Loretta reads Savitri:Two.V "The Godheads of the Little Life" part 1
|Loretta reads Savitri
Book Two: The Book of the Traveller of the Worlds
Canto V: The Godheads of the Little Life
Part 1 of 4, pages 151-154
The traveller of the worlds, the great yogi king – Savitri's father, King Aswapati – has left the kingdoms of the little life, where he has seen Life's evolution in Matter give rise to creations where the beings live in littleness. Their petty lives turn around their own little selves. As he watched, Nature began her animal experiment, and he saw that instinct was formed. Even though there were beings that wore a human form, they only saw the outer life. They knew nothing of the soul inside them.
Even though Life eventually gave rise to the primitive pattern of the thoughts of man, in the kingdoms of the little life, this little being, in his petty life, focused only on the body's needs; on its pleasures and its pains. And he worked only for himself. He didn't care what he had to do to other people to get what he wanted. Mind had no development yet.
Now, in Canto V, “The Godheads of the Little Life”, Sri Aurobindo doesn't speak of kingdoms anymore. Kingdoms are places; godheads are beings with power – power and force that influence. Now, Sri Aurobindo's going to show us why these little petty beings do what they do in their tiny lives. He's going to tell us in some detail about the unseen powers, the godheads, that move their days – the days that he has already clearly described – as getting everything they can for themselves alone, hurting others, destroying others' lives, not caring what they did or who they hurt.
So far, throughout Canto IV, Sri Aurobindo has made brief statements in which he tells us (very briefly) that certain states of being that he is describing – that are at the beginning of human evolution – still exist today, in human beings, in us. Now he's going to point out very clearly and precisely how the powers that worked in those small beings, at the beginning of the creation, are definitely working in people today. That is, he's now going to tell us what moves us. What moves us and we don't even know it.
Although in the writing of Savitri Sri Aurobindo is dealing with things that people could call 'otherworldly', or 'mystical' things, his purpose and his point of view is not otherworldly at all. His interest in the supra-physical planes is not for the purpose of keeping us there. He's much more interested in how this world evolves. And he uses the things he knows to show us how subtle forces and supra-physical beings intervene in human life; and he also shows us what we can do about it.
What Sri Aurobindo is writing here shows us the true source of the emotions and energies for the negative and harmful things that we do to others, and also that we do automatically to ourselves – because we're doing them.
Both Mother and Sri Aurobindo spoke of these kinds of things from time to time. He refers to it often in Savitri in different ways. And Mother speaks about it from time to time to the students in her school classes. These things are printed in the books of Mother's Questions and Answers, and she also spoke about it in different talks that she gave to people.
Here is a talk that she gave which explains exactly what Sri Aurobindo is saying at the beginning of Canto V. Mother has given a really clear description (in beautiful prose) of what he's going to evoke as a living thing for us in his beautiful poetry. This is what Mother says:
- “This terrestrial world, this human world is constantly invaded by the forces of the neighbouring world, that is, of the vital world, the subtler region beyond the fourfold earth-atmosphere [of the physical, vital, mental and psychic (or you can say 'soul') vibrations, which we are much more easily aware of in our usual human lives]; and this vital world which is not under the influence of the psychic forces or the psychic [soul] consciousness is essentially a world of ill-will, of disorder, disequilibrium, indeed of all the most anti-divine things one could imagine. This vital world is constantly penetrating the physical world, and being much more subtle than the physical, it is very often quite imperceptible except to a few rare individuals. There are entities, beings, wills, various kinds of individualities in that world, who have all kinds of intentions and make use of every opportunity either to amuse themselves if they are small beings or to do harm and create disorder if they are beings with a greater capacity. And the latter have a very considerable power of penetration and suggestion, and wherever there is the least opening, the least affinity, they rush in, for it is a game which delights them.
- “Besides, they are very thirsty or hungry for certain human vital vibrations which for them are a rare dish they love to feed upon; and so their game lies in exciting pernicious movements in man so that man may emanate these forces and they be able to feed on them just as they please. All movements of anger, violence, passion, desire, all these things which make you abruptly throw off certain energies from yourself, project them from yourself, are exactly what these entities of the vital world like best, for, as I said, they enjoy them like a sumptuous dish. Now, their tactics are simple: they send you a little suggestion, a little impulse, a small vibration which enters deep into you and through contagion or sympathy awakens in you the vibration necessary to make you throw off the force they want to absorb.
- “[Here, in this case,] it is a little easier to recognise the influence, for, if you are the least bit attentive, [and you have tried to understand you being and to control it,] you become aware of something that has suddenly awakened within you. For example, those who are in the habit of losing their temper, if they have attempted ever so little to control their anger, they will find something coming from outside or rising from below which actually takes hold of their consciousness and arouses anger in them. I don’t mean that everybody is capable of this discernment; I am speaking of those who have tried to understand their being and control it. [...] But with the adverse forces, if you are in the least sincere and observe yourself attentively, you become aware that it is something in the being which is responding to an influence, an impulse, a suggestion, even something at times very concrete, which enters and produces similar vibrations in the being.
- “There, now. That is the problem.
- “The remedy?... It is always the same: goodwill, sincerity, insight, patience—oh! an untiring patience and a perseverance which assures you that what you have not succeeded in doing today, you will succeed in doing another time, and makes you go on trying until you do succeed.”
And Mother is speaking here, as she speaks of again and again – and as Sri Aurobindo does – of the constant rejection of these impulses from your being. Of constantly calling the divine Light; of putting the Light there; of surrendering over and over and over again to the Supreme.
We can see the result of these forces working in us, in our lives, and in other people's lives; and even you can see it on a universal scale, on a national scale, with different kinds of uprisings and attacks and outbursts, and things like that.
At the beginning of Canto V, Sri Aurobindo is going to give a very clear detailed description of the forces that Mother has just described, and of their work in us. And then he's going to say:
- This earth is not alone our teacher and nurse;
- The powers of all the worlds have entrance here. (p.153)
But he doesn't go any farther in this part of Canto V; he doesn't describe any more powers. He just gives us the description of these lower vital beings that affect our lives so much. And he says that the struggle of all these powers will go on until a divine harmony is found with all of them; and that our lives obey the Inconscient's laws until our minds and hearts have learned their secret in their true source.
So now we're going to begin Canto V: “The Godheads of the Little Life”.
Canto Five The Godheads of the Little Life A fixed and narrow power with rigid forms, He saw the empire of the little life, An unhappy corner in eternity. It lived upon the margin of the Idea Protected by Ignorance as in a shell. Then, hoping to learn the secret of this world He peered across its scanty fringe of sight, To disengage from its surface-clear obscurity The Force that moved it and the Idea that made, Imposing smallness on the Infinite, The ruling spirit of its littleness, The divine law that gave it right to be, Its claim on Nature and its need in Time. He plunged his gaze into the siege of mist That held this ill-lit straitened continent Ringed with the skies and seas of ignorance And kept it safe from Truth and Self and Light. As when a searchlight stabs the Night’s blind breast And dwellings and trees and figures of men appear As if revealed to an eye in Nothingness, All lurking things were torn out of their veils And held up in his vision’s sun-white blaze. A busy restless uncouth populace Teemed in their dusky unnoted thousands there. In a mist of secrecy wrapping the world-scene The little deities of Time’s nether act Who work remote from Heaven’s controlling eye, Plotted, unknown to the creatures whom they move, The small conspiracies of this petty reign Amused with the small contrivings, the brief hopes And little eager steps and little ways And reptile wallowings in the dark and dust, p.152 And the crouch and ignominy of creeping life. A trepidant and motley multitude, A strange pell-mell of magic artisans, Was seen moulding the plastic clay of life, An elfin brood, an elemental kind. Astonished by the unaccustomed glow, As if immanent in the shadows started up Imps with wry limbs and carved beast visages, Sprite-prompters goblin-wizened or faery-small, And genii fairer but unsouled and poor And fallen beings, their heavenly portion lost, And errant divinities trapped in Time’s dust. Ignorant and dangerous wills but armed with power, Half-animal, half-god their mood, their shape. Out of the greyness of a dim background Their whispers come, an inarticulate force, Awake in mind an echoing thought or word, To their sting of impulse the heart’s sanction draw, And in that little Nature do their work And fill its powers and creatures with unease. Its seed of joy they curse with sorrow’s fruit, Put out with error’s breath its scanty lights And turn its surface truths to falsehood’s ends, Its small emotions spur, its passions drive To the abyss or through the bog and mire: Or else with a goad of hard dry lusts they prick, While jogs on devious ways that nowhere lead Life’s cart finding no issue from ignorance. To sport with good and evil is their law; Luring to failure and meaningless success, All models they corrupt, all measures cheat, Make knowledge a poison, virtue a pattern dull And lead the endless cycles of desire Through semblances of sad or happy chance To an inescapable fatality. All by their influence is enacted there. p.153 Nor there alone is their empire or their role: Wherever are soulless minds and guideless lives And in a small body self is all that counts, Wherever love and light and largeness lack, These crooked fashioners take up their task. To all half-conscious worlds they extend their reign. Here too these godlings drive our human hearts, Our nature’s twilight is their lurking-place: Here too the darkened primitive heart obeys The veiled suggestions of a hidden Mind That dogs our knowledge with misleading light And stands between us and the Truth that saves. It speaks to us with the voices of the Night: Our darkened lives to greater darkness move; Our seekings listen to calamitous hopes. A structure of unseeing thoughts is built And reason used by an irrational Force. This earth is not alone our teacher and nurse; The powers of all the worlds have entrance here. In their own fields they follow the wheel of law And cherish the safety of a settled type; On earth out of their changeless orbit thrown Their law is kept, lost their fixed form of things. Into a creative chaos they are cast Where all asks order but is driven by Chance; Strangers to earth-nature, they must learn earth’s ways, Aliens or opposites, they must unite: They work and battle and with pain agree: These join, those part, all parts and joins anew, But never can we know and truly live Till all have found their divine harmony. Our life’s uncertain way winds circling on, Our mind’s unquiet search asks always light, Till they have learned their secret in their source, In the light of the Timeless and its spaceless home, In the joy of the Eternal sole and one. p.154 But now the Light supreme is far away: Our conscious life obeys the Inconscient’s laws; To ignorant purposes and blind desires Our hearts are moved by an ambiguous force; Even our mind’s conquests wear a battered crown. A slowly changing order binds our will. This is our doom until our souls are free. A mighty Hand then rolls mind’s firmaments back, Infinity takes up the finite’s acts And Nature steps into the eternal Light. Then only ends this dream of nether life. ...
- Questions and Answers 1956, p.392