Loretta reads Savitri:Two.III "The Glory and the Fall of Life" part 2
|Loretta reads Savitri
Book Two: The Book of the Traveller of the Worlds
Canto III: The Glory and the Fall of Life
Part 2 of 3, pages 122-127
So Canto III is all about the glory of life, and why we don't get it – here, on earth, in us. And this part of Canto [III] is only about the glory of life, not its fall. Sri Aurobindo wrote in the first part that Aswapati was travelling on unsafe ground, in wide fields where all was doubt and change, and nothing was sure. And he is following life now, through whatever he needs to follow. So where he was at first was a place where Life assumed “whatever shape her fancy wille[d]” (p.116). Released from embodied mind, not impregnated into matter and limited by matter, “all her numberless moods” (p.117) had their own scene. But while the king was attracted to this problem which he could never solve, and always uncertain of the ground he was walking on, he could see the image of a happier state, and he could see the kingdoms of a griefless life.
Eventually these beautiful things that he saw took a closer shape of reality, and in his vision they became his own. The line that Sri Aurobindo says is, “His vision made all they unveiled its own” (p.120). So we understand that Sri Aurobindo is not in this world with all the parts of his being. So “the gulf between dream-truth [and] earth-fact” (p.120) was crossed. And these wonder-worlds weren't just dreams anymore. But they were still not something that he could really fully experience. And we see that although Aswapati has not entered into these glorious worlds of life, in this part of the canto Sri Aurobindo continues his beautiful descriptions of all that life could be. He gives us really beautiful stories about worlds that he says are “half-way to heaven” (p.123).
But he tells us, that because Nature has “stabled her dreams in Matter's courts”, Nature's doors are “barred to things supreme” (p.123); heaven's joys cannot be earth's, because earth is not pure enough.
And one of the themes that Sri Aurobindo repeats throughout Savitri is that our material plane holds much more promise for divine development – just because there is more here to transform. Even though so much of it seems to us to be full of darkness and full of things that we don't want.
When Aswapati was at first in the kingdom of subtle matter, Sri Aurobindo was saying how wonderful it was – but still it was limited.
And of course, this is another way of saying what Mother and Sri Aurobindo say again and again: that all life has to be yoga. And that it really doesn't work ultimately for us to escape into higher states and leave the world behind, like all the yogas taught for so many centuries.
So in this part of the canto, he shows us what life could have been. But as we will see when we come to the last part of the canto, Aswapati finds that his nature still lived “too near to suffering worlds” (p.128). And he could not enter.
But now, here in Aswapati's vision, Sri Aurobindo tells us all about life's pure glories. So now we are in a sense in the vision of King Aswapati – in the sense that it becomes our own, by his vision. And this is how this part of the canto starts:
… At once caught in an eternal vision’s sweep He saw her pride and splendour of highborn zones And her regions crouching in the nether deeps. Above was a monarchy of unfallen self, Beneath was the gloomy trance of the abyss, An opposite pole or dim antipodes. There were vasts of the glory of life’s absolutes: All laughed in a safe immortality And an eternal childhood of the soul Before darkness came and pain and grief were born Where all could dare to be themselves and one And Wisdom played in sinless innocence With naked Freedom in Truth’s happy sun. There were worlds of her laughter and dreadful irony, There were fields of her taste of toil and strife and tears; Her head lay on the breast of amorous Death, Sleep imitated awhile extinction’s peace. The light of God she has parted from his dark To test the savour of bare opposites. Here mingling in man’s heart their tones and hues Have woven his being’s mutable design, His life a forward-rippling stream in Time, His nature’s constant fixed mobility, His soul a moving picture’s changeful film, His cosmos-chaos of personality. The grand creatrix with her cryptic touch Has turned to pathos and power being’s self-dream, Made a passion-play of its fathomless mystery. But here were worlds lifted half-way to heaven. p.123 The Veil was there but not the Shadowy Wall; In forms not too remote from human grasp Some passion of the inviolate purity Broke through, a ray of the original Bliss. Heaven’s joys might have been earth’s if earth were pure. There could have reached our divinised sense and heart Some natural felicity’s bright extreme, Some thrill of Supernature’s absolutes: All strengths could laugh and sport on earth’s hard roads And never feel her cruel edge of pain, All love could play and nowhere Nature’s shame. But she has stabled her dreams in Matter’s courts And still her doors are barred to things supreme. These worlds could feel God’s breath visiting their tops; Some glimmer of the Transcendent’s hem was there. Across the white aeonic silences Immortal figures of embodied joy Traversed wide spaces near to eternity’s sleep. Pure mystic voices in beatitude’s hush Appealed to Love’s immaculate sweetnesses, Calling his honeyed touch to thrill the worlds, His blissful hands to seize on Nature’s limbs, His sweet intolerant might of union To take all beings into his saviour arms, Drawing to his pity the rebel and the waif To force on them the happiness they refuse. A chant hymeneal to the unseen Divine, A flaming rhapsody of white desire Lured an immortal music into the heart And woke the slumbering ear of ecstasy. A purer, fierier sense had there its home, A burning urge no earthly limbs can hold; One drew a large unburdened spacious breath And the heart sped from beat to rapturous beat. The voice of Time sang of the Immortal’s joy; An inspiration and a lyric cry, p.124 The moments came with ecstasy on their wings; Beauty unimaginable moved heaven-bare Absolved from boundaries in the vasts of dream; The cry of the Birds of Wonder called from the skies To the deathless people of the shores of Light. Creation leaped straight from the hands of God; Marvel and rapture wandered in the ways. Only to be was a supreme delight, Life was a happy laughter of the soul And Joy was king with Love for minister. The spirit’s luminousness was bodied there. Life’s contraries were lovers or natural friends And her extremes keen edges of harmony: Indulgence with a tender purity came And nursed the god on her maternal breast: There none was weak, so falsehood could not live; Ignorance was a thin shade protecting light, Imagination the free-will of Truth, Pleasure a candidate for heaven’s fire; The intellect was Beauty’s worshipper, Strength was the slave of calm spiritual law, Power laid its head upon the breasts of Bliss. There were summit-glories inconceivable, Autonomies of Wisdom’s still self-rule And high dependencies of her virgin sun, Illumined theocracies of the seeing soul Throned in the power of the Transcendent’s ray. A vision of grandeurs, a dream of magnitudes In sun-bright kingdoms moved with regal gait: Assemblies, crowded senates of the gods, Life’s puissances reigned on seats of marble will, High dominations and autocracies And laurelled strengths and armed imperative mights. All objects there were great and beautiful, All beings wore a royal stamp of power. There sat the oligarchies of natural Law, p.125 Proud violent heads served one calm monarch brow: All the soul’s postures donned divinity. There met the ardent mutual intimacies Of mastery’s joy and the joy of servitude Imposed by Love on Love’s heart that obeys And Love’s body held beneath a rapturous yoke. All was a game of meeting kinglinesses. For worship lifts the worshipper’s bowed strength Close to the god’s pride and bliss his soul adores: The ruler there is one with all he rules; To him who serves with a free equal heart Obedience is his princely training’s school, His nobility’s coronet and privilege, His faith is a high nature’s idiom, His service a spiritual sovereignty. There were realms where Knowledge joined creative Power In her high home and made her all his own: The grand Illuminate seized her gleaming limbs And filled them with the passion of his ray Till all her body was its transparent house And all her soul a counterpart of his soul. Apotheosised, transfigured by wisdom’s touch, Her days became a luminous sacrifice; An immortal moth in happy and endless fire, She burned in his sweet intolerable blaze. A captive Life wedded her conqueror. In his wide sky she built her world anew; She gave to mind’s calm pace the motor’s speed, To thinking a need to live what the soul saw, To living an impetus to know and see. His splendour grasped her, her puissance to him clung; She crowned the Idea a king in purple robes, Put her magic serpent sceptre in Thought’s grip, Made forms his inward vision’s rhythmic shapes And her acts the living body of his will. A flaming thunder, a creator flash, p.126 His victor Light rode on her deathless Force; A centaur’s mighty gallop bore the god. Life throned with mind, a double majesty. Worlds were there of a happiness great and grave And action tinged with dream, laughter with thought, And passion there could wait for its desire Until it heard the near approach of God. Worlds were there of a childlike mirth and joy; A carefree youthfulness of mind and heart Found in the body a heavenly instrument; It lit an aureate halo round desire And freed the deified animal in the limbs To divine gambols of love and beauty and bliss. On a radiant soil that gazed at heaven’s smile A swift life-impulse stinted not nor stopped: It knew not how to tire; happy were its tears. There work was play and play the only work, The tasks of heaven a game of godlike might: A celestial bacchanal for ever pure, Unstayed by faintness as in mortal frames Life was an eternity of rapture’s moods: Age never came, care never lined the face. Imposing on the safety of the stars A race and laughter of immortal strengths, The nude god-children in their play-fields ran Smiting the winds with splendour and with speed; Of storm and sun they made companions, Sported with the white mane of tossing seas, Slew distance trampled to death under their wheels And wrestled in the arenas of their force. Imperious in their radiance like the suns They kindled heaven with the glory of their limbs Flung like a divine largess to the world. A spell to force the heart to stark delight, They carried the pride and mastery of their charm As if Life’s banner on the roads of Space. p.127 Ideas were luminous comrades of the soul; Mind played with speech, cast javelins of thought, But needed not these instruments’ toil to know; Knowledge was Nature’s pastime like the rest. Investitured with the fresh heart’s bright ray, An early God-instinct’s child inheritors, Tenants of the perpetuity of Time Still thrilling with the first creation’s bliss, They steeped existence in their youth of soul. An exquisite and vehement tyranny, The strong compulsion of their will to joy Poured smiling streams of happiness through the world.