The World of Rule and Line, pp. 495-496 (SH 253)

Savitri Book Seven: The Book of Yoga
Canto Three: The Entry into the Inner Countries

 


Savitri passes onwards beyond the vital worlds concealed within us to the world of mind where rule and measure predominate over the wild freedom and passion of life. Everything here is reduced to fixed beliefs and rigid formulas that tame but do not allow life to expand and grow. The Spirit does not find its freedom here since it is tied to rule and norm. What follows is a description of this domain.


Then journeying forward through the self’s wide hush
She came into a brilliant ordered Space.

There Life dwelt parked in an armed tranquillity;
A chain was on her strong insurgent heart.
Tamed to the modesty of a measured pace,
She kept no more her vehement stride and rush;
She had lost the careless majesty of her muse
And the ample grandeur of her regal force;
Curbed were her mighty pomps, her splendid waste,
Sobered the revels of her bacchant play,
Cut down were her squanderings in desire’s bazaar,
Coerced her despot will, her fancy’s dance,
A cold stolidity bound the riot of sense.

A royalty without freedom was her lot;
The sovereign throned obeyed her ministers:
Her servants mind and sense governed her house:
Her spirit’s bounds they cast in rigid lines
And guarding with a phalanx of armoured rules
The reason’s balanced reign, kept order and peace.

Her will lived closed in adamant walls of law,
Coerced was her force by chains that feigned to adorn,
Imagination was prisoned in a fort,
Her wanton and licentious favourite;
Reality’s poise and reason’s symmetry
Were set in its place sentinelled by marshalled facts,
They gave to the soul for throne a bench of Law,
For kingdom a small world of rule and line:
The ages’ wisdom, shrivelled to scholiast lines,
Shrank patterned into a copy-book device.

The Spirit’s almighty freedom was not here:
A schoolman mind had captured life’s large space,
But chose to live in bare and paltry rooms
Parked off from the too vast dangerous universe,
Fearing to lose its soul in the infinite.

Even the Idea’s ample sweep was cut
Into a system, chained to fixed pillars of thought
Or rivetted to Matter’s solid ground:
Or else the soul was lost in its own heights:
Obeying the Ideal’s high-browed law
Thought based a throne on unsubstantial air
Disdaining earth’s flat triviality:
It barred reality out to live in its dreams.

Or all stepped into a systemed universe:
Life’s empire was a managed continent,
Its thoughts an army ranked and disciplined;
Uniformed they kept the logic of their fixed place
At the bidding of the trained centurion mind.
Or each stepped into its station like a star
Or marched through fixed and constellated heavens
Or kept its feudal rank among its peers
In the sky’s unchanging cosmic hierarchy.

Or like a high-bred maiden with chaste eyes
Forbidden to walk unveiled the public ways,
She must in close secluded chambers move,
Her feeling in cloisters live or gardened paths.

Life was consigned to a safe level path,
It dared not tempt the great and difficult heights
Or climb to be neighbour to a lonely star
Or skirt the danger of the precipice
Or tempt the foam-curled breakers’ perilous laugh,
Adventure’s lyrist, danger’s amateur,
Or into her chamber call some flaming god,
Or leave the world’s bounds and where no limits are
Meet with the heart’s passion the Adorable
Or set the world ablaze with the inner Fire.

A chastened epithet in the prose of life,
She must fill with colour just her sanctioned space,
Not break out of the cabin of the idea
Nor trespass into rhythms too high or vast.

Even when it soared into ideal air,
Thought’s flight lost not itself in heaven’s blue:
It drew upon the skies a patterned flower
Of disciplined beauty and harmonic light.

Savitri: 495 – 497

(line breaks are added to emphasize separate movements)

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