Loretta reads Savitri:Two.V "The Godheads of the Little Life" part 4
|Loretta reads Savitri
Book Two: The Book of the Traveller of the Worlds
Canto V: The Godheads of the Little Life
Part 4 of 4, pages 167-172
Princess Savitri's father, King Aswapati – who is the traveller of the worlds – is about to move from the little life to the greater life. He's at the end of the little life that he has been travelling through. At the very beginning of this canto, when he entered the little life, Sri Aurobindo told us how the traveller “saw the empire of the little life, // An unhappy corner in eternity” (p.151).
And hoping to learn the secret of this little world, “He plunged his gaze into the siege of mist” (p.151), and:
- All [...] things were torn out of their veils
- And held up in his vision’s sun-white blaze. (p.151)
Since we are now in the empire of the little life, in the godheads – or, one can say, in the powers and energies that move the beings of the little life – Sri Aurobindo went on to reveal to us that there are small beings on the vital plane who control and move men, wherever there are people living little lives, with “soulless minds”, having “guideless lives”, and where “in a small body self is all that counts” (p.153). In this part of the canto – in the beginning of this canto – he was speaking mainly about small beings which were more at the beginning of evolution of man, which had no consciousness of the soul. But he hinted that the same low vital beings move us also. They're there, and they control us “Wherever love and light and largeness lack” (p.153).
So then, after describing this in some detail, Sri Aurobindo took us from the very beginning of creation. He started at the point where spirit became Matter, and took us all the way through evolution up through the creation of man, who was “moulded from the original brute” (p.158). Man still is not looking for his soul, but we came to the point where Nature “turned her dream towards some high Unknown” (p.159). Every now and then:
- A breath was felt below of One supreme. (p.159)
- A quick celestial flash could sometimes come (p.159)
Then, in the third part, he told us in detail about our own little life. He told us about all of our own mechanical limited functions and limited instrumentalities. He said that “Hardly a few [here] can climb to greater life” (p.165). Our knowledge dwells in the house of Ignorance, and our force does not go near to the Omnipotent, not even once.
He concludes this by saying that our spirits depart this life, discarding it as a futile life. So, having brought us to the point where all we can see is the littleness of our life – our powerlessness, and the futility of our existence – Sri Aurobindo is now going to tell us that:
- Yet was this only a provisional scheme,
- A false appearance sketched by limiting sense (p.168)
...and a limiting mind, too limited to look beneath the surface and beyond the surface of things.
So, as he so often does in Savitri, now that he's described a present reality, Sri Aurobindo is going to take us from this present reality of our limitations, into the possibility of the immense release that our beings are always wanting.
So, he's going to tell what happens when our soul wakes within us. And we learn at last who lives unseen within us. He says:
- At last there wakes in us a witness Soul
- That looks at truths unseen and scans the Unknown;
- In Time’s deep heart high purposes move and live (p.168)
- In our body’s cells there sits a hidden Power
- That sees the unseen and plans eternity (p.169)
- The eternal Entity prepares within
- Its matter of divine felicity,
- Its reign of heavenly phenomenon. (p.170)
- Our thoughts [now] covet the everlasting Light,
- Our strength [now] derives from an omnipotent Force (p.170)
But this is not the story of the little life. To have this experience, the traveller is going to have to move on. In this canto we heard of him only upon his entrance into these kingdoms, these powers of the little life, when he was plunging his gaze “into the siege of mist” (p.151). Now finally, we see him again. He is “Adventuring once more in the natal mist” (p.172). As he shores away through the astral chaos that moves the little life, he travels on in the gloom towards the kingdoms and the godheads of the greater life.
He is following Life's evolution out of Matter, but here, in this little life, “His only sunlight [is] his spirit’s flame” (p.172).
This time, we begin and end the program with two of the Sanskrit mantras in the music that Sunil wrote for Mother's reading of Book Two, Canto V. Sri Aurobindo translated the first one from the Taittiriya Upanishad: Brahmananda Valli IX. Here is what his English translation says:
- “The Bliss of the Eternal from which words turn back without attaining and mind also returneth baffled, who knoweth the Bliss of the Eternal? He feareth not for aught in this world or elsewhere. Verily to him cometh not remorse and her torment saying “Why have I left undone the good & why have I done that which was evil?” For he who knoweth the Eternal, knoweth these that they are alike his Spirit; yea, he knoweth both evil and good for what they are and delivereth Spirit, who knoweth the Eternal.”
The mantra which will end the program today was translated by Sri Aurobindo from the Rig Veda.
- “Him mortal man must come to know as one who holds the multitude of his desires so that he may establish in him all; he moves towards the sweet taste of the draughts of the wine and to the building of the house for man.”
- “Pure and bright, verily, is he and he tears [the solid ground on which we dwell], like a beast who tears, a Beast with golden beard and tusks of bright purity, he is like a smith whose force is unafflicted by the heat of the Fire.”
- “O Fire, to whom is poured the running stream of the offering of light, the man who is a happy ground for establishing thee, — in such mortals found the light, and the inspiration and the knowledge.”
So the last time – when the traveller of the worlds was seeing all these difficulties of our evolution, and difficulties that we have with our life – Sri Aurobindo ended with these lines:
- Our spirits depart discarding a futile life
- Into the blank unknown or with them take
- Death’s passport into immortality. (p.167)
And then Sri Aurobindo starts with the next line...
… Yet was this only a provisional scheme, A false appearance sketched by limiting sense, Mind’s insufficient self-discovery, p.168 An early attempt, a first experiment. This was a toy to amuse the infant earth; But knowledge ends not in these surface powers That live upon a ledge in the Ignorance And dare not look into the dangerous depths Or to stare upward measuring the Unknown. There is a deeper seeing from within And, when we have left these small purlieus of mind, A greater vision meets us on the heights In the luminous wideness of the spirit’s gaze. At last there wakes in us a witness Soul That looks at truths unseen and scans the Unknown; Then all assumes a new and marvellous face: The world quivers with a God-light at its core, In Time’s deep heart high purposes move and live, Life’s borders crumble and join infinity. This broad, confused, yet rigid scheme becomes A magnificent imbroglio of the Gods, A game, a work ambiguously divine. Our seekings are short-lived experiments Made by a wordless and inscrutable Power Testing its issues from inconscient Night To meet its luminous self of Truth and Bliss. It peers at the Real through the apparent form; It labours in our mortal mind and sense; Amid the figures of the Ignorance, In the symbol pictures drawn by word and thought, It seeks the truth to which all figures point; It looks for the source of Light with vision’s lamp; It works to find the Doer of all works, The unfelt Self within who is the guide, The unknown Self above who is the goal. All is not here a blinded Nature’s task: A Word, a Wisdom watches us from on high, A Witness sanctioning her will and works, An Eye unseen in the unseeing vast; p.169 There is an Influence from a Light above, There are thoughts remote and sealed eternities; A mystic motive drives the stars and suns. In this passage from a deaf unknowing Force To struggling consciousness and transient breath A mighty Supernature waits on Time. The world is other than we now think and see, Our lives a deeper mystery than we have dreamed; Our minds are starters in the race to God, Our souls deputed selves of the Supreme. Across the cosmic field through narrow lanes Asking a scanty dole from Fortune’s hands And garbed in beggar’s robes there walks the One. Even in the theatre of these small lives Behind the act a secret sweetness breathes, An urge of miniature divinity. A mystic passion from the wells of God Flows through the guarded spaces of the soul; A force that helps supports the suffering earth, An unseen nearness and a hidden joy. There are muffled throbs of laughter’s undertones, The murmur of an occult happiness, An exultation in the depths of sleep, A heart of bliss within a world of pain. An Infant nursed on Nature’s covert breast, An Infant playing in the magic woods, Fluting to rapture by the spirit’s streams, Awaits the hour when we shall turn to his call. In this investiture of fleshly life A soul that is a spark of God survives And sometimes it breaks through the sordid screen And kindles a fire that makes us half-divine. In our body’s cells there sits a hidden Power That sees the unseen and plans eternity, Our smallest parts have room for deepest needs; There too the golden Messengers can come: p.170 A door is cut in the mud wall of self; Across the lowly threshold with bowed heads Angels of ecstasy and self-giving pass, And lodged in an inner sanctuary of dream The makers of the image of deity live. Pity is there and fire-winged sacrifice, And flashes of sympathy and tenderness Cast heaven-lights from the heart’s secluded shrine. A work is done in the deep silences; A glory and wonder of spiritual sense, A laughter in beauty’s everlasting space Transforming world-experience into joy, Inhabit the mystery of the untouched gulfs; Lulled by Time’s beats eternity sleeps in us. In the sealed hermetic heart, the happy core, Unmoved behind this outer shape of death The eternal Entity prepares within Its matter of divine felicity, Its reign of heavenly phenomenon. Even in our sceptic mind of ignorance A foresight comes of some immense release, Our will lifts towards it slow and shaping hands. Each part in us desires its absolute. Our thoughts covet the everlasting Light, Our strength derives from an omnipotent Force, And since from a veiled God-joy the worlds were made And since eternal Beauty asks for form Even here where all is made of being’s dust, Our hearts are captured by ensnaring shapes, Our very senses blindly seek for bliss. Our error crucifies Reality To force its birth and divine body here, Compelling, incarnate in a human form And breathing in limbs that one can touch and clasp, Its Knowledge to rescue an ancient Ignorance, Its saviour light the inconscient universe. p.171 And when that greater Self comes sea-like down To fill this image of our transience, All shall be captured by delight, transformed: In waves of undreamed ecstasy shall roll Our mind and life and sense and laugh in a light Other than this hard limited human day, The body’s tissues thrill apotheosised, Its cells sustain bright metamorphosis. This little being of Time, this shadow soul, This living dwarf-figurehead of darkened spirit Out of its traffic in petty dreams shall rise. Its shape of person and its ego-face Divested of this mortal travesty, Like a clay troll kneaded into a god New-made in the image of the eternal Guest, It shall be caught to the breast of a white Force And, flaming with the paradisal touch In a rose-fire of sweet spiritual grace, In the red passion of its infinite change, Quiver, awake, and shudder with ecstasy. As if reversing a deformation’s spell, Released from the black magic of the Night, Renouncing servitude to the dim Abyss, It shall learn at last who lived within unseen, And seized with marvel in the adoring heart To the enthroned Child-Godhead kneel aware, Trembling with beauty and delight and love. But first the spirit’s ascent we must achieve Out of the chasm from which our nature rose. The soul must soar sovereign above the form And climb to summits beyond mind’s half-sleep; Our hearts we must inform with heavenly strength, Surprise the animal with the occult god. Then kindling the gold tongue of sacrifice, Calling the powers of a bright hemisphere, We shall shed the discredit of our mortal state, p.172 Make the abysm a road for Heaven’s descent, Acquaint our depths with the supernal Ray And cleave the darkness with the mystic Fire. Adventuring once more in the natal mist Across the dangerous haze, the pregnant stir, He through the astral chaos shore a way Mid the grey faces of its demon gods, Questioned by whispers of its flickering ghosts, Besieged by sorceries of its fluent force. As one who walks unguided through strange fields Tending he knows not where nor with what hope, He trod a soil that failed beneath his feet And journeyed in stone strength to a fugitive end. His trail behind him was a vanishing line Of glimmering points in a vague immensity; A bodiless murmur travelled at his side In the wounded gloom complaining against light. A huge obstruction its immobile heart, The watching opacity multiplied as he moved Its hostile mass of dead and staring eyes; The darkness glimmered like a dying torch. Around him an extinguished phantom glow Peopled with shadowy and misleading shapes The vague Inconscient’s dark and measureless cave. His only sunlight was his spirit’s flame. END OF CANTO FIVE