B1 C2 Movement 1 Passage-by-Passage Summary
Savitri has accepted the law of Ignorance only so that she can change it. She has consented to descend into a world built by Death so as to transform it into a world of Life Divine. She has come armed with the powers to face the grim battle with Death in his own liar. One of the big difficulties however is the law of karma that compels man to remain tied to the wheel of destiny and swing between the dualities without ever finding true freedom. With the human resistance on one hand and the powers of Darkness holding the cosmos on the other hand, it is indeed a cosmic war that she must wage.
The battle with the Night
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.
Savitri has come armed with the power of the Gods that reside in her soul. She must descend into the pit of Darkness with these powers and wrestle with the powers of Death that have their roots in the Inconscient. She has to do it alone facing the resistance of the whole universe which is under the influence of the Inconscient and its powers of Death, Falsehood, Unconsciousness and Darkness.
The bare peak and the world’s death-cave
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.
To change the law, Savitri must enter the very home of Death and convince Death to allow life and love to bloom upon earth. Neither love nor life’s powers can make any claim there. The dark shadow is impervious to the cry of life and the ordinary human love. However Savitri has come armed with the power of Divine Love which alone can win the victory.
Nature’s harsh economy
Altered must be Nature’s harsh economy;
Acquittance she must win from her past’s bond, (page 13 begins)
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.
The balance of Nature is indeed harsh. She is ‘amoral’ and Vast and often acts without concern about an individual’s life and the pain and suffering they undergo even as she moves on towards her unseen goal. Any effort to change her established rules of the game is met with a resistance from past habits and patterns, the karmic energies we have set into motion that multiply as it moves and returns, prodding us to do the same mistakes again and again (compound debt). The karmic law, like any law, does not spare you because you were ignorant of it, it hits you back nevertheless. The only way to mitigate it is through penance, which is to burn in a fire of purification and sacrifice. Not tears but sacrifice moves the cosmic powers. The gist of it is that as long as man labours under the yoke of ignorance he must necessarily move through error and pain.
The Soul’s meeting with Death
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
These are powerful lines that reveal the nature of Savitri’s work. The power to battle with the Night can only be found beyond the barriers of the cosmic consciousness. Savitri must go beyond and bring into the earthly play a new and greater Power from the Unmanifest. It is this Power with which she must confront the challenge of Death and triumph over its darkness that holds the human soul and earthly life captive under its shadow. Only the transcendent Supramental Power can annul its law and create here upon earth a nucleus of super humanity freed from the clutch of ignorance and grief.
After giving us a brief account of the karmic law that holds in its grip all humanity by the noose of Ignorance, Sri Aurobindo reveals to us the secret that would liberate us from its clutches. But man cannot do it by himself. Therefore Savitri has come to open the doors to a New Power, a Power from beyond the cosmic Ignorance, a Power that belongs to the Transcendent Divine and has not yet manifested in creation. Armed with this Power, Savitri must enter into the pit of darkness and falsehood and death and wrestle with the forces that guard the unforgiving law.