Loretta reads Savitri:Two.III "The Glory and the Fall of Life" part 3
|Loretta reads Savitri
Book Two: The Book of the Traveller of the Worlds
Canto III: The Glory and the Fall of Life
Part 3 of 3, pages 127-131
In this last portion of Canto III, even after all that the great yogi king has done – all his yoga, all his sadhana – still, he cannot enter into life's joy and glory. He feels life calling him into her pure beauty and bliss, but a darker air still encircled his soul. He was still bound by his sad thoughts – thoughts which had been formed by his experiences. And he was still bound by a vision which was dimmed – dimmed by care and sorrow. And dimmed by sleep.
Sri Aurobindo tells us that:
- Although he once had felt the Eternal’s clasp,
- Too near to suffering worlds his nature lived, (p.128)
And Sri Aurobindo writes that the dense mould of our matter lives in duality; it cannot “return sheer joy to joy [or] pure light to light” (p.128). He's already told us that light and dark, mingling in man's heart, have made his being's design. So Aswapati – still uncertain of the ground he was walking on, still unsatisfied by the world of life he was walking in, and still experiencing life's perfect fulfillment, but only in his vision – must move on. We're going to follow him into different worlds of life when we go on to the next cantos.
But here, Sri Aurobindo shows us life playing at ease with the immense desires that Aswapati can only experience as uncontrolled, changing worlds – worlds that had no base.
In the beginning of this canto, he showed us life doing everything she wants to, but never satisfied. And she can never rest; she can never cease her tireless wandering and her tireless creating. Life is moving restlessly back and forth between anguish and bliss. But now, at the end of this canto, all that is resolved. Everything was “sincerity and natural force” (p.127). “Each act was a perfection and a joy” (p.128). And Sri Aurobindo's been giving us beautiful descriptions of these worlds which are halfway to heaven.
Now he's going to tell us about life's fall. We've seen how beautiful life is; but why isn't it beautiful here? He's going to tell us about pure, eternal, immortal, ecstatic, blissful Life as she enters into matter. Here on our material plane, where our souls are evolving in material bodies, life was doomed “to feed death with her works” (p.131). In the evolution of our spirit in matter, life has become “an episode in an eternal death” (p.131).
So we are in the theme of Aswapati following life, observing life, seeing her changes and seeing what she does, as he travels deeper and deeper in his own being.
So here Sri Aurobindo gives us a beautiful description of life's descent into unconscious matter. And he starts at the beginning. He tells us that “in the crude beginnings of this mortal world”, life was not; mind’s play was not; heart’s desire was not. But Spirit, in its uncaring trance in sleeping matter, was hungry for sight, hungry for speech, and thought, and joy, and love. And something, “pent up in dead insentient depths” (p.129), yearned.
So Sri Aurobindo describes for us how Life responded, and how she came in all her glory. But “the secret Will” that “offers to spirit the ordeal of the flesh” - this will “imposed a mystic mask of death and pain” (p.130).
So the wonderful yogi king, the traveller of the worlds, has to move on. Because there is much ahead for him to see and to learn from. And when we do come to the next canto, we're going to begin to learn about what moves the lowest of our own life's energies.
So here is Savitri, the third portion of Canto III, Book Two.
… There reigned a breath of high immune content, A fortunate gait of days in tranquil air, A flood of universal love and peace. A sovereignty of tireless sweetness lived Like a song of pleasure on the lips of Time. A large spontaneous order freed the will, A sun-frank winging of the soul to bliss, The breadth and greatness of the unfettered act And the swift fire-heart’s golden liberty. There was no falsehood of soul-severance, There came no crookedness of thought or word To rob creation of its native truth; All was sincerity and natural force. There freedom was sole rule and highest law. In a happy series climbed or plunged these worlds: In realms of curious beauty and surprise, In fields of grandeur and of titan power, Life played at ease with her immense desires. A thousand Edens she could build nor pause; No bound was set to her greatness and to her grace And to her heavenly variety. Awake with a cry and stir of numberless souls, Arisen from the breast of some deep Infinite, Smiling like a new-born child at love and hope, p.128 In her nature housing the Immortal’s power, In her bosom bearing the eternal Will, No guide she needed but her luminous heart: No fall debased the godhead of her steps, No alien Night had come to blind her eyes. There was no use for grudging ring or fence; Each act was a perfection and a joy. Abandoned to her rapid fancy’s moods And the rich coloured riot of her mind, Initiate of divine and mighty dreams, Magician builder of unnumbered forms Exploring the measures of the rhythms of God, At will she wove her wizard wonder-dance, A Dionysian goddess of delight, A Bacchant of creative ecstasy. This world of bliss he saw and felt its call, But found no way to enter into its joy; Across the conscious gulf there was no bridge. A darker air encircled still his soul Tied to an image of unquiet life. In spite of yearning mind and longing sense, To a sad Thought by grey experience formed And a vision dimmed by care and sorrow and sleep All this seemed only a bright desirable dream Conceived in a longing distance by the heart Of one who walks in the shadow of earth-pain. Although he once had felt the Eternal’s clasp, Too near to suffering worlds his nature lived, And where he stood were entrances of Night. Hardly, too close beset by the world’s care, Can the dense mould in which we have been made Return sheer joy to joy, pure light to light. For its tormented will to think and live First to a mingled pain and pleasure woke And still it keeps the habit of its birth: p.129 A dire duality is our way to be. In the crude beginnings of this mortal world Life was not nor mind’s play nor heart’s desire. When earth was built in the unconscious Void And nothing was save a material scene, Identified with sea and sky and stone Her young gods yearned for the release of souls Asleep in objects, vague, inanimate. In that desolate grandeur, in that beauty bare, In the deaf stillness, mid the unheeded sounds, Heavy was the uncommunicated load Of Godhead in a world that had no needs; For none was there to feel or to receive. This solid mass which brooked no throb of sense Could not contain their vast creative urge: Immersed no more in Matter’s harmony, The Spirit lost its statuesque repose. In the uncaring trance it groped for sight, Passioned for the movements of a conscious heart, Famishing for speech and thought and joy and love, In the dumb insensitive wheeling day and night Hungered for the beat of yearning and response. The poised inconscience shaken with a touch, The intuitive Silence trembling with a name, They cried to Life to invade the senseless mould And in brute forms awake divinity. A voice was heard on the mute rolling globe, A murmur moaned in the unlistening Void. A being seemed to breathe where once was none: Something pent up in dead insentient depths, Denied conscious existence, lost to joy, Turned as if one asleep since dateless time. Aware of its own buried reality, Remembering its forgotten self and right, It yearned to know, to aspire, to enjoy, to live. Life heard the call and left her native light. p.130 Overflowing from her bright magnificent plane On the rigid coil and sprawl of mortal Space, Here too the gracious great-winged Angel poured Her splendour and her swiftness and her bliss, Hoping to fill a fair new world with joy. As comes a goddess to a mortal’s breast And fills his days with her celestial clasp, She stooped to make her home in transient shapes; In Matter’s womb she cast the Immortal’s fire, In the unfeeling Vast woke thought and hope, Smote with her charm and beauty flesh and nerve And forced delight on earth’s insensible frame. Alive and clad with trees and herbs and flowers Earth’s great brown body smiled towards the skies, Azure replied to azure in the sea’s laugh; New sentient creatures filled the unseen depths, Life’s glory and swiftness ran in the beauty of beasts, Man dared and thought and met with his soul the world. But while the magic breath was on its way, Before her gifts could reach our prisoned hearts, A dark ambiguous Presence questioned all. The secret Will that robes itself with Night And offers to spirit the ordeal of the flesh, Imposed a mystic mask of death and pain. Interned now in the slow and suffering years Sojourns the winged and wonderful wayfarer And can no more recall her happier state, But must obey the inert Inconscient’s law, Insensible foundation of a world In which blind limits are on beauty laid And sorrow and joy as struggling comrades live. A dim and dreadful muteness fell on her: Abolished was her subtle mighty spirit And slain her boon of child-god happiness, And all her glory into littleness turned And all her sweetness into a maimed desire. p.131 To feed death with her works is here life’s doom. So veiled was her immortality that she seemed, Inflicting consciousness on unconscious things, An episode in an eternal death, A myth of being that must for ever cease. Such was the evil mystery of her change. END OF CANTO THREE