Awhile, withdrawn in secret fields of thought,
Her mind moved in a many-imaged past
That lived again and saw its end approach:
Dying, it lived imperishably in her;
Transient and vanishing from transient eyes,
Invisible, a fateful ghost of self,
It bore the future on its phantom breast.
Along the fleeting event’s far-backward trail
Regressed the stream of the insistent hours,
And on the bank of the mysterious flood
Peopled with well-loved forms now seen no more
And the subtle images of things that were,
Her witness spirit stood reviewing Time.
This is the way in which the Poem is built. We will know the story of Her life because She remembers it. At that celestial moment of Her existence She remembers all Her past life and then it will be told to us.
All that she once had hoped and dreamed and been,
Flew past her eagle-winged through memory’s skies.
As in a many-hued flaming inner dawn,
Her life’s broad highways and its sweet bypaths
Lay mapped to her sun-clear recording view,
From the bright country of her childhood’s days
And the blue mountains of her soaring youth
And the paradise groves and peacock wings of Love
To joy clutched under the silent shadow of doom
In a last turn where heaven raced with hell.
Twelve passionate months led in a day of fate.
An absolute supernatural darkness falls
On man sometimes when he draws near to God:
An hour comes when fail all Nature’s means;
Forced out from the protecting Ignorance
And flung back on his naked primal need,
He at length must cast from him his surface soul
And be the ungarbed entity within:
That hour had fallen now on Savitri.
For those who have come upon earth fully conscious of their entire being and conscious of their Origin, there is at first a period when this consciousness gets veiled by the physical life and the body-consciousness. It withdraws deep inside and waits for the hour when the outer circumstances will make it necessary for that inner self to manifest and to become fully active in the body. And generally, as life is organised, it is some more or less dramatic event that makes this change not only possible but needed.
Even those who have come fully conscious, because they are compelled to take birth in the body of a child, their consciousness withdraws for many years, more or less, and has not the full activity that it had in other worlds. But some circumstance, some event tears off the veil and the inner consciousness takes back its place and its activity. It is that that is fully described in these lines of Savitri.
It is only when the outer crust of the ordinary life is violently broken by some unexpected and tragic event that the inner consciousness has the opportunity of taking the place of this outward movement and governing fully the whole being. From the point of view of the growth of consciousness, that is the justification of all these dramatic events. An eventless life is not often a progressive one.
A point she had reached where life must be in vain
Or, in her unborn element awake,
Her will must cancel her body’s destiny.
For only the unborn spirit’s timeless power
Can lift the yoke imposed by birth in time.
Only the Self that builds this figure of self
Can rase the fixed interminable line
That joins these changing names, these numberless lives,
These new oblivious personalities
And keeps still lurking in our conscious acts
The trail of old forgotten thoughts and deeds,
Disown the legacy of our buried selves,
The burdensome heirship to our vanished forms
Accepted blindly by the body and soul.
The true self of Savitri belonged to the Eternal Consciousness and, naturally, was free. But, when accepting to take a body upon Earth, this true self is covered by so many different layers of consciousness that, unless it takes a very complete resolution to manifest and to overcome all the obstacles, it cannot act freely. Now She was put in front of the expected catastrophe in Her life, which externally would put an end to the joy of Her existence, and there was only one way to overcome this fatality.
It was to make the Highest Spirit and Its Power intervene directly in order to counteract the laws of destiny.
An episode in an unremembered tale,
Its beginning lost, its motive and plot concealed,
A once living story has prepared and made
Our present fate, child of past energies.
The fixity of the cosmic sequences
Fastened with hidden inevitable links
She must disrupt, dislodge by her soul’s force
Her past, a block on the immortal’s road,
Make a rased ground and shape anew her fate.
A colloquy of the original Gods
Meeting upon the borders of the unknown,
Her soul’s debate with embodied Nothingness
Must be wrestled out on a dangerous dim background:
Her being must confront its formless Cause,
Against the universe weigh its single self.
On the bare peak where Self is alone with Nought
And life has no sense and love no place to stand,
She must plead her case upon extinction’s verge,
In the world’s death-cave uphold life’s helpless claim
And vindicate her right to be and love.
Altered must be Nature’s harsh economy;
Acquittance she must win from her past’s bond,
An old account of suffering exhaust,
Strike out from Time the soul’s long compound debt
And the heavy servitudes of the Karmic Gods,
The slow revenge of unforgiving Law
And the deep need of universal pain
And hard sacrifice and tragic consequence.
By the Power of Her Origin and the legacy of the One, She must overcome all the laws established in manifestation and conquer the resistance of all that has been organised since centuries and millenniums and show that the Supreme is All-Powerful over His own creation.
In all the world as it is now, death and dissolution reign. She wants to abolish their law in order to establish the Supreme Life and Consciousness. It is the story of the conquest that will be told in the Epic.
Out of a timeless barrier she must break
Penetrate with her thinking depths the Void’s monstrous hush
Look into the lonely eyes of immortal Death
And with her nude spirit measure the Infinite’s night.
The great and dolorous moment now was close.
A mailed battalion marching to its doom
The last long days went by with heavy tramp
Long but too soon to pass, too near the end.
Alone amid the many faces loved
Aware among unknowing happy hearts
Her armoured spirit kept watch upon the hours
Listening for a foreseen tremendous step
In the closed beauty of the inhuman wilds.
It is a very vivid description showing that a stupendous power and energy is needed to face the circumstances when you know them in advance. Man is always complaining that he has not been given the power to know what will happen to him. But there is not one man in a million who would have the strength, the quiet calm to face the circumstances if he knew them in advance. This is just to give the description of that condition. It is because Savitri is conscious of the Divine in Herself that She knows what will happen and yet has the quiet strength to face it.
A combatant in silent dreadful lists,
The world unknowing, for the world she stood:
No helper had she save the Strength within;
There was no witness of terrestrial eyes;
The Gods above and Nature sole below
Were the spectators of that mighty strife.
Around her were the austere sky-pointing hills
And the green murmurous broad deep-thoughted woods
Muttered incessantly their muffled spell.
A dense magnificent coloured self-wrapped life
Draped in the leaves’ vivid emerald monotone
And set with chequered sunbeams and blithe flowers
Immured her destiny’s secluded scene.
There had she grown to the stature of her spirit:
The genius of titanic silences
Steeping her soul in its wide loneliness
Had shown to her her self’s bare reality
And mated her with her environment.
Its solitude greatened her human hours
With a background of the eternal and unique.
It is because no human being knew what She knew that She could be exclusively supported by the Power of Her Spirit. She had not to face human anxiety because the human beings did not know. So She was exclusively wrapped in the Power, the mighty Power of the Spirit. And that is why She could face quietly the dreadful circumstances.
The forests, the hills, were a very good background for the circumstances because it was the expression of a powerful Nature, silent and magnificent. And She felt supported by this beauty and this grandeur, which was not throwing upon Her the vibrations of anxiety.
A force of spare direct necessity
Reduced the heavy framework of man’s days
And his overburdening mass of outward needs
To a first thin strip of simple animal wants,
And the mighty wideness of the primitive earth
And the brooding multitude of patient trees
And the musing sapphire leisure of the sky
And the solemn weight of the slowly passing months
Had left in her deep room for thought and God.
There was her drama’s radiant prologue lived.
A spot for the eternals tread on earth
Set in the cloistral yearning of the woods
And watched by the aspiration of the peaks
Appeared through an aureate opening in Time
Where stillness listening felt the unspoken word
And the hours forgot to pass towards grief and change.
Here with the suddenness divine advents have,
Repeating the marvel of the first descent,
Changing to rapture the dull earthly round,
Love came to her hiding the shadow, Death.
Well might he find in her his perfect shrine.
Since first the earth-being’s heavenward growth began,
Through all the long ordeal of the race,
Never a rarer creature bore his shaft,
That burning test of the godhead in our parts,
A lightning from the heights on our abyss.
There it is revealed that the way out of Death for the creation is Love—Love not as it is falsified and deformed in the human consciousness, but Love in its essence and its pure Origin. It is this Love that found the way to manifest through the consciousness and the life of Savitri.
All manifestations of Love in the world have always been deformed and reduced to need and desire. For the first time a human consciousness was capable of manifesting Love in its simple and magnificent purity – the Love that is entirely and totally divine, free from all desire and all selfishness, all narrowness and all egoism; the Love that exists for the joy of loving and is at once giving and receiving at the same time in the same vibration. This is the Supreme Power that is capable of transforming the world and making it ready for the Divine Manifestation.
All in her pointed to a nobler kind.
Near to earth’s wideness, intimate with heaven,
Exalted and swift her young large-visioned spirit
Voyaging through worlds of splendour and of calm
Overflew the ways of Thought to unborn things.
Ardent was her self-poised unstumbling will;
Her mind, a sea of white sincerity,
Passionate in flow, had not one turbid wave.
As in a mystic and dynamic dance
A priestess of immaculate ecstasies
Inspired and ruled from Truth’s revealing vault
Moves in some prophet cavern of the gods,
A heart of silence in the hands of joy
Inhabited with rich creative beats
A body like a parable of dawn
That seemed a niche for veiled divinity
Or golden temple door to things beyond.
It is a description of a being that is not shut up in the small limit of humanity. It contains the Consciousness of the Beyond.
Immortal rhythms swayed in her time-born steps;
Her look, her smile awoke celestial sense
Even in earth-stuff, and their intense delight
Poured a supernal beauty on men’s lives,
A wide self-giving was her native act;
A magnanimity as of sea or sky
Enveloped with its greatness all that came
And gave a sense as of a greatened world:
Her kindly care was a sweet temperate sun,
Her high passion a blue heaven’s equipoise.
As might a soul fly like a hunted bird,
Escaping with tired wings from a world of storms,
And a quiet reach like a remembered breast,
In a haven of safety and splendid soft repose
One could drink life back in streams of honey-fire,
Recover the lost habit of happiness,
Feel her bright nature’s glorious ambience,
And preen joy in her warmth and colour’s rule.
This is the poetic description of Her nature—the nature of Her being that comes from higher and more perfect worlds, the worlds that intend to manifest upon earth but have first to prepare earth in order that she is ready to manifest them. That is just why Savitri has come down to prepare the earth for the coming of the New World.
There is in this description a strong stress on peace and joy, equanimity and a constant smile. The more things are seen in their totality, the more the limitations are overcome, the more time and space become present—the more can the joy be constant and the peace unshakable. It is only the narrow limits created by separativeness that have created this suffering, this anguish and this anger. With the descent of a Higher Consciousness come a happy smile and a quiet peace that are never disturbed.
Sri Aurobindo has announced that Savitri has prepared the world and now the Consciousness that She carried in Herself is come down upon earth and is preparing to manifest.
A deep of compassion, a hushed sanctuary,
Her inward help unbarred a gate in heaven;
Love in her was wider than the universe,
The whole world could take refuge in her single heart.
The great unsatisfied godhead here could dwell:
Vacant of the dwarf self’s imprisoned air
Her mood could harbour his sublimer breath
Spiritual that can make all things divine.
For even her gulfs were secrecies of light.
At once she was the stillness and the word,
A continent of self-diffusing peace,
An ocean of untrembling virgin fire:
The strength, the silence of the gods were hers.
In her he found a vastness like his own,
His high warm subtle ether he refound
And moved in her as in his natural home.
In her he met his own eternity.
This is the description of Love in its essence, not the love that is known upon earth and is so mixed up with many egoistic movements that it has gone beyond all recognition and become only the expression of selfish desires. It is the Love that is as vast as the Universe, equal to all and to everything and asking nothing in exchange for what it gives.
Till then no mournful line had barred this ray.
On the frail breast of this precarious earth,
Since her orbed sight in its breath-fastened house,
Opening in sympathy with happier stars
Where life is not exposed to sorrowful change,
Remembered beauty death-claimed lids ignore
And wondered at this world of fragile forms
Carried on canvas-strips of shimmering Time,
The impunity of unborn Mights was hers.
Although she leaned to bear the human load,
Her walk kept still the measure of the gods.
Earth’s breath had failed to stain that brilliant glass:
Unsmeared with the dust of our mortal atmosphere
It still reflected heaven’s spiritual joy.
Almost they saw who lived within her light
Her playmate in the sempiternal spheres
Descended from its unattainable realms
In her attracting advent’s luminous wake,
The white-fire dragon bird of endless bliss
Drifting with burning wings above her days:
Heaven’s tranquil shield guarded the missioned child.
Although She had accepted the burden of all the earth’s misery, the influence of the Origin was so strong that it could not change in Her this constant Peace, this wide understanding, this universal Love, that was making of Her a Messenger of the Highest Consciousness.
A glowing orbit was her early term,
Years like gold raiment of the gods that pass;
Her youth sat throned in calm felicity.
But joy cannot endure until the end:
There is a darkness in terrestrial things
That will not suffer long too glad a note.
On her too closed the inescapable Hand:
The armed Immortal bore the snare of Time.
The story of the earth is an ascent from darkness and unconsciousness to Light and Consciousness. This journey is, in spite of so many years, just at its beginning still, and only in front of us is the assurance of the Light that will be.
When we look back, we look at so much darkness, suffering, misery, that if we do not have the inner Consciousness and its assurance of future Victory, truly we could say, as so many have said in the past, that to escape misery we must get out of earth-life.
Now Savitri has brought the promise and the certitude that Light will prevail and that misery will go. So this promise we must base our certitude also and advance towards the luminous Future.
One dealt with her who meets the burdened great.
Assigner of the ordeal and the path
Who chooses in this holocaust of the soul
Death, fall and sorrow as the spirit’s goads,
The dubious godhead with his torch of pain
Lit up the chasm of the unfinished world
And called her to fill with her vast self the abyss.
August and pitiless in his calm outlook,
Heightening the Eternal’s dreadful strategy,
He measured the difficulty with the might
And dug more deep the gulf that all must cross.
Assailing her divinest elements,
He made her heart kin to the striving human heart
And forced her strength to its appointed road.
For this she had accepted mortal breath;
To wrestle with the Shadow she had come
And must confront the riddle of man’s birth
And life’s brief struggle in dumb Matter’s night.
Whether to bear with Ignorance and Death
Or hew the ways of Immortality,
To win or lose the godlike game for man,
Was her soul’s issue thrown with Destiny’s dice.
But not to submit and suffer was she born;
To lead, to deliver was her glorious part.
There it is put exactly and clearly: it was like a problem to be solved and She had the Will and the capacity to solve it. She came remembering who She was and with this remembrance She faced the ordeal. This world of miseries, this world of death and suffering must become a world of glorious Light and of Divine Consciousness. Whatever the pain, whatever the ordeal, whatever the length of the trouble, She has come to win and She brings with her the Victory.
Here was no fabric of terrestrial make
Fit for a day’s use by busy careless Powers.
An image fluttering on the screen of fate
Half-animated for a passing show
Or a castaway on the ocean of Desire
Flung to the eddies in a ruthless sport
And tossed along the gulfs of Circumstance,
A creature born to bend beneath the yoke,
A chattel and a plaything of Time’s lords,
Or one more pawn who comes destined to be pushed
One slow move forward on a measureless board
In the chess-play of the earth-soul with Doom,—
Such is the human figure drawn by Time.
This is the description of the usual human being and his powerlessness in front of circumstances. But this was not the case with Savitri who came, keeping conscious in Herself the Origin and the source from which She came.
Men are accustomed to be pushed by circumstances and have only the force of desire or habit, and this force is powerless in front of the Power of the true Force— the governing Force of the Divine.
A conscious frame was here, a self-born Force.
In this enigma of the dusk of God,
This slow and strange uneasy compromise
Of limiting Nature with a limitless Soul,
Where all must move between an ordered Chance
And an uncaring blind Necessity,
Too high the fire spiritual dare not blaze.
If once it met the intense original Flame,
An answering touch might shatter all measures made
And earth sink down with the weight of the Infinite.
This is a magnificent description of what will happen when the true Power will manifest upon earth. She came to prepare earth with the New Consciousness, the Consciousness that will transform the life on earth to make it ready for a New Creation.
If read with the true understanding, this Epic becomes prophetic and announces the events that are beginning to come upon earth.
A gaol is this immense material world.
Across each road stands armed a stone-eyed law,
At every gate the huge dim sentinels pace.
A grey tribunal of the Ignorance,
An Inquisition of the priests of Night
In judgment sit on the adventurer soul,
And the dual tables and the Karmic norm
Restrain the Titan in us and the God:
Pain with its lash, joy with its silver bribe
Guard the Wheel’s circling immobility,
A bond is put in the high climbing mind,
A seal on the too large wide-open heart;
Death stays the journeying discoverer, Life.
Thus is the throne of the Inconscient safe
While the tardy coilings of the aeons pass
And the Animal browses in the sacred fence
And the gold Hawk can cross the skies no more.
This is a very pathetic description of the condition of the world; each effort to pull it out from this condition meets at each step, every moment, this horrible resistance. Not only power is needed but also endurance, self-sacrifice and a patience that can face all ordeals.
But one stood up and lit the limitless flame.
Arraigned by the dark Power that hates all bliss
In the dire court where life must pay for joy,
Sentenced by the mechanic justicer
To the afflicting penalty of man’s hopes,
Her head she bowed not to the stark decree
Baring her helpless heart to destiny’s stroke.
So bows and must the mind-born will in man
Obedient to the statutes fixed of old,
Admitting without appeal the nether gods.
In her the superhuman cast its seed.
Inapt to fold its mighty wings of dream
Her spirit refused to hug the common soil
Or, finding all life’s golden meanings robbed,
Compound with earth, struck from the starry list,
Or quench with black despair the God-given light.
Accustomed to the eternal and the true,
Her being conscious of its divine founts
Asked not from mortal frailty pain’s relief,
Patched not with failure bargain or compromise.
It is only when there is the power to remain in constant contact with the Supreme Consciousness, beyond all these distortions and these black thoughts, that it is possible to maintain the Truth and to keep up the hope and the conviction of a better life.
The Consciousness is there, the faith is there, the clear vision is there. There is only to bear and to last.
A work she had to do, a word to speak;
Writing the unfinished story of her soul
In thoughts and actions graved in Nature’s book,
She accepted not to close the luminous page,
Cancel her commerce with eternity,
Or set a signature of weak ascent
To the brute balance of the world’s exchange.
A force in her that toiled since earth was made,
Accomplishing in life the great world-plan,
Pursuing after death immortal aims,
Repugned to admit frustration’s barren role,
Forfeit the meaning of her birth in Time,
Obey the government of the casual fact
Or yield her high destiny up to passing Chance.
In her own self she found her high recourse;
She matched with the iron law her sovereign right:
Her single will opposed the cosmic rule.
The earth has been chosen for the big work of bringing back the manifested to its Origin. The world has become the symbol of the whole universe and upon the earth the Sovereign Mother has incarnated from the beginning, to hasten the waking up of the world to the consciousness of its Origin.
It is to this Consciousness of the Mother that legend gave the name of Savitri and then the whole story was built.
To stay the wheels of Doom this greatness rose.
At the Unseen’s knock upon the hidden gates
Her strength made greater by the lightning’s touch
Awoke from slumber in her heart’s recess.
It bore the stroke of That which kills and saves.
Across the awful march no eye can see,
Barring its dreadful route no will can change,
She faced the engines of the universe;
A heart stood in the way of the driving wheels:
Its giant workings paused in front of a mind,
Its stark conventions met the flame of a soul.
A magic leverage suddenly is caught
That moves the veiled Ineffable’s timeless will:
A prayer, a master act, a king idea
Can link man’s strength to a transcendent Force.
Then miracle is made the common rule,
One mighty deed can change the course of things;
A lonely thought becomes omnipotent.
The secret of this Power is the unification of the manifested Consciousness with the Original Consciousness, with the Supreme. If this union is total and conscious, there is no limit to the Power manifested. If it is constant, the world can be transformed.
And then, if this is realised, what would take some thousands and thousands of years to be accomplished can be done in a moment.
All now seems Nature’s massed machinery;
An endless servitude to material rule
And long determination’s rigid chain,
Her firm and changeless habits aping Law,
Her empire of unconscious deft device
Annul the claim of man’s free human will.
He too is a machine amid machines;
A piston brain pumps out the shapes of thought,
A beating heart cuts out emotion’s modes;
An insentient energy fabricates a soul.
Or the figure of the world reveals the signs
Of a tied Chance repeating her old steps
In circles around Matters binding-posts.
This is the world as the New Consciousness has found it and still it lingers on, without thinking even of changing. But the time will come when things will change. The time is coming and one must be ready.
A random series of inept events
To which reason lends illusive sense, is here,
Or the empiric Life’s instinctive search,
Or a vast ignorant mind’s colossal work.
But wisdom comes, and vision grows within;
Then Nature’s instrument crowns himself her king;
He feels his witnessing self and conscious power;
His soul steps back and sees the Light supreme.
A Godhead stands behind the brute machine.
This truth broke in in a triumph of fire;
A victory was won for God in man,
The deity revealed its hidden face.
The great World-Mother now in her arose:
A living choice reversed fate’s cold dead turn,
Affirmed the spirit’s tread on Circumstance,
Pressed back the senseless dire revolving Wheel
And stopped the mute march of Necessity.
A flaming warrior from the eternal peaks
Empowered to force the door denied and closed
Smote from Death’s visage its dumb absolute
And burst the bounds of consciousness and Time.
This is just what has happened and is still happening, and, to pick up courage there is only to look in front to a future that is not so far away.
We are slowly but surely coming out of an almost desperate past towards a future full of promise and bringing to a humanity tired, exhausted and almost in despair, the vision of a Realisation that will bring back not only hope but Light, Power and Realisation.