B1 C2 Movement 2 Passage-by-Passage Summary
The next movement describes summarily, as it were, Savitri’s life until this moment, and contrasts it with the ordinary human life. The Master Poet also reveals the general law of earthly evolution which is largely under the law of Ignorance and the stress of Suffering and pain. Savitri has come to change this. Our evolutionary journey must be a luminous and conscious process. It must be a conscious choice of growth into the Godhead that we are. This transformation of the very law of our living is possible only through the intervention of the Transcendent Divine in the cosmic play. Savitri has come to bring down that Intervention and change the way of earthly evolution.
Till then no mournful line had barred this ray.
In a single line Sri Aurobindo once again beautifully summarises not only Savitri’s life until now, but also one aspect of her being.
Savitri has until now not experienced grief. But this is not only due to fortunate outer circumstances but more importantly due to her luminous state that did not allow any shadow of despair or cloud of gloom to eclipse the light within. A radiant happiness was her natural state, something that is possible only for someone living by one’s soul.
In sympathy with happier stars
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.
Sri Aurobindo compares this body to a ‘breath-fastened house’ built with fragile material on a precarious and frail ground, ever-shifting on waves of Time. But we are not limited by the body. There is a soul within that peeps through the flesh, it can reach out far and wide into realms of beauty we do not find here. It can receive the light of higher, distant realms. This earthly frame can be filled with ‘mights’ not born in mortal limbs. Such is Savitri who was inwardly connected through memory and sight and a native right to luminous, griefless world and hence wondered at bodily frames that are mortal and lives that are filled with sorrow and grief.
Measures of the gods
Although she leaned to bear the human load,
Her walk kept still the measures of the gods.
This is to say that although Savitri shared and lessened the suffering of humanity, and moved amongst men helping them through deep compassion; yet, in her inner being, she was far ahead in worlds of luminous calm and spiritual joy.
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.
Brilliant glass is Savitri’s body. Being born upon earth, she inhaled the poison that its atmosphere is filled with (the poison of our thoughts and feelings and crooked will and devious motives), yet remained unaffected and unstained. Even her very body where animal instincts normally have a strong hold remained unsmeared, like a lotus blooming in the mud and mire.
Heavens tranquil shield guarded the missioned child
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.
Whenever the Divine takes a human body, there come as his companions and playmates beings of the higher worlds to assist in the labour. This assistance may be outer or inner depending upon the nature of the work. Savitri’s childhood was spent in the company of luminous gods who guarded and prepared her for the great mission. Her advent itself drew these higher beings and powers that surrounded her as a ring of protection. Prominent among them was the ‘white-fire dragon-bird of endless bliss’, possibly representing some combination of the powers of Maheswari and Mahakali
Her youth sat throned in calm felicity
A glowing orbit was her early term,
Years like gold raiment of the gods that pass;
Her youth sat throned in calm felicity.
These radiant beings and their powers gradually surrounded and influenced her, touching and shaping her early years. But as, Savitri entered her youth, she sat throned, a queen of these beings who were her aspects and powers.
Darkness in terrestrial things
But joy cannot endure until the end:
There is a darkness in terrestrial things (page 17 begins)
That will not suffer long too glad a note
The darkness of the Inconscient holds Earth in its grip, surrounding and subjecting all life here to its formidable Law. This darkness resists and repels all Light, since admitting it would mean the end of its reign upon earth. It prefers the transient pleasures to the eternal Joy that the Divine can grant us.
The inescapable Hand
On her too closed the inescapable Hand:
The armed Immortal bore the snare of Time.
By consenting to take up a human body, Savitri subjected herself to the law of the Inconscient that governs life here. To be born in a physical body is to become subject to the laws of decay and disintegration. However, Savitri is inwardly armed with the Light of Truth and the power of Love. She has to come to change the law, to establish the supremacy of the immortal soul over earthy life. But to accomplish this fully she too must first pass beneath the yoke imposed by the birth in Time.
One dealt with her
One dealt with her who meets the burdened great.
The One here is the Evolutionary Power that hides behind creation and works its purpose through the complex play of Time. It must test the great with the fire of ordeal before granting them the victory and allowing a new Light to be born here.
Ordeal and the path
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.
The path of evolution, the journey of life is strewn with challenges and difficulties. These difficulties and ordeals are in fact evolutionary tests designed to bring out our hidden strengths and latent possibilities sleeping in our soul. The pain of life is actually also a possibility of life. Pain shows us our imperfections, it reminds us of our unfinished work which is to transform this world of falsehood and ignorance and pain into a world of Truth and Light and Ananda. Savitri’s very birth is for that. She has come to transform the abyss of darkness and suffering by filling it with her vast love.
The Eternal’s dreadful strategy
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.
The ordeal and the difficulty are in exact proportion to and measure of our inner strength. Such is the occult arrangement of life that all our circumstances are so arranged as to help us evolve. Our life’s crisis is our soul’s opportunity.
Assailing the divine elements
Assailing her divinest elements,
He made her heart kin to the striving human heart
And forced her strength to its appointed road.
The difficulty and challenges helped chisel and refine the divine qualities that Savitri was born with. By burdening her with adversity, the evolutionary Power had ensured that she does not forget her mission.
The riddle of man’s birth
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.
Savitri was born free. She was not compelled to take a human body as ordinarily we do when circling through the mazes of Ignorance. She chose to do so to solve the riddle of man’s birth. This riddle is the birth of our immortal soul in a body subject to decay and death,; the struggle of immortal life in a mortal body.
The Souls’ issue
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
This is our real challenge, the Work of works for which the soul descends each time it takes a human body. It is not only to discover its divinity but also to raise all nature including the body to its divine status. This is possible only when we have freed ourselves from all subjection to darkness, unconsciousness, falsehood and death in each and every corner of our being. Savitri has come to lead and show us the way.
To lead, to deliver
But not to submit and suffer was she born;
To lead, to deliver was her glorious part.
An average person breaks down under the stress of suffering and an adverse Fate. But the truly great emerge stronger and wiser. The greatest of all, however, are victorious and triumph not only over suffering but also over adverse Fate.
Savitri, the incarnate Divine, has to experience human suffering like all other humans but it is done through a conscious choice so as to show to humanity the way out of this predicament.
Thus we see here Savitri’s Avataric mission and Purpose. She is a portion of the Divine Mother who has come down and assumed a human body to rescue humanity from its state of Darkness, Ignorance and Unconsciousness. She has come into the prison-house of Matter amidst a death-bound humanity to hew the pathways of true Freedom and Immortality. She has entered the earthly field governed by laws of Ignorance and death to affirm the power of the Spirit that can change these laws and liberate us from subjection to blind obscurity and the iron grip of Ignorance.