The Last Passages Dictated by Sri Aurobindo (Nirodbaran Recounts)

Some months before his passing, Sri Aurobindo, as if in foreknowledge of the event, said: “I want to finish Savitri soon.” The words took by utter surprise the disciple, his scribe, who had been used to the grandly patient way in which so far it had been composed and frequently retouched and amplified. Even when, in the past, composition had been extraordinarily swift — once four to five hundred lines needing hardly any change were dictated in succession — there had been no hurry in the poet’s attitude to his work. But now he increased immensely the general tempo of composition and revision. There seemed a race with time. And it was almost towards the end that, after rapidly revising the long second canto of the Book of Fate, he paused with some satisfaction. Then he inquired what still remained to be written. On being told about the Book of Death and the Epilogue entitled The Return to Earth, which were yet to be caught up into a larger utterance, he remarked: “Oh, that? We shall see about that afterwards.” Savitri, as the footnote to the Book of Death indicates, was not completed in the common meaning of the term and indeed Sri Aurobindo’s original plan was to give this part of the poem as well as the Epilogue a thorough recasting. But his strange remark suggests that later, for reasons of his own, he was not anxious about them and that what he had thought necessary had been done. So it is impossible to say definitely that he did not wish Savitri to be, on the whole, just as he had left it after making corrections and additions in the Canto already mentioned of the Book of Fate.

These corrections and additions were the last things he wrote in this epic of 23,837 (4th edition, 1993)] lines, over which he spent so many years. Among them, in view of subsequent circumstances, three newly written passages in the speech of Narad stand out most significantly. The first is about the sacrifice the God-Man gives in history:

He who has found his identity with God
Pays with the body’s death his soul’s vast light.
His knowledge immortal triumphs by his death.[1]

The second dwells on the inner meaning with which Satyavan’s departure from the earth is packed:

His death is a beginning of greater life…
A vast intention has brought two souls close
And love and death conspire towards one great end.
For out of danger and pain heaven-bliss shall come,
Time’s unforeseen event, God’s secret plan.[2]

The third is the passage of seventy-two lines, absolutely the last piece of poetry dictated by Sri Aurobindo, in which, with a sound as of massive repeating bells, Narad admonishes King Aswapathy’s wife when she protests against the fate of loneliness that will be her daughter’s, Savitri’s, in consequence of the predestined passing of Satyavan, even as it appeared to be that of Sri Aurobindo’s spiritual coworker, the Mother, at the time the Master of the “Integral Yoga” withdrew from his body. Some lines may be quoted:

As a star, uncompanioned, moves in heaven
Unastonished by the immensities of space,
Travelling infinity by its own light,
The great are strongest when they stand alone…
A day may come when she must stand unhelped
On a dangerous brink of the world’s doom and hers,
Carrying the world’s future on her lonely breast,
Carrying the human hope in a heart left sole
To conquer or fail on a last desperate verge.
Alone with death and close to extinction’s edge,
Her single greatness in that last dire scene,
She must cross alone a perilous bridge in Time
And reach an apex of world-destiny
Where all is won or all is lost for man…
For this the silent Force came missioned down;
In her the conscious Will took human shape:
She only can save herself and save the world…
Even though all falters and falls and sees an end
And the heart fails and only are death and night,
God-given her strength can battle against doom…
Think not to intercede with the hidden Will,
Intrude not twixt her spirit and its force
But leave her to her mighty self and Fate.[3]


Source: Appendix to Savitri 1954 ed., pp. 817-19

[1] Savitri, p. 445
[2] Savitri, p. 459
[3] Savitri, pp. 460-61

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