Guiding Light of The Month

THERE is a great difference between being in the midst of active work, of external action, while keeping one’s thought constantly fixed on Thee, and entering into that perfect union with Thee which leads to what I have called “absolute Consciousness, true Omniscience, Knowledge”. - 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)





Diya



I am a little oil lamp
I am made of clay.
I am held on a caring palm.
I carry a light, a crimson flame.

Oil is gently poured in
A strong flicker is firmly placed.
A friendly hand alights the flame.

I dispel darkness.
I shine like a star on earth.
I am a diya, an oil lamp.
Sandhya

February-March Sunday Activities at the Centre - A glimpse


February 18th and March 11th - The future poetry

Jared navigated us through the Style of poetry including providing vivid examples of parallel styles from ancient Egyptian architectures specially the sublime statue of queen Hatchepsut – said by The Mother as a previous incarnation of herself – and the Mortuary Temple.

“The aim of poetry, as of all true art, is neither a photographic or otherwise realistic imitation of Nature, nor a romantic furbishing and painting or idealistic improvement of her image, but an interpretation by the images she herself affords us, not on one but on many planes of her creation, of that which she conceals from us, but is ready, when rightly approached, to reveal”.

“Style is to make the thing presented living to the imaginative vision, the responsive inner emotion, the spiritual sense, the soul-feeling and soul-sight. … fills every word with its utmost possible rhythmic and thought suggestion.

But in itself it depends on none of these things; it is not a style, but poetic style itself, the Word; it creates and carries with it its elements rather than is created by them. Whatever its outward forms, it is always the one fit style for THE MANTRA (poetic expression of the deepest spiritual reality – meeting into an indissoluble oneness the three highest intensities of poetic speech: 1) a highest intensity of rhythmic movement, 2) a highest intensity of interwoven verbal form and thought-substance, of style, and 3) a highest intensity of the soul’s vision of truth).


February 21st – Mother’s birthday celebrations

The special highlight this year was the active participation of our youth members enchanting us with their dance tuned to Savitri verses and recitals of other works.

Jared’s monthly youth programme is striving to lay a good foundation through drawing keen interest from our youth members and their offerings to The Mother during this celebration is an expression of their dedication. We feel very confident that our next generation will continue to carry the mantle forward.

February 25th – Self Dynamising meditation using Savitri and Huta Painting
We continued our self-dynamising meditation viewing the Huta Paintings of Book 3, Can to 4 (‘The Book of the Divine Mother’, ‘The Vision and The Boon’) along with Mother’s organ music and Her Voice. We continued our attempt to weave using the threads of the last eight months of glimpses into a Spiritual fabric.
This canto provided us the perfect framework for aligning with the Auroville 50th Anniversary celebrations and we all virtually participated through our meditation bringing The Matrimandir to our inner senses.

February 28th – Meditation: Auroville’s 50th anniversary celebrations
We held two sessions of meditations to join in the collective aspiration for the New World - the world of unity, consciousness and harmony that is the vision of The Mother and Sri Aurobindo and of which Auroville is a crucial Cradle.
During these sessions we screened videos highlighting The Mother’s Dreams for Auroville and how the devotees at Auroville are striving to bring them to reality through embracing paradoxes. We meditated joining our individual souls and our Singapore’s soul with the Matrimandir. We deeply aspired for the construction of a Singapore pavilion at Auroville.

March 4th – Auroville Day February 28th – Meditation: Auroville’s 50th anniversary celebrations
We dedicated this session to Auroville and viewed the video “Auroville, Integral Yoga and the Future of Mankind” by Sraddhalu Ranade followed by discussions.

- Ramadoss

Along the Way… March Walk Review (walk no 391)


When SMRT announced that train services in East-West Line would start much later (only @ 8 am on Sunday the 4th Mar) than the usual starting time of 6 am, I became worried as to how I (being a West Singapore resident) would reach the Walk Venue in Pasir Ris in the East Singapore on time. Fortunately Mr Sule (North West Resident) volunteered to drive an additional 20kms to give me a lift so that I could reach on time.

The group assembled for the walk was a modest 6 when our Pranav guided us through the warm up exercises and slowly swelled to 15 by the time we finished the walk. Pasir Ris has undergone major changes since the last time I had a walk here.

One important thing I noticed was how a cycle shop which was having roaring business on weekends in the past charging $ 5 per hour for cycle rental could not withstand the new economy onslaughts from OFO, MOBIKE etc which now charge only around $1 per hour. OLD has to give way for the NEW for sure.

A pleasant climate lured us to walk at a leisurely pace, enjoying the sea in front of us and the dense growth of trees behind us.

We chanced upon one notice board warning us to beware of wild boars in the jungle vicinity leading us to wonder whether we are encroaching animal space or they are encroaching ours. This prompted words to flow out of Mr Sule from the Epic Poem Savitri which I am immensely happy to reproduce below.

            “Sun belts of Knowledge, Moon belts of delight
            Stretched out in an ecstasy of widenesses
            Beyond our indigent corporeal range.
            There he could enter, there a while abide.
            A voyager upon unchartered routes
            Fronting the viewless danger of the Unknown
            Adventuring across enormous realms
            He broke into another Space and Time” (Book 1 Canto 5)

Otters frolicking in the sea and also in the stream located within the mangrove wetland are a treat to watch. Our youngest member, 9 month old Dhvani, joined our monthly walk for the first time and enthralled us with her Dhvani (sound) for some moments during our walk.

Pasir Ris Park has grown much bigger thanks to park connectors seamlessly integrating with the park and even after nearly 1 ½ hours walk we could not cover all places of interest. Lest we missed our time for the Meditation, we cut short our walk and headed to Anand K. Venkat’s home to be warmly welcomed by the hosts.

After our usual Meditation and the Reading of Mother’s Prayers, Mr. Sambrant Director (Education) Sri Aurobindo Society Pondicherry who was on a business trip to Singapore happily shared with us some interesting anecdotes about Rupantar programme (an initiative that targets areas in Education with innovative solutions to transform an entire state education system in India) and how this programme which was started on a modest scale in Uttar Pradesh India has now grown astronomically.

Their programme known as Zero Investment Innovations for Education Initiatives (ZIIEI) works with governments, thought leaders and institutions to transform education, guided by the vision of Sri Aurobindo and the Mother to improve effectiveness and infrastructure to gear up more than 400,000 teachers to come up with innovations that require zero or minimal monetary investment.

He was all praise for Singapore Education System with whom he is collaborating for improvement of the ZIIEI programme. I could see many of our younger members brought up in Singapore Education System smile with their heads held high.

Thereafter, K.V. Rao shared with us his experiences on his recent trip to Pondicherry to be part of Auroville’s 50th Birthday celebrations.

His narration as how more than 5000 members assembled in the wee hours of 28th Feb at Auroville auditorium observing pin-drop silence during the festivities resonated with the spirit of the Aurobindo Movement.

March born Society Members led by Rishab celebrated their birthdays by cutting a yummy cake and we all were treated to a sumptuous brunch thereafter.
A Sunday well spent following the long tradition (since the year 1985) of Singapore Sri Aurobindo Society.

Looking forward to the April Walk to be hosted by our dearest Mr Krishnamurthy.
                                                                                                            S.Ramanathan