Guiding Light of The Month

Like a flame that burns in silence, like a perfume that rises straight upward without wavering, my love goes to Thee; and like the child who does not reason and has no care, I trust myself to Thee that Thy Will may be done, that Thy Light may manifest, Thy Peace radiate, Thy Love cover the world. - The Mother

Satyavan and Savitri


These spirits met upon the roads of Time.


Botanical Name: Ocimum basilicum
Common Name: Common Basil
Spiritual Significance: Joy of Union with the Divine



Whence hast thou dawned filling my spirit’s days,
Brighter than summer, brighter than my flowers,
Into the lonely borders of my life,
O Sunlight moulded like a golden maid?

-          Savitri, Sri Aurobindo

From the Editor’s Desk (April 2018)

The theme of this edition of the Newsletter is ‘Satyavan and Savitri’. What is the significance of Satyavan and Savitri in union? Satyavan is “the soul carrying the divine truth of being within itself but descended into the grip of death and ignorance;” while Savitri is “the Divine Word, daughter of the Sun, goddess of the supreme Truth who comes down and is born to save;” These are words from Sri Aurobindo as he pens the Author’s note in his great master-piece epic, ‘Savitri’. The symbolism in the two characters, as emphasized earlier in several issues, need closer scrutiny if one were to dive into the deeper meanings that these symbols lead us into, so that our contemplation may be deeper and better placed. Once the characters become symbols, then they transcend the common lure of the well beaten trend of human interpretation and stand to be revealed to all who seek the spirit behind the words. Once again, what do Satyavan and Savitri in union, bound seemingly by the nuptial knot, represent, and stand to reveal in the collective working and integration of who they really are in spirit? Lines describing the first meeting reveals the recognition of soul by soul:
Yet in the heart their secret conscious selves 
At once aware grew of each other… 

The suggestion of a timeless relationship between souls is intriguing and therein is sealed the knowledge that theirs was no ordinary meeting and union. And here are the words that sealed their fate and tied them into a single knot, from wherein unfolds the future work before them:
O Satyavan, I have heard thee and I know;

I know that thou and only thou art he.

And the wedding takes place of two souls on earth soil. What did her soul fathom? It was the knowledge that it was with him that she needed to carry out a work of significance for the whole of humanity. What work?  Savitri’s symbolism gives us a clue. She is the Divine Word; Daughter of the Sun; Goddess of the supreme Truth, descended here upon the earth. All of Savitri’s role upon this earth is revealed. She appears to be the glorious Light itself, Divinity, born upon earth and that too, born to save. In contrast, we have Satyavan, descended into death and ignorance. However, the saving grace in the birth of Satyavan is that divinity is working in him too. He has evolved as the perfect purusha manifest on earth. This divinity in itself brings him, perhaps, close to that Divine daughter born to save. She is born to save him, as we will see ultimately, in the poem and with him, symbolically, the whole of mankind. 

A close bond as lover and beloved, as man and wife, as Divinity and the bound soul - theirs too is a relationship stretching into the occult vistas. Could their union also spell to each of us another truth? Of the presence in us of a Satyavan and so too, a glorious Savitri; an aspiring soul and an enlightened central Godhead both on the path of at first a rediscovery and then a merger and union within ourselves, of the union spirit and our nature?

The union of Satyavan and Savitri is an important topic worth contemplating upon. There is a strong presence of Divinity dancing in the two symbols of Satyavan and Savitri and when our contemplation rests on either of their qualities or both together in union, there dawns a special awakening within, a certain uplifting of what one may call one’s consciousness, even if for fleeting seconds. With these seeds for contemplation, may we also await the 104th Anniversary of The Mother’s arrival in Pondicherry, on 24th April 2018, another significant event for all of existence.

Savitri, a journey of Love and Light



Pranked butterflies, the conscious flowers of air,
The brilliant long bills in their vivid dress,
The peacock scattering on the breeze his moons
Painted my memory like a frescoed wall.

 (Savitri)
                                                                                          


Her rapid fingers taught a flower song


There is recognition in the depths of their being, joy wells up, yet they strive for understanding speech. There is resistance from "the screen of the external sense", the inner sight is impeded, the right words are slow in coming. Satyavan first comes out of the trance of fascination and apostrophises her as one might a goddess who has swum across one's view:

      Whence hast thou dawned filling my spirit's days,
      Brighter than summer, brighter than my flowers,
      Into the lonely borders of my life,
      O Sunlight moulded like a golden maid?

Not unused to the denizens of the upper air, Satyavan has in the past heard the "centaur's wizard song", glimpsed the apsaras in their abandon, and "beheld the princes of the Sun"; has she come too from "the Thunderer's worlds?" Perhaps she will condescend to abide with mortals:

      If our time-vexed affections thou canst feel,
      Earth's ease of simple things can satisfy,
      If thy glance can dwell content on earthly soil,
      And this celestial summary of delight,
      Thy golden body, dally with fatigue
      Oppressing with its grace our terrain, while
      The frail sweet passing taste of earthly food
      Delays thee and the torrent's leaping wine,
      Descend. Let thy journey cease, come down to us.

His father's hermitage is near, where "bare, simple is the sylvan hermit-life"; there she can find a "resting chamber" fit for her.

      Savitri, shaking herself free from the magic web of his echoing voice, tells her name—"I am Savitri, Princess of Madra"—and asks in turn for his, and why he is content to abide in the forest's inaccessible solitudes. He tells his story too; he is Satyavan, the Shalwa King Dyumatsena's son—but a king no more, for he has lost eyesight and kingdom both:

      Outcast from empire of the outer light,
      Lost to the comradeship of seeing men,
      He sojourns in two solitudes, within
      And in the solemn rustle of the woods.

And so has Satyavan been led to cultivate "the frankness of the primal earth", with the sunlight's companionship in day-time, and "the moonbeam's silver ecstasy" shaping his sleep at night. Nature's ministry has been gentle and unfailing, and has given him intimations vast and profound; kingfisher, swan, pranked butterfly, peacock, spotted deer, these and other "high beauty's visitants" have found ways of reaching to his soul. Above all he says,

I carved my vision out of wood and stone;
I caught the echoes of a word supreme
And metred the rhythm-beats of infinity
And listened through music for the eternal Voice.

He has seen fragments of humanity, the Self obscured beyond recognition, each living "in himself and for himself alone"; and he has "sat with the forest sages in their trance" and pierced the veil of the many to reach the presence of the One. Yet matter's stubborn resistance to change has defeated him, he has failed to convert the Inconscience, and Death and the Void are giant spectres still. If only Savitri would share Satyavan's life, could they not with their joint efforts succeed where singly he had failed?

      But Savitri would like Satyavan to continue speaking—it is music to her ears—till her spirit's intimations arm her 'mortal mind' with the power to see and the will to accept. And Satyavan's heart melts in "many-coloured waves of speech" and floods her with the joy of growing recognition. Satyavan describes his ardours and longings, his strivings and realisations; he has roamed in dark caverns with thought for his lantern; he has made a deep study of logic and semantics, ethics and metaphysics; he has seen through matter's atomic universe, its "secret laws and sorceries"; he has explored aesthetics, and sought in beauty and art the clue to the still elusive ultimate Truth; yet one or the other has always failed him, the hither or the thither shore. But Savitri's very appearance is like a cure for all Satyavan's earlier frustrations. From his heart's depths comes the cry:

       A strange new world swims to me in thy gaze
       Approaching like a star from unknown heavens;
       A cry of spheres comes with thee and a song
      Of flaming gods...
      Come nearer to me from thy car of light
      On this green sward disdaining not our soil...
      O my bright beauty's princess Savitri,
      By my delight and thy own joy compelled
      Enter my life, thy chamber and thy shrine.

"I know that thou and only thou art he," says Savitri as she steps down from her car "with a soft and faltering haste". Then follows a passage of great sensuous beauty touched also by the accents of the purer poetry of the soul. The woman whose whole response has been awakened offering her love and herself to the man who has kindled this fire of ardour and adoration in her, is the archetype of the world's most thrilling and most moving romantic poetry. There is a traditional ritual about this sacrificial offering which is the basis of life's perennial resurrection. In India from times immemorial it is the girl who advances, bashfully yet bravely, with garland in hand, and so does Savitri here:

      A candid garland set with simple forms
      Her rapid fingers taught a flower song,
      The stanzaed movement of a marriage hymn.
      Profound in perfume and immersed in hue
      They mixed their yearning's coloured signs and made
      The bloom of their purity and passion one.
      A sacrament of joy in treasuring palms
      She brought, flower-symbol of her offered life,...
      She bowed and touched his feet with
      worshipping hands;...

Satyavan humbly bends to receive her and gather her into an embrace, and Savitri feels "her being flow into him as in waves/A river pours into a mighty sea". The river has found the sea, the mortal has wakened into Eternity. This is the phoenix hour, the time of their ineffable union. They are married already in the eyes of Heaven, and the symbol rites take their own course:

      On the high glowing cupola of the day
      Fate tied a knot with morning's halo threads
      While by the ministry of an auspice-hour
      Heart-bound before the sun, their marriage fire,
      The wedding of the eternal Lord and Spouse
      Took place again on earth in human forms:...

The priest-wind chants the mantras, the leaves hymn the "choral whisperings", and "one human moment was eternal made".

      Now Satyavan leads Savitri to their future home, and calm and content possess her heart. But before she can rest in this felicity she needs must return to Madra and tell Aswapati the choice she has made. But she will return, nor ever again agree to part from Satyavan. So saying she mounts her car once more, and speeds "swift-reined, swift-hearted" towards her parental home; but in the "still lucidities of sight's inner world" she is with Satyavan still in his hermit thatch behind the nave of forest trees.

(“Sri Aurobindo’s Savitri – A study of the cosmic epic”, Dr. Premanandakumar, Sri Aurobindo Ashram Trust, Puducherry)
                                                             

Flowers Speak…


Psychic Love

Strong and faithful, it has a beauty

Yet in the heart their secret conscious selves
At once aware grew of each other warned
By the first call of a delightful voice
And a first vision of the destined face.
(Savitri)

***



 Will in the Course of Uniting itself with the Divine Will

On the way to perfection

Before fate led me into this emerald world,
Aroused by some foreshadowing touch within,
An early prescience in my mind approached
The great dumb animal consciousness of earth
Now grown so close to me who have left old pomps
To live in this grandiose murmur dim and vast.

(Savitri)

***


Perfect Surrender

The indispensable condition for identification

A sacrament of joy in treasuring palms
She brought, flower-symbol of her offered life,
Then with raised hands that trembled a little now
At the very closeness that her soul desired,
This bond of sweetness, their bright union’
s sign,
She laid on the bosom coveted by her love.

                                                             (Savitri)

(Flowers and Messages, Sri Aurobindo Ashram Trust, Puducherry)         


On Music


Music brought down celestial yearnings, song
Held the merged heart absorbed in rapturous depths,
Linking the human with the cosmic cry;
(Savitri)


Mother Saraswati – Goddess of learning and music.

The world-interpreting movements of the dance
Moulded idea and mood to a rhythmic sway
And posture; crafts minute in subtle lines
Eternised a swift moment’
s memory
Or showed in a carving’
s sweep, a cups design
The underlying patterns of the unseen:
Poems in largeness cast like moving worlds
And metres surging with the ocean’
s voice
(Savitri)

(Picture taken from Story of the Soul – Part 2. Sri Aurobindo Ashram Trust, Puducherry)


***
Strength shall be with her like a conqueror’s sword.

The Mother’s arrival at Pondicherry


24th April, 1920


For it is through love and beauty that she lays on men the yoke of the Divine. Life is turned in her supreme creations into a rich work of celestial art and all existence into a poem of sacred delight; the world’s riches are brought together and concerted for a supreme order and even the simplest and commonest things are made wonderful by her intuition of unity and the breath of her spirit. Admitted to the heart she lifts wisdom to pinnacles of wonder and reveals to it the mystic secrets of the ecstasy that surpasses all knowledge, meets devotion with the passionate attraction of the Divine, teaches to strength and force the rhythm that keeps the might of their acts harmonious and in measure and casts on perfection the charm that makes it endure for ever.


(“The Mother”, Sri Aurobindo, Sri Aurobindo Ashram Trust, Puducherry)