B1 C2 Movement 1 Passage-by-Passage Summary
In the following few passages Savitri takes a look at her life until this point. The Master-poet also places things in their true perspective and not as we may superficially understand them.
Awhile, withdrawn in secret fields of thought,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.
Events, circumstances, happenings that take place in our outer life have their seed and origin within. And even when they are over, they continue to exist in our thoughts and feelings and memory, thereby bearing the future results of our deeds. Nothing really dies. It lives on in some subconscious part of our Nature. Even when it has vanished from sight, the experience of the event and its essence remains imprinted in us. These imprints are mostly images and states of consciousness rather than details.
Savitri’s witness spirit reviewing Time
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.
The mysterious flood is the subconscient memory where everything that has ever happened is recorded and preserved. It is an accurate recorder that misses nothing, every passing appearance or scene, every passing feeling and thought, every impulse that leaps, all that we have sensed and seen and heard and touched or felt is there. It is the record book of Time and does not lie. The ego-self distorts our memory through personal likes and dislikes and the lens of conceptions and perceptions through which we see and understand things. But the witness Spirit sees things just as they are, without distorting them with our desires and preferences. Hence Savitri now takes a look at her past with the eyes of her witness Spirit for a clue and a cause and the cure of this crisis that has come to her in the form of an adverse Fate. It is the morning of the day when Satyavan must die when Savitri has woken up and is taking a close look at all that has brought her to this brink.
All that she once had hoped and dreamed and been,
Flew past her eagle-winged through memory’s skies.
Savitri looks into her past with her soul-vision. This is conveyed to us through use of words such as ‘eagle-winged’ (intuitive seeing), ‘many-hued flaming inner dawn’ (psychic moments), ‘sun-clear’ (greater spiritual light). When our mind looks at things it does so through the distortions of its own ideas and conceptions. The vital looks at life through its experiences of joy and sorrow, its preferences and desires, but the soul looks at the past through another vision. It sees its deeper sense, its inner purpose, the real meaning behind events and circumstances.
Joy clutched under the shadow of doom
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.
Savitri reviews her life from childhood through youth and her marriage and the bond of love now threatened by the destined stroke of Death. Thus far her life has been happy and beautiful without a single sad note so to say. Her childhood and her early youth has been spent amidst beautiful surroundings where she has been nurtured by Beauty and Love. But now she has reached a point where the shadow of doom falls as a shadow upon her happy life. Here she finds herself torn between the heavenly joy of being with her beloved Satyavan and state of despair at the possibility of losing him soon.
Twelve passionate months
Twelve passionate months led in a day of fate.
This single line says it all. Her passionate and intense life full of joy and love seems to be fast reaching a dead end.
The hour of God
An absolute supernatural darkness falls
On man sometimes when he draws near to God:
An hour arrives 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. (p.12 begins)
There are moments reserved in the life of all who are destined for a higher life when all their natural supports and scaffoldings are as if swiftly and suddenly taken away. These are moments when one has nothing to hold on to except one’s faith. These are moments when one has to undergo the ‘test of fire’ so that, purged and purified of all dross and impurity, the truth within may shine out and stand in front without the covering and diminishing garbs of our nature. These are moments when all that we cherish and seek support in is taken away from us and we are left face to face with an emptiness that seems to engulf our very existence.
Sri Aurobindo calls these moments the ‘Hour of God’. During these hours we are surrounded by an unusual (supernatural) darkness that comes to purify and strengthen. The ‘primal need’ here is the true security that comes only from the Divine Presence. The ‘surface soul’ is the ‘ego-desire-self’ that we mistake as ourselves. We are, in these absolute moments, stripped bare of all our ego-defenses and stand face to face with our true self.
That moment had now arrived in the life of Savitri, confronting Death of her loved one and the stroke of adverse Fate.
A moment of choice
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.
Savitri stood on a crucial junction in her life. Either she must succumb to Fate and thereby see her loved one die. It would once again make life seem vain since nothing true and beautiful can last here. It would annul the dreams of an ideal love and flawless happiness that the soul nurtures for the race. Or else Savitri can take the challenge of Destiny and fight Death and Doom.
Of course, the ‘will that must cancel’ is not just a wishful thinking or mental will but the central will of our true individuality, the true person within. It is this will, this conscious choice that will open the door of Destiny leading to one set of experiences or another, one set of circumstances or another.
Thus we see that as Savitri stands on the edge of a crucial Time and reviews her life so far. She is faced with a tremendous choice, a choice that only the rare and strong soul can make. It is a moment of destiny before her. Either she must succumb like all human beings before the verdict of fate or else awaken in her the power that can alter destiny. This is the choice before her.
But what really is this fate, the stroke of circumstances that follow our life? We see this in the lines that follow.