The Story of Savitri, part 2 (Radio program)
- 1 Introduction
- 2 Book Four: The Book of Birth and Quest
- 3 Book Five: The Book of Love
- 4 Book Six: The Book of Fate
- 5 Book Seven: The Book of Yoga
- 6 Book Eight: The Book of Death
- 7 Book Nine: The Book of Eternal Night
- 8 Book Ten: The Book of the Double Twilight
- 9 Book Eleven: The Book of Everlasting Day
- 10 Book Twelve: Epilogue
This is the last half of “The Story of Savitri”. Last time we ended when Aswapati, the great yogi and king, asked the Divine Mother to incarnate on earth – to help the earth, and to help men. And she consented to come. This half starts with the birth of the Divine Mother on earth, as Aswapati's daughter, princess Savitri.
Mother told the ashramites not to try to explain Savitri. She said if they wanted to explain it, they should go to Sri Aurobindo's writings on the same subject, and that would be the explanation that would work.
So this story line is made up, mostly, of excerpts from the poem. From time to time, to keep the story line going, or to make a transition, I'll add a word or a sentence or two.
Sri Aurobindo filled Savitri with great teachings, and fathomless wisdom. He introduces these things using the story itself. In order to tell just the story alone, a lot has had to be left out. So I apologize ahead of time to the people, like me, who love every line in Savitri. If they're listening, I'm sure they'll feel the loss of many beautiful lines that they love to hear – I know I would! So I apologize ahead of time.
So, “The Story of Savitri”, part 2...
Book Four: The Book of Birth and Quest
Book Five: The Book of Love
Book Six: The Book of Fate
Book Seven: The Book of Yoga
The Joy of Union; the Ordeal of the Foreknowledge of Death and the Heart's Grief and Pain
|“Questioning no more the strangeness of her fate” (p.467), Savitri's parents took her back to the simple, lonely forest hermitage of the great blind Shalwa king, and sadly left her there.
At first, she lived in the endless joy and rapture of her married life with Satyavan. But soon, the season turned to rain and thunder. And as she sat in the rude forest hermitage, “The grief of all the world came near to her” (p.469). And she remembered what Narad had said, and remembered that soon her husband was going to die.
Savitri lived on in grief and sorrow, alone in her dreadful knowledge, clinging more and more to Satyavan. She knew that she could not tell anyone. And she controlled her sorrowful feelings and her desperately unhappy thoughts. Her immortal soul remained quiet, behind the veil of her outer being. Then...
The Parable of the Search for the Soul
As in the vigilance of the sleepless night
A mighty Voice invaded mortal space. (p.474)
Her mind renouncing thought heard and was mute (p.474)
The voice asked Savitri why she was sitting in grief and helplessness, waiting for her doom. And Savitri replied:
“My strength is taken from me and given to Death.
“Is there a God whom any cry can move? (p.475)
“Why should I strive with earth’s unyielding laws
The Voice replied: “Is this enough, O spirit?
“Cam’st thou not down to open the doors of Fate (p.476)
“Is this then the report that I must make,
A Power within her answered the still Voice:
“Cast Thought from thee, that nimble ape of Light (p.476)
“Cast from thee sense that veils thy spirit’s sight (p.476)
“Then shalt thou harbour my force and conquer Death.”
Witness of the thoughts of mind, the moods of life,
A dream disclosed to her the cosmic past (p.477)
She saw the world's significance, and the seeds of life, and the working of mind. She saw the nether forces that can overtake men's nature, and the divine forces that save.
The Entry into the Inner Countries
|Savitri made her way through the life-forces in their vast and passionate floods of uncontrolled life-energies, which can capture a person, and make them an agent of life's desires.
Through it all she moved not, plunged not in the vain waves.
Then Savitri moved to the cold, ordered life, under the control of a temperate, vigilant spirit – in “a quiet country of fixed mind” (p.498). But she knew she could not stay here – this was not the real end of her search. She had to move on, because she sought her soul.
So she fared on across her silent self.
Outstretching her hands to stay the throng she cried: (p.500)
“Reveal, who know, the road that I must tread, —
“O Savitri, from thy hidden soul we come. (p.500)
“Follow the world’s winding highway to its source.
The Triple Soul-Forces
|On her way, Savitri met three Madonnas, who told her that they were her secret soul. First she came to the Madonna of suffering, the Mother of divine grief, who shares earth's pain and sorrow. But Savitri also heard the voice of wrath and sorrow in the world's misery – and she knew this was not her soul.
Next, Savitri met the Madonna of [might], the Mother of works and force, who brings strength and protection. But Savitri also heard the claims of the Ego of the great world of desire – and she knew this was not her soul.
Last, she met the Madonna of light, the Mother of joy and peace, who brings the world harmony, beauty and peace. But also Savitri heard there the ignorant cry of the sense-shackled human mind in response to this claim. And she knew this was also not her soul.
The Finding of the Soul
Onward she passed seeking the soul’s mystic cave.
All was abolished save her naked self (p.522)
A sacred darkness brooded now within (p.522)
Silent she moved, empty and absolute.
At last a change approached, the emptiness broke (p.523)
There was felt a blissful nearness to the goal (p.523)
She recognised in her prophetic mind
A marvellous brooding twilight met the eyes
Across the threshold’s sleep she entered in (p.524)
There was no step of breathing men, no sound,
As thus she passed in that mysterious place
Then through a tunnel dug in the last rock
A being stood immortal in transience,
She gives us strength to do our daily task
Here in this chamber of flame and light they met;
Once more she was human upon earthly soil (p.527)
In an image shone revealed her secret soul. (p.527)
In its deep lotus home her being sat
A living image of the original Power,
A mighty movement rocked the inner space (p.528)
Out of the Inconscient’s soulless mindless night
And climbing mightily, stormily on its way
Then at the crown it joined the Eternal’s space. (p.528)
Behind all reigned her sovereign deathless soul (p.530)
Nirvana and the Discovery of the All-Negating Absolute
And Savitri’s life was glad, fulfilled like earth’s;
Thus for a while she trod [God's] Path;
A formless Dread with shapeless endless wings
In Savitri's depths, she heard the unuttered thought which told her that she could not hope to be happy in a world of pain, and that existence was a vain illusion.
When “the intolerant Darkness [went] surging past”, “It left behind her inner world laid waste” (p.535).
“Then from the heights a greater Voice came down” (p.536), and told her that she had to feel the vast universal suffering as her own. That she had to bear the sorrow that she came to heal. The voice told her:
“Consent to be nothing and none, dissolve Time’s work,
Then Savitri plunged her deep regard into herself. And standing back detached and calm, watched her own interior scene. She saw the sources of her thoughts, and the workings of her mind. She quietly watched all, until finally she sat in absolute silence.
In that absolute stillness bare and formidable
A blank pure consciousness had replaced the mind. (p.545)
The Discovery of the Cosmic Spirit and the Cosmic Consciousness
A vacant consciousness watched from within,
In her the Unseen, the Unknown waited his hour. (p.554)
But now she sat by sleeping Satyavan, (p.554)
A voice began to speak from her own heart
She passed beyond Time into eternity,
All Nature’s happenings were events in her,
Nowhere she dwelt, her spirit was everywhere (p.557)
The superconscient was her native air,
Book Eight: The Book of Death
Death in the Forest
|In this consciousness, Savitri continued to live with Satyavan in the forest. On the morning that Satyavan would die, she woke in a great golden dawn. And she remembered Narad's date.
Then she went to Satyavan's mother, the queen, to ask permission to accompany her son into the forest while he cut the wood for the fire. Savitri went with Satyavan into the forest, knowing that something could happen at any moment. Satyavan was happy to have her with him, “But as he worked, his doom upon him came” (p.564).
And he cried to her, “Savitri, a pang
“Awhile let me lay my head upon thy lap
She guarded him in her bosom and strove to soothe
[Then] He cried out in a clinging last despair,
His mouth still with her living mouth, as if
Near her she felt a silent shade immense
She knew that visible Death was standing there
Book Nine: The Book of Eternal Night
Towards the Black Void
She rose and stood gathered in lonely strength (p.575)
Then Death the king leaned boundless down […] (p.576)
And, like a dream that wakes out of a dream,
He moved away, and behind him, Death “went slowly with his noiseless tread” (p.577).
And Savitri moved behind eternal Death,
The Journey in Eternal Night and the Voice of the Darkness
|As Savitri followed Death, he tried to force her to stop, to go back, again and again. He told her that she could not have her husband back; but Savitri did not listen to him. Then Death tried to bribe Savitri with gifts with a life without Satyavan – a new husband, children, vast riches. But Savitri refused. She challenged Death to give Satyavan's father back his sight and his kingdom; and Death granted her request. But he would not give back Satyavan.|
Book Ten: The Book of the Double Twilight
The Dream Twilight of the Ideal
The Gospel of Death and the Vanity of the Ideal
|Savitri followed Death through eternal Night, refusing to turn back. She refused to accept all the negative hopeless things that Death tried to get her to believe. No matter what he said, she claimed her right to be, and to love.|
The Debate of Love and Death
|After a long debate on love, Savitri said to almighty Death:
“O Death, I have triumphed over thee within (p.633)
“My love eternal sits throned on God’s calm (p.633)
“For I, the woman, am the force of God,
My heart is stronger than thy bonds, O Death.
The Dream Twilight of the Earthly Real
|And Savitri followed Death through the region where past thoughts and acts repeated, fruitlessly, age after age. Around and around went the forms, “ever new and ever old, the long // Appalling revolutions of the world.” (p.643).
To all of Death's arguments, Savitri replied with the light, the life, the hope, the beauty, and the power of a free being conscious of the Divine working in her and working in the world.
Then, almighty Death challenged Savitri:
“O human claimant to immortality,
And Savitri looked on Death and answered not. (p.664)
A mighty transformation came on her. (p.664)
The Incarnation thrust aside its veil. (p.664)
Thus changed she waited for the Word to speak.
“I hail thee, almighty and victorious Death, (p.666)
“Thou art my shadow and my instrument. (p.666)
“Live, Death, awhile, be still my instrument. (p.666)
“But now, O timeless Mightiness, stand aside (p.666)
“Release the soul of the world called Satyavan
She spoke; Death unconvinced resisted still,
The Two opposed each other face to face. (p.667)
Awhile the Shade [stood] defying heaven: (p.667)
A pressure of intolerable force
At last he knew defeat inevitable (p.667)
Afar he fled shunning her dreaded touch
And Satyavan and Savitri were alone. (p.668)
In the long blank moment’s pause nothing could move:
Book Eleven: The Book of Everlasting Day
The Eternal Day: The Soul's Choice and the Supreme Consummation
|Then the eternal Night disappeared, and Savitri found herself in eternal Day.
Her body quivered with eternity’s touch,
She entered worlds of increasing rapture and beauty, and splendour, and bliss. And she saw the source of this charm and delight, and knew him as the one whom her soul had faced as Death and Night.
A third spirit stood behind, their hidden cause (p.681)
He is our seed and core, our head and base.
Two looked upon each other, Soul saw Soul. (p.683)
And Savitri heard a voice whose magic could turn the poignant weeping of the earth to rapture:
“O human image of the deathless word, (p.683)
“Renounce the tie that joins thee to earth-kind, (p.685)
“Ascend, O soul, into thy blissful home.” (p.685)
And Savitri replied:
“O besetter of man’s soul with life and death
“Give back the other self my nature asks. (p.686)
“Earth needs his beautiful spirit made by thee (p.686)
“I keep my will to save the world and man” (p.692)
And Savitri refused to leave her work on earth. Everything that was offered to her she asked for mankind.
Then a blissful cry arose:
“O beautiful body of the incarnate Word,
“Descend to life with him thy heart desires.” (p.702)
The measure of that subtle music ceased.
Amidst the headlong rapture of her fall
A glance from the gaze fell of undying Love. (p.712)
A power leaned down, a happiness found its home.
Book Twelve: Epilogue
The Return to Earth
Out of abysmal trance her spirit woke. (p.715)
She pressed the living body of Satyavan:
And all her life was conscious of his life
[Awakened,] he found her eyes
Then Satyavan spoke to Savitri:
<div style="font-family:Gentium Book Basic;"
[...] surely I have travelled in strange worlds
Then hand in hand they left that solemn place
As they walked, the gathering dusk filled with the sound of many voices and many feet.
Topped by a flaring multitude of lights
In front King Dyumatsena walked, blind no more; his kingdom restored, he came seeking his son. And Satyavan told them that he was late getting back because he had left his body, but Savitri had followed and had saved him.
Everyone looked and saw how beautiful and full of light Savitri was, standing by Satyavan. And someone, who seemed to be a sage, asked her what happened. And Savitri quietly answered:
“Awakened to the meaning of my heart
[And] Night, splendid with the moon dreaming in heaven