The Divine Mother as Usha,
the Dawn Goddess
The bringer of illumination and Light
Lo! She has come bringing with her the splendour of a new dawn. She brings a new illumination to the mind, a new and luminous force to life, a new possibility for the body. Her coming is the promise of a luminous future for earth and man. Lo! She has come and darkness shall be vanquished, — She the bringer of hope and the glory of hidden suns to the earth. She is the bridge between creation and the Creator. She is the key to all change. Therefore her coming is greeted by joy that wakes up in the heart of all created things. She has left her home of Truth and descended here amidst the ignorance and darkness of earth nature so that this too can be changed into some image of Truth.
All can be done if the god-touch is there.
A hope stole in that hardly dared to be
Amid the Night’s forlorn indifference.
As if solicited in an alien world
With timid and hazardous instinctive grace,
Orphaned and driven out to seek a home,
An errant marvel with no place to live,
Into a far-off nook of heaven there came
A slow miraculous gesture’s dim appeal.
The persistent thrill of a transfiguring touch
Persuaded the inert black quietude
And beauty and wonder disturbed the fields of God.
A wandering hand of pale enchanted light
That glowed along a fading moment’s brink,
Fixed with gold panel and opalescent hinge
A gate of dreams ajar on mystery’s verge.
One lucent corner windowing hidden things
Forced the world’s blind immensity to sight.
The darkness failed and slipped like a falling cloak
From the reclining body of a god.
Then through the pallid rift that seemed at first
Hardly enough for a trickle from the suns,
Outpoured the revelation and the flame.
The brief perpetual sign recurred above.
A glamour from unreached transcendences
Iridescent with the glory of the Unseen,
A message from the unknown immortal Light
Ablaze upon creation’s quivering edge,
Dawn built her aura of magnificent hues
And buried its seed of grandeur in the hours.
An instant’s visitor the godhead shone.
On life’s thin border awhile the Vision stood
And bent over earth’s pondering forehead curve.
Interpreting a recondite beauty and bliss
In colour’s hieroglyphs of mystic sense,
It wrote the lines of a significant myth
Telling of a greatness of spiritual dawns,
A brilliant code penned with the sky for page.
Almost that day the epiphany was disclosed
Of which our thoughts and hopes are signal flares;
A lonely splendour from the invisible goal
Almost was flung on the opaque Inane.
Once more a tread perturbed the vacant Vasts;
Infinity’s centre, a Face of rapturous calm
Parted the eternal lids that open heaven;
A Form from far beatitudes seemed to near.
Ambassadress twixt eternity and change,
The omniscient Goddess leaned across the breadths
That wrap the fated journeyings of the stars
And saw the spaces ready for her feet.
Once she half looked behind for her veiled sun,
Then, thoughtful, went to her immortal work.
Earth felt the Imperishable’s passage close:
The waking ear of Nature heard her steps
And wideness turned to her its limitless eye,
And, scattered on sealed depths, her luminous smile
Kindled to fire the silence of the worlds.
All grew a consecration and a rite. [3-4]
The Vedic seers speak of Dawn (Usha) as the bringer of the Light of Truth to earth and men. Psychologically She is the goddess of illumination who chases away the darkness and stirs all things to hope and effort and joy. Evidently, the physical dawn is a shadow and a symbol of this divine Power as represented in the material universe. The opening canto of Savitri begins with the coming of dawn. On the one hand, it describes the material dawn that arrives on the day of the fateful divine event. On the other hand, it hints at the coming of a new Light that Savitri brings for earth and men. In a masterly fusion of imagery on the physical and spiritual planes along the lines of Vedic poetry, Sri Aurobindo gives us a first glimpse of what the poem is about, — the eventual conquest of Light and Truth over Ignorance and Darkness that holds human nature in its grip.
The Advent of the Divine Mother
The dawn of a new Consciousness upon earth
Who is She, the Divine Mother taking a human body. The immortal Goddess, Mother of all Lights and Strengths who has come to dwell with us. She who dwells beyond the last frontiers of form, beyond even the formless, beyond the manifest and the unmanifest, She has come to make our hearts her temple and shrine. She comes to make the hard soil of our nature ready for the tree of greater Life. Her coming is a promise that humanity will leave its inferior accustomed path and follow the sunlit way in her wake. She brings with her the golden key to the flaming doors of ecstasy.
And Savitri too awoke among these tribes
That hastened to join the brilliant Summoner’s chant
And, lured by the beauty of the apparent ways,
Acclaimed their portion of ephemeral joy.
Akin to the eternity whence she came,
No part she took in this small happiness;
A mighty stranger in the human field,
The embodied Guest within made no response.
The call that wakes the leap of human mind,
Its chequered eager motion of pursuit,
Its fluttering-hued illusion of desire,
Visited her heart like a sweet alien note.
Time’s message of brief light was not for her.
In her there was the anguish of the gods
Imprisoned in our transient human mould,
The deathless conquered by the death of things.
A vaster Nature’s joy had once been hers,
But long could keep not its gold heavenly hue
Or stand upon this brittle earthly base.
A narrow movement on Time’s deep abysm,
Life’s fragile littleness denied the power,
The proud and conscious wideness and the bliss
She had brought with her into the human form,
The calm delight that weds one soul to all,
The key to the flaming doors of ecstasy. 
Thus we are introduced to Savitri, an Incarnation of the Divine Mother who descends here upon earth as a bringer of new Light and Hope amidst struggling humanity content with its smallness and satisfied with its ignorance. Dawn is the symbol of her Advent. Even as the Dawn leaves behind her the splendid home of Light and Truth so too Savitri has come leaving behind her glorious home in the higher sphere of existence, descended into the falsehood, death and darkness of earth-nature since thus alone could it be transformed. She brings with her the anguish and the ecstasy, — the anguish of our present state and the ecstasy that is our secret truth and the luminous future.
The great tremendous sacrifice
The Divine Mother has arrived upon earth assuming a human form. But are we ready? Has man ever understood the Divine when he takes a human birth? Has he not always declared him an outcast and a madman or crucified him throwing doubt and disbelief. True, after his death he glorifies him building a church around him and turning him into a perpetual miracle-doer to attract the gullible who find safety in the number of adherents of a religion or sect. But the Divine continues to act regardless of the resistances from earth and humanity. The same fate is met by the Divine Mother who has come out of deep love for her children and yet She too must face the peril and the pang.
Earth’s grain that needs the sap of pleasure and tears
Rejected the undying rapture’s boon:
Offered to the daughter of infinity
Her passion-flower of love and doom she gave.
In vain now seemed the splendid sacrifice.
A prodigal of her rich divinity,
Her self and all she was she had lent to men,
Hoping her greater being to implant
And in their body’s lives acclimatise
That heaven might native grow on mortal soil.
. . .
Too unlike the world she came to help and save,
Her greatness weighed upon its ignorant breast
And from its dim chasms welled a dire return,
A portion of its sorrow, struggle, fall.
To live with grief, to confront death on her road,—
The mortal’s lot became the Immortal’s share.
Thus trapped in the gin of earthly destinies,
Awaiting her ordeal’s hour abode,
Outcast from her inborn felicity,
Accepting life’s obscure terrestrial robe,
Hiding herself even from those she loved,
The godhead greater by a human fate.
A dark foreknowledge separated her
From all of whom she was the star and stay;
Too great to impart the peril and the pain,
In her torn depths she kept the grief to come.
As one who watching over men left blind
Takes up the load of an unwitting race,
Harbouring a foe whom with her heart she must feed,
Unknown her act, unknown the doom she faced,
Unhelped she must foresee and dread and dare. [7 – 8]
Aware of the stark resistance to progress and change, knowing well the fate of divinity upon earth, She yet takes up the burden of the earthly play. She has arrived harbouring a will to succour and save humanity by implanting upon our nature’s soil the aspiration for a higher and diviner life. For this, She has taken a human birth and entered the abyss of darkness.
The incarnate Divine Mother assuming a human form
The purpose of her embodiment
She has come to change the law of death under whose shadows humanity lives and moves. This old scheme of things with its burden of suffering must change, giving way to a new order of Love and Light and Peace. A new era of Truth and Harmony begins with her as She bears the human burden of ignorance and opens for man a greater, a more luminous life.
Even her humanity was half divine:
Her spirit opened to the Spirit in all,
Her nature felt all Nature as its own.
Apart, living within, all lives she bore;
Aloof, she carried in herself the world:
Her dread was one with the great cosmic dread,
Her strength was founded on the cosmic mights;
The universal Mother’s love was hers.
Against the evil at life’s afflicted roots,
Her own calamity its private sign,
Of her pangs she made a mystic poignant sword.
A solitary mind, a world-wide heart,
To the lone Immortal’s unshared work she rose. [8 – 9]
Though born as a human being amidst humans She had brought with her the nature of the gods. Vast as the cosmos itself She carried the world’s agony in her heart. Living alone, her solitary self bore the load of creation in her universal Self. Her own adverse fate was the symbol of earth’s adversity and the suffering imposed upon all material life.
Her work and her mission
She has come to change the law of earthly evolution. She has come to challenge the old tables that drive our nature and give to earth and man a new law, the law of Truth and not its shadow. The law of death is a travesty of Truth. Man’s soul deserves something higher and truer, something more divine and beautiful. But for this to happen, the bonds that tie us into the iron chains of earthly law must be broken and cut asunder and cast aside. Man’s body even as his soul can be thus set free to soar guided by the divine Will and the law of Truth. But this is no easy task. All the established forces of the old creation resist and each step forward is a battle. But She has come armed with the power of supreme divine Love to win the victory for earth and man.
The fixity of the cosmic sequences
Fastened with hidden inevitable links
She must disrupt, dislodge by her soul’s force
Her past, a block on the Immortal’s road,
Make a rased ground and shape anew her fate.
A colloquy of the original Gods
Meeting upon the borders of the unknown,
Her soul’s debate with embodied Nothingness
Must be wrestled out on a dangerous dim background:
Her being must confront its formless Cause,
Against the universe weigh its single self.
On the bare peak where Self is alone with Nought
And life has no sense and love no place to stand,
She must plead her case upon extinction’s verge,
In the world’s death-cave uphold life’s helpless claim
And vindicate her right to be and love.
Altered must be Nature’s harsh economy;
Acquittance she must win from her past’s bond,
An old account of suffering exhaust,
Strike out from Time the soul’s long compound debt
And the heavy servitudes of the Karmic Gods,
The slow revenge of unforgiving Law
And the deep need of universal pain
And hard sacrifice and tragic consequence.
Out of a timeless barrier she must break,
Penetrate with her thinking depths the Void’s monstrous hush,
Look into the lonely eyes of immortal Death
And with her nude spirit measure the Infinite’s night. [12 – 13]
The Avatar is not a saint or a sage though he may come in the garb of one. His purpose is not to liberate some faithful few. The Avatar comes to change the very law of earth and material substance. He does it by a subtle alchemy, by the pressure of a silent unseen Will upon the forces that have so far shaped earth’s evolution. These forces, the luminous and their dark counterparts, the deva and the asura, have shaped earth through their mutual conflict and opposition. Therefore our life has become a perpetual battle and a struggle. Now the time has come for this opposition to end and the law of strife to be replaced by the law of mutual co-operation and collaboration with the divine Will. It is when man begins to live spontaneously by the divine Will that he will be freed from the vicious cycle of karma and live even as the gods in a greater life still here upon earth. It is this that She must fight out and win for man and establish upon earth a life divine, in place of our present struggling ignorant life with its heavy share of suffering and evil and pain. She is the embodiment of Grace and comes to cut through the mazes of the karmic law so as to hasten the evolution now caught up in the dark and bright net of ignorance.
The stage for her new act in the drama of the world
A new chapter is going to unfold in the history of terrestrial existence. But does man have the eyes to witness and understand? He is lost in the pride and pomp of his surface life while the Divine unfolds the dreadful drama in a quiet secluded spot far from man’s witness gaze. But the gods know and come drawn to the embodied Presence and Nature feels the transforming touch.
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.
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.
Around her were the austere sky-pointing hills,
And the green murmurous broad deep-thoughted woods
Muttered incessantly their muffled spell.
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.
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
And mated her with her environment.
Its solitude greatened her human hours
With a background of the eternal and unique.
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.
There was her drama’s radiant prologue lived.
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. [13 – 14]
The above passage describes the sylvan setting, the hermitage of King Dyumatsena, the father of Satyavan, where Savitri has chosen to live following her betrothal. Here in the solitude She bathes her spirit in the divine forces and prepares herself for the tremendous combat against the forces of darkness and falsehood.
The Mother, – human and divine
The human personality of the incarnate Divine Mother
Who can describe her human personality? It is but a mask of her divinity and yet the mask grows transparent at her touch and the hidden divinity begins to reveal itself in her voice and speech and face and form. Men and women, bird and beast, flowers and trees are all drawn towards her and She embraces them all equally giving to each the shelter and care and the love they need. O! the refuge of the fallen, the strength of the helpless, the hope of the lost, She has come. She has come armed by the magic power of the supreme Love. She has come. She has come holding before man the divine example. She has come. She has come amidst our earthly ways to show us the pathways through which man must move towards the transmutation of our earthly life into a life divine.
Since first the earth-being’s heavenward growth began,
Through all the long ordeal of the race,
Never a rarer creature bore his shaft,
That burning test of the godhead in our parts,
A lightning from the heights on our abyss.
All in her pointed to a nobler kind.
Near to earth’s wideness, intimate with heaven,
Exalted and swift her young large-visioned spirit
Voyaging through worlds of splendour and of calm
Overflew the ways of Thought to unborn things.
Ardent was her self-poised unstumbling will;
Her mind, a sea of white sincerity,
Passionate in flow, had not one turbid wave.
As in a mystic and dynamic dance
A priestess of immaculate ecstasies
Inspired and ruled from Truth’s revealing vault
Moves in some prophet cavern of the gods,
A heart of silence in the hands of joy
Inhabited with rich creative beats
A body like a parable of dawn
That seemed a niche for veiled divinity
Or golden temple-door to things beyond.
Immortal rhythms swayed in her time-born steps;
Her look, her smile awoke celestial sense
Even in earth-stuff, and their intense delight
Poured a supernal beauty on men’s lives.
A wide self-giving was her native act;
A magnanimity as of sea or sky
Enveloped with its greatness all that came
And gave a sense as of a greatened world:
Her kindly care was a sweet temperate sun,
Her high passion a blue heaven’s equipoise.
As might a soul fly like a hunted bird,
Escaping with tired wings from a world of storms,
And a quiet reach like a remembered breast,
In a haven of safety and splendid soft repose
One could drink life back in streams of honey-fire,
Recover the lost habit of happiness,
Feel her bright nature’s glorious ambience,
And preen joy in her warmth and colour’s rule.
A deep of compassion, a hushed sanctuary,
Her inward help unbarred a gate in heaven;
Love in her was wider than the universe,
The whole world could take refuge in her single heart.
The great unsatisfied godhead here could dwell:
Vacant of the dwarf self’s imprisoned air,
Her mood could harbour his sublimer breath
Spiritual that can make all things divine.
For even her gulfs were secrecies of light.
At once she was the stillness and the word,
A continent of self-diffusing peace,
An ocean of untrembling virgin fire;
The strength, the silence of the gods were hers.
In her he found a vastness like his own,
His high warm subtle ether he refound
And moved in her as in his natural home.
In her he met his own eternity. [14 – 16]
This passage describes with a rich exquisiteness the divinely human personality of Savitri. Notable is her transparency, the sincerity that opens the doors to Truth, and her vast love full of self-giving. Magnanimous and noble and divine, She has lit in her heart the fire, the alchemist energy of Love and Bliss. It is the Divine, which by becoming human, holds her own example for humanity.
The white-fire dragon-bird of endless Bliss
Lo, She has come as the Phoenix descending from heaven with fire wings onto the earth only to be reduced to ashes and then climb again. So too She has entered into the mortal world, this realm of death and consented to be even as man so that man too may grow wings to reclaim his heavenly home of Beauty and Bliss. In the wake of her Advent, She brings with her the Bliss that built the worlds and is secretly hidden within it as the sap of creation and of life. She has assumed a human body and a mortal frame, its engines are driven by her divine energies and the powers that have yet not manifested upon earth. Thus She brings matter into contact with the divine Force and slowly transforms it.
On the frail breast of this precarious earth,
Since her orbed sight in its breath-fastened house,
Opening in sympathy with happier stars
Where life is not exposed to sorrowful change,
Remembered beauty death-claimed lids ignore
And wondered at this world of fragile forms
Carried on canvas-strips of shimmering Time,
The impunity of unborn Mights was hers.
Although she leaned to bear the human load,
Her walk kept still the measures of the gods.
Earth’s breath had failed to stain that brilliant glass:
Unsmeared with the dust of our mortal atmosphere
It still reflected heaven’s spiritual joy.
Almost they saw who lived within her light
Her playmate in the sempiternal spheres
Descended from its unattainable realms
In her attracting advent’s luminous wake,
The white-fire dragon-bird of endless bliss
Drifting with burning wings above her days:
Heaven’s tranquil shield guarded the missioned child.
A glowing orbit was her early term,
Years like gold raiment of the gods that pass;
Her youth sat throned in calm felicity. 
Of all the divine Powers we see here Savitri as an embodiment of Love, it is the transforming power of divine Love with which She has come armed to take the challenge of Death and the transformation of earthly life into a life divine. It is a Love that has never been born upon earth in an embodied form. Her childhood and early youth are given to stabilise these powers yet not born upon earth.
The Divine Mother’s ordeal
The Divine Mother takes upon herself the burden of earth and humanity
She has come carrying in her heart the destiny of man, the divine future that She has come to release and realise for earth. In one hand She brings Peace and succour and hope to a humanity caught up in the wheel of ignorance tossed by various cosmic powers. In the other hand She has come armed with the Power that can change the fixed front of fate and cancel the writing on the scroll of human destiny.
Assailing her divinest elements,
He made her heart kin to the striving human heart
And forced her strength to its appointed road.
For this she had accepted mortal breath;
To wrestle with the Shadow she had come
And must confront the riddle of man’s birth
And life’s brief struggle in dumb Matter’s night.
Whether to bear with Ignorance and death
Or hew the ways of Immortality,
To win or lose the godlike game for man,
Was her soul’s issue thrown with Destiny’s dice.
But not to submit and suffer was she born;
To lead, to deliver was her glorious part.
Here was no fabric of terrestrial make
Fit for a day’s use by busy careless Powers.
An image fluttering on the screen of Fate,
Half-animated for a passing show,
Or a castaway on the ocean of Desire
Flung to the eddies in a ruthless sport
And tossed along the gulfs of Circumstance,
A creature born to bend beneath the yoke,
A chattel and a plaything of Time’s lords,
Or one more pawn who comes destined to be pushed
One slow move forward on a measureless board
In the chess-play of the earth-soul with Doom,—
Such is the human figure drawn by Time.
A conscious frame was here, a self-born Force. [17 – 18]
The Mother has assumed a human form even though She has always been inwardly Divine. But within the human frame, She houses the supreme Power that can change the course of Time. She has a threefold work to do. The first is to wrestle with the shadow that lurks in the human heart preventing his forward march. Secondly, She must open the doors to the future. This means bringing into play a new Force that would free man from the clutch of death and hew for him the pathways of immortality. Thirdly, man at present is simply a plaything of forces. Instead, he must be their master, because unknown to him there dwells within him the Supreme and it is man’s privilege to be able to unite with the Supreme and be one with him. Savitri has come to set her own divine example and show the way.
The divine example
The Avatar comes to show man the way. He sets by his own divine example a new standard for the world. The Avatar does not descend to perform some arbitrary miracles that would dazzle man into worship but leave his own nature unchanged and weak. Rather, He often treads the difficult way since thus alone can man’s soul grow in strength and deserve the nectar of Immortality that has been marked out for him. Thus is it with Savitri who shows to man how to remain courageous and strong in the face of adversity and refuse to bow before falsehood and death. She has come to call the souls of the strong to her new lila and win the victory for them who heed to her call and are ready to abandon all that they cherish and hold dear in the present for what they yet can become in the future.
To the afflicting penalty of man’s hopes,
Her head she bowed not to the stark decree
Baring her helpless heart to destiny’s stroke.
So bows and must the mind-born will in man
Obedient to the statutes fixed of old,
Admitting without appeal the nether gods.
In her the superhuman cast its seed.
Inapt to fold its mighty wings of dream
Her spirit refused to hug the common soil,
Or, finding all life’s golden meanings robbed,
Compound with earth, struck from the starry list,
Or quench with black despair the God-given light.
Accustomed to the eternal and the true,
Her being conscious of its divine founts
Asked not from mortal frailty pain’s relief,
Patched not with failure bargain or compromise.
A work she had to do, a word to speak:
Writing the unfinished story of her soul
In thoughts and actions graved in Nature’s book,
She accepted not to close the luminous page,
Cancel her commerce with eternity,
Or set a signature of weak assent
To the brute balance of the world’s exchange.
A force in her that toiled since earth was made,
Accomplishing in life the great world-plan,
Pursuing after death immortal aims,
Repugned to admit frustration’s barren role,
Forfeit the meaning of her birth in Time,
Obey the government of the casual fact
Or yield her high destiny up to passing Chance.
In her own self she found her high recourse;
She matched with the iron law her sovereign right:
Her single will opposed the cosmic rule.
To stay the wheels of Doom this greatness rose.
At the Unseen’s knock upon her hidden gates
Her strength made greater by the lightning’s touch
Awoke from slumber in her heart’s recess.
It bore the stroke of That which kills and saves.
Across the awful march no eye can see,
Barring its dreadful route no will can change,
She faced the engines of the universe;
A heart stood in the way of the driving wheels:
Its giant workings paused in front of a mind,
Its stark conventions met the flame of a soul.
A magic leverage suddenly is caught
That moves the veiled Ineffable’s timeless will:
A prayer, a master act, a king idea
Can link man’s strength to a transcendent Force.
Then miracle is made the common rule,
One mighty deed can change the course of things;
A lonely thought becomes omnipotent. [19-20]
A victory was won for God in man,
The deity revealed its hidden face.
The great World-Mother now in her arose:
A living choice reversed fate’s cold dead turn,
Affirmed the spirit’s tread on Circumstance,
Pressed back the senseless dire revolving Wheel
And stopped the mute march of Necessity.
A flaming warrior from the eternal peaks
Empowered to force the door denied and closed
Smote from Death’s visage its dumb absolute
And burst the bounds of consciousness and Time. 
It is by uniting with the transcendent Will and Force that man can grow into divinity and master the forces of destiny. The means for this are given to him. Sometimes it is enough to ardently pray and aspire, or he may be moved to the core by the idea of transformation of earthly life. Or else, moved by the call of the Divine, he may abandon all in pursuit of a diviner existence here upon earth. This is what Savitri has come to show. Instead of pactising with the forces of ignorance or helplessly bowing before fate, man must discover and awaken his secret soul and becoming one with it invoke the Divine in his earthly life. The remedy is within us, all that is needed is to find and steadily apply it. This is what Savitri has come to show to man.
The work that Savitri come to do is far from easy. She is herself the Divine incarnate yet She has assumed a human body and with it all the difficulties and challenges of human life. How else can She bring there the Light? One who must bring Light into the abyss must walk into the darkness and descend into the miserable and pitiable state of earth and men. She must face and take upon herself the challenge posed by the forces and powers of division and darkness that hold back man’s soul. It is her victory that will help others cross over from this dubious net of darkness into the realms of Light. Holding on to her central will to save earth and men Savitri fights the great battle against all that resists the manifestation of divinity in man and wins the victory for him.