ascending path of the Truth to find this Godhead waiting for us, leaning down to us from the secrecy of the highest supreme where it is seated in the triple divine Principle and the source of the Beatitude.”
And then a couple of pages later Sri Aurobindo translates:
- “Therefore he has to break through and out beyond these firmaments of earth and heaven; conquering firm possession of the solar worlds, entering on to his highest Height he has to learn how to dwell in the triple principle of Immortality.”
In his letters on Savitri, Sri Aurobindo says: “Aswapati’s Yoga falls into three parts”. In this canto, he gives us the first part. Here Aswapati is “achieving his own spiritual self-fulfilment as an individual”. We'll go through each stage, culminating in Aswapati's victory, because he is able to have the Divine Mother take birth on earth as his daughter Savitri.
Canto Three The Yoga of the King: The Yoga of the Soul’s Release A world's desire compelled her mortal birth. One in the front of the immemorial quest, Protagonist of the mysterious play In which the Unknown pursues himself through forms And limits his eternity by the hours And the blind Void struggles to live and see, A thinker and toiler in the ideal’s air, Brought down to earth’s dumb need her radiant power. His was a spirit that stooped from larger spheres Into our province of ephemeral sight, A colonist from immortality. A pointing beam on earth’s uncertain roads, His birth held up a symbol and a sign; His human self like a translucent cloak Covered the All-Wise who leads the unseeing world. Affiliated to cosmic Space and Time And paying here God’s debt to earth and man A greater sonship was his divine right. Although consenting to mortal ignorance, His knowledge shared the Light ineffable. A strength of the original Permanence Entangled in the moment and its flow, He kept the vision of the Vasts behind: A power was in him from the Unknowable. An archivist of the symbols of the Beyond, A treasurer of superhuman dreams, He bore the stamp of mighty memories And shed their grandiose ray on human life. His days were a long growth to the Supreme. A skyward being nourishing its roots On sustenance from occult spiritual founts p.23 Climbed through white rays to meet an unseen Sun. His soul lived as eternity’s delegate, His mind was like a fire assailing heaven, His will a hunter in the trails of light. An ocean impulse lifted every breath; Each action left the footprints of a god, Each moment was a beat of puissant wings. The little plot of our mortality Touched by this tenant from the heights became A playground of the living Infinite. This bodily appearance is not all; The form deceives, the person is a mask; Hid deep in man celestial powers can dwell. His fragile ship conveys through the sea of years An incognito of the Imperishable. A spirit that is a flame of God abides, A fiery portion of the Wonderful, Artist of his own beauty and delight, Immortal in our mortal poverty. This sculptor of the forms of the Infinite, This screened unrecognised Inhabitant, Initiate of his own veiled mysteries, Hides in a small dumb seed his cosmic thought. In the mute strength of the occult Idea Determining predestined shape and act, Passenger from life to life, from scale to scale, Changing his imaged self from form to form, He regards the icon growing by his gaze And in the worm foresees the coming god. At last the traveller in the paths of Time Arrives on the frontiers of eternity. In the transient symbol of humanity draped, He feels his substance of undying self And loses his kinship to mortality. A beam of the Eternal smites his heart, His thought stretches into infinitude; p.24 All in him turns to spirit vastnesses. His soul breaks out to join the Oversoul, His life is oceaned by that superlife. He has drunk from the breasts of the Mother of the worlds; A topless Supernature fills his frame: She adopts his spirit’s everlasting ground As the security of her changing world And shapes the figure of her unborn mights. Immortally she conceives herself in him, In the creature the unveiled Creatrix works: Her face is seen through his face, her eyes through his eyes; Her being is his through a vast identity. Then is revealed in man the overt Divine. A static Oneness and dynamic Power Descend in him, the integral Godhead’s seals; His soul and body take that splendid stamp. A long dim preparation is man’s life, A circle of toil and hope and war and peace Tracked out by Life on Matter’s obscure ground. In his climb to a peak no feet have ever trod, He seeks through a penumbra shot with flame A veiled reality half-known, ever missed, A search for something or someone never found, Cult of an ideal never made real here, An endless spiral of ascent and fall Until at last is reached the giant point Through which his Glory shines for whom we were made And we break into the infinity of God. Across our nature’s border line we escape Into Supernature’s arc of living light. This now was witnessed in that son of Force; In him that high transition laid its base. Original and supernal Immanence Of which all Nature’s process is the art, The cosmic Worker set his secret hand To turn this frail mud-engine to heaven-use. p.25 A Presence wrought behind the ambiguous screen: It beat his soil to bear a Titan’s weight, Refining half-hewn blocks of natural strength It built his soul into a statued god. The Craftsman of the magic stuff of self Who labours at his high and difficult plan In the wide workshop of the wonderful world, Modelled in inward Time his rhythmic parts. Then came the abrupt transcendent miracle: The masked immaculate Grandeur could outline, At travail in the occult womb of life, His dreamed magnificence of things to be. A crown of the architecture of the worlds, A mystery of married Earth and Heaven Annexed divinity to the mortal scheme. A Seer was born, a shining Guest of Time. For him mind’s limiting firmament ceased above. In the griffin forefront of the Night and Day A gap was rent in the all-concealing vault; The conscious ends of being went rolling back: The landmarks of the little person fell, The island ego joined its continent. Overpassed was this world of rigid limiting forms: Life’s barriers opened into the Unknown. Abolished were conception’s covenants And, striking off subjection’s rigorous clause, Annulled the soul’s treaty with Nature’s nescience. All the grey inhibitions were torn off And broken the intellect’s hard and lustrous lid; Truth unpartitioned found immense sky-room; An empyrean vision saw and knew; The bounded mind became a boundless light, The finite self mated with infinity. His march now soared into an eagle’s flight. Out of apprenticeship to Ignorance Wisdom upraised him to her master craft p.26 And made him an archmason of the soul, A builder of the Immortal’s secret house, An aspirant to supernal Timelessness: Freedom and empire called to him from on high; Above mind’s twilight and life’s star-led night There gleamed the dawn of a spiritual day. As so he grew into his larger self, Humanity framed his movements less and less; A greater being saw a greater world. A fearless will for knowledge dared to erase The lines of safety Reason draws that bar Mind’s soar, soul’s dive into the Infinite. Even his first steps broke our small earth-bounds And loitered in a vaster freer air. In hands sustained by a transfiguring Might He caught up lightly like a giant’s bow Left slumbering in a sealed and secret cave The powers that sleep unused in man within. He made of miracle a normal act And turned to a common part of divine works, Magnificently natural at this height, Efforts that would shatter the strength of mortal hearts, Pursued in a royalty of mighty ease Aims too sublime for Nature’s daily will: The gifts of the spirit crowding came to him; They were his life’s pattern and his privilege. A pure perception lent its lucent joy: Its intimate vision waited not to think; It enveloped all Nature in a single glance, It looked into the very self of things; Deceived no more by form he saw the soul. In beings it knew what lurked to them unknown; It seized the idea in mind, the wish in the heart; It plucked out from grey folds of secrecy The motives which from their own sight men hide. p.27 He felt the beating life in other men Invade him with their happiness and their grief; Their love, their anger, their unspoken hopes Entered in currents or in pouring waves Into the immobile ocean of his calm. He heard the inspired sound of his own thoughts Re-echoed in the vault of other minds; The world’s thought-streams travelled into his ken; His inner self grew near to others’ selves And bore a kinship’s weight, a common tie, Yet stood untouched, king of itself, alone. A magical accord quickened and attuned To ethereal symphonies the old earthy strings; It raised the servitors of mind and life To be happy partners in the soul’s response, Tissue and nerve were turned to sensitive chords, Records of lustre and ecstasy; it made The body’s means the spirit’s acolytes. A heavenlier function with a finer mode Lit with its grace man’s outward earthliness; The soul’s experience of its deeper sheaths No more slept drugged by Matter’s dominance. ...