Loretta reads Savitri:Two.IX "The Paradise of the Life-Gods"
|Loretta reads Savitri
Book Two: The Book of the Traveller of the Worlds
Canto IX: The Paradise of the Life-Gods
The traveler has reached the highest world of the life-force. Finally, he comes to the paradise where all of Life's high visions can manifest (and do manifest). Life's “wandering hopes” (p.235) are achieved here; this is the “paradise of perfect heart and sense” (p.235). In this world, life – which here in our world, we find ends in death – is carried by immortality. This is what life truly can be, and what life strives to be, in us. And also what we are trying to attain.
Already in other parts of Savitri, Sri Aurobindo has told us here on our earth plane of physical matter, the law of all perfection is “To fix the eternal’s touch” (p.108) in the time-made things that we live in. And also “To seize the absolute” (p.108) in passing shapes.
The yogi king has done his Yoga. He has lived in his higher nature. And doing the Yoga of humanity, he became the traveler, who has followed Life through her emergence out of the darkness and ignorance of the Inconscience. The Inconscience which is the very substance of our material earth plane, and our bodies.
Now that the traveler has journeyed through all the vital planes, following Life in all of her parts and ways and modes of being; now that he's done his universalized Yoga, in the life-energies; it's good to look back – to get a kind of summary of what he's been through, and what he's accomplished. Because very soon, the traveler will start his journey through the Mind, as he continues on the quest to find the Divine Mother, and to ask her to please hurry things up for the world (!).
At the beginning of his travels, back in Canto III: “The Glory and the Fall of Life”, the traveler saw the living home of Life's divinity. He saw the world where Life's supreme delight could manifest freely. The plane of consciousness where “Creation leaped straight from the hands of God” (p.124). And there, “Life was a happy laughter of the soul” (p.124).
But this great yogi king, this great traveler, even after all his yoga practice, even after realizing the final secret knowledge – the secret knowledge that is the key to the realization of all the manifest and unmanifest Creation – the great yogi king still could only see this world of Bliss. He could feel its call; but he could not find a way to “enter into its joy” (p.128). Sri Aurobindo told us that a “darker air” which was “Tied to an image of unquiet life” (p.128) still encircled his soul. The king still walked “in the shadow of earth-pain” (p.128).
- 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. (p.128)
So the traveler had to continue on. He had to purify himself through his quest, through his journey. He had to purify his body, so that life could “beat pure” (p.232) in him. So that life could be, in his body – his corporeal frame – what she had set out to do when she came into the body in the first place.
And to accomplish this, the traveler must journey in himself: through all the planes of Life as she manifested in his own physical matter, and as she manifested also in the cosmos. The problem to solve was in our life. Here on earth, as Sri Aurobindo told us, eternal Life could not manifest her eternal Self; her immortality was so veiled that Life seemed “An episode in an eternal death” (p.131).
So we have followed the king through a lot of difficult experiences. Because of his Yoga practice, his more developed consciousness could see through the deceptions which masked many dangers. But still, because he needed to do this, to conquer this in himself, before he reached Life's lowest place – the very bottom, the place of Life's starting-point – the life of the traveler was dragged to extinction, and, clinging to its place, gasping for breath, finally hope died and fear took its place. But the traveler endured, and he bore the agony. And the Godhead within him – his immortal soul – awoke, “And faced the pain and danger of the world” (p.219). Finally the great king mastered the movements of unconscient Nature. And he met Hell “with his bare spirit” (p.219).
Then the king was able to “see the hidden heart of Night”: the place where “Evil and pain begot a monstrous soul” (p.220). He experienced the world of Falsehood, “An immense negation of spiritual things” (p.220). The place where everything which had Light in the world of the spirit was turned into its dark opposite. The traveler wanted to reach the highest – as all do, who want to do the Yoga – but here Sri Aurobindo warns us that “None can reach heaven who has not passed through hell” (p.227). And the traveler pressed into the deepest pit and the darkest core of this world of sorrow and hate. “In Hell he sought the root and cause of Hell” (p.230). And the anguished gulfs of hell “opened in his own breast” (p.230). He was assaulted by hell and her adverse beings. And in the great battles that he fought, he “bore the fierce inner wounds that are slow to heal” (p.230).
But even when the king was imprisoned by the dark magic Force; even when he was captured in “Falsehood’s lethal net”; when he was “strangled in the noose of grief” (p.230):
- Or cast in the grim morass of swallowing doubt,
- Or shut into pits of error and despair,
- He drank her poison draughts till none was left. (p.230)
Even when he suffered the ordeal of [evil's absolute reign], the king kept his spirit's radiant truth. And as he moved down, ever down:
- He treasured between his hands his flickering soul” (p.230)
- Thought ceased, sense failed, his soul still saw and knew. (p.231)
So in this way, the great traveler conquered living Night. He conquered the darkness of Life in Matter. And his reward is the realization of the truth of the spirit in the creation, in our cosmos, and in his own being – all the way down to the cells of his physical body.
In the last canto Sri Aurobindo described how in the atoms, in the mass, in the physical, in the cells – things were changed. The king saw and experienced “the secret key of Nature’s change” (p.231). And the error and pain within him “became a quivering ecstasy” (p.231). He realized the truth: the reason for – the place in our lives – of Night. The reason for death, for destruction; the reason for loss; the reason for Hell. And thus came his release from “the stereotypes of Ignorance” (p.231). His release from the mechanical workings of Nature. And his freedom from the bonds of Nature on his soul. The things that still imprison us, move in us, control us, were no longer there for the king.
“[T]he fixed schemes of reasoning Thought” (p.232) were transfigured. And in his consciousness, “Falsehood gave back to Truth her tortured shape” (p.232). Now the laws of pain – which we endure all the time – could no longer rule the king. Now the supreme Divine could write in him a different script for his atoms, for his physical mass, to play out in the real true drama of the creation.
The king can truly be now the servant of the highest: the true servitor of everything that the Divine needs to do in him, in his life, and in his work.
And finally, after his long journey through all the impurities of the life-force in matter – after his Yoga, his battles, his sufferings, his realizations – now life can beat pure in his physical body. Hell disappeared; Night disappeared. And “Healed were all things that Time’s torn heart had made” (p.232).
Finally, his own soul – his psychic being, his own portion of the immortal Spirit in him – could light his consicous body with its ray. And now in the king, Life achieves her goal, the purpose for which she entered matter in the first place. In the physical body of the king, “Matter and spirit mingled and were one” (p.232).
So now the traveler can enter the worlds of Life which before he could only see. Before, he had to stand outside and look in. Now no longer is his soul encircled by a dark air, or “Tied to an image of unquiet life” (p.128). And here, Sri Aurobindo describes Life for us in “The Paradise of the Life-Gods”: the Edens, the paradise of the life-gods. Here she is in her own integral divine nature – her own truth.
And Sri Aurobindo shows us how this heals the king. How it helps the king on his quest. How good it is for the king's body to have these experiences in the highest realms of life.
He starts by saying that the king is now surrounded by a Day. And this is “Day” with a capital 'D'. Which means Day as an entity: a proper being, a thing. Something with its own right to exist, and its own rules and reasons for existence. Night was gone from the traveler – the Night with a capital 'N', the living conscious being of Night, which the traveler had to experience and realize and conquer. At the end of the last canto, “Night opened and vanished” (p.232); and being was filled with Dawn.
So now it is Day. And here again, as he did in Book I, Canto I: “The Symbol Dawn”, Sri Aurobindo tells us of the end of the Night – which all spiritual seekers go through, before they finally realize the Light. He speaks again of the freedom from the darkness which is often called 'the dark night of the soul'. And now, the king finds calm and celestial rest, after “the anguish of the soul’s long strife” (p.235). “[H]is warrior nature’s wounded limbs” (p.235) are finally healed in the Energies which have only the higher things – only the bliss.
Sri Aurobindo doesn't say it so very directly, but we find phrases here which seem to say that our unpurified consciousness and our unpurified body, and impure vital being, cannot bear the pleasures which Aswapati can now feel. His senses can experience things which we are not yet able to experience. He tells us that the king is “In scenes forbidden to our pallid sense” (p.235). He can literally see and hear and smell things which we cannot. The king's physical matter – which Sri Aurobindo calls his “earth” – now has a higher capacity for bliss, higher capacity for beauty, higher capacity for passion. His physical openings to the world, his senses – which Sri Aurobindo calls “His gates to the world” – are “swept with seas of light” (p.236). He can bear the inner ecstasy of spirit joining with flesh. The thing that we all strive for.
All of this enables the king to receive “the supernal influences // That build the substance of life’s deeper soul” (p.236). So he's going on to a much better life. Now the king is equal with the higher unborn and undying beings of the creation. Now he can receive the ecstasies, and the bliss, and the joy, and the raptures, and the immortal pleasures that the gods receive – and that the gods can keep.
The king's reward is something that Sri Aurobindo describes out of his own experiences. As with all the experiences in Savitri, Sri Aurobindo went through all of this, and he writes about it. He chronicles the growth of his own capacity for bliss: for physical bliss, for all kinds of bliss, for all kinds of pleasure. He writes about them in his diary, the Record of Yoga. He speaks about bliss on all the planes and parts of his being, as we go through reading what he's written over the years. And it's worth spending a little extra time on it. Because even though it's something that's beyond most of us, still in its own way it's very good practical guidance – and of course it's certainly fascinating on top of that.
Very often, Sri Aurobindo uses the word 'kamananda'. 'Kama' (Sanskrit) means 'desire'. 'Ananda' means 'bliss'. And we have Sri Aurobindo's own definition of kamananda, which is in the Glossary to the Record of Yoga. He says that kamananda is a general term for bliss as experienced on the physical plane. And here's a quotation: “the joy of Matter released into a spiritual consciousness and thrilled with a constant ecstasy”. Kamananda is realized as part of the total perfection of the spiritualized physical body. And kamananda manifests both in our subtle body and our gross body. It comes from the transforming of the gross aspect of sexual pleasures into the much higher pleasures – which is the spiritual goal of our having the ability to feel these sexual pleasures. Kamananda is associated with purified desire. And here in Savitri, the king has traveled through all the worlds of desire-forces of life – all of the lower ones – and he has conquered them. And so in Savitri now, he can receive the higher ones.
Sri Aurobindo tells us that kamananda is the most central form of physical bliss. It depends on “the transformation of the sex-centre and its energy”. This energy – our energy – is “the support in the body of all the mental, vital and physical forces of the nature”, in us. And this energy is “changed into a mass and a movement of intimate Light, creative Power,” and divine bliss.
On February 6th, 1911 – which is the very, very beginning of his diary, the Record of Yoga – Sri Aurobindo is already writing about his progress in feeling physical bliss. He says:
- “Feb 6th
- 2. Physical, tivra, ananda brief but definite.
- 3. All the physical anandas together [...] going to the head to the ananda of pure consciousness.”
So he's experiencing many levels, in different places.
And then moving forward to January 15th, 1913 – two years later – it has progressed to the point (and he writes):
- “firm establishment of objectless bliss [...has] to be effected and confirmed today & accompanied the one by the development of other kinds of bliss in the physical body which are not associated with external stimuli”
And then he writes:
- “Kamananda was entirely triumphant flooding the subtle body, seizing the subtle parts of the body & touching its gross physical parts with an intenser ananda than has ever been experienced before, equal to the first movements of the actual maithuna ananda.”
And Sri Aurobindo defines 'maithuna ananda' for us as intensity of kamananda comparable in some way to sexual ecstasy. A kind of physical bliss which is “far higher, finer and more intense than the sexual, but of which the sexual is a coarse and excited degradation”.
And in this canto that we're reading today, Sri Aurobindo says:
- There Love fulfilled her gold and roseate dreams
- Desire climbed up, a swift omnipotent flame,
- And Pleasure had the stature of the gods (p.235)
In his diary he says:
- “this came repeatedly, thrice, with hardly any interval and was each time continued for some time, & in the afternoon the ananda has returned and although, not so intense, is more persistent. […] The ananda now comes & continues even when the mind is otherwise occupied.”
On the 19th of May, he writes of different kinds of bliss which have a cause. And then he says:
- “kamananda is alone well-established, and awakes whenever recalled, but is still too much a matter of the will and not a self-acting fundamental law of the body.”
At least it shows us where we can go (!), even though it's really so far from us.
On February [3rd] of 1913, he writes:
- “In accordance with the programme Ananda has taken sovereign possession of all states and has been continuous yesterday from the morning when it commenced, throughout the day, prevailed over several attempts to expel it in the evening, the time when it has usually declined, persisted throughout the night every time that the sleep was interrupted, recurred&held the body constantly in moments of samadhi and was often present in sleep.”
About a year later, on January 1st, 1914 he writes:
- “Kamananda again became active; intense, causeless physical pleasure showed in its recurrence a considerable increase of generality and of force.”
And then five months later, on January 11th, 1914, he writes about the increase of all the anandas. And of the physical he says:
- “Kamananda is now present, both subdued & intense, in all positions, lying, sitting, standing or walking […] It is therefore free of condition in essence, but it comes more often with the helping conditions […] The free continuity & recurrence has to be generalised & its activity in samadhi, which has once recurred, must be manifested & also generalised. All this has been done by the concentrated method”
So it's pretty clear that he's really working on this, very consciously. And then he goes on to speak in some detail of needing to continue to purify and enlighten his consciousness, so that his body can also change its habits, and can have more faith.
These notations about Sri Aurobindo's works to achieve the bliss that he writes about in Savitri continue for years in his diary. Even at the very end, in the very last dated entry – October 31st of 1927, sixteen years after the first entry – he speaks of the continual progress of having every part and aspect of his whole being filled with bliss. So it's so clear that he worked consciously and systematically for bliss. And although the Record of Yoga stops in 1927 – almost a year after Sri Aurobindo retired to his room to concentrate on his Yoga – still, he wrote Savitri. And he continued to write Savitri until he left, in 1950, twenty-two years later. So we must be reading about the whole range of his bliss in Savitri.
And here, in what we're reading today, he speaks about life's forces and their fulfillment in divine bliss. And he describes what happens to the traveler when he can receive these integrally perfected vital forces. Because now his own vital being has been purified and developed enough.
And with Sri Aurobindo's descriptions here, we can see that this is definitely a place: an objectively realizable, experience-able plane of consciousness. Sri Aurobindo makes sure that we get physical descriptions of scenery, as well as the descriptions of the energies that are there.
And so now, we're going to be with the king. We're going to follow him into life's fulfilling paradise, life's completely fulfilled existence. Here we are: Savitri, Book Two: “The Book of the Traveller of the Worlds”, Canto IX: “The Paradise of the Life-Gods”.
Canto Nine The Paradise of the Life-Gods Around him shone a great felicitous Day. A lustre of some rapturous Infinite, It held in the splendour of its golden laugh Regions of the heart’s happiness set free, Intoxicated with the wine of God, Immersed in light, perpetually divine. A favourite and intimate of the Gods Obeying the divine command to joy, It was the sovereign of its own delight And master of the kingdoms of its force. Assured of the bliss for which all forms were made, Unmoved by fear and grief and the shocks of Fate And unalarmed by the breath of fleeting Time And unbesieged by adverse circumstance, It breathed in a sweet secure unguarded ease Free from our body’s frailty inviting death, Far from our danger-zone of stumbling Will. It needed not to curb its passionate beats; Thrilled by the clasp of the warm satisfied sense And the swift wonder-rush and flame and cry Of the life-impulses’ red magnificent race, It lived in a jewel-rhythm of the laughter of God And lay on the breast of universal love. Immune the unfettered Spirit of Delight Pastured his gleaming sun-herds and moon-flocks Along the lyric speed of griefless streams In fragrance of the unearthly asphodel. A silence of felicity wrapped the heavens, A careless radiance smiled upon the heights; A murmur of inarticulate ravishment Trembled in the winds and touched the enchanted soil; Incessant in the arms of ecstasy p.234 Repeating its sweet involuntary note A sob of rapture flowed along the hours. Advancing under an arch of glory and peace, Traveller on plateau and on musing ridge, As one who sees in the World-Magician’s glass A miracled imagery of soul-scapes flee He traversed scenes of an immortal joy And gazed into abysms of beauty and bliss. Around him was a light of conscious suns And a brooding gladness of great symbol things; To meet him crowded plains of brilliant calm, Mountains and violet valleys of the Blest, Deep glens of joy and crooning waterfalls And woods of quivering purple solitude; Below him lay like gleaming jewelled thoughts Rapt dreaming cities of Gandharva kings. Across the vibrant secrecies of Space A dim and happy music sweetly stole, Smitten by unseen hands he heard heart-close The harps’ cry of the heavenly minstrels pass, And voices of unearthly melody Chanted the glory of eternal love In the white-blue-moonbeam air of Paradise. A summit and core of all that marvellous world, Apart stood high Elysian nameless hills, Burning like sunsets in a trance of eve. As if to some new unsearched profundity, Into a joyful stillness plunged their base; Their slopes through a hurry of laughter and voices sank, Crossed by a throng of singing rivulets, Adoring blue heaven with their happy hymn, Down into woods of shadowy secrecy: Lifted into wide voiceless mystery Their peaks climbed towards a greatness beyond life. The shining Edens of the vital gods Received him in their deathless harmonies. p.235 All things were perfect there that flower in Time; Beauty was there creation’s native mould, Peace was a thrilled voluptuous purity. There Love fulfilled her gold and roseate dreams Desire climbed up, a swift omnipotent flame, And Pleasure had the stature of the gods; Dream walked along the highways of the stars; Sweet common things turned into miracles: Overtaken by the spirit’s sudden spell, Smitten by a divine passion’s alchemy, Pain’s self compelled transformed to potent joy Curing the antithesis twixt heaven and hell. All life’s high visions are embodied there, Her wandering hopes achieved, her aureate combs Caught by the honey-eater’s darting tongue, Her burning guesses changed to ecstasied truths, Her mighty pantings stilled in deathless calm And liberated her immense desires. In that paradise of perfect heart and sense No lower note could break the endless charm Of her sweetness ardent and immaculate; Her steps are sure of their intuitive fall. After the anguish of the soul’s long strife At length were found calm and celestial rest And, lapped in a magic flood of sorrowless hours, Healed were his warrior nature’s wounded limbs In the encircling arms of Energies That brooked no stain and feared not their own bliss. In scenes forbidden to our pallid sense Amid miraculous scents and wonder-hues He met the forms that divinise the sight, To music that can immortalise the mind And make the heart wide as infinity Listened, and captured the inaudible Cadences that awake the occult ear: p.236 Out of the ineffable hush it hears them come Trembling with the beauty of a wordless speech, And thoughts too great and deep to find a voice, Thoughts whose desire new-makes the universe. A scale of sense that climbed with fiery feet To heights of unimagined happiness, Recast his being’s aura in joy-glow, His body glimmered like a skiey shell; His gates to the world were swept with seas of light. His earth, dowered with celestial competence, Harboured a power that needed now no more To cross the closed customs-line of mind and flesh And smuggle godhead into humanity. It shrank no more from the supreme demand Of an untired capacity for bliss, A might that could explore its own infinite And beauty and passion and the depths’ reply Nor feared the swoon of glad identity Where spirit and flesh in inner ecstasy join Annulling the quarrel between self and shape. It drew from sight and sound spiritual power, Made sense a road to reach the intangible: It thrilled with the supernal influences That build the substance of life’s deeper soul. Earth-nature stood reborn, comrade of heaven. A fit companion of the timeless Kings, Equalled with the godheads of the living Suns, He mixed in the radiant pastimes of the Unborn, Heard whispers of the Player never seen And listened to his voice that steals the heart And draws it to the breast of God’s desire, And felt its honey of felicity Flow through his veins like the rivers of Paradise, Made body a nectar-cup of the Absolute. In sudden moments of revealing flame, In passionate responses half-unveiled p.237 He reached the rim of ecstasies unknown; A touch supreme surprised his hurrying heart, The clasp was remembered of the Wonderful, And hints leaped down of white beatitudes. Eternity drew close disguised as Love And laid its hand upon the body of Time. A little gift comes from the Immensitudes, But measureless to life its gain of joy; All the untold Beyond is mirrored there. A giant drop of the Bliss unknowable Overwhelmed his limbs and round his soul became A fiery ocean of felicity; He foundered drowned in sweet and burning vasts: The dire delight that could shatter mortal flesh, The rapture that the gods sustain he bore. Immortal pleasure cleansed him in its waves And turned his strength into undying power. Immortality captured Time and carried Life. END OF CANTO NINE