SAIIER 2014:"The Traveller and the Worlds: Part One of Sri Aurobindo’s Savitri"

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Greek Mythology in Sri Aurobindo's Writings
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The Human Cycle - A Student/Teacher Guide
"The Traveller and the Worlds
Part One of Sri Aurobindo’s Savitri"


Introduction

After the demise of well-known researcher and speaker on Savitri, Dr. M.V. Nadkarni, his widow requested Savitri Bhavan to initiate a series of annual lectures in his memory. These talks are well-attended by devotees and sadhaks of Sri Aurobindo Ashram and Auroville.

Description of project

In 2013 the 4th Nadkarni Memorial Lecture was given by Shraddhavan. The topic chosen was ‘The Traveller and the Worlds: Part One of Savitri’. The preparation of this lecture involved in-depth study of the first three books of the poem. The objective was to deepen the understanding and appreciation the first Part of Sri Aurobindo’s revelatory epic poem Savitri: a legend and a symbol, which constitutes about half of the poem as a whole.

First, research was conducted into the composition of Part One of the poem, which was enlarged considerably from its early form in 1936 to its present dimensions and content by the end of 1944.

Then the character of Aswapati, the main protagonist, was explored, particularly in relation to the epithets used of him, Sri Aurobindo’s comments about him, the Mother’s comments on the way he is described in the poem, and finally observations made by other researchers and commentators. The researcher’s own conclusions were then formulated.

A further stage was a detailed investigation into the 15 cantos of Book Two and the 4 cantos of Book Three, which describe the Worlds through which Aswapati journeys in his quest to find a way to rescue earth and men from the grip of Ignorance.

Finally the place and significance of Part One (comprising Books One, Two and Three and covering about half the poem in its entirety) in the context of the whole poem and its overall intention was assessed and formulated.

Outputs

The initial output was the lecture itself. This was delivered on August 13, 2013 to an audience of about 150 people. Later the research on which the lecture was based was published as an article of 13,000 words in the 39th issue of Savitri Bhavan’s twice-yearly publication Invocation : Study Notes on Savitri. The lecture itself was recorded and filmed. The audio recording has been made available in CD format on request. A booklet containing the full article as well as a DVD of the lecture is planned to be released in June 2014.

Outcomes

A deeper understanding amongst Savitri students and scholars of the first three books of the poem, and of the figure of Aswapati, whose experiences as described in the poem are based on those of Sri Aurobindo himself; also of the process of composition of this part of the poem, which extended from 1916 to 1944; and of the Poet’s intention in expressing his experiences and message in this form.

The in-depth exploration undertaken during these 3 months proved fascinating, illuminating and on many points surprising to the researcher, and a number of people who attended the lecture or read the article have expressed their appreciation for the new understanding which they have gained from it.