The English of Savitri
This is the sixth volume of the English of Savitri series, based on transcripts of classes led by the author at Savitri Bhavan, in this case from 23 June to 29 December 2016. The transcripts have been carefully revised and edited for conciseness and clarity, while aiming to preserve the informal atmosphere of the course. This volume contains detailed explanations of the texts of the two closing Books of Sri Aurobindo’s epic: Book Eleven – The Book of Everlasting Day and Book Twelve – Epilogue: The Return to Earth. Each sentence is examined closely and explanations are given about vocabulary, sentence structure and imagery. The aim is to assist a deeper understanding and appreciation of the poem which the Mother has characterised as ‘the supreme revelation of Sri Au robin do’s vision’.
Print Length: 263 pages
Publisher: Savitri Bhavan
Book format: PDF, ePub, Kindle
Table of Contents
Book Eleven – The Book of Everlasting Day
Canto One: The Eternal Day The Soul’s Choice and the Supreme Consummation
- Section 1 : lines 1-267
- Section 2 : lines 268-437
- Section 3 : lines 438-606
- Section 4 : lines 607-755
- Section 5 : lines 756-958
- Section 6 : lines 959-1123
- Section 7 : lines 1124-1430
- Section 8 : lines 1431-1495
Book Twelve – Epilogue
The Return to Earth
- Section 1 : lines 1-226
- Section 2 : lines 227-324
- Section 3 : lines 325-346
The English of Savitri
Canto One: The Eternal Day
The Soul’s Choice and the Supreme Consummation
Section 1 : lines 1-267
In Book Nine we read about Savitri facing and passing through the ordeals imposed on her by Death as she followed Satyavan’s soul through the black emptiness of the Eternal Night. Then in Book Ten we saw her continuing to follow her Beloved through two twilight states: the Dream Twilight of the Ideal and the Dream Twilight of the Earthly Real, resisting all Death’s threats and arguments, all his attempts to persuade her to return alone to earth, until at last, in response to his challenges, her highest self, the Supreme Divine Mother, took full possession of Savitri’s entire being and ordered Death to stand aside and release Satyavan, saying:
“Relieve the radiant God from thy black mask:
Release the soul of the world called Satyavan
Freed from thy clutch of pain and ignorance
That he may stand master of life and fate,
Man’s representative in the house of God,
The mate of Wisdom and the spouse of Light,
The eternal bridegroom of the eternal bride.”
Despite his resistance, Death has been defeated by the Light and Force of the Mother and has disappeared, leaving Savitri and Satyavan standing alone and unmoving, but separated still by an invisible barrier, as the entire universe waits for the supreme Will to be revealed.
Now, at the beginning of this new Book, Savitri finds herself in the ‘Everlasting Day’, where she will eventually be offered the opportunity to make her soul’s ultimate Choice. But this does not happen immediately for, as we shall see, she will have to face more opposition before that moment comes.
It is not easy for us to imagine the worlds of the ‘Everlasting Day’ nor to understand the imagery which Sri Aurobindo uses to help us glimpse or envision them; but let us read what he has to tell us and try to grasp as much as we can of his meaning.
A marvellous sun looked down from ecstasy’s skies
On worlds of deathless bliss, perfection’s home,
Magical unfoldings of the Eternal’s smile
Capturing his secret heart-beats of delight.
That realm is illumined by ‘A marvellous sun’, looking down, not from our earthly sky but from ‘skies’ that are full of ecstasy, of intense delight, upon ‘worlds of deathless bliss’ which are the ‘home’ of ‘perfection’. We long for perfection, we aim for perfection, but we rarely glimpse or experience it; in those worlds everything is perfect: they express the magical beauty ‘of the Eternal’s smile’, revealed in their forms and movements which are able to capture ‘his secret heart-beats of delight’.
God’s everlasting day surrounded her,
Domains appeared of sempiternal light
Invading all Nature with the Absolute’s joy.
Her body quivered with eternity’s touch,
Her soul stood close to the founts of the infinite.
Savitri is surrounded by ‘God’s everlasting day’ where she becomes aware of ‘Domains’ – territories, countries, kingdoms – ‘of sempiternal light’. We are familiar with the word ‘eternal’. In the less familiar word ‘sempiternal’ it is combined with the Latin word ‘semper’ which means ‘always’ to emphasise and intensify its meaning: ‘sempiternal light’: everlasting light. In those ‘Domains’, those worlds, ‘all Nature’ has been invaded, filled with, ‘the Absolute’s joy’: the delight of the Supreme. Savitri’s body quivers with the intensity of ‘eternity’s touch’ and her soul stands ‘close to the founts of the infinite’. We cannot imagine the ‘infinite’ having a source, but perhaps we can think of fountains where infinity continually pours out all its endless riches and possibilities. Savitri’s soul now stands very close to those ‘founts’.
Infinity’s finite fronts she lived in, new
For ever to an everliving sight.
‘Infinity’s finite fronts she lived in’: she has entered a realm where the Infinite begins to limit and define some aspects of its limitlessness, endlessly new and fresh, wonderful approaches to the infinite and the eternal, where the power of vision is ‘everliving’ and forever new. In these frontier areas, the formless consciousness and spirit of Eternity translates some of its infinite possibilities into delightful forms:
Eternity multiplied its vast self-look
Translating its endless mightiness and joy
Into delight souls playing with Time could share
In grandeurs ever new-born from the unknown depths,
In powers that leaped immortal from unknown heights,
In passionate heart-beats of an undying love,
In scenes of a sweetness that can never fade.
There is a oneness behind all these many scenes and worlds because ‘Eternity’ is looking and seeing all these things as itself. They are itself, they are all emerging from itself. ‘Eternity multiplied its vast self-look’: the Eternal looking at itself and seeing some of its countless possibilities being expressed. The ‘endless mightiness and joy’ of ‘Eternity’ is translated into forms of ‘delight’ which can be shared by ‘souls’ who are involved in ‘playing with Time’. These are ‘Infinity’s finite fronts’. Infinity is expressing itself in a way that is limited, delimited in many different forms and individualities. It translates ‘its endless mightiness and joy’ into these ‘delights’ and into ‘grandeurs’ – wonderful marvellous grand things – which are constantly being ‘new-born from the unknown depths’, emerging from the infinite limitlessness. Eternity also translates itself as ‘powers’, possibilities, which are leaping down, showing themselves. They are ‘immortal’: they have always existed and will always exist, but Savitri perceives them coming down ‘from unknown heights’ into these ‘finite fronts’ of Infinity. The Eternal’s ‘mightiness and joy’ also get translated into ‘passionate heart-beats of an undying love’ which can be felt and experienced, and into landscapes: ‘scenes of a sweetness that can never fade’ – always fresh and new and delightful.