… in writing Savitri Sri Aurobindo has left behind for mankind a verbal embodiment of his own consciousness. … the real core of Savitri is the consciousness of Sri Aurobindo with which it vibrates. So the ultimate reason for reading Savitri is to get for oneself into contact with Sri Aurobindo’s own consciousness.”
On the title page of Savitri you will find description which calls it ‘A Legend and a Symbol’. The legend of course is the story of Satyavan and Savitri, which is known to all of us in its’ Puranic and popular version. The original story goes back to Mahabharata, where the Pandavas are spending a lot of time in the forest…
“The legend of Savitri and Satyavan can be traced back to the Mahabharata, where the sage Markandeya narrates the story of Savitri to Yudhishthira. Sri Aurobindo has taken up this legend almost in its entirety without adding any upakhyanas, any sub-plots or stories to it, but he has made some significant alterations…”
“The 20th century has been a century when … anything sublime necessarily sounds bombastic. ….. for Sri Aurobindo to write an epic remains to many people something of a mystery. Now you can write a haiku, you can write little poems… where do people have time for 720 pages of poetry?”
‘Vain is the sage’s light’ — avatars have come and gone, but basically the human nature hasn’t changed….. We worship the sons of god after we have buried them. We raise great temples, we raise big statues – finished, they are all gone, we have made statues of them”
“You become completely defenceless, all your strengths, all your support is taken away from you. Why is that done? … Only when all these props are taken away, when you are reduced to what you really are in the external life, a big zero, that’s the time when the ego automatically drops down, and you kneel down and surrender yourself unconditionally to the Lord…”
” the primary thing in your life is to realise the soul that you are, not read about it. Reading spiritual literature doesn’t help; direct realisation is what helps. Realise that you are the soul, bring it to the front and lead your entire life under its guidance. That basically is what spirituality is all about.”
” … nothing needs to frighten you in life, all you have to do is to be conscious of the Divine guidance in all situations, in all circumstances. The secret of this is the ultimate secret of all success is — let Thy Will be done.”
“If you want to find out why you are here, what it is that you have to do in this life, it’s not enough to consult your mind, career guidance books etc. That may also be necessary, but your primary purpose of being here is to ask that guide, that witness, that burning flame, bring it to the front and make that the leader of your pilgrimage in this life. That is the purpose of going within.”
“You are now hugging a surface individuality, a borrowed individuality as your own. When you discard this and take your stand on the locus of your own inner being and then progress, then you participate in this becoming. Then, says Sri Aurobindo, this person will be established here, he will be a unique manifestation of the Divine.”
“… there are the subtle physical worlds, vital worlds, worlds of Darkness, mental worlds, and there are Overmental worlds. All these Aswapati explores… but does not find the power that is needed to solve the problem that confronts mankind. For that he has to go to the Supreme Divine Mother, the Transcendental Force.”
“… the Vedic ideology was to realise the world is imperfect and the Vedic prayers were for the gods to descend in us so that with these powers we can exert ourselves and make this world perfect. The rishi is one who lives in the world, who exerts for the world and who wants to bring perfection to the world, who wants to make this world a heaven. That is the rishi ideal, and that was the Vedic ideal.”
“Many people find it difficult to understand what Sri Aurobindo was in fact trying to do here. After all, for moksha, nirvana, life’s fulfillment, there are many schools, many yogis; there is no dearth of it. What was he trying to do? I have tried to look at it from different points of view. Let me try to explain this once again…”
“Democracy is a great ideal, socialism is a wonderful ideal. What was wrong was that the human spirit which implements these ideals makes a mockery of these things, because there is this basic inadequacy in the human consciousness. So the remedy, therefore, is not to write a foolproof constitution. Is there a way out? This was the question that Sri Aurobindo was occupied with…”
With the beginning of Part Two, we have a different kind of poetic enterprise. Books 4 and 5 together cover ground which you don’t find in Vyasa’s ‘Savitri’. Sri Aurobindo takes great delight in describing Savitri’s childhood and youth.
In this poem Savitri is described in four or five different places—once Savitri as seen by Aswapati, once as seen by Narad, once as seen by Satyavan, various descriptions. Here you have a description of Savitri as seen by her own father.
Sri Aurobindo has written beautifully on meditation, on mantra and various other things. He has also written a beautiful lyric on falling in love […] nowhere else do we find love treated with such tender hands, with such purity. Now you have a little poem on love, why and how do people fall in love.
“It’s difficult to write love poetry where you talk about fulfilled love. When the poet finds that the beloved is gone, then his highest poetry comes out. Love fulfilled for most people is sheer domesticity, there is no poetry left. But here you see how he lifts the whole thing. He’s made an adoration of the body, an adoration of the heart, an adoration of the mind. “