Guiding Light of The Month

I implore that every substance impregnated more and more by Thy sovereign forces may put up an ever diminishing resistance of blind ignorance against Thee, and that triumphing over all darkness Thou mayst transfigure definitively and integrally this universe of strife and anguish into a universe of harmony and peace... So that Thy law may be fulfilled. - The Mother

I shall save earth, if earth consents to be saved.


Savitri's single-minded quest has now brought her almost to the threshold of her inmost, her secret soul. She is met, one by one, by the soul's triple forces, each embodied as a mother spirit, as a Madonna. First the Madonna of suffering, Mother of sorrows and grief divine; next, the Madonna of might, Mother of works and force; and last, the Madonna of light, Mother of joy and peace. Each claims to be Savitri's soul, and each is partly right; but Savitri cannot, she will not, accept these partial identifications. She will not stop till the full splendour of self-discovery overwhelms her.

      First to meet Savitri during the "passion of the first ascent" is a woman in "a pale lustrous robe", seated on "a rugged and ragged soil", with "a sharp and wounding stone" pressed against her feet. She is as it were the incarnation of the world's pain. From the anxious moment of birth to the "dolorous end of life", it is a tale of striving and failure, sorrow and pain; and the Mother's compassion goes out to man as he thus lies stretched on the cross:

      Accepting the universe as her body of woe,
      The Mother of the seven sorrows bore
      The seven stabs that pierced her bleeding heart:
      The beauty of sadness lingered on her face,
      Her eyes were dim with the ancient stain of tears.

"I am thy secret soul", she tells Savitri, "I am woman, nurse and slave and beaten beast/.. .I am the spirit in a world of pain".285 In the course of her long sad impassioned speech, she gives an account of her unique preoccupation with human suffering and her round of painstaking works to tend the lowly, the miserable, the nearly lost. However seemingly hopeless the human lot, however apparently unavailing the appeals to Heaven, she has neither denied nor lost hope of deliverance. When she concludes her speech, however, there explodes a cry from below, the voice of the Man of Sorrows, breathing exasperation and despair, a job in his burning passion of defeat:

      I am he
      Who is nailed on the wide cross of the universe;
      To enjoy my agony God built the earth,
      My passion he has made his drama's theme.
      He has sent me naked into his bitter world
      And beaten me with his rods of grief and pain


And so on, a mixture of defiance and impatience, assertion and negation, Titan and man. Savitri, having heard both the Madonna and the Man of Sorrows, answers with serene understanding; the Madonna is indeed a "portion" that Savitri's soul has put forth "to bear the unbearable sorrow of the world"; because of her, the wretched can somehow bear their wretchedness and hope against hope for a dawn of deliverance. Savitri promises to return to the Madonna with an accession of strength that will enable them to abolish cruelty and misery forever from the earth. But, in the meantime, Savitri must continue her quest.

      Next to meet Savitri on her upward route is a woman in "gold and purple sheen, /Armed with the trident and the thunderbolt"; her feet on a lion's back, her eyes emitting fire, her head ringed with a halo of lightnings; it is the Mother of Might, and she tells Savitri:


I am Durga, goddess of the proud and strong,
And Lakshmi, queen of the fair and fortunate;
I wear the face of Kali when I kill,
I trample the corpses of the demon hordes...
I rend man's narrow and successful life
And force his sorrowful eyes to gaze at the sun
That he may die to earth and live in his soul.

While Durga-Lakshmi claims that she alone is Savitri's secret soul, there comes a "warped echo" from below, from "the dwarf Titan, the deformed chained god"that is man the master of knowledge and power, the asuric man; he is the man that has mastered Nature and would one day supersede God; he would smash the atom, canalise cosmic energy, "expunge a nation or abolish a race".

Savitri, having heard them both, admits that while knowledge and power are necessary, without wisdom they cannot achieve much. Savitri promises to return to the Madonna of might with an accession of light that will enable them together to abolish fear and weakness and hatred forever from the heart of man. In the meantime, Savitri will continue her quest.

      Savitri meets last the Mother of joy and peace. The Madonna of light stands revealed on a piece of clear and crystalline ground; sun-bright her face, moon-bright her feet, nectarean her smile; she too claims in captivating musical speech to be Savitri's secret soul:

 I have come down to the wounded desolate earth
To heal her pangs and lull her heart to rest
And lay her head upon the Mother's lap
That she may dream of God and know his peace
And draw the harmony of higher spheres
Into the rhythm of earth's rude troubled days.

She buoys up man with dreams and visions, with ideals and aspirations; freedom, valour, justice, resignation, thought, wisdom, beauty, truth, good, all are but godheads of the human soul; against the pressure of the ignorance, man struggles to raise himself to the level of the gods, and the Madonna arms him with the necessary faith and perseverance:


      I bring meanwhile the gods upon the earth;
      I bring back hope to the despairing heart;
      I give peace to the humble and the great,
      And shed my grace on the foolish and the wise.
      I shall save earth, if earth consents to be saved.

Once again, as the Madonna's voice ceases, there comes up another cry, "a warped echo naked and shuddering" from the mental Man, man the apologist and would-be practitioner of pure reason:

      The finite he has made his central field,
      Its plan dissects, masters its processes,...
      His knowledge scans bright pebbles on the shore
      Of the huge ocean of his ignorance.

Hasn't the sum of the giant endeavours of mere mental man petered out into nothing? No wonder "a cosmic pathos" trembles through the moan of the "all-discovering Thought of man", man the natural scientist and philosopher.


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

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