To understand Savitri, the best way, paradoxical though it may seem, is not to try to understand it — to refrain from effort, all mental effort to understand it, and instead to let it enter into your consciousness and illumine it.
Savitri is not dead matter, a dictionary of ideas and images. It is a living scripture, a concentrated block of consciousness. All writings, in truth, contain the consciousness of the writer, and on the strength and quality of the consciousness of the writer depends the worth and force of the writing. That is the meaning of the grantha-pūjā of the Sikhs. Even without reading a scripture, by an intense concentration and aspiration you can establish an inner contact with the consciousness of the writer, with the consciousness concentrated in the book, and get the benefit. This is true especially of spiritual writings.
Savitri is a living and concentrated embodiment of Sri Aurobindo’s consciousness. His light and knowledge are there, always present and active. To read Savitri you need to establish a contact with that, with the consciousness behind the words; you need to develop a sort of inner sense. The images described in the poem are not mere images — Sri Aurobindo saw them; in his vision they were living things, living realities, and you should also see and feel them as such.
And that is possible only if you fulfil two conditions: first, the outer mind must be calm and still, and second, when you read you must be in a state of consciousness which is the highest and best in you. Fulfil these conditions and then you will truly understand and know.
The Indian system of learning, or initiation in learning, means this awakening of consciousness, the awakening to a new inner contact with the object of knowledge.
Published February 1982