Loretta reads Savitri:One.IV "The Secret Knowledge" part 1

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Transcript of:
Savitri: Book One, Canto IV, part 1 of 5
by Loretta, 2015 (25:36)
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Savitri Book 1 Canto IV icon.jpg  Loretta reads Savitri
Book One: The Book of Beginnings
Canto IV: The Secret Knowledge
Part 1 of 5, pages 46-50
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In 1947, in one of his letters on Savitri, Sri Aurobindo wrote that the three cantos about King Aswapati and his Yoga at the end of Book One – which are Cantos III, IV and V – are about a part of his spiritual development which had two movements. The first movement was a “psycho-spiritual transformation”. The second movement will be in Canto V. Sri Aurobindo says that it's “a greater spiritual transformation with an ascent to a supreme power”[1]. And both of these are his own individual self-development and fulfilment.

Later on, in Book Two and Book Three, his inner work will expand: first, to represent all of mankind, when he goes through all the planes and parts of the being to find the Divine Mother; and finally when he finds her, to include all of humanity.

So now we're starting Canto IV, which is in between the two movements. Sri Aurobindo writes in a letter on Savitri in 1947 that:

“In the second of these three Cantos there is a pause between the two movements [of Aswapati's own development] and a description of the secret knowledge to which he is led and of which the results are described in the last Canto [Canto V], but there is no description of the Yoga itself or of the steps by which this knowledge came.”[2]

This letter could lead a person to think that the secret knowledge – that Sri Aurobindo writes about so beautifully – is not his own realization or experiences. But in a letter of May 4th, 1947 he writes:

“what I am trying to do everywhere in the poem is to express exactly something seen, something felt or experienced”[3]

Then he goes on to say:

“When the expression has been found, I have to judge, not by the intellect or by any set poetical rule, but by an intuitive feeling, whether it is entirely the right expression and, if it is not, I have to change and go on changing until I have received the absolutely right inspiration and the right transcription of it and must never be satisfied with any à peu près or imperfect transcription even if that makes good poetry of one kind or another.”[4]

As so often in Savitri, when he speaks of man, Sri Aurobindo refers to the action of our psychic being without specifically naming it – but you can recognize it in the many ways that he talks about it through Savitri.

At the end of this part of the canto, we have one of his very clear descriptions of our state – which certainly doesn't sound very enlightened – but it's our state when we are trying to search for something spiritual. (Or maybe not “our state”, but, the state of mankind trying to search for something spiritual.)

These first four-and-a-half pages of Canto IV are the secret knowledge about what man can become (what he is becoming all the time, even if he doesn't know it), how it can happen, and also about the spiritual things behind our earthly covering. We know that he says these are his own experiences and realizations. Richard in the Archives has been able to find something in the Record of Yoga that is clearly an experience that Sri Aurobindo had. This time, we have different short diary notations on the same subject. They cover a span of time from February 7th, 1913, to May 20th, 1915. And they show Sri Aurobindo's noting of his own progress in certain particular areas.

Some of them sound pretty complex and wordy, but that's because we've had to put the English in place of Sri Aurobindo's Sanskrit. He used one or two Sanskrit words that often take one or two sentences (or even more) to express in English. So because I'm substituting Sri Aurobindo's definitions, which have been gathered from other parts of his writing – so that we only have Sri Aurobindo's definitions of these Sanskrit words – some of it seems not quite to fit, or it may come across a bit awkwardly. But we can still understand; and what we can really understand is how conscious he was. I mean, he really was totally aware of everything that was happening to him in such a high way and on such a high level.

These also give us some really wonderful definitions of service to the Divine as he was experiencing it, and obviously as it is experience-able by others.

So here's the three lines in Savitri:

A greater Personality sometimes
Possesses us which yet we know is ours:
Or we adore the Master of our souls. (p.47)

On February 7th, 1913, Sri Aurobindo wrote:

“The Personality of the Master is now occupying the life in place of the active Creator of the cosmos whose being assumes by conscious Will all kinds of properties, habits of cosmic character, and power of dynamic self-consciousness, all shaping the stuff of conscious Being. It is no longer the Supreme Lord, the all-ruler or the Divine only, but the Supreme Being revealing himself as the God in man who is also the Lord in the universe. At present, however, it is only in the personal relations with the Master of the Yoga that the substitution has been established.”[5]

Almost a year later, on December 26th, 1913 he writes:

“The Personality of the Supreme Lord & His relation with the individual soul are becoming more & more determined and frequent in action. Today there was a descent into the vessel containing mind, life and body of the Supreme Lord as the patient intellectual seeker and patient and laborious contriver who, step by step, occupies knowledge and action, and also is the boy with the aspect of strength and grandeur and rushing impetuosity and overbearing courage enjoying the world game, powerful in temperament & using life & action as a boy’s game, the seat [in the] being [of all this occupation] not as formerly the mind & intellect, but the intuitional mind and the temperament.”[6]

On June 19th [June 10th (Ed.)], 1914, Sri Aurobindo wrote that he received a communication from automatic writing – something he called 'script', and something he received continually at this time. This was a group of different communications about things that were going on in him and moving towards fulfilment. Along with other different things, there are three that are in the numbered list of things: they are affirmations of what will take place in him. And these relate to our lines in Savitri. This is what he wrote:

The three other affirmations
5. The Personality of the all-ruler, known as Krishna, the universal deity and supreme being, to be present in the consciousness, governing all the activities
6. Service to, and surrender and submission to, that which is beyond us, enabling the full and free working of the power of sweetness and ecstatic love that brings the highest sweetness and intimate control of the divine Personality to be the personal relation of the individual soul with Krishna[.] This is the kind where the service and surrender is unable to disobey but is worked mechanically through an intermediate impulsion of the active force of active nature with the most intense consciousness of passive relation with the Divine Being. This is in the sense of being a living instrument in his hands in the whole system.
7. Acceptance of all enjoyment as a slave & instrument of the Lover to be the principle of the sweetness and ecstatic love that brings this intimate control of the divine Personality to be the relation of the individual soul with Krishna, the universal deity and Supreme Being.[7]

So these are affirmations about something that is going to happen. And this was on the 10th of June, 1914.

He's clearly been aware of this all along. Because about one year later, on May 20th, 1915, he wrote about the progress he had made in realizing these three affirmations. He wrote that the accomplishments had taken a new turn, and they could now be stated. And he gives them exactly the same numbering that he had given them the year before:

5. The Personality of Krishna is present in the consciousness governing all the activities, but sometimes there comes the veil of the active force of Nature
6. The service of God in the world of which the controlling power is the Divinity within us & the relation of ecstatic love and surrender to the Divine that brings the highest sweetness and intimate control of the divine Personality. This is the state where this is the personal relationship of the individual soul with Krishna, when the service and surrender is unable to disobey, but is still worked mechanically through an intermediate impulsion of the active force of Nature with the most intense consciousness of passive relation with the Divine Being. All this in a sense of being a living instrument in His hands in the whole system. [And all this is] confirmed entirely, but not yet in full intensity.
7. Acceptance of the enjoyment as a slave & instrument of the Lover only now entirely & finally accomplished. Intensity has yet to be given.[8]

So we start “The Secret Knowledge”, Canto IV.

Canto Four
The Secret Knowledge
On a height he stood that looked towards greater heights.
Our early approaches to the Infinite
Are sunrise splendours on a marvellous verge
While lingers yet unseen the glorious sun.
What now we see is a shadow of what must come.
The earth’s uplook to a remote Unknown
Is a preface only of the epic climb
Of human soul from its flat earthly state
To the discovery of a greater self
And the far gleam of an eternal Light.
This world is a beginning and a base
Where Life and Mind erect their structured dreams;
An unborn Power must build reality.
A deathbound littleness is not all we are:
Immortal our forgotten vastnesses
Await discovery in our summit selves;
Unmeasured breadths and depths of being are ours.
Akin to the ineffable Secrecy,
Mystic, eternal in unrealised Time,
Neighbours of Heaven are Nature’s altitudes.
To these high-peaked dominions sealed to our search,
Too far from surface Nature’s postal routes,
Too lofty for our mortal lives to breathe,
Deep in us a forgotten kinship points
And a faint voice of ecstasy and prayer
Calls to those lucent lost immensities.
Even when we fail to look into our souls
Or lie embedded in earthly consciousness,
Still have we parts that grow towards the light,
Yet are there luminous tracts and heavens serene
And Eldorados of splendour and ecstasy
And temples to the godhead none can see. p.47
A shapeless memory lingers in us still
And sometimes, when our sight is turned within,
Earth’s ignorant veil is lifted from our eyes;
There is a short miraculous escape.
This narrow fringe of clamped experience
We leave behind meted to us as life,
Our little walks, our insufficient reach.
Our souls can visit in great lonely hours
Still regions of imperishable Light,
All-seeing eagle-peaks of silent Power
And moon-flame oceans of swift fathomless Bliss
And calm immensities of spirit space.
In the unfolding process of the Self
Sometimes the inexpressible Mystery
Elects a human vessel of descent.
A breath comes down from a supernal air,
A Presence is born, a guiding Light awakes,
A stillness falls upon the instruments:
Fixed, motionless like a marble monument,
Stone-calm, the body is a pedestal
Supporting a figure of eternal Peace.
Or a revealing Force sweeps blazing in;
Out of some vast superior continent
Knowledge breaks through trailing its radiant seas,
And Nature trembles with the power, the flame.
A greater Personality sometimes
Possesses us which yet we know is ours:
Or we adore the Master of our souls.
Then the small bodily ego thins and falls;
No more insisting on its separate self,
Losing the punctilio of its separate birth,
It leaves us one with Nature and with God.
In moments when the inner lamps are lit
And the life’s cherished guests are left outside,
Our spirit sits alone and speaks to its gulfs.
A wider consciousness opens then its doors; p.48
Invading from spiritual silences
A ray of the timeless Glory stoops awhile
To commune with our seized illumined clay
And leaves its huge white stamp upon our lives.
In the oblivious field of mortal mind,
Revealed to the closed prophet eyes of trance
Or in some deep internal solitude
Witnessed by a strange immaterial sense,
The signals of eternity appear.
The truth mind could not know unveils its face,
We hear what mortal ears have never heard,
We feel what earthly sense has never felt,
We love what common hearts repel and dread;
Our minds hush to a bright Omniscient;
A Voice calls from the chambers of the soul;
We meet the ecstasy of the Godhead’s touch
In golden privacies of immortal fire.
These signs are native to a larger self
That lives within us by ourselves unseen;
Only sometimes a holier influence comes,
A tide of mightier surgings bears our lives
And a diviner Presence moves the soul;
Or through the earthly coverings something breaks,
A grace and beauty of spiritual light,
The murmuring tongue of a celestial fire.
Ourself and a high stranger whom we feel,
It is and acts unseen as if it were not;
It follows the line of sempiternal birth,
Yet seems to perish with its mortal frame.
Assured of the Apocalypse to be,
It reckons not the moments and the hours;
Great, patient, calm it sees the centuries pass,
Awaiting the slow miracle of our change
In the sure deliberate process of world-force
And the long march of all-revealing Time.
It is the origin and the master-clue, p.49
A silence overhead, an inner voice,
A living image seated in the heart,
An unwalled wideness and a fathomless point,
The truth of all these cryptic shows in Space,
The Real towards which our strivings move,
The secret grandiose meaning of our lives.
A treasure of honey in the combs of God,
A Splendour burning in a tenebrous cloak,
It is our glory of the flame of God,
Our golden fountain of the world’s delight,
An immortality cowled in the cape of death,
The shape of our unborn divinity.
It guards for us our fate in depths within
Where sleeps the eternal seed of transient things.
Always we bear in us a magic key
Concealed in life’s hermetic envelope.
A burning Witness in the sanctuary
Regards through Time and the blind walls of Form;
A timeless Light is in his hidden eyes;
He sees the secret things no words can speak
And knows the goal of the unconscious world
And the heart of the mystery of the journeying years.
     But all is screened, subliminal, mystical;
It needs the intuitive heart, the inward turn,
It needs the power of a spiritual gaze.
Else to our waking mind’s small moment look
A goalless voyage seems our dubious course
Some Chance has settled or hazarded some Will,
Or a Necessity without aim or cause
Unwillingly compelled to emerge and be.
In this dense field where nothing is plain or sure,
Our very being seems to us questionable,
Our life a vague experiment, the soul
A flickering light in a strange ignorant world,
The earth a brute mechanic accident, p.50
A net of death in which by chance we live.
All we have learned appears a doubtful guess,
The achievement done a passage or a phase
Whose farther end is hidden from our sight,
A chance happening or a fortuitous fate.
Out of the unknown we move to the unknown.
Ever surround our brief existence here
Grey shadows of unanswered questionings;
The dark Inconscient’s signless mysteries
Stand up unsolved behind Fate’s starting-line.
An aspiration in the Night’s profound,
Seed of a perishing body and half-lit mind,
Uplifts its lonely tongue of conscious fire
Towards an undying Light for ever lost;
Only it hears, sole echo of its call,
The dim reply in man’s unknowing heart
And meets, not understanding why it came
Or for what reason is the suffering here,
God’s sanction to the paradox of life
And the riddle of the Immortal’s birth in Time.

  1. Letters on Poetry and Art, p.329
  2. Ibid.
  3. Ibid., p.343
  4. Ibid.
  5. Record of Yoga, p.236
  6. Ibid., p.361
  7. Ibid., p.485
  8. Ibid., p.846