Loretta reads Savitri:Seven.I "The Joy of Union; the Ordeal of the Foreknowledge of Death and the Heart’s Grief and Pain" part 2
|Loretta reads Savitri
Book Seven: The Book of Yoga
Canto I: The Joy of Union; the Ordeal of the Foreknowledge of Death and the Heart’s Grief and Pain
Part 2 of 2, pages 468-472
Now Savitri is married to Satyavan. The eternal mate of her soul, which she looked for, and she found; and with whom she joined, all alone, the two of them, in the deep forest. All is fulfilled; and she is living with him in the forest hermitage, living for love alone. Although she knows that her husband is very close to death, because Narad has predicted that he would die soon – at first, in the summertime, when summer filled the forest, her life and her union with he whom she desires body and soul, was a gorgeous dream. Her high, silent, unmoving spirit watched time pass swiftly by, as she lived in glorious days of rapture, and love, and happiness.
Her world was Satyavan only. Their nuptial rapture opened the gates of unforgettable bliss. And two lives were locked within an earthly heaven. And fate and grief fled away, far away, from that hour.
But as the bright and joyous days of summer became covered by clouds moving in to hide the sun, the monsoon rains began, and the rains filled the skies. The voice of storms echoed through the great forest. And Savitri began to listen to the thunder's fatal crash, and she could not escape the memory of Narad's prediction that her husband would die soon. Her days became filled with the long unsatisfied panting of the wind, and the fugitive pattering footsteps of the showers, as the rain fled sobbing over the dripping leaves. And she heard sorrow muttering in the sound-vexed night.
Sri Aurobindo uses these images of nature as expressions of unhappiness, to introduce us to the tremendous suffering that Savitri will have to go through. She's a very great being, someone who came to do a great work for the world, and as the heavenly seer Narad carefully said in his veiled speech to Savitri's wondering and caring parents:
- He who would save the world must share its pain. (p.537)
- The Great who came to save this suffering world
- And rescue out of Time’s shadow and the Law,
- Must pass beneath the yoke of grief and pain (p.445)
And he also said, God's messenger who comes to help the world, and lead the soul of man to higher things, must also bear the pang that he came to heal. If he is exempt and unafflicted by earth's fate, he cannot cure earth's ills. He must go through what he came to change.
Every line of Sri Aurobindo's poetry here is a complete description of some aspect of human grief and pain. Each sentence tells us a complete story. And he goes on describing Savitri's grief and her fears, until he says:
- Often it seemed to her the ages’ pain
- Had pressed their quintessence into her single woe,
- Concentrating in her a tortured world. (p.472)
Savitri knows that she cannot tell Satyavan, or his parents, what is going to happen. She is alone in her knowledge and her grief. And in her own way, she lives a life of self-torture and ever-increasing love. She is trying to become closer and closer to the mate that she will soon lose forever. Finally, Sri Aurobindo writes:
- Always the stature of her passion grew;
- Grief, fear became the food of mighty love.
- Increased by its torment it filled the whole world;
- It was all her life, became her whole earth and heaven. (p.473)
These are the actions of our human vital being. Sri Aurobindo goes deeply into many aspects of what do to ourselves when there is something we cannot change, and we give in to all of our negative feelings. As bad as it is for us, we make it even worse. Sri Aurobindo goes on; he explains why we do these things to ourselves. It is because we are ruled by our outer being. Our mind, and our vital, which act unconsciously. Our conscious soul is still relatively inactive in our being. And he says:
- Still veiled from her was the silent Being within
- Who sees life’s drama pass with unmoved eyes,
- Supports the sorrow of the mind and heart
- And bears in human breasts the world and fate. (p.470)
He tells us that her violent heart and her passionate will are pushed in front to meet the immutable doom. But they are bound to her human ways only, and have no means to act, and no way to save.
Later on, we will hear more about what our soul does in us; it will come when Savitri does find her soul. It is in Canto V of this book, “The Finding of the Soul”. And there, Sri Aurobindo says, about the soul:
- This in us laughs and weeps, suffers the stroke,
- Exults in victory, struggles for the crown;
- Identified with the mind and body and life,
- It takes on itself their anguish and defeat,
- Bleeds with Fate’s whips and hangs upon the cross,
- Yet is the unwounded and immortal self
- Supporting the actor in the human scene. (p.526)
But for us, until we find our own soul, we are only conscious of our outer parts – more or less conscious, because what we're trying to do is get more conscious, and we start out less conscious. Since our soul is a conscious portion of the supreme consciousness, it has the wisdom that our outer being needs to have. Now, Savitri's outer being – mind, vital and body – are missing this all-wisdom and power. So she has made herself open to all this grief and pain. And when she finds her soul, this suffering will no longer have to continue.
When we travel with her on her way to find her soul, we're going to meet three of Savitri's soul-powers. And each one is going to tell their job, and then complain that they are not successful. And each time, of course, it is because Savitri has not yet found her soul. And it's the same for us: we have these soul-powers. And they are successful – really successful – when we have found our soul.
When Savitri's inner being's consciousness (her soul) will be in her outer parts, again she will become her true self, and she will be able to do the work that she came for, and it's the same for us.
But Savitri is a very great being. And when Sri Aurobindo first began to describe Savitri for us, back in Book One, he spoke of her great capacity for love. He said:
- Love in her was wider than the universe,
- The whole world could take refuge in her single heart. (p.15)
And then he told us that she was just like the spirit of love itself; she was as vast as the great power of Love which enters into all who love, and she was able to receive and to hold all that love is and all that love can give.
So this greatness, which allows her to accept all the power of love, gives Savitri the ability to feel and to express all the grief and the pain of losing love. For the first time in this life, she now undergoes what other people feel when they live in sorrow and unhappiness. But her being is very great. So the great capacity she has for love, is also an equally-great capacity for grief, and for pain.
Mother has said that there are very great people who come and take birth, and they carry with them a very great problem to solve; because each of us represents some problem to solve in the creation. And this that Savitri is going through, with her very great love, and now her very great grief at losing love – this is all part of her work on earth. This is her destiny. In Book One, Sri Aurobindo said:
- 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. (p.17)
Sri Aurobindo goes on to tell us that the riddle is:
- Whether to bear with Ignorance and death
- Or hew the ways of Immortality (p.17)
And he also tells us that the struggle is “To win or lose the godlike game for man” (p.17). So this is her soul's ordeal, and this is what she now has to face.
We know that Sri Aurobindo is writing about Mother when he writes about Savitri. And both of their work is to hew the ways of immortality, and win the godlike game for man.
Mother took on herself the things that had to be changed, because she had to do that in order to change them. Although she speaks of things through the Agenda, things that she had to go through, of course she didn't say everything – no one really knows all that she did.
Now, here, in the simple forest hermitage, we see how Savitri behaves when she is living in this tremendous emotional pain that she does not say anything about. And Sri Aurobindo writes:
- No change was in her beautiful motions seen:
- A worshipped empress all once vied to serve,
- She made herself the diligent serf of all (p.470)
And he goes on to speak about how she cleaned the rude huts that they lived in; she carried water from the well, tended the cooking fire in the kitchen, and the sacrificial fire on the altar. And she is so full of love, she is such a loving being, that no matter what she did, it was a lifting up of common acts by love. He writes:
- All-love was hers and its one heavenly cord
- Bound all to all with her as golden tie. (p.471)
But for Savitri, because she was suffering so much inside, when she remembered her grief, then her body's actions were not shared by her will; and she did not care about what she was doing, because she was so soaked in her grief.
And through it all, her inmost aim is to have her beloved husband – to love him as much as possible, to be with him as much as possible. Sri Aurobindo writes:
- Always behind this strange divided life
- Her spirit like a sea of living fire
- Possessed her lover and to his body clung,
- One locked embrace to guard its threatened mate. (p.471)
And this we do, to those we love, if we love enough, and it's needed – our spirit is with them. Our spirit holds them. Our spirit nourishes them. Savitri would lie awake all night, and just look at him. She did everything she could to be with him as much as possible, but it was never enough. Sri Aurobindo writes:
- Yet ever they grew into each other more
- Until it seemed no power could rend apart,
- Since even the body’s walls could not divide.
- For when he wandered in the forest, oft
- Her conscious spirit walked with him and knew
- His actions as if in herself he moved (p.473)
And so time passed, the passing of the season, which is now about to change. But as Sri Aurobindo tells us, the rain still dripped wearily through the mournful air. And the gray, slow-drifting clouds shut in the earth, just as grief's heavy sky shut in Savitri's heart.
- A still self hid behind but gave no light
- No voice came down from the forgotten heights;
- Only in the privacy of its brooding pain
- Her human heart spoke to the body’s fate. (p.473)
The Book of Yoga, “The Joy of Union; the Ordeal of the Foreknowledge of Death and the Heart's Grief and Pain”...
… But soon now failed the summer’s ardent breath And throngs of blue-black clouds crept through the sky And rain fled sobbing over the dripping leaves And storm became the forest’s titan voice. Then listening to the thunder’s fatal crash And the fugitive pattering footsteps of the showers p.469 And the long unsatisfied panting of the wind And sorrow muttering in the sound-vexed night, The grief of all the world came near to her. Night’s darkness seemed her future’s ominous face. The shadow of her lover’s doom arose And fear laid hands upon her mortal heart. The moments swift and ruthless raced; alarmed Her thoughts, her mind remembered Narad’s date. A trembling moved accountant of her riches, She reckoned the insufficient days between: A dire expectancy knocked at her breast; Dreadful to her were the footsteps of the hours: Grief came, a passionate stranger to her gate: Banished when in his arms, out of her sleep It rose at morn to look into her face. Vainly she fled into abysms of bliss From her pursuing foresight of the end. The more she plunged into love that anguish grew; Her deepest grief from sweetest gulfs arose. Remembrance was a poignant pang, she felt Each day a golden leaf torn cruelly out From her too slender book of love and joy. Thus swaying in strong gusts of happiness And swimming in foreboding’s sombre waves And feeding sorrow and terror with her heart,— For now they sat among her bosom’s guests Or in her inner chamber paced apart,— Her eyes stared blind into the future’s night. Out of her separate self she looked and saw, Moving amid the unconscious faces loved, In mind a stranger though in heart so near, The ignorant smiling world go happily by Upon its way towards an unknown doom And wondered at the careless lives of men. As if in different worlds they walked, though close, They confident of the returning sun, p.470 They wrapped in little hourly hopes and tasks, — She in her dreadful knowledge was alone. The rich and happy secrecy that once Enshrined her as if in a silver bower Apart in a bright nest of thoughts and dreams Made room for tragic hours of solitude And lonely grief that none could share or know, A body seeing the end too soon of joy And the fragile happiness of its mortal love. Her quiet visage still and sweet and calm, Her graceful daily acts were now a mask; In vain she looked upon her depths to find A ground of stillness and the spirit’s peace. Still veiled from her was the silent Being within Who sees life’s drama pass with unmoved eyes, Supports the sorrow of the mind and heart And bears in human breasts the world and fate. A glimpse or flashes came, the Presence was hid. Only her violent heart and passionate will Were pushed in front to meet the immutable doom; Defenceless, nude, bound to her human lot They had no means to act, no way to save. These she controlled, nothing was shown outside: She was still to them the child they knew and loved; The sorrowing woman they saw not within. No change was in her beautiful motions seen: A worshipped empress all once vied to serve, She made herself the diligent serf of all, Nor spared the labour of broom and jar and well, Or close gentle tending or to heap the fire Of altar and kitchen, no slight task allowed To others that her woman’s strength might do. In all her acts a strange divinity shone: Into a simplest movement she could bring A oneness with earth’s glowing robe of light, A lifting up of common acts by love. All-love was hers and its one heavenly cord p.471 Bound all to all with her as golden tie. But when her grief to the surface pressed too close, These things, once gracious adjuncts of her joy, Seemed meaningless to her, a gleaming shell, Or were a round mechanical and void, Her body’s actions shared not by her will. Always behind this strange divided life Her spirit like a sea of living fire Possessed her lover and to his body clung, One locked embrace to guard its threatened mate. At night she woke through the slow silent hours Brooding on the treasure of his bosom and face, Hung o’er the sleep-bound beauty of his brow Or laid her burning cheek upon his feet. Waking at morn her lips endlessly clung to his, Unwilling ever to separate again Or lose that honeyed drain of lingering joy, Unwilling to loose his body from her breast, The warm inadequate signs that love must use. Intolerant of the poverty of Time Her passion catching at the fugitive hours Willed the expense of centuries in one day Of prodigal love and the surf of ecstasy; Or else she strove even in mortal time To build a little room for timelessness By the deep union of two human lives, Her soul secluded shut into his soul. After all was given she demanded still; Even by his strong embrace unsatisfied, She longed to cry, “O tender Satyavan, O lover of my soul, give more, give more Of love while yet thou canst, to her thou lov’st. Imprint thyself for every nerve to keep That thrills to thee the message of my heart. For soon we part and who shall know how long Before the great wheel in its monstrous round Restore us to each other and our love?” p.472 Too well she loved to speak a fateful word And lay her burden on his happy head; She pressed the outsurging grief back into her breast To dwell within silent, unhelped, alone. But Satyavan sometimes half understood, Or felt at least with the uncertain answer Of our thought-blinded hearts the unuttered need, The unplumbed abyss of her deep passionate want. All of his speeding days that he could spare From labour in the forest hewing wood And hunting food in the wild sylvan glades And service to his father’s sightless life He gave to her and helped to increase the hours By the nearness of his presence and his clasp, And lavish softness of heart-seeking words And the close beating felt of heart on heart. All was too little for her bottomless need. If in his presence she forgot awhile, Grief filled his absence with its aching touch; She saw the desert of her coming days Imaged in every solitary hour. Although with a vain imaginary bliss Of fiery union through death’s door of escape She dreamed of her body robed in funeral flame, She knew she must not clutch that happiness To die with him and follow, seizing his robe Across our other countries, travellers glad Into the sweet or terrible Beyond. For those sad parents still would need her here To help the empty remnant of their day. Often it seemed to her the ages’ pain Had pressed their quintessence into her single woe, Concentrating in her a tortured world. Thus in the silent chamber of her soul Cloistering her love to live with secret grief She dwelt like a dumb priest with hidden gods Unappeased by the wordless offering of her days, p.473 Lifting to them her sorrow like frankincense, Her life the altar, herself the sacrifice. Yet ever they grew into each other more Until it seemed no power could rend apart, Since even the body’s walls could not divide. For when he wandered in the forest, oft Her conscious spirit walked with him and knew His actions as if in herself he moved; He, less aware, thrilled with her from afar. Always the stature of her passion grew; Grief, fear became the food of mighty love. Increased by its torment it filled the whole world; It was all her life, became her whole earth and heaven. Although life-born, an infant of the hours, Immortal it walked unslayable as the gods: Her spirit stretched measureless in strength divine, An anvil for the blows of Fate and Time: Or tired of sorrow’s passionate luxury, Grief’s self became calm, dull-eyed, resolute, Awaiting some issue of its fiery struggle, Some deed in which it might for ever cease, Victorious over itself and death and tears. The year now paused upon the brink of change. No more the storms sailed with stupendous wings And thunder strode in wrath across the world, But still was heard a muttering in the sky And rain dripped wearily through the mournful air And grey slow-drifting clouds shut in the earth. So her grief’s heavy sky shut in her heart. A still self hid behind but gave no light: No voice came down from the forgotten heights; Only in the privacy of its brooding pain Her human heart spoke to the body’s fate. END OF CANTO ONE