THE MOTHER’S SAVITRI: Book 6 Canto 1


The Mother Reads Selections from Savitri by Sri Aurobindo

Book Six, The Book of Fate
Canto One, The Word of Fate

In silent bounds bordering the mortal’s plane
Crossing a wide expanse of brilliant peace
Narad the heavenly sage from Paradise
Came chanting through the large and lustrous air.
[p. 416]
* * *
As might a lightning streak, a glory fell
Nearing until the rapt eyes of the sage
Looked out from luminous cloud and, strangely limned
His face, a beautiful mask of antique joy,
Appearing in light descended where arose
King Aswapathy’s palace to the winds
In Madra, flowering up in delicate stone.
[p. 417]
* * *

There welcomed him the sage and thoughtful king,
At his side a creature beautiful, passionate, wise,
Aspiring like a sacrificial flame,
Skyward from its earth-seat through luminous air,
Queen-browed, the human mother of Savitri.
[p. 417]
* * *
He sang to them of the lotus-heart of love
With all its thousand luminous buds of truth,
Which quivering sleeps veiled by apparent things.
[p. 417]
* * *
Even as he sang and rapture stole through earth-time
And caught the heavens, came with a call of hooves,
As of her swift heart hastening, Savitri;
Her radiant tread glimmered across the floor.
. . .
She stood before her mighty father’s throne
. . .
He flung on her his vast immortal look;
His inner gaze surrounded her with its light
[p. 418]
* * *
What feet of gods, what ravishing flutes of heaven
Have thrilled high melodies round, from near and far
Approaching through the soft and revelling air,
Which still surprised thou hearest? They have fed
Thy silence on some red strange-ecstasied fruit
And thou hast trod the dim moon-peaks of bliss.
Reveal, O winged with light, whence thou hast flown
Hastening bright-hued through the green-tangled earth,
Thy body rhythmical with the spring-bird’s call.
[p. 419]
* * *
But Aswapathy answered to the seer;
. . .
As grows the great and golden bounteous tree
Flowering by Alacananda’s murmuring waves,
Where with enamoured speed the waters run
Lisping and babbling to the splendour of morn
And cling with lyric laughter round the knees
Of heaven’s daughters dripping magic rain
Pearl-bright from moon-gold limbs and cloudy hair,
So are her dawns like jewelled leaves of light.
So casts she her felicity on men.
[pp. 421; 422-423]
* * *
Virgin who comest perfected by joy,
Reveal the name thy sudden heart-beats learned.
Whom hast thou chosen kingliest among men?”
And Savitri answered with her still calm voice
As one who speaks beneath the eyes of Fate:
“Father and king, I have carried out thy will,
One whom I sought I found in distant lands;
I have obeyed my heart, I have heard its call.
. . .
My father, I have chosen. This is done.”
[p. 424]
* * *
Astonished, all sat silent for a space.
Then Aswapathy looked within and saw
A heavy shadow float above the name
Chased by a sudden and stupendous light;
[p. 424]
* * *
But now the queen alarmed lifted her voice:
“O seer, thy bright arrival has been timed
To this high moment of a happy life.
. . .
Hide not from us our doom, if doom is ours.
This is the worst, an unknown face of Fate,
A terror ominous mute felt more than seen
Behind our seat by day, our couch by night,
A Fate lurking in the shadow of our hearts,
The anguish of the unseen that waits to strike.
To know is best, however hard to bear.”
[pp. 426; 429]
* * *
Then cried the sage piercing the mother’s heart,
Forcing to steel the will of Savitri
His words set free the spring of cosmic Fate.
. . .
“The truth thou hast claimed; I give to thee the truth.
. . .
Heaven’s greatness came, but was too great to stay.
Twelve swift-winged months are given to him and her;
This day returning Satyavan must die.”
[pp. 429; 431]
* * *
But the queen cried: “Vain then can be Heaven’s grace!
. . .
Mounting thy car go forth, O Savitri,
And travel once more through the peopled lands.
. . .
Plead not thy choice, for death has made it vain.
. . .
But Savitri answered from her violent heart, —
. . .
“Once my heart chose and chooses not again.
The word I have spoken can never be erased,
It is written in the record book of God.
[pp. 431; 432]
* * *
“O child, in the magnificence of thy soul
Dwelling on the border of a greater world,
And, dazzled by thy superhuman thoughts,
Thou lendst eternity to a mortal hope.
. . .
Thou who art human, think not like a god.
For man, below the god, above the brute,
Is given the calm reason as his guide;
. . .
Leave not thy goal to follow a beautiful face.
[pp. 432; 434]
* * *
But Savitri replied with steadfast eyes:
. . .
If for a year, that year is all my life
And yet I know this is not all my fate
Only to live and love awhile and die.
For I know now why my spirit came on earth
And who I am and who he is I love.
I have looked at him from my immortal Self,
I have seen God smile at me in Satyavan;
I have seen the Eternal in a human face.”
[pp. 435-436]

End of Book 6 Canto 1


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