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

The Symbol Dawn - Part 1

We had the privilege of listening to the talk of Sri S. S. Lahiri, from the Sri Aurobindo Bhavan, Ulsoor on the evening of the 28thof September, 2014. As an added bonus, Lahiri-ji had compiled excerpts of his talks from his notes, which we reproduce here. The subject of the talk was on ‘Savitri – The Symbol Dawn’. Sri Lahiri explored many ideas presented in this canto lucidly and candidly, drawing from other works of Sri Aurobindo and The Mother as well as ancient Vedic texts and epics and his constant cross-references to world events and events that occurred in the lives of Sri Aurobindo and The Mother. We present these notes in two instalments, starting with this issue.

The Dawn, Night and Inconscient
in the opening section of

The Symbol Dawn

Part 1


1.             The epic Savitri, was a record of Sri Aurobindo’s Yogic ascension in his mission to bring down the Supramental Power and Truth upon earth.  This meant divinizing the earth, the very Matter that comes out of the Inconscient. Consequently we do find that certain references to his other writings like ‘Collected Poems’, ‘The Life Divine’, ‘The Secret of the Veda’, ‘The Record of Yoga’ and ‘On Himself’, other letters, are greatly helpful in approaching ‘Savitri’. This was the Real Work of Sri Aurobindo and the Mother.

2.           The Dawn in the Vedas symbolizes the awakening of spiritual consciousness and the Night, an obscure consciousness. Also we know, in the Rig Veda the Night is depicted as holding in her womb the dawn (awakening of spiritual consciousness) who in turn holds in her womb the sun (Sun of Truth). In the famous Nasadiya Sukta (RV 10.129.7) we find the revelations to our ancient rishi, the creation of the earth. The sukta significantly says, “a darkness covered by greater darkness, “Only He knows or perhaps even He knows not”. In Sri Aurobindo’s writings, Night has been the principle symbol of the Inconscient. In ‘Savitri’, Sri Aurobindo has expanded the vision beyond the Vedas, Brahmanas, Upanishad and Mahabharata. He has made death dispensable. The Integral Yoga of Sri Aurobindo and the Mother aims at transforming the obscurity and conservatism of the material negation by calling down the Divine Mother. 

3.             The war with the Inconscient and Matter was envisaged by Sri Aurobindo and the Mother right from their early days. In the case of the Mother, we do get the idea about her obsession (or was it fascination) for Matter through Agenda. The Mother had said “I remember very well that when the war - the First WW- started,every part of my body, one after another, or sometimes the same part several times over, represented a battlefield: I could see it, I could feel it, I lived it. …. And while it went on, I would put the concentration of the Divine Force there, so that all ….would hasten the preparation of the earth and the Descent of the Force” (MA IV 08 Oct 1963).

4.             In the case of Sri Aurobindo, we perhaps find through some of his early letters (1912) to his disciples in Calcutta, where he wrote about his work then was to achieve immunity from disease. To one of his disciples in Chandannagar he wrote, “The power I am developing, if it reaches consummation, will be able to accomplish its effects automatically BY ANY METHOD CHOSEN” (the emphasis is by Sri Aurobindo, Early letters). It was his recordings in 1927(The Records of Yoga), that reveal to us how the various forces of the obscurity of the Matter were very assiduously identified and fought in their own land . In Aug 1925 (the Nazi Party was formed this year) he said (Evening Talks, AB Purani) “I find that the more the Light and Power are coming down,  the greater is the resistance”. In 1935 the resistance becomes “Revolt of the Subconscient”.  Going down deeper, in April 1947 he writes “…. The lightening of the heavy resistance of the Inconscient” (On Himself). It was mother of all wars that both, the Mother and the Master fought and won. Sri Aurobindo even sacrificed his life to go to “The other side” to win against Death the godhead of the Inconscient and Falsehood.  After all this was their “ REAL WORK”. In explaining a line in SavitriThou shall bear all things that all things may change” (page 700), the Mother had said “ even death—that’s why Sri Aurobindo left his body.” (MA)

5.           Considering that there was nearly eight or nine recast of ‘Savitri’, this actually covered a major period of his writing phase post the ‘Arya’ days. His epic is his message, it is the loftiest poem of love – the transformation of death.

6.           There is little wonder therefore that in the magnum opus, that the epic ‘Savitri’ is, we find that the very opening of the epic confronts us with the obscurity of the Night. The opening section, the epic begins with the Dawn of such a possibility. Savitri awakes on the dawn of that day Satyavan has to die. The preceding night is the night that represented a relapse (a Night) and the succeeding dawn, is the rebuilding of consciousness. The birth of Savitri is a boon the Supreme Goddess had granted to Yogi Aswapati. Aswapati is the Yogi who seeks the means to deliver the world out of ignorance.  The soul’s enrichment is the first basis for carrying out its role in the manifestation which is to establish Truth and Light and also Life's incontingent immortality here on Earth.  But if that immortality has to be operative and effective in life here on earth, then the Supramental Power has to descend upon earth. No lesser power can achieve it. This, Sri Aurobindo has amply explained in ‘The Life Divine’.

7.           So we find the beginning, with a dark Night - obscure consciousness leading to a Dawn - an awakening. This darkness and the Night so beautifully used as a symbol in the opening canto of ‘The Symbol Dawn’, is not the primordial Night, but the relapse of consciousness that takes place from time to time in the evolution of the humanity and the earth. The dawn that follows such a relapse, is the reawakening of the consciousness.  These nights (a partial and temporary relapse for the soul) and these dawns (reawakening or return from the relapse) are expressed through the daily night and daily dawn as symbols. Referring to symbols Sri Aurobindo says “The forces and the processes of the physical world repeat, as in a symbol, the truths of the supraphysical action which produce it. And since it is by the same forces and the same processes, one in the physical worlds and the supraphysical, that our inner life and its developments are governed, the Rishis adopted the phenomena of physical Nature as just symbols for those functionings of inner life which it was their difficult task to indicate in the concrete language of a sacred poetry that must at the same time serve for the external worship of the Gods as power of visible universe”. In an amplification to Amal Kiran, Sri Aurobindo had said that he was not describing a physical night and physical dawn, but that they are a ‘real symbol’. Real symbol of an ‘inner reality’. The main purpose is to describe by suggestion the thing symbolized.  This particular night that preceded the day when Satyavan must die, also holds in her womb the dawn that shall eventually bring an “Everlasting day”.

(to be continued)

-  Sri S. S. Lahiri

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