The Strength of Stillness pp. 13-14

B1 C2 Movement 1 Passage-by-Passage Summary

We know now the real nature of Savitri’s work. It is to bring a new working in the cosmic field. To say that it is not an easy work will be an understatement. In fact it is a work that has never been attempted before, except perhaps partially. Mystics who have had a glimpse of the ‘Beyond’ have preferred to escape from the law and sometimes shown the way to others too. No doubt it is a kind of victory but a partial one. But to bring back the dead is to literally turn the tables in the domain of death where it rules freely, aided by the cosmic forces born out of Ignorance. Where and how did Savitri find the strength and awaken the Power to do so? Here we have a brief description of the place that the Divine Mother chose for her tapasya, a space that mated with her inner mood and helped her grow towards the much needed stillness that opens a door within and Above. The actual nature of her tapasya, the yoga of Savitri is described much later in Book seven. Here we only have a glimpse of the seat of her tapasya which itself is very inspiring.

The great and dolorous moment
The great and dolorous moment now was close

Once again, after giving us the deeper background and the issues and forces and beings involved, Sri Aurobindo connects us to the present moment, the moment when the strong are tested with fire. It is a great and dolorous moment, a moment of crisis when the shadow of Death looms large over Savitri. She must either succumb to the Shadow or fight and conquer it.

Indeed all moments of crisis are also moments when we can rise to an extraordinary greatness in our life, if we so will.

A mailed battalion marching to its doom
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.

The subjective experience of time is different and depends upon our inner psychological condition. Sri Aurobindo compares Savitri’s last few days before the destined one as an army battalion that is marching towards its doom with tired feet. Each day is for her a precious leaf torn from the book of Time. Yet this foreknowledge does not make her anxious or worried but only arms her with a greater strength to face and to conquer.

Her armoured spirit
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.

Here again, Sri Aurobindo compares Savitri to the lonely soldier who keeps vigil whole day and night as he is aware of the approaching doom. He stays awake and watches over the loved ones. Such is the inner state of the Avatara who remains calm and watchful to ward off the approaching danger about to eclipse human fate. None knows the approaching calamity or the battle and remain happy, not knowing that they owe it to the ever watchful eye of the Incarnate Grace.

The world unknowing, for the world she stood
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.

Silent and Strong in her soul, Savitri came missioned as a force of God to save the world against the onrush of forces of darkness and death. None knew how they escaped the danger except the high Gods who are her assistants in the cosmic work, and Nature in whose fields the tremendous battle was fought. Man in his Ignorance simply bears the fruits of the Avatara’s coming, not conscious of the hands that turned the tide of Time and saved the civilization from imminent catastrophe. Savitri’s battle with death for Satyavan’s life becomes therefore a powerful symbol of the Divine Mother’s fight for our body and souls against all the forces that seek to enslave us and keep us tied to the reign of darkness and falsehood and death.

The Austere Hills
Around her were the austere sky-pointing hills,
And the green murmurous broad deep-thoughted woods
Muttered incessantly their muffled spell.

Staying amidst nature Savitri had learnt many a things from this occult contact and inner commerce with life. She was undergoing an inner tapasya (austerity) matching her outer environment.

Destiny’s secluded scene
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.

Savitri was prepared for her role amidst the beauty of material Nature. She had turned the quiet hermitage, where Satyavan lived with his parents, into a trysting ground for awakening her highest strengths. When we are filled with the divine consciousness, then everything and everyplace begins to appear beautiful and a means to unfold the mysteries of Divine.

The stature of her spirit
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   (page 14 begins)
And mated her with her environment.

To grow into the full stature of our souls we need time and seclusion from all the noises of the world that drown us. Exploring her silent depths in that beautiful space untouched by human noise, Savitri grew wide and strong steeped in the silence of the material nature around her.

The power of solitude
Its solitude greatened her human hours
With a background of the eternal and unique.

There is a power in solitude. It is in solitude that we can discover our greatest founts of Strength. In solitude we can attune to the silence of the Self much more easily. In solitude we can harness our knowledge and power. In solitude we can become aware of the eternal Spirit that broods behind things.

The heavy framework of man’s days
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 wildness 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.

Modern mind-built civilisation has burdened us with artificial needs that absorb much of our time and energy. In contrast there is a life of simplicity lived amidst the beauty of physical Nature. In its urge for comfort and sophistication, our mind has made everything, even the mere act of daily living, complicated. In contrast we see how creatures have flourished in the utter simplicity of nature before the advent of man. In contrast, Savitri in that secluded hermitage had time to contemplate upon the highest mysteries of existence.

Radiant prologue
There was her drama’s radiant prologue lived.

Thus she spent her days preparing for the hour of fatal stroke, inwardly plunging herself into luminous depths.

A spot for the eternal’s tread on earth
A spot for the eternal’s 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.

There is a stillness in physical nature through which one can feel the Eternal Presence that dwells behind creation. One can, in such spaces, feel the aspiration of the mountain peaks, the yearning for Light within the trees and, joining oneself with this yearning, forget grief and burden of Time. Thus Savitri led by her heart’s highest aspiration pierced beyond Time and drew her strength form a yet unborn Force concealed in the higher hemisphere.

Closing Remarks

This is the first brief hint provided by the Master-poet Sri Aurobindo about Savitri’s tapasya that armed and prepared her for taking on the challenge of Destiny and facing the spirit of Death with a will to conquer.

 

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