Monday, November 19, 2007

I get puzzled when very knowledgeable people say that Savitri is The Life Divine in a verse form!

Narad’s Five Songs and the Theme of Evolution in Savitri
by RY Deshpande on Sun 18 Nov 2007 09:01 PM PST Permanent Link
As comes a goddess to a mortal’s breast
And fills his days with her celestial clasp,
She stooped to make her home in transient shapes;
In Matter’s womb she cast the Immortal’s fire,
In the unfeeling Vast woke thought and hope,
Smote with her charm and beauty flesh and nerve
And forced delight on earth’s insensible frame.
Alive and clad with trees and herbs and flowers
Earth’s great brown body smiled towards the skies,
Azure replied to azure in the sea’s laugh;
New sentient creatures filled the unseen depths,
Life’s glory and swiftness ran in the beauty of beasts,
Man dared and thought and met with his soul the world.
But while the magic breath was on its way,
Before her gifts could reach our prisoned hearts,
A dark ambiguous Presence questioned all.
The secret Will that robes itself with Night
And offers to spirit the ordeal of the flesh,
Imposed a mystic mask of death and pain.
Interned now in the slow and suffering years
Sojourns the winged and wonderful wayfarer
And can no more recall her happier state,
But must obey the inert Inconscient’s law,
Insensible foundation of a world
In which blind limits are on beauty laid
And sorrow and joy as struggling comrades live.
A dim and dreadful muteness fell on her.

This is a remarkable description which we can find only in Savitri and not in other prose works of Sri Aurobindo, for instance in The Life Divine or The Synthesis of Yoga where the presentation is essentially for the enlightened intuitive reason. There is a certain degree of informality available in the letters Sri Aurobindo wrote to his disciples and one can see in them that he is quite free from professional constraints which otherwise he has to observe in formal writings. But everywhere there is the tightness in the line of argument, if these are to be considered as arguments. In that sense in Savitri alone the occult comes out with its full luminous contents and force, with its unplumbable profundity, gold reaching yet deeper layers of gold, in Savitri where Sri Aurobindo the Yogi has complete freedom of expression, has no boundary conditions to be observed, where no horizons cut his view, where he can be, so to say, himself, absolutely himself. The Story of Creation narrated by him in Savitri belongs unmistakably to that category. In The Life Divine he had taken a position, in The Synthesis of Yoga he had taken a position; but in Savitri it is all unimpeded revelation, in it he had poured himself out in God’s great glory itself. So, I get puzzled when very knowledgeable people say that Savitri is The Life Divine in a verse form!

And yet there can be an essay in poetry, with its convincing logopoeia supported by image and music. The following description of the cosmic past and the future that awaits this creation is a wonderful example of the expository art carried out with utmost care and attention. Savitri is told by a deathless and mighty Voice to remember why she had taken the mortal birth and that she should get ready to house the divine Force in her soul in order to conquer Death. She has been initiated into Yoga and the review of the entire cosmic past is the first occult-spiritual experience she gets. The mystic-numinous origins of the shadowy beginnings are first disclosed to her: (pp. 477-86)

In the indeterminate formlessness of Self
Creation took its first mysterious steps,
It made the body’s shape a house of soul
And Matter learned to think and person grew;
She saw Space peopled with the seeds of life
And saw the human creature born in Time.
At first appeared a dim half-neutral tide
Of being emerging out of infinite Nought…
All was the deed of a blind World-Energy:
Unconscious of her own exploits she worked,
Shaping a universe out of the Inane…
On a dim ocean of subconscient life
A formless surface consciousness awoke:
A stream of thoughts and feelings came and went…
A conscious being was by this labour made;
It looked around it on its difficult field
In the green wonderful and perilous earth;
It hoped in a brief body to survive,
Relying on Matter’s false eternity…
This is the little surface of man's life.
He is this and he is all the universe;
He scales the Unseen, his depths dare the Abyss;
A whole mysterious world is locked within…
The immaculate Divine All-Wonderful
Casts into the argent purity of his soul
His splendour and his greatness and the light
Of self-creation in Time’s infinity
As into a sublimely mirroring glass.
Man in the world’s life works out the dreams of God.
But all is there, even God’s opposites…
Man’s house of life holds not the gods alone:
There are occult Shadows, there are tenebrous Powers,
Inhabitants of life’s ominous nether rooms,
A shadowy world's stupendous denizens.
A careless guardian of his nature's powers,
Man harbours dangerous forces in his house…
Afflicting the daylight and alarming night,
Invading at will his outer tenement
The stark gloom's grisly dire inhabitants
Mounting into God's light all light perturb…
Man’s lower nature hides these awful guests.
Their vast contagion grips sometimes man’s world.
An awful insurgence overpowers man's soul…
An opposite potency contradicting God,
A momentary Evil’s almightiness
Has straddled the straight path of Nature’s acts.
It imitates the Godhead it denies,
Puts on his figure and assumes his face…
But there is a guardian power, there are Hands that save,
Calm eyes divine regard the human scene.
All the world’s possibilities in man
Are waiting as the tree waits in its seed:
His past lives in him; it drives his future's pace;
His present’s acts fashion his coming fate.
The unborn gods hide in his house of Life…
Only a little has will and purposed pace.
A vast subliminal is man’s measureless part.
The dim subconscient is his cavern base…
A portion of us lives in present Time,
A secret mass in dim inconscience gropes;
Out of the inconscient and subliminal
Arisen, we live in mind's uncertain light
And strive to know and master a dubious world
Whose purpose and meaning are hidden from our sight.
Above us dwells a superconscient god
Hidden in the mystery of his own light:
Around us is a vast of ignorance
Lit by the uncertain ray of human mind,
Below us sleeps the Inconscient dark and mute.
But this is only Matter’s first self-view,
A scale and series in the Ignorance.
This is not all we are or all our world.
Our greater self of knowledge waits for us,
A supreme light in the truth-conscious Vast:
It sees from summits beyond thinking mind,
It moves in a splendid air transcending life.
It shall descend and make earth’s life divine.

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