Loretta reads Savitri:One.I "The Symbol Dawn" part 2
|Loretta reads Savitri
Book One: The Book of Beginnings
Canto I: The Symbol Dawn
Part 2 of 2, pages 6-10
The second part of “The Symbol Dawn” tells the story how Savitri wakes up on the day she must perform her divine task. She took birth to conquer death.
In his letters, Sri Aurobindo says that Savitri is the Divine Mother. And in Savitri, the work of the Mother is to conquer death, for the beautiful soul of man on earth. And it's going to come to her as the job of conquering the death of her own husband, and bringing his soul back to earth.
This part of the story actually starts in the middle. As we continue on, we're going to be taken back in time, for the story of Savitri's birth. It's the story of the yoga of Savitri's father, the great king Aswapati. He travels through all planes and parts of the being and the creation, to find the Divine Mother. And he persuades her to take birth as his child.
Now Sri Aurobindo describes for us what it is meant for a great immortal being to come on an earth which is not yet receptive. These great immortal beings bring with them all the beauty, and the undying rapture, and the light, of their own beings – and it cannot stay long, on the earth as it is today.
In the beginning of this Canto, we've already seen how Sri Aurobindo uses the glory of dawn, and then its fading away, into the common light of earthly day, to show us how the presence and power of spiritual beauty and light cannot be tolerated.
Now Savitri awakens slowly. Her spirit, far away from “the yoke of ignorance and fate”, slowly returned to the “labour and stress of the mortal days” (p.9).
The forces of life awoke slowly in all parts of her again, and her soul arose, “confronting Time and Fate” (p.10).
… And Savitri too awoke among these tribes That hastened to join the brilliant Summoner’s chant And, lured by the beauty of the apparent ways, Acclaimed their portion of ephemeral joy. Akin to the eternity whence she came, No part she took in this small happiness; A mighty stranger in the human field, The embodied Guest within made no response. The call that wakes the leap of human mind, Its chequered eager motion of pursuit, Its fluttering-hued illusion of desire, Visited her heart like a sweet alien note. Time’s message of brief light was not for her. In her there was the anguish of the gods Imprisoned in our transient human mould, The deathless conquered by the death of things. A vaster Nature’s joy had once been hers, But long could keep not its gold heavenly hue Or stand upon this brittle earthly base. A narrow movement on Time’s deep abysm, Life’s fragile littleness denied the power, The proud and conscious wideness and the bliss She had brought with her into the human form, The calm delight that weds one soul to all, The key to the flaming doors of ecstasy. Earth’s grain that needs the sap of pleasure and tears p.7 Rejected the undying rapture’s boon: Offered to the daughter of infinity Her passion-flower of love and doom she gave. In vain now seemed the splendid sacrifice. A prodigal of her rich divinity, Her self and all she was she had lent to men, Hoping her greater being to implant And in their body’s lives acclimatise That heaven might native grow on mortal soil. Hard is it to persuade earth-nature’s change; Mortality bears ill the eternal’s touch: It fears the pure divine intolerance Of that assault of ether and of fire; It murmurs at its sorrowless happiness, Almost with hate repels the light it brings; It trembles at its naked power of Truth And the might and sweetness of its absolute Voice. Inflicting on the heights the abysm’s law, It sullies with its mire heaven’s messengers: Its thorns of fallen nature are the defence It turns against the saviour hands of Grace; It meets the sons of God with death and pain. A glory of lightnings traversing the earth-scene, Their sun-thoughts fading, darkened by ignorant minds, Their work betrayed, their good to evil turned, The cross their payment for the crown they gave, Only they leave behind a splendid Name. A fire has come and touched men’s hearts and gone; A few have caught flame and risen to greater life. Too unlike the world she came to help and save, Her greatness weighed upon its ignorant breast And from its dim chasms welled a dire return, A portion of its sorrow, struggle, fall. To live with grief, to confront death on her road,— The mortal’s lot became the Immortal’s share. Thus trapped in the gin of earthly destinies, p.8 Awaiting her ordeal’s hour abode, Outcast from her inborn felicity, Accepting life’s obscure terrestrial robe, Hiding herself even from those she loved, The godhead greater by a human fate. A dark foreknowledge separated her From all of whom she was the star and stay; Too great to impart the peril and the pain, In her torn depths she kept the grief to come. As one who watching over men left blind Takes up the load of an unwitting race, Harbouring a foe whom with her heart she must feed, Unknown her act, unknown the doom she faced, Unhelped she must foresee and dread and dare. The long-foreknown and fatal morn was here Bringing a noon that seemed like every noon. For Nature walks upon her mighty way Unheeding when she breaks a soul, a life; Leaving her slain behind she travels on: Man only marks and God’s all-seeing eyes. Even in this moment of her soul’s despair, In its grim rendezvous with death and fear, No cry broke from her lips, no call for aid; She told the secret of her woe to none: Calm was her face and courage kept her mute. Yet only her outward self suffered and strove; Even her humanity was half divine: Her spirit opened to the Spirit in all, Her nature felt all Nature as its own. Apart, living within, all lives she bore; Aloof, she carried in herself the world: Her dread was one with the great cosmic dread, Her strength was founded on the cosmic mights; The universal Mother’s love was hers. Against the evil at life’s afflicted roots, Her own calamity its private sign, p.9 Of her pangs she made a mystic poignant sword. A solitary mind, a world-wide heart, To the lone Immortal’s unshared work she rose. At first life grieved not in her burdened breast: On the lap of earth’s original somnolence Inert, released into forgetfulness, Prone it reposed, unconscious on mind’s verge, Obtuse and tranquil like the stone and star. In a deep cleft of silence twixt two realms She lay remote from grief, unsawn by care, Nothing recalling of the sorrow here. Then a slow faint remembrance shadowlike moved, And sighing she laid her hand upon her bosom And recognised the close and lingering ache, Deep, quiet, old, made natural to its place, But knew not why it was there nor whence it came. The Power that kindles mind was still withdrawn: Heavy, unwilling were life’s servitors Like workers with no wages of delight; Sullen, the torch of sense refused to burn; The unassisted brain found not its past. Only a vague earth-nature held the frame. But now she stirred, her life shared the cosmic load. At the summons of her body’s voiceless call Her strong far-winging spirit travelled back, Back to the yoke of ignorance and fate, Back to the labour and stress of mortal days, Lighting a pathway through strange symbol dreams Across the ebbing of the seas of sleep. Her house of Nature felt an unseen sway, Illumined swiftly were life’s darkened rooms, And memory’s casements opened on the hours And the tired feet of thought approached her doors. All came back to her: Earth and Love and Doom, The ancient disputants, encircled her Like giant figures wrestling in the night: p.10 The godheads from the dim Inconscient born Awoke to struggle and the pang divine, And in the shadow of her flaming heart, At the sombre centre of the dire debate, A guardian of the unconsoled abyss Inheriting the long agony of the globe, A stone-still figure of high and godlike Pain Stared into Space with fixed regardless eyes That saw grief’s timeless depths but not life’s goal. Afflicted by his harsh divinity, Bound to his throne, he waited unappeased The daily oblation of her unwept tears. All the fierce question of man’s hours relived. The sacrifice of suffering and desire Earth offers to the immortal Ecstasy Began again beneath the eternal Hand. Awake she endured the moments’ serried march And looked on this green smiling dangerous world, And heard the ignorant cry of living things. Amid the trivial sounds, the unchanging scene Her soul arose confronting Time and Fate. Immobile in herself, she gathered force. This was the day when Satyavan must die. END OF CANTO ONE