The Fairy-Tale of the Earth: ‘Savitri’

Sixty-three years ago today, on December 9, 1950, Sri Aurobindo’s body was put into the  white marble Samadhi that had been built for this purpose in the central courtyard of the Ashram after his passing away on the 5th.
On the longer sides of the Samadhi was engraved, in English on one side, in French on the other side, the Prayer written and signed by the Mother:
When I arrived in Auroville in 1972, I was but a young woman who basically knew nothing yet about Sri Aurobindo except that he had written ‘The Life Divine’, the incredible, magnificent book that had at last decided me to live on, because it had revealed to me at last the true, complete, illuminating meaning of Life on Earth:  the divinely driven and guided process of Evolution that was happening here and was now nearing its decisive stage, the advent of the Supramental Era.
Having read also after that a few more books on that Vision, but not knowing anything yet about the actual lives of either Sri Aurobindo or the Mother, and having no idea yet of all the tremendous amount of work both of them had indeed quietly accomplished for the Earth, when I read that Prayer by the Mother as I came for the first time near the Samadhi, I was struck by its extraordinary beauty and intensity, but the mental part of me, still imbued with some of the typical Western arrogant ignorance, couldn’t help but assume that the Mother must have exaggerated a little in her appreciation of what we owe to Sri Aurobindo.
Forty years later, I know better, and would like to share with you all today, some at least of what I have discovered over those many years, that we indeed all owe to Sri Aurobindo.
Exploring the shorter writings of Sri Aurobindo as well as his longer, better known ones, I had discovered his poetry, starting with his sonnets, and then graduating to his other poems. Most of it was extraordinary inner experiences that for me were exhilarating and inspiring, stars to reach myself some day perhaps.
The first real hint of the unimaginable difficulty of the full purpose of Sri Aurobindo hit me through one specific poem of his I read:

A God’s Labour

I have gathered my dreams in a silver air
Between the gold and the blue
And wrapped them softly and left them there,
My jewelled dreams of you.

I had hoped to build a rainbow bridge
Marrying the soil to the sky
And sow in this dancing planet midge
The moods of infinity.

But too bright were our heavens, too far away,
Too frail their ethereal stuff;
Too splendid and sudden our light could not stay;
The roots were not deep enough.

He who would bring the heavens here
Must descend himself into clay
And the burden of earthly nature bear
And tread the dolorous way.

Coercing my godhead I have come down
Here on the sordid earth,
Ignorant, labouring, human grown
Twixt the gates of death and birth.

I have been digging deep and long
Mid a horror of filth and mire
A bed for the golden river’s song,
A home for the deathless fire.

I have laboured and suffered in Matter’s night
To bring the fire to man;
But the hate of hell and human spite
Are my meed since the world began.

For man’s mind is the dupe of his animal self;
Hoping its lusts to win,
He harbours within him a grisly Elf
Enamoured of sorrow and sin.

The grey Elf shudders from heaven’s flame
And from all things glad and pure;
Only by pleasure and passion and pain
His drama can endure.

All around is darkness and strife;
For the lamps that men call suns
Are but halfway gleams on this stumbling life
Cast by the Undying Ones.

Man lights his little torches of hope
That lead to a failing edge;
A fragment of Truth is his widest scope,
An inn his pilgrimage.

The Truth of truths men fear and deny,
The Light of lights they refuse;
To ignorant gods they lift their cry
Or a demon altar choose.

All that was found must again be sought,
Each enemy slain revives,
Each battle for ever is fought and refought
Through vistas of fruitless lives.

My gaping wounds are a thousand and one
And the Titan kings assail,
But I cannot rest till my task is done
And wrought the eternal will.

How they mock and sneer, both devils and men!
“Thy hope is Chimera’s head
Painting the sky with its fiery stain;
Thou shalt fall and thy work lie dead.

“Who art thou that babblest of heavenly ease
And joy and golden room
To us who are waifs on inconscient seas
And bound to life’s iron doom?

“This earth is ours, a field of Night
For our petty flickering fires.
How shall it brook the scared Light
Or suffer a god’s desires?

“Come, let us slay him and end his course!
Then shall our hearts have release
From the burden and call of his glory and force
And the curb of his wide white peace.”

But the god is there in my mortal breast
Who wrestles with error and fate
And tramples a road through mire and waste
For the nameless Immaculate.

A voice cried, “Go where none have gone!
Dig deeper, deeper yet
Till thou reach the grim foundation stone
And knock at the keyless gate.”

I saw that a falsehood was planted deep
At the very root of things
Where the grey Sphinx guards God’s riddle sleep
On the Dragon’s outspread wings.

I left the surface gods of mind
And life’s unsatisfied seas
And plunged through the body’s alleys blind
To the nether mysteries.

I have delved through the dumb Earth’s dreadful heart
And heard her black mass’s bell.
I have seen the source whence her agonies part
And the inner reason of hell.

Above me the dragon murmurs moan
And the goblin voices flit;
I have pierced the Void where Thought was born,
I have walked in the bottomless pit.

On a desperate stair my feet have trod
Armoured with boundless peace,
Bringing the fires of the splendour of God
Into the human abyss.

He who I am was with me still;
All veils are breaking now.
I have heard His voice and borne His will
on my vast untroubled brow.

The gulf twixt the depths and the heights is bridged
And the golden waters pour
Down the sapphire mountain rainbow-ridged
And glimmer from shore to shore.

Heaven’s fire is lit in the breast of the earth
And the undying suns here burn;
Through a wonder cleft in the bounds of birth
The incarnate spirits yearn

Like flames to the kingdoms of Truth and Bliss:
Down a gold-red stair-way wend
The radiant children of Paradise
Clarioning darkness’s end.

A little more and the new life’s doors
Shall be carved in silver light
With its aureate roof and mosaic floors
In a great world bare and bright.

I shall leave my dreams in their argent air,
For in a raiment of gold and blue
There shall move on the earth embodied and fair
The living truth of you.

This was written by Sri Aurobindo on 31-7-1935.
I was so shattered by the shock of the horror and incredible beauty of it, I cried and cried,  asking inwardly Sri Aurobindo to forgive us our deep unconsciousness. I was realizing for the first time what a Being had lived and died in our midst, while so few of us had any idea what exactly he was doing in the decades of solitary silence he spent in his room after 1926, inside that Ashram mostly full of naive disciples convinced they were gathered around a simple “guru” having a new approach  to Yoga for them to learn and do their best to actually practice. Only a few had some notion, at least at the mental level, of what he was really doing, and why, and what tremendous importance it would have for the Earth when he would at long last succeed. Those slightly more aware disciples had made it a yearly habit to ask Sri Aurobindo each year on his birthday (August 15) how things were going with “the coming down of the Supramental”.
In 1935 Sri Aurobindo said he was  making good headway and was rather optimistic, final success might come in not too long a time.
But 1935 turned out to be the year when Hitler, elected to full power in 1933, started implementing his real plans, that steadily brought about the Second World War in 1939, and ‘all hell broke loose’, that time literally and right here upon Earth, with the demoniac influence behind him rapidly threatening to engulf all countries one after the other under the Nazi ever expanding hegemony – to the point that Sri Aurobindo had to stop temporarily any further effort to bring down the Supramental, as the very first priority was now to prevent Hitler from winning altogether the War and having the whole world under Nazi Rule, which would mean absolutely no hope of the real, true New Evolutive Step happening in any near future.
So this is how in the end the secret inner action from Sri Aurobindo and Mother helped invisibly but powerfully the Allies to stop Hitler and the War; but even after that was done, in order to win the only irreversible Victory by accelerating the Supramental’s direct contact with the Earth, thus activating the same Supramental energy dormant inside Matter,  Sri Aurobindo, as we have seen, had to sacrifice his own life and purposely leave his physical body on December 5th, 1950.
This ultimate action to save the world was accompanied by a last Gift, a sort of Testament he left, that could help us follow him and the Mother towards the Future of the Earth: the wonderful epic poem on Evolution that he had titled ‘SAVITRI’. It evokes in a thrillingly beautiful manner not only the past of terrestrial Evolution, but also its present unfolding, and the radiant future it prepares: the Life Divine here in this poor physical world that used to be considered so un-divine and un-redeemable.
It is now many years I keep reading ‘Savitri’, together with ‘Mother’s Agenda’.  Somewhere in her ‘Agenda’ (her recorded Diary 1956-1973) Mother speaks of the whole Story of Sri Aurobindo’s  invisible Action for the Earth, as something akin to a ‘Fairy-Tale of the Earth’, leading to the Transformation of Matter back into its veritable, divine nature.
Whenever I am reading ‘Savitri’, I feel I am reading ‘The Fairy-Tale of the Earth’…
And there too, but in an even more detailed and stunning description than in ‘A God’s Labour’, one finds out with total awe and wonder all that Sri Aurobindo has done for us (all that he describes is actually from his own inner experience and action), for which we may indeed pray, along with Mother, “THAT WE MAY NEVER FORGET, EVEN FOR A MOMENT, ALL WE OWE TO THEE”.
400 × 280 –

7 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. donsalmon
    Dec 09, 2013 @ 12:34:59

    Beautiful post. If you haven’t seen it before, you might enjoy Franklin Merrell Wolff’s eulogy for Sri Aurobindo:

    Franklin Merrell-Wolff
    Eulogy on the Death of Sri Aurobindo
    May/June 1951

    Whensoever there is a fading of the Dharma and the uprising of
    unrighteousness, then I loose myself forth into birth.

    For the deliverance of the good, for the destruction of the evildoers,
    for the enthroning of the Right, I am born from age to age.

    From The Message of the Gita, ch. IV, verses 7 and 8, as translated by
    Sri Aurobindo.

    That the times in which we live bear the mark of the “fading of the
    Dharma” and the “uprising of unrighteousness” in exceptional degree
    has long been evident to many of us who have, therefore, been alerted
    for Avataral Descent in one or more embodiments. For those who are
    spiritually awake the signs of such Descent, in more than one
    embodiment, currently or within the recent past, have not been
    lacking, so that indeed a time of exceptional darkness has also been
    the occasion for the manifestation of rare inner Light. Among these
    embodiments the late Sri Aurobindo stands out as one of the most
    luminous figures of all historic time. It is but fitting, therefore,
    that we should direct at least some portion of our thoughts and
    regards towards this man who in rare degree manifested the Divine
    nature and wisdom.
    Sri Aurobindo was born on August 15, 1872 and passed from the physical
    embodiment on the fifth of December, 1950. Rarely have we known lives
    so packed with accomplishment as were the 79 years of this man. His
    formal education began in England at the age of seven and was
    completed at Cambridge. His life work began in the secretariat of the
    Gaekwar of Baroda and soon extended to the teaching of English and
    administrative work in Baroda College. It was not long before his
    interests were drawn into the field of Indian politics and in the
    years just preceding 1910 he became the leader of the independence
    movement. In fact, he originated the technique of non-cooperation
    which was later continued so effectively by the late Mahatma Ghandi.
    Like other such leaders he experienced arrest and waited a year in
    jail for the trial which ultimately cleared him from the accusations
    brought against him.

    This year was the turning point in his life for, while on one side he
    faced the harshness of incarceration, yet it was during this night of
    physical life that there began for him the Illuminations and
    Realizations which opened the way for his primary life work. So when
    at last acquitted, he left forever the political and professional
    fields, retired to Pondicherry, the French territory in India, and
    there spent the remaining forty years of his life in a rare productive

    For the biographer able to trace only the tangible events in a human
    life, the final forty years might well seem poor in the material
    offered; but for him who has metaphysical vision, these were the great
    years which reveal One with a stature comparable to that of a Krishna,
    a Buddha or a Christ. These years saw the manifestation of greatness
    in two senses. First, there was a vast literary production in both
    the medium of prose and poetry, which is available to the scholar and
    which may be in some measure evaluated by the latter. The second and
    greater part of his labor lay in those unseen dimensions which only
    the few can ever truly evaluate. Along with this double labor, and
    really incidental thereto, an Ashrama was established, open to both
    sexes and dedicated to the dual objective of individual Realization
    and the Spiritualization of the world in a sense and is not restricted
    to the human portion of that world.

    Leaving this all too brief sketch of an extraordinarily full life
    work, we must turn to an evaluation of the more tangible production of
    his last forty years. Aurobindo became a Yogi and a Rishi or, as the
    Buddhists would say, an Enlightened One. He was not merely a mystic
    but a master of mystical and Gnostic consciousness with a
    comprehensiveness that does not seem to have been surpassed within
    historic times. His literary work was dedicated almost exclusively to
    the revelation of Gnostic Consciousness, in so far as that may be, and
    to the encouragement and guidance of effort upon the part of all who
    may respond, to the end that they too may know the Gnostic
    Realization. But he implemented this work with a most unusual
    scholarly equipment, both in Oriental and Occidental material. While
    this equipment is strongest in the Vedic and Yogic philosophical, and
    general literary, linguistic and historical sense, yet there is not
    lacking a considerable understanding of Western science, save only
    that phase of science of which mathematics is an essential part.
    Along with all this, Aurobindo was thoroughly trained in, and a master
    of, the English language in both the forms of prose and poetic
    literary production, and thus for the first time in the history of
    Indian Gnostic contributions we have original production in the
    language of the reader of English, and in terms adapted to the needs
    of the modern mind; all of which results in a product of far more
    value than the translations of ancient Sutras composed for a mentality
    which is strange and often incomprehensible to us.

    While it is true that Sri Aurobindo often speaks in pejorative terms
    of the mind and the reason, particularly in later writings, yet his
    formulations, even in his poetry, are always highly rational and,
    therefore, intelligible. The reader does not have to labor with the
    unintelligibilities which are so often the curse of metaphysical
    production, as in the case of Jacob Boehme. Perhaps despite himself
    Aurobindo found it to be impossible to cease being reasonable, and the
    reader may well be thankful for this. The writer would class him with
    Shankara as being one of the two clearest and most rational of
    mystical philosophers. And further, Aurobindo rarely if ever imposes
    intellectual violence upon the reader since he avoids categorical
    assertion and denial in the highest degree possible, though the
    authority of Direct Realization is such that the categorical form
    cannot be completely avoided. He suggests possibilities or
    difficulties for the reasonable consideration of the reader and in his
    philosophic writings and letters ever seeks to lead the understanding
    by argument rather than to compel it by authoritarian pronouncement.
    The result is that the thoughtful reader is often convinced away from
    his previous predilections and, when not convinced, yet feels that
    Aurobindo permits and respects his different view. Of all the merits
    of this great man, this is not the least.

    Lack of space prevents saying more than a word concerning the
    substance of Aurobindo’s yogic philosophy, but we would fail in the
    sketch of this man’s life and thought if we did not say something. In
    the main, he continues in the current established by the Vedas, the
    Upanishads and the Gita and, in so far, is in accord with the
    established Indian tradition. But he derives from, or superimposes
    upon, that current interpretation which, in certain important
    respects, diverges radically from views that have been predominant in
    India, particularly the views of Sri Shankaracharya and the
    Mayavadins. He teaches a philosophy of universal Realism as opposed
    to the Mayavadin Universal Illusionism. Hence, for Aurobindo, the
    attainment of Nirvana, while a preeminently valuable achievement, is
    but the beginning of a process which returns to the world in order
    that transformation may be effected in the evolution, whereas, for
    Shankara and the Mayavadins, the evolution is simply irrelevant and
    Nirvana is a culmination. For Aurobindo, world process and
    development remain significant even for the Divine Life.

    The Crown of Sri Aurobindo lies in this that through him the Divine
    has been drawn down into the mundane field for its spiritualization in
    a degree and sense that has rarely if ever been realized heretofore,
    and thus he is truly an Avatar.

    Hail to Thee, Thou Man God!

    Reprinted in the New Age Interpreter, May June 1951, and in Mother

    During his lifetime Sri Aurobindo was comparatively unknown in the
    Western world. As this December marks the tenth anniversary of his
    passing he is beginning to be hailed universally as a more than
    ordinary being, a Great Being among the Great.
    –Gertrude Wolff–

    Reprinted in Assembly of Man Bulletin 4 (December, 1960).



    • Bhaga
      Dec 09, 2013 @ 13:50:41

      Thank you first of all for your appreciative comment on my own post… and thank you also for the thoughtful addition of this Eulogy, which I indeed didn’t know, and which does bring out several very good points about Sri Aurobindo. My visitors here will be grateful too!



  2. Jitendra Sharma
    Dec 09, 2013 @ 15:14:39

    Merci, Bhaga ! Here is another beautiful Post from you ! I share it on my Blog.


    Dr. Jitendra Sharma



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