Loretta reads Savitri:One.II "The Issue" part 2
|Loretta reads Savitri
Book One: The Book of Beginnings
Canto II: The Issue
Part 2 of 2, pages 16-21
In his letters, Sri Aurobindo wrote that Savitri was the Divine Mother. The Divine Mother, as the term is used here in India, is the power of the unmanifest supreme consciousness. She embodies that consciousness here, and she is the manifestation of the supreme consciousness and its evolution here.
Sri Aurobindo's yoga, according to his own realizations and inner work, focuses on a particular work of the Divine Mother in our present universe, at the present time. This work is to bring, and to be, and to give to man the new consciousness which is now manifesting, and which both Mother and Sri Aurobindo became aware of and worked to bring down.
Sri Aurobindo has also said many times that Mother is the embodiment, and the manifestation, of the Divine Mother here at this time. Whenever he describes Savitri, and speaks of her growth, of her yoga, of her work, he is also telling us about the Mother – the Mother that he knew, that was in the Ashram, that had all the human qualities as well as the divine qualities.
In this last part of Canto II, Sri Aurobindo speaks a little bit about the things he's going to tell us a lot more in detail when he writes about Savitri. We get a small kind of glimpse, a few words, as a kind of preview of Savitri's childhood, of her yoga, and of her confrontation with Death.
After this canto, starting in Canto III, Sri Aurobindo will start to tell us about his own yoga. He wrote his own yoga as the yoga of the great king Aswapati, who was Savitri's father. And his yoga, as we will see, is going to be a journey to find the Divine Mother.
Now Sri Aurobindo tells us that Savitri's spirit “refused to hug the common soil” (p.19). He tells us that “Her single will opposed the cosmic role” (p.19). Her greatness rose, “to stay the wheels of Doom” (p.19). “One mighty deed can change the course of things” (p.20). “A victory was won for God in man” (p.21), on that morning that Savitri woke at dawn, and remembered that this was the day that almighty Death was going to come to take her husband Satyavan.
So here's the second part of Canto II.
… Till then no mournful line had barred this ray. On the frail breast of this precarious earth, Since her orbed sight in its breath-fastened house, Opening in sympathy with happier stars Where life is not exposed to sorrowful change, Remembered beauty death-claimed lids ignore And wondered at this world of fragile forms Carried on canvas-strips of shimmering Time, The impunity of unborn Mights was hers. Although she leaned to bear the human load, Her walk kept still the measures of the gods. Earth’s breath had failed to stain that brilliant glass: Unsmeared with the dust of our mortal atmosphere It still reflected heaven’s spiritual joy. Almost they saw who lived within her light Her playmate in the sempiternal spheres Descended from its unattainable realms In her attracting advent’s luminous wake, The white-fire dragon-bird of endless bliss Drifting with burning wings above her days: Heaven’s tranquil shield guarded the missioned child. A glowing orbit was her early term, Years like gold raiment of the gods that pass; Her youth sat throned in calm felicity. But joy cannot endure until the end: There is a darkness in terrestrial things p.17 That will not suffer long too glad a note. On her too closed the inescapable Hand: The armed Immortal bore the snare of Time. One dealt with her who meets the burdened great. Assigner of the ordeal and the path Who chooses in this holocaust of the soul Death, fall and sorrow as the spirit’s goads, The dubious godhead with his torch of pain Lit up the chasm of the unfinished world And called her to fill with her vast self the abyss. August and pitiless in his calm outlook, Heightening the Eternal’s dreadful strategy, He measured the difficulty with the might And dug more deep the gulf that all must cross. Assailing her divinest elements, He made her heart kin to the striving human heart And forced her strength to its appointed road. For this she had accepted mortal breath; 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. Whether to bear with Ignorance and death Or hew the ways of Immortality, To win or lose the godlike game for man, Was her soul’s issue thrown with Destiny’s dice. But not to submit and suffer was she born; To lead, to deliver was her glorious part. Here was no fabric of terrestrial make Fit for a day’s use by busy careless Powers. An image fluttering on the screen of Fate, Half-animated for a passing show, Or a castaway on the ocean of Desire Flung to the eddies in a ruthless sport And tossed along the gulfs of Circumstance, A creature born to bend beneath the yoke, A chattel and a plaything of Time’s lords, p.18 Or one more pawn who comes destined to be pushed One slow move forward on a measureless board In the chess-play of the earth-soul with Doom,— Such is the human figure drawn by Time. A conscious frame was here, a self-born Force. In this enigma of the dusk of God, This slow and strange uneasy compromise Of limiting Nature with a limitless Soul, Where all must move between an ordered Chance And an uncaring blind Necessity, Too high the fire spiritual dare not blaze. If once it met the intense original Flame, An answering touch might shatter all measures made And earth sink down with the weight of the Infinite. A gaol is this immense material world: Across each road stands armed a stone-eyed Law, At every gate the huge dim sentinels pace. A grey tribunal of the Ignorance, An Inquisition of the priests of Night In judgment sit on the adventurer soul, And the dual tables and the Karmic norm Restrain the Titan in us and the God: Pain with its lash, joy with its silver bribe Guard the Wheel’s circling immobility. A bond is put on the high-climbing mind, A seal on the too large wide-open heart; Death stays the journeying discoverer, Life. Thus is the throne of the Inconscient safe While the tardy coilings of the aeons pass And the Animal browses in the sacred fence And the gold Hawk can cross the skies no more. But one stood up and lit the limitless flame. Arraigned by the dark Power that hates all bliss In the dire court where life must pay for joy, Sentenced by the mechanic justicer To the afflicting penalty of man’s hopes, p.19 Her head she bowed not to the stark decree Baring her helpless heart to destiny’s stroke. So bows and must the mind-born will in man Obedient to the statutes fixed of old, Admitting without appeal the nether gods. In her the superhuman cast its seed. Inapt to fold its mighty wings of dream Her spirit refused to hug the common soil, Or, finding all life’s golden meanings robbed, Compound with earth, struck from the starry list, Or quench with black despair the God-given light. Accustomed to the eternal and the true, Her being conscious of its divine founts Asked not from mortal frailty pain’s relief, Patched not with failure bargain or compromise. A work she had to do, a word to speak: Writing the unfinished story of her soul In thoughts and actions graved in Nature’s book, She accepted not to close the luminous page, Cancel her commerce with eternity, Or set a signature of weak assent To the brute balance of the world’s exchange. A force in her that toiled since earth was made, Accomplishing in life the great world-plan, Pursuing after death immortal aims, Repugned to admit frustration’s barren role, Forfeit the meaning of her birth in Time, Obey the government of the casual fact Or yield her high destiny up to passing Chance. In her own self she found her high recourse; She matched with the iron law her sovereign right: Her single will opposed the cosmic rule. To stay the wheels of Doom this greatness rose. At the Unseen’s knock upon her hidden gates Her strength made greater by the lightning’s touch Awoke from slumber in her heart’s recess. p.20 It bore the stroke of That which kills and saves. 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. A magic leverage suddenly is caught That moves the veiled Ineffable’s timeless will: A prayer, a master act, a king idea Can link man’s strength to a transcendent Force. Then miracle is made the common rule, One mighty deed can change the course of things; A lonely thought becomes omnipotent. All now seems Nature’s massed machinery; An endless servitude to material rule And long determination’s rigid chain, Her firm and changeless habits aping Law, Her empire of unconscious deft device Annul the claim of man’s free human will. He too is a machine amid machines; A piston brain pumps out the shapes of thought, A beating heart cuts out emotion’s modes; An insentient energy fabricates a soul. Or the figure of the world reveals the signs Of a tied Chance repeating her old steps In circles around Matter’s binding-posts. A random series of inept events To which reason lends illusive sense, is here, Or the empiric Life’s instinctive search, Or a vast ignorant mind’s colossal work. But wisdom comes, and vision grows within: Then Nature’s instrument crowns himself her king; He feels his witnessing self and conscious power; His soul steps back and sees the Light supreme. A Godhead stands behind the brute machine. p.21 This truth broke in in a triumph of fire; A victory was won for God in man, The deity revealed its hidden face. The great World-Mother now in her arose: A living choice reversed fate’s cold dead turn, Affirmed the spirit’s tread on Circumstance, Pressed back the senseless dire revolving Wheel And stopped the mute march of Necessity. A flaming warrior from the eternal peaks Empowered to force the door denied and closed Smote from Death’s visage its dumb absolute And burst the bounds of consciousness and Time. END OF CANTO TWO