Guiding Light of The Month

OH, let Light be poured on all the earth and Peace inhabit every heart. . . Almost all know only the material life heavy, inert, conservative, obscure; their vital forces are so tied to this physical form of existence that, even when left to themselves and outside the body, they are still solely occupied with these material contingencies that are yet so harassing and painful. . . - The Mother

Savitri – A poem of Truth, Beauty and Goodness

Such is the Mahabharata 'legend'. No summary or paraphrase, no attempt at translation, can do adequate justice to the bareness and strength and utter self-sufficiency of the original. Not a word is wasted, and as one reads the poem one feels that what needs to be said has been said; one accepts the story as something primordial and permanently significant like the Sun itself. There are other 'episodes'—the Nala and the Sakuntala, for example—in the Mahabharata that have also won the affections of many generations of men, but the Savitri stands apart even among them, verily a star. "The 'story of Savitri' is the gem of the whole poem", wrote Alfred Wallace, "and I cannot recall anything in poetry more beautiful, or any higher teaching as to the sanctity of love and marriage. We have really not advanced one step beyond this old-world people in our ethical standards."

Savitri is presented by the ancient poet as beauty, truth, goodness, and, above all, power incarnate. She is the gift of the Goddess Savitri and the fruit of eighteen years' severe austerities. She is so beautiful that like the Sun itself she keeps at a distance would-be wooers. She doesn't speak an untrue word even in small matters. She radiates goodness as a matter of course, and all benefit by it. But shakti or power is what makes Savitri unique among the heroines of legend and history. It is characteristic of her that she never weeps. Satyavan weeps aloud thinking of his parents, Dyumatsena weeps thinking of his son; Savitri does not weep—not when Narad speaks the cruel words, not when Satyavan dies, nor when, after coming back to life, he breaks down at the thought of his parents. Neither is it callousness, indifference, or want of feeling; rather is it the measure of her stern purpose, her poised readiness to face any eventuality whatsoever, her tranquil consciousness of her own strength.

(Excerpt from chapter ‘The Wonderful Poem’, Sri Aurobindo’s Savitri – A study of the cosmic epic, Dr. Prema Nandakumar)

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