A Summary of Savitri
In the book “A Summary of Savitri” M.P. Pandit goes through Sri Aurobindo’s epic poem Savitri: A Legend and a Symbol and provides us a systematic prose summary of the poem with its key issues, points and organization, opening up Sri Aurobindo’s master work in a useful and concise way.
Author: M.P. Pandit
Print Length: 133 pages
Publisher: Lotus Press
Sold by: Amazon.com
Book format: Kindle
Canto One. The Symbol Dawn
The hour of manifestation is not yet. The gods who preside over and participate in the manifestation are still at rest.
Barring the path of the Divine Manifestation, there lies immobile upon the bosom of Silence the mind of Night. Alone in the stretch of timelessness the mind of Night is huge and portending.
In that blind musing of the Night one senses, as it were, the profounds of the Infinite without form; it is an impenetrable obscurity. All is occupied by a fathomless zero.
This mind, a power of the self that was once boundless but had subsequently fallen, is awake between two Nothingnesses — the Void above and the Void below. It remembers the dark womb of Nescience from which it had arisen and it wishes to end itself in that void, turning away from the call of the adventure of birth and the prospect of the meandering journey following it.
A dumb unformed figure of the Unknown, the Inconscient is in some stir; it goes on repeating endlessly that unconscious act, prolonging the mechanical will behind it and acts as a cradle to the cosmic drowse of an ignorant Force whose very rhythms of slumber go on to light up the suns in the universe and carry the lives of creatures in this unconscious swing.
In this immensitude of the still space where there is neither mind nor life nor soul, in this Void the Earth is spinning helplessly, lost once again in her mechanical dreams, wholly forgetful of her spirit and her goal.
In this enigmatic darkness something stirs. It is some movement, an insistent urge which wants to be but does not know how, that awakes Ignorance in the Inconscient.
There is a pang and a quiver; an old unfulfilled want, inert so far in the subconscience, raises its head searching for light with old memories. It looks as if there had survived in the depths of this Nought an entity from a buried past which is obliged to raise itself and resume its effort and struggle in another bleak round.
An unformed consciousness wishes for light and a vague foreknowing sense seeks for a far away change. A longing arises and Night, the Mother of all, who has been heedless so far is reminded of a Need to be fulfilled.
Imperceptibly there is a break in that dark, a ray of light, of life, starts appearing; it is as though a messenger from beyond has come searching for a sole, disconsolate spirit that has forgotten its past of bliss. With the entry of this light of life in this hushed universe there creeps throughout a call for the adventure of consciousness and joy and it compels the reluctant Night-nature to resume life, to see and to feel.
That is the beginning: a thought is sown, a sense is born, a memory stirs; it is as if a soul dead long ago is moved to live again, but the aftermath of the previous cycle has obliterated all the remnants of the past.
All that has to be rebuilt and all the old experience gone through once again. But surely all can be clone with the Grace of God.
Thus there arises a hope in that world of forlorn indifference. There comes a miraculous gesture in a nook of heaven. A repetitive movement of light proceeds from there downwards. All this persistent play of light transfigures the scene, it prevails upon the darkness to yield to light and the dormant world is touched by the beauty and wonder of life.
The opening widens and light pours down with the darkness receding before it. There is an outburst of magnificent hues and Dawn stands in her glory on the edge of the creation with her message and promise of the Immortal Light to come.
The Dawn shines for a brief while on the slender border of life recording as it were in earthly terms the Beauty and the Bliss and the greatness of the Divine Spirit on the verge of manifestation. She casts the seed of Splendour on the dense vasts.
Then appears the Form of the Goddess of eternal Light opening the heavens. Seeing that the spaces are ready for her feet, she steps forth with all her omniscience and revelation.
The Earth feels her coming; her ear hears the steps of the Goddess, her eye turns on her Form. The luminous smile of the Deity sets aflame all life that was still. All Nature rises in worship of the Divinity, the trees, the hills, the wind, the skies, the air — all participate in the adoration. The Earth is awakened to the Light of Life.
The divine afflatus, however, cannot last long as conditions on mortal earth are not ready for its stay. It withdraws leaving behind a living memory of its Presence, a spiritual Beauty and an aspiration for its certain birth in future.
What remains is the common day. All wake up as usual and as usual spring to their daily tasks.
Among those who so wake up is Savitri. Though she lives among men who take to life with the customary zest for its pleasures and rewards, Savitri does not participate in these little joys of life. She is conscious of her different origin and mission and all that evokes eager response in the common human is felt as alien by her. The godly powers embodied in her are restless at their confinement in the human mould. The littleness of earthly life cannot support, and well nigh rejects, the wideness, the bliss and the power that she has brought with her. The earth which needs the sap of pleasure and tears refuses the boon of her rapture; it offers her instead a love that leads to doom.
Savitri freely radiates what she carries, hoping that the greater consciousness will flower on earth. But as is the way of this world of ignorance with the sons of God who bring the saving light with them, the earth nature repels her light — with hate and anger.
Thus she lives in the world far from her natural felicity of the heights and equally away from the sorrows of mortal life which she has come to redeem.
Unknown, unhelped, she nurses the grief of human life preparing to confront death at its hour. She is too great to communicate her peril and pain to those around. She keeps it to herself.
With all this aloofness her heart is open to all.
Inwardly she identifies herself with all Nature. Hers is the love of the universal Mother. She sees in the ordeal that awaits her a projection of the evil that afflicts life at its roots and, in preparing to meet her fate, she is really getting ready to face the Determinism that rules material Nature.
In her early life the being of Savitri is ever at repose sharing the forgetfulness and somnolence of the earth. She knows neither grief nor care. As she grows up there comes a faint remembrance; she feels an intimate, dragging ache in her bosom.
She tries to trace its cause but cannot do so because the mind is still not conscious enough. The faculties of life and the senses are reluctant to work zestfully in the absence of their due enjoyment. In time, however, she wakes up fully; her real spirit comes back, memory surges up and she finds herself at the centre of the cosmic combat among the three disputants: Earth, Love and Doom.
Looking into herself she comes face to face with the spirit of pain enthroned in her nature claiming the oblation of sorrow and grief constantly.
The whole problem of the earth-life becomes alive in her. She accepts the challenge and her soul arises to confront Time and Fate.
For this is the day when Satyavan must die.