Loretta reads Savitri:Two.IV "The Kingdoms of the Little Life" part 1
|Loretta reads Savitri
Book Two: The Book of the Traveller of the Worlds
Canto IV: The Kingdoms of the Little Life
Part 1 of 4, pages 132-137
So in Book Two we're following the traveller of the worlds, the great yogi king Aswapati, as he seeks the Divine Mother in her full consciousness. He wants her to come down to earth to help suffering humanity and the suffering world. And the Divine Mother that Aswapati is seeking is the all-creating consciousness – the power of the Supreme put forth out of himself to be the entire creation.
And here, at the very first beginnings of the little life, the traveller of the worlds starts to see that highest consciousness, but extremely limited. Limited as life that enters matter so that matter will awaken and seek the divine. Here, the traveller is at the point that we read at the end of Canto III, where Sri Aurobindo wrote:
- In the crude beginnings of [our] 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. (p.129)
And here, he's told us how this portion of the divine creatrix – which is life answering the call – says that Life came in all her beauty and charm and delight, but:
- Before her gifts could reach our prisoned hearts,
- 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. (p.130)
So we're going to see that life now has to obey the law of Inconscience in matter.
- 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. (p.131)
Sri Aurobindo is giving us his own yogic work and experiences. He's telling the story of King Aswapati and his yoga, to give us his own yoga. And he wrote in a letter that Book Two is where the king begins his yoga for the world. As he describes for us how life first has to rise in matter, and first has to be subject to the inconscience in matter, and then how she's going to evolve as we go all the way through, Sri Aurobindo says of King Aswapati:
- In this slow ascension he must follow her pace
- Even from her faint and dim subconscious start:
- So only can earth’s last salvation come.
- For so only could he know the obscure cause
- Of all that holds us back and baffles God
- In the jail-delivery of the imprisoned soul. (p.135)
And in this canto, Canto IV, Sri Aurobindo describes for us what it is like when life is hardly awakened from the Inconscient sleep.
Perhaps – perhaps – it gives us a clue to what he was seeing when he was sitting there in his chair for all those years – from 1926 to 1950 – and working so hard to bring down the new forces. It was a very concentrated time, when he was following his own divine work here, and doing his yoga for the world. And it was also during this time that he wrote much of what is in Savitri. And he wrote Book Two almost at the very end, to put his sadhana into his great epic poem.
We can see how conscious he became – or maybe he already was this conscious – of the truths of how we function. In these lines, he wrote:
- In the troubled stream where leaps a blind heart-pulse
- And the nerve-beat of feeling wakes in sense
- Dividing Matter’s sleep from conscious Mind,
- There strayed a call that knew not why it came. (p.132)
You have to be a very conscious being to perceive the place where the nerve-beat of feeling wakes in sense. And to know that this is the place that divides Matter's sleep from conscious Mind. And then to perceive that Life's force calls there for changes. The first words of Canto IV are:
- A quivering trepidant uncertain world
- Born from that dolorous meeting and eclipse
- Appeared in the emptiness where her feet had trod (p.132)
Something is born from her presence going there. He refers again to this world that was born in the emptiness where her feet had trod. Because he says:
- A world that ever seeks for something missed,
- Hunts for the joy that earth has failed to keep. (p.132)
So instead of answering the call right away, with all her glory, with all her solution, she is now seeking. And Sri Aurobindo tells us one of the results in these lines: the inert cell woke “alive with her yearning” (p.133).
- It has joined its hunger to the hunger of earth,
- It has given the law of craving to our lives,
- It has made our spirit’s need a fathomless gulf. (p.132)
In the heart, she kindled the fire of passion and need.
So this is what the traveller is seeing when he sees how in man, Matter wakes from its long obscure trance. And then Sri Aurobindo goes on to describe for us that with all she's doing at this level of the creation, “Her greatest progress is a deepened need” (p.134). And then he says that Matter does not satisfy, so she turns to Mind, and in ignorance pursues her huge work, and that doesn't bring the desired result either.
Sri Aurobindo tells us the king travels on “swift paths of fall through dangerous gates” (p.135), and with this he begins to describe life in its most fallen and degraded state. Far away from Truth, the king sees the Falsehood of the birth of the “dethroned, deformed and suffering Power” (p.135) that life has become. This is a contradiction to our divine birth. Life is in her most fallen state here. This is the time when she first crawls out of the mud of the Inconscient. And Sri Aurobindo says that where life and matter meet:
- It was a vain unnecessary world
- Whose will to be brought [...] sad results (p.137)
- There life was born but died before it could live. (p.136)
- Nothing seemed worth the labour to become. (p.137)
In today's part of Canto IV, we're only in a darkened, primitive beginning, but we will read next week that the great yogi king can see God's purpose in all of this apparent aimlessness.
But first we follow him in Life's first existence as she emerges from inconscient Matter, where she plunged to answer the call of the spirit for consciousness. And it looks like it's going to take a long time for Life to rise to her immortal self in man, and the king is going to follow her all the way, to see what's really going on as she does this. And eventually we'll experience everything that he does.
So we start Canto IV: The Book of the Traveller of the Worlds – The Kingdoms of the Little Life.
Canto Four The Kingdoms of the Little Life A quivering trepidant uncertain world Born from that dolorous meeting and eclipse Appeared in the emptiness where her feet had trod, A quick obscurity, a seeking stir. There was a writhing of half-conscious force Hardly awakened from the Inconscient’s sleep, Tied to an instinct-driven Ignorance, To find itself and find its hold on things. Inheritor of poverty and loss, Assailed by memories that fled when seized, Haunted by a forgotten uplifting hope, It strove with a blindness as of groping hands To fill the aching and disastrous gap Between earth-pain and the bliss from which Life fell. A world that ever seeks for something missed, Hunts for the joy that earth has failed to keep. Too near to our gates its unappeased unrest For peace to live on the inert solid globe: It has joined its hunger to the hunger of earth, It has given the law of craving to our lives, It has made our spirit’s need a fathomless gulf. An Influence entered mortal night and day, A shadow overcast the time-born race; In the troubled stream where leaps a blind heart-pulse And the nerve-beat of feeling wakes in sense Dividing Matter’s sleep from conscious Mind, There strayed a call that knew not why it came. A Power beyond earth’s scope has touched the earth; The repose that might have been can be no more; A formless yearning passions in man’s heart, A cry is in his blood for happier things: Else could he roam on a free sunlit soil p.133 With the childlike pain-forgetting mind of beasts Or live happy, unmoved, like flowers and trees. The Might that came upon the earth to bless, Has stayed on earth to suffer and aspire. The infant laugh that rang through time is hushed: Man’s natural joy of life is overcast And sorrow is his nurse of destiny. The animal’s thoughtless joy is left behind, Care and reflection burden his daily walk; He has risen to greatness and to discontent, He is awake to the Invisible. Insatiate seeker, he has all to learn: He has exhausted now life’s surface acts, His being’s hidden realms remain to explore. He becomes a mind, he becomes a spirit and self; In his fragile tenement he grows Nature’s lord. In him Matter wakes from its long obscure trance, In him earth feels the Godhead drawing near. An eyeless Power that sees no more its aim, A restless hungry energy of Will, Life cast her seed in the body’s indolent mould; It woke from happy torpor a blind Force Compelling it to sense and seek and feel. In the enormous labour of the Void Perturbing with her dreams the vast routine And dead roll of a slumbering universe The mighty prisoner struggled for release. Alive with her yearning woke the inert cell, In the heart she kindled a fire of passion and need, Amid the deep calm of inanimate things Arose her great voice of toil and prayer and strife. A groping consciousness in a voiceless world, A guideless sense was given her for her road; Thought was withheld and nothing now she knew, But all the unknown was hers to feel and clasp. Obeying the push of unborn things towards birth p.134 Out of her seal of insentient life she broke: In her substance of unthinking mute soul-strength That cannot utter what its depths divine, Awoke a blind necessity to know. The chain that bound her she made her instrument; Instinct was hers, the chrysalis of Truth, And effort and growth and striving nescience. Inflicting on the body desire and hope, Imposing on inconscience consciousness, She brought into Matter’s dull tenacity Her anguished claim to her lost sovereign right, Her tireless search, her vexed uneasy heart, Her wandering unsure steps, her cry for change. Adorer of a joy without a name, In her obscure cathedral of delight To dim dwarf gods she offers secret rites. But vain unending is the sacrifice, The priest an ignorant mage who only makes Futile mutations in the altar’s plan And casts blind hopes into a powerless flame. A burden of transient gains weighs down her steps And hardly under that load can she advance; But the hours cry to her, she travels on Passing from thought to thought, from want to want; Her greatest progress is a deepened need. Matter dissatisfies, she turns to Mind; She conquers earth, her field, then claims the heavens. Insensible, breaking the work she has done The stumbling ages over her labour pass, But still no great transforming light came down And no revealing rapture touched her fall. Only a glimmer sometimes splits mind’s sky Justifying the ambiguous providence That makes of night a path to unknown dawns Or a dark clue to some diviner state. In Nescience began her mighty task, p.135 In Ignorance she pursues the unfinished work, For knowledge gropes, but meets not Wisdom’s face. Ascending slowly with unconscious steps, A foundling of the Gods she wanders here Like a child-soul left near the gates of Hell Fumbling through fog in search of Paradise. In this slow ascension he must follow her pace Even from her faint and dim subconscious start: So only can earth’s last salvation come. For so only could he know the obscure cause Of all that holds us back and baffles God In the jail-delivery of the imprisoned soul. Along swift paths of fall through dangerous gates He chanced into a grey obscurity Teeming with instincts from the mindless gulfs That pushed to wear a form and win a place. Life here was intimate with Death and Night And ate Death’s food that she might breathe awhile; She was their inmate and adopted waif. Accepting subconscience, in dumb darkness’ reign A sojourner, she hoped not any more. There far away from Truth and luminous thought He saw the original seat, the separate birth Of the dethroned, deformed and suffering Power. An unhappy face of falsity made true, A contradiction of our divine birth, Indifferent to beauty and to light, Parading she flaunted her animal disgrace Unhelped by camouflage, brutal and bare, An authentic image recognised and signed Of her outcast force exiled from heaven and hope, Fallen, glorying in the vileness of her state, The grovel of a strength once half divine, The graceless squalor of her beast desires, The staring visage of her ignorance, p.136 The naked body of her poverty. Here first she crawled out from her cabin of mud Where she had lain inconscient, rigid, mute: Its narrowness and torpor held her still, A darkness clung to her uneffaced by Light. There neared no touch redeeming from above: The upward look was alien to her sight, Forgotten the fearless godhead of her walk; Renounced was the glory and felicity, The adventure in the dangerous fields of Time: Hardly she availed, wallowing, to bear and live. A wide unquiet mist of seeking Space, A rayless region swallowed in vague swathes, That seemed, unnamed, unbodied and unhoused, A swaddled visionless and formless mind, Asked for a body to translate its soul. Its prayer denied, it fumbled after thought. As yet not powered to think, hardly to live, It opened into a weird and pigmy world Where this unhappy magic had its source. On dim confines where Life and Matter meet He wandered among things half-seen, half-guessed, Pursued by ungrasped beginnings and lost ends. There life was born but died before it could live. There was no solid ground, no constant drift; Only some flame of mindless Will had power. Himself was dim to himself, half-felt, obscure, As if in a struggle of the Void to be. In strange domains where all was living sense But mastering thought was not nor cause nor rule, Only a crude child-heart cried for toys of bliss, Mind flickered, a disordered infant glow, And random shapeless energies drove towards form And took each wisp-fire for a guiding sun. This blindfold force could place no thinking step; p.137 Asking for light she followed darkness’ clue. An inconscient Power groped towards consciousness, Matter smitten by Matter glimmered to sense, Blind contacts, slow reactions beat out sparks Of instinct from a cloaked subliminal bed, Sensations crowded, dumb substitutes for thought, Perception answered Nature’s wakening blows But still was a mechanical response, A jerk, a leap, a start in Nature’s dream, And rude unchastened impulses jostling ran Heedless of every motion but their own And, darkling, clashed with darker than themselves, Free in a world of settled anarchy. The need to exist, the instinct to survive Engrossed the tense precarious moment’s will And an unseeing desire felt out for food. The gusts of Nature were the only law, Force wrestled with force, but no result remained: Only were achieved a nescient grasp and drive And feelings and instincts knowing not their source, Sense-pleasures and sense-pangs soon caught, soon lost, And the brute motion of unthinking lives. It was a vain unnecessary world Whose will to be brought poor and sad results And meaningless suffering and a grey unease. Nothing seemed worth the labour to become. ...