Sri Aurobindo’s Earliest Draft of Savitri (1916): Seventh and Last Installment

Dear Friends,

Sri Aurobindo had started working on the earliest draft of Savitri in August 1916. Nirodbaran, who has portrayed how Savitri reached its final form in his Twelve Years with Sri Aurobindo, writes about this draft:

“The draft exists in two sections. The first comprising Book I and a few pages of Book II… Book I is complete, Book II unfinished. The spelling of the three chief characters is: Savithri, Uswapathy, Suthyavan. In the first Book, after a short description of Night and Dawn, there is a very brief account of the Yoga done by Uswapathy, then Savithri is born, grows up and goes out, at Uswapathy’s prompting, to find her mate. She finds Suthyavan. In the meantime Narad comes down to earth and visits Uswapathy’s palace. There is a talk between the two; Savithri returns from her quest and discovery, and a talk takes place among the three.” (pp. 173-174, 1995 edition)

We are happy to announce that Overman Foundation has received permission from Sri Aurobindo Ashram Trust to publish the earliest draft of Sri Aurobindo’s Savitri in its online forum. We are extremely grateful to Shri Manoj Das Gupta, Managing Trustee of Sri Aurobindo Ashram Trust, for giving us the said permission.

The first six installments of the earliest draft of Savitri were published in the online forum of Overman Foundation on 4 April, 9 April, 16 April, 23 April, 29 April and 5 May 2013 respectively. The seventh and final installment is published here.

With warm regards,
Anurag Banerjee

Founder,
Overman Foundation.

*

SÂVITHRÎ

BOOK II

(Continued)

So on they journeyed still through happy mists,
And faster now all fled as if perturbed,
Escaping from the clearness of her soul.
Then Death cried high,—a vaguer, brighter form
He bore now like a night that smiles at dawn:
“Because thou hast the wisdom to transcend
Both veil of forms and the contempt of forms,
Arise delivered by the seeing gods,
Rest in thy freedom satisfied alone
Nor seek for others’ joy they have not won:
Let each soul to its rapture be enough.
Though thou art strong by the dread Goddess moved
Cease, mortal, to compel the deathless powers.
Highest wisdom find that guards its strength and knowledge
Unused, unspoken lest the world should perish
By wisdom and be overthrown by power,
Dragged like a ship by bound leviathan
Into the abyss of his stupendous seas.
For far too swift the aeons would stumble on
If strength were given to imperfect souls,
If veilless knowledge smote the unfit brain.
Therefore God hid His face and seemed to err.
Aim not at dangerous swift-foot victories,
Sheltered by smallness only such steps desire
As earth can bear in her frail denser moulds.
If thou art strong with the dread Goddess filled,
Use not thy strength like the wild Titan souls,
Touch not the ancient lines, the seated laws;
Respect the calm of great established things.”
But Sâvithrî replied to the vague god:
“What is the calm thou vauntest, O Lord, O Death?
Is it not the dull-visioned tread inert
Of monstrous energies chained in a vast round
Soulless and stone-eyed with mechanic dreams?
What were earth’s ages if they grey restraint
Were never broken and glories sprang not forth
Bursting their obscure seed nor man’s slow life
Leaped hurried into sudden splendid paths
By divine words and human gods revealed?
I trample on thy law with living feet
For to arise in freedom I was born.
If I am mighty, let my force be unveiled
Equal companion of your dateless powers
Or else let my frustrated soul sink down
Unworthy of godhead in the original sleep.
I ask not, I demand, O gods of Time,
My will immortal.” He replied, “Yet choose
Another turn than this that thou pursuest.
Art thou so strong and free? Then canst thou take
Thy pleasure upon wayside flowering fields
Yet falter not from thy proud journey’s goal.”
And Sâvithrî: “Even such my choice, O Death.
What liberty has the soul which feels not freedom
Unless stripped bare and cannot kiss the bonds
The Lover winds around his playmate’s limbs,
Nor choose his tyranny crushed in his embrace,
Smiling in golden chains, most bound, most free?
To seize him better with her boundless heart
She accepts the circle of his limiting arms.”
“Prove yet thy absolute force to the wise gods
By choosing thy own joy; for self desire
And yet from self and its gross chain be free.
Know fear of bondage for thy last fine snare.
Show me thy strength and freedom from my laws.”
And Sâvithrî to Death: “Thus can I take
Who claim upon the flowering fields of life
My earthly pleasures, never mine but his,
Or mine for him. Fulfil on the sweet earth
Whatever once the living Suthyavân
Desired in his heart for Sâvithrî.”
Death bowed his sovereign head and made reply:
“Long days I give of thy unwounded life,
Daughters of thy own seed in heart and mind,
Fair hero sons and sweetness undisturbed
Of union with thy husband dear and true
And thou shalt know in thy life’s house where love’s
Oneness shall reign of many gathered hearts
Felicity of thy surrounded eves
And happy service to the heart’s desired
And loving empire over all thou lov’st.
Win easily by love all fruits
Which hardly with great labour high-tasked souls
By difficult virtue ripen tilling earth.
Return, O woman, to thy conquered world.”
But Sâvithrî to Death, “Thy gifts resist.
Void are thy words if lonely I return.”
Then Death sent forth once more his angry cry
As chides a lion his escaping prey.
“What knowst thou of earth’s rich and changing life
Who thinkst that one man dead all joy must cease?
Hope not to be unhappy till the end!
For grief dies soon in the tired human heart
And other guests the vacant chambers fill.
Rich as a holiday painting on a floor
Traced for a moment’s beauty love was made.
Or if a voyager on the eternal trail,
Its objects fluent change in its embrace
Like waves to a swimmer upon infinite seas.”
But Sâvithrî replied to the vague god,
“Give me back Suthyavân, my only lord.
Thy thoughts are vacant to my soul that feels.”
Death answered her, “Try then thy soul, return.
Soon shalt thou find appeased that other men
On lavish earth have beauty, strength and truth.
And when thou hast half forgotten one of these
Shall wind himself around thy heart that needs
A fellow heart. Then Suthyavân shall fade,
A gentle memory pushed away from thee
By new love and thy children’s tender hands
Till thou shalt wonder if thou loved’st at all.
Such is the life earth’s travail has conceived.”
But Sâvithrî replied to eternal Death:
“Thou mockst the mind’s and body’s faltering search.
For what the immortal spirit shall achieve
I have discovered, nor such trials need.
For now at last I know beyond all doubt
The great stars burn with my undying fire
And for its fuel life and death were made.
Life only was my blind attempt to love;
Earth was its struggle, heaven its increase,
And when transcended both shall join and kiss
Casting their veils, a deathless birth is ours.
Earth shall seize all that heaven strives to give
Nor anything be lost the soul has seen.”

But as she spoke the body of Death was changed.
His darkness and his soul-destroying might
Abolishing for ever and disclosing
The mystery of his high and violent deeds
Epiphanies of immortal life arose.
Her senses thrilled in a sweet rapturous world,
Twilight and mist were ended. Perfect heaven
Smiled down from undreamed sapphire, sincere gold
Of sunlight lavished strong riches on the eyes
That suffered without pain the absolute ray
And saw immortal clarities of form.
Perfected all the images of earth
Were thoughts the senses could live in glad, unbound
The soul could use for freest joy of form;
Creations large of God’s victorious mind,
They dwelt like living scenes sublimely born
In a calm beauty of creative joy,
Orchards and valleys, gleaming lakes and hills,
Pastures and woodlands of celestial bliss
And villages and cities of delight
Where luminous lived the nations of the blest.
Above her rhythmic godheads whirled the spheres,
Around her melodies and enchantments flowed:
From the glad bosom of a griefless world
Songs thrilled of birds upon unfading boughs,
Music not with these striving steps of sound
Aspired, that labour from our human strings,
From every note claimed richer ecstasies
For a changed bliss that kept each sweetness old.
For ever faultless instruments were heard
And high-eyed chantings inexpressible,
Strains trembling with the secrets of the gods.
From marvellous flowers imperishably sweet
Immortal fragrance filled the unquivering air:
To live was sweetness and to breathe was song.
And on a sense made pure to seize all tones
And to feel on untired intensest things
Heaven’s subtleties of touch unwearying forced
More vivid raptures than the mind can bear.
What would be suffering here was mighty bliss.
Delivered from the limits of her mind,
Grey limping judgment dead, the sight unbarred
Entered the mysteries of the Artist’s craft.
She saw all Nature wonderful without fault.
These were the decorated doors of worlds
Nobler, yet as felicitously fair.
There every thought like a sweet radiant god
Climbed strong without endeavour to the sight
Of the All-blissful; feelings were waves of light,
Rose from each other in a tranquil surge.
Deep, candid, a sweet-natured wisdom grew
The bright beneficent sunlight of the soul,
Or sheer wild rounds inviolably pure
Swayed linked in moonlit revels of the heart
Knowing their riot for a dance of God.
Calm seers and poets heard the absolute thoughts
That now come travelers pale deformed with toil
From their large heavens to our clouded minds,
Spent in their journey, changed with broken wings,
Seized perfect words that here are frail sounds caught
By difficult rapture on a mortal tongue.
The strong who stumble and sin grew clear, great gods.
And where she stood in ever-flowering groves
Carolling thrilled response to united hearts
She saw the clasp which is denied to earth,
Felt a rapt candid passion of the soul
And viewed the unending joys of veilless love.
Then spoke the god, a figure sweet, august
And on his lips the smile that wear unmasked
The immortal secret helpers of the soul.

[The short piece is a part of the projected Epilogue. It is taken from the second of the two exercise books containing the first fair copy.]

Concluding Passage

“Because thou hast rejected my great [1] calm
I lay upon thy neck my mighty yoke
And hold thee without refuge from my will.
Now will I do by thee my glorious works
Giving thee for reward and punishment
Myself in thee a sweetness and a scourge.
Unsheltered by dividing walls [of mind] {2},
Naked of ignorance’ protecting veil
And without covert from my [3] radiant gods
Thou shalt be hunted through the world by love.
No form shall screen thee from divine desire,
Nowhere shalt thou escape my living eyes.
A vision shall compel thy coursing breath.
Thy heart shall drive thee on the wheel of time;
Thy mind shall urge thee through the flames of thought,
To meet me in the abyss and on the heights,
To feel me in the tempest and the calm
And love me in the noble and the vile,
In beautiful things and terrible desire.
My fiercest masks shall my attractions bring,
Music shall find thee in the voice of swords,
Beauty pursue thee through the core of flame.
The pains of hell shall be to thee my kiss,
The flowers of heaven persuade thee with my touch,
The [myriad] {4} forces of my universe
Shall cry to thee the summons of my name.
Thou shalt know me in the rolling of the spheres,
Thou shalt meet me in the atoms of the whirl.
Delight shall drip down from my nectarous moon,
My fragrance seize thee in the jasmine’s snare,
My eye shall look upon thee from the sun.
Mirror of Nature’s secret spirit made,
Thou shalt not shrink from any brother soul
But live attracted helplessly to all,
Drawn to me on the bosom of thy friend
And forced to love me in thy enemy’s eyes.
Thou shalt drink down my sweetness unalloyed
And bear my ruthless beauty unabridged
Amid the world’s intolerable wrongs,
Mid the long discord and the clash of search,
Thou shalt discover the one and quivering note
And be the harp of all its melodies
And be my splendid wave in seas of love.
Insistent, careless of thy lonely right,
My creatures shall demand me from thy heart.
All that thou hast shall be for others’ bliss;
All that thou art shall to my hands belong.
I will pour delight from thee as from a jar
And whirl thee as my chariot through the ways
And use thee as my sword and as my lyre
And play on thee my minstrelsies of thought.
And when thou art vibrant with all ecstasies
And when thou livst one spirit with all things,
Men seeing thee shall feel my siege of joy,
And nearer draw to me because thou art.
Enamoured of thy spirit’s loveliness,
They shall embrace my body in thy soul,
Hear in thy life the beauty of my laugh,
Know thy thrilled bliss with which I made the world.
This thou shalt henceforth learn from every thought, [5]
That conquering me thou art my captive made,
And who possess me are by me possessed.
For ever love, O beautiful slave of God.
Cast from the summits of thy visioned spirit,
Return to life with him thy soul desired,
In whom I lay in wait for thee at first,
Satisfied in him of oneness and convinced
And gather to thee myriad unities
With all my endless forms and divine souls.
From thy beginning in earth’s voiceless bosom
Through life and time and will and grief and death
I have led thee onward to the golden point,
From which another sweeter gyre shall start.”

The measure of that subtle music ceased.
Down with a hurried swimming floating lapse
Through unseen worlds and bottomless spaces forced
Sank like a star the soul of Sâvithrî,
[…] {6} mid a laughter of unearthly lyres,
She heard around her nameless voices cry
Triumphing, an innumerable sound
And bore the burden of infinity
And felt the stir of all ethereal space
Pursuing her in her fall implacably sweet.
A face was over her which seemed a youth’s
Crowned as with peacock plumes of gorgeous hue
Framing a sapphire, whose heart-disturbing smile
Insatiably attracted to delight.
Often it changed, though rapturously the same,
And seemed a woman’s dark and beautiful,
Turbulent in will and terrible in love,
A shadowy glory and a stormy depth,
Like a mooned night with drifting star-gemmed clouds.
Eyes in which Nature’s deaf ecstatic life,
Sprang from some Spirit’s passionate content,
Missioned her downwards to the whirling earth.
Like a bird held in a child’s satisfied hands,
Her spirit strove in an enamoured grasp
Admitting no release till Time should end.
Like a flower hidden in the heart of spring,
She kept within her strong embosoming soul
The soul of Sutyavân drawn down by her
Inextricably heavens in a thronging flight
Soared upward past [her] as she fell; then near
Came the immense attraction of the earth;
Till in the giddy proneness of the speed
Lost, overcome, sinking she disappeared
Into unconsciousness as in a pool,
Like one descending from a breathless height
Into the wonder of abysmal depths.
Above her closed the darkness of great wings
And she was buried in a Mother’s breast.

Fragment of Epilogue

“I am the Madran, I am Sâvithrî,
Thy slave and lover, thy delight and friend,
Thy prone possessor, sister of thy soul
And mother of thy wants. O thou my world,
My god, O earth and heaven my arms embrace,
Whose every limb my answering limbs desire,
Whose heart is key to all my heartbeats! This
I am and thou to me, O Suthyavân;
No gladness lost, but everything fulfilled
Divinely. Let us go through this new world
Which is the same, for it is given back
And it is known, a playing ground of God
Who hides himself in bird and beast and man
Sweetly to find Himself again by love,
By oneness, absolute in us for ever.
Now grief is dead and serene bliss remains.
Let us go back, for eve is in the skies.
[Thy father waits who will not eat of food
Unless he knows us seated at his side.] [7]
Lo, all these beings in this wonderful world!
Let us give joy to all, for joy is ours!”

*

[1] Alternative: far
[2] These two words cancelled without substitution.
[3] Written over “the”, or vice versa.
[4] This word cancelled without substitution.
[5] Marginal alternative: thy heartbeats.
[6] Blank in Manuscript.
[7] Square brackets in the original.

THE END

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Georges Van Vrekhem’s “Preparing for the Miraculous” and Dr. Ananda Reddy’s “Madhumoyee Ma Antare Bahire”

Dear Friends and Well-wishers of Overman Foundation,

We are happy to announce that Overman Foundation has taken up the distribution of two notable books namely Georges Van Vrekhem’s Preparing for the Miraculous and Dr. Ananda Reddy’s first book in Bengali Madhumoyee Ma Antare Bahire.

Miraculous

The late Georges Van Vrekhem (1935—2012), was a Flemish speaking Belgian journalist, poet and playwright who became acquainted with the teachings of Sri Aurobindo and the Mother in 1964. He joined Sri Aurobindo Ashram as an inmate in 1970 and shifted to Auroville in 1978. A recipient of the prestigious ‘Sri Aurobindo Puraskar’ he is best known for his books like Beyond Man, The Mother: The Story of Her Life, Overman—The Intermediary Being between the Human and the Supramental Being, Patterns of the Present and Hitler and His God. His books have been translated into French, German, Italian, Spanish and Russian.

Preparing for the Miraculous contains the edited versions of eleven talks Georges Van Vrekhem gave at Auroville in 2010 and 2011 the themes of which are as follows:

• Adam Kadmon and the Evolution
• The Development of Sri Aurobindo’s Thought
• Preparing for the Miraculous
• What Arjuna Saw: the Dark Side of the Force
• 2012 and 1956: Doomsday?
• Being Human and the Copernican Evolution
• Bridges across the Afterlife
• Sri Aurobindo’s Descent into Death
• Sri Aurobindo and the Big Bang
• Theodicy: “Nature Makes no Mistakes”
• The Kalki Avatar.

What is the meaning of our existence in the cosmic scheme? Is there a divine purpose in life or is it merely the mechanical playing-out of competing “greedy genes”? Do we live in a blind universe aimlessly running its course from Big Bang to Big Crunch or is there a higher purpose in evolution? If there is a conscious guiding intent, why does it allow evil to exist? How do we transcend the limits of a blind “scientism” locking itself out of a vaster understanding by refusing to admit the existence of any factors outside of its self-imposed limits of “scientific” verifiability? Can these questions be tackled without landing in the other extreme of religious dogma? Is our planet Earth special in the universe? Do we human beings have a special role in evolution? In Preparing for the Miraculous Georges Van Vrekhem explores these and other timeless questions in the light of Sri Aurobindo’s evolutionary concept and casts a refreshing new look on issues that have been the lasting preoccupation of seekers throughout the ages.

Published by Stichting Aurofonds Preparing for the Miraculous comprises 240 pages and is available at a price of Rs. 255 (Two Hundred and Fifty Five) only. Please note that this edition consists of a limited number of copies.

Madhumoyee Ma

Dr. Ananda Reddy joined the Sri Aurobindo International Centre of Education, at the age of 11 years, in 1958. Born to a family of philosophies, his father Prof. V. Madhusudan Reddy, who did his PhD on Sri Aurobindo’s Philosophy of evolution, brought him out to the Sri Aurobindo Ashram and left him in the care of the Mother. From 1958 to 1969, Ananda Reddy was student of the Ashram School where he studied passionately most of the works of Sri Aurobindo. Inspired by the ideals of the New Consciousness and the New World, as envisioned by Sri Aurobindo and the Mother, Ananda joined, with the Blessings of the Mother, Auroville. He looked after the Aspiration School in its initial stages until he went away in 1976 to Hyderabad to pursue higher studies. On completing his Masters in Literature and in Philosophy in 1978, he pursued his M.Phil at Osmania University with a view to attempt PhD in Sri Aurobindo’s thought. However, his aspiration was fulfilled only in 1988. He joined the Post-Doctoral studies and taught for almost two years at Pondicherry University in the Sri Aurobindo School of Eastern and Western thought. On getting an opportunity to teach philosophy at Assumption University, Bangkok, he left India and experienced teaching in a foreign university from 1992 to 1995. On his return to India, he started his dream project at Pondicherry: Sri Aurobindo Centre of Advanced Research (SACAR), in 1996. On 29th February 2000, SACAR was inaugurated by Nirodbaran. In 2008, the Indira Gandhi Open University (IGNOU) invited SACAR to become its Recognised Research Centre for conducting different programmes in Sri Aurobindo Studies. Apart from conducting workshops and participating in International Seminars all over Europe and the United States, Dr. Reddy took regular classes for adults at the Sri Aurobindo Ashram, giving them explanations of Sri Aurobindo’s books: The Life Divine, Savitri, Synthesis of Yoga, Essays on the Gita. Along with these classes, he also gave weekly classes at Savitri Bhavan, Auroville, on Sri Aurobindo and the Mother’s vision. He is at present the Director of SACAR and also looks after the Institute of Human Studies as its Chairman. Apart from his regular teaching at SACAR and Savitri Bhavan, he is also a teacher at “Knowledge”, the higher course division of Sri Aurobindo International Centre of Education. He is a recognised scholar in Sri Aurobindo’s thought but he cherishes to be acknowledged more as a sincere child of the Mother.

Madhumoyee Ma Antare Bahire is the first book written by Dr. Ananda Reddy in Bengali. In the first part of this anthology he has beautifully illustrated his life with the Mother while the second part comprises of the text of his thought-provoking talks on the themes of Friendship with the Divine, Various Aspects of Bhakti (Devotion) etc. This anthology testifies how the Mother works for Her children, shapes their destiny and leads them to Light and Bliss. It is a stupendous treat to all Bengali readers.

Published by Sri Aurobindo Centre of Advanced Research, Madhumoyee Ma Antare Bahire comprises 145 pages and is available at a price of Rs. 130 (One Hundred and Thirty only).

To place an order for these aforesaid books, please write to the following email address:

overmanfoundation@gmail.com

With warm regards,
Anurag Banerjee

Founder,
Overman Foundation.

*

Rare Photographs of Rabindranath Tagore

Dear Friends,

9 May 2013 marks the 152nd Birth Anniversary of Rabindranath Tagore. As our humble tribute to the great poet, a set of rare photographs of Rabindranath Tagore has been published in the online forum of Overman Foundation. All these photographs—with the exception of the first snapshot (taken in Japan) and the last two taken at Pondicherry in 1928 in which Tagore is seen descending from the ship on his way to meet Sri Aurobindo—have been sent to us by Mr. Nilesh Nathwani. We take the opportunity to thank him for his generous gift.

With warm regards,
Anurag Banerjee

Founder,
Overman Foundation.

*

Tagore with the Mother and Paul Richard

With the Mother and Paul Richard in Japan in June 1916.

1

Rabindranath Tagore during his tour of the West in 1921.

2

With Helen Keller in 1930.

3

With Albert Einstein in Caputh near Berlin on 24 August 1930.

4

Photograph of Rabindranath Tagore taken by S.P. Bhide on 25 December 1932.

5

With Jawaharlal Nehru in Santiniketan on 4 November 1936.

6

With his granddaughter and grandnephew in Santiniketan on 10 April 1934.

7

With Mahatma Gandhi in Santiniketan on 20 February 1940.

8

With Mahatma Gandhi and Kasturba Gandhi in Santiniketan on 20 February 1940.

9

With Sir Maurice Gwyer and Dr. S. Radhakrishnan at Sinha Sadan after the Oxford University Convocation on 7 August 1940.

10.

Tagore in his bed in a railway compartment at Howrah Station (Kolkata) on 22 November 1940.

IMG10065

Tagore on his way to meet Sri Aurobindo (1)

IMG10066

Tagore on his way to meet Sri Aurobindo (2)

*

Sri Aurobindo’s Earliest Draft of Savitri (1916): Sixth Installment

Dear Friends,

Sri Aurobindo had started working on the earliest draft of Savitri in August 1916. Nirodbaran, who has portrayed how Savitri reached its final form in his Twelve Years with Sri Aurobindo, writes about this draft:

“The draft exists in two sections. The first comprising Book I and a few pages of Book II… Book I is complete, Book II unfinished. The spelling of the three chief characters is: Savithri, Uswapathy, Suthyavan. In the first Book, after a short description of Night and Dawn, there is a very brief account of the Yoga done by Uswapathy, then Savithri is born, grows up and goes out, at Uswapathy’s prompting, to find her mate. She finds Suthyavan. In the meantime Narad comes down to earth and visits Uswapathy’s palace. There is a talk between the two; Savithri returns from her quest and discovery, and a talk takes place among the three.” (pp. 173-174, 1995 edition)

We are happy to announce that Overman Foundation has received permission from Sri Aurobindo Ashram Trust to publish the earliest draft of Sri Aurobindo’s Savitri in its online forum. We are extremely grateful to Shri Manoj Das Gupta, Managing Trustee of Sri Aurobindo Ashram Trust, for giving us the said permission.

The first five installments of the earliest draft of Savitri were published in the online forum of Overman Foundation on 4 April, 9 April, 16 April, 23 April and 29 April 2013 respectively. The sixth installment is published here.

With warm regards,
Anurag Banerjee

Founder,
Overman Foundation.

*

SÂVITHRÎ

BOOK II

(Continued)

Then the dire god inflicting on her soul
The immortal calm of his tremendous gaze:
“Yet since no victory in heaven’s order is lost
And thou hadst strength to journey on unslain
Through the brute void which never shall forgive
The primal violence that fashioned thought
Forcing the immobile vast to suffer and live,
Thou hast a claim upon the living gods.
The gods who watch the earth with unmoved eyes
And lead its giant stumblings through the void,—
They gave to man the burden of his mind,
And forced on his unwilling heart their fires
He shall not quench, their storms he may not rule.
Troubling his transience with their infinite breath,
They gave him hunger that no food can fill.
He is the cattle of the shepherd gods.
Therefore he feels incurable unrest
Nor knows his cause nor wherefore he was born.
The gods who hope by him to live for ever,
They gave the wisdom that is mocked by Night,
They breathed the courage that is met by Death—
He planning travels still his obscure road,
Tireless his journey that foresees no goal.
Not easily shalt thou, O soul, prevail
Nor lay thy yoke upon eternal Death,
Nor yet thy ancient longing flame fulfilled
The hopes which shake the order of my worlds.
Yet since I am law and life and its rewards
Take from me natural boons which death-bound hearts
Can soar at.” But she spoke, she answered now:
“Why speakest thou of the order of thy worlds
And offerest boons of which thou art the lord?
All I can take in my own strength, O god,
For I have come who am your kindred birth.
Yet that thy words may not have breathed in vain
Since they are flames of the eternal Truth
I bind thee by its Will thou canst not break,
Not for my own joy but the soul I love,
To give on earth whatever Suthyavân,
My husband, waking from the forest’s charm
And from his long pure childhood’s solitude
Desired and had not for his beautiful life.”
Death swayed his dreadful brows in vast assent,
“I give indulgent to the dreams I break
Such close of life as transient men desire
To his blind father. Rich morns and fortunate eves
I give and the brief kingdom he has lost,
To see with gladness of his unsealed gaze
Bright forms of grandsons, beautiful, brave and wise,
And gather them into ungroping arms
And see again the cheerful light of earth.
For that this man desired. Back to thy world
Return swift-footed lest to slay thy life
The great laws thou hast violated, moved,
Open at last on thee their dreadful eyes.”
The woman answered, “Me thou shalt not slay,
Neither with seas nor with celestial flame;
They have no strength to make my being vain:
For in me the invincible goddess lives.
And neither can my mortal purpose fail,
Nor my immortal spirit be destroyed.
My soul exceeds the laws whose might thou vauntst.
My will too is a law, my strength a god
And trembles not before their awful gaze.
Out of thy shadow, give me back again
Into earth’s flowering spaces Suthyavân
In the sweet transiency of human limbs
To do with him my burning spirit’s will.
Else where thou leadst him me too thou shalt lead.
Long I pursued him through the tracts of Time,
Parted and found, breaking the bars of life.
Now I behind him seek whatever night
Or dawn tremendous.” And to her replied
A voice of puissance and tremendous scorn,
The almighty cry of universal Death.
“Frail creature with the courage that aspires,
Hast thou the wings or feet to tread my stars
Which I have made before thy thoughts were formed?
I, Death, created them out of my void
And all that lives within them I made for food
And Love and Strength and Wisdom for my prey.
I, Death, am god and Hunger is my name.
Mortal whose spirit is my wandering breath,
Whose transience was imagined by my smile,
Go clutching thy poor gains to thy hurt bosom
Scourged by my pangs. Turn yet before attempting
Forbidden luminous spaces thou perceive
Lightnings unknown and from the wrath of God
Terrified flee like a forsaken deer
Sobbing and hunted by the shafts of heaven.”
And Sâvithrî made answer, scorn for scorn,
The mortal woman to the dreadful Lord:
“Who is this God, imagined by thy Night,
Contemptuously creating worlds disdained,
Who has anger and treads down high-aiming souls?
Not He who has built His temple in my heart.
The God I adore flames here within my breast,
He has wed me,—to His kiss I bore the worlds.
Who shall prohibit or hedge in His course,
The Wonderful, the Charioteer, the Swift?
Equal my strength behind my husband’s steps,
Whether I press the sword-paved courts of Hell
Or over luminous flowers in Heaven I walk.
The wings of Love have power to fan thy void,
The eyes of Love gaze starlike through the night,
The feet of Love tread naked all the worlds.”
But Death made answer to the human soul:
“O seeker of heaven, by thy earth obscured,
What is thy hope? to what dost thou aspire?
This only is thy keenest earthly joy
For a few more years to please thy faltering sense
With honey of physical longings and embrace
The brilliant idol of a fugitive hour.
And thou, what art thou, soul, thou glorious dream
Of brief emotions made and fluttering thoughts,
A dance of fireflies speeding through the night
Or dragon-wings upon the inconstant stream?
Wilt thou claim immortality, O heart,
Crying against the eternal witnesses
That thou and he are endless powers and last?
One endless watches the inconscient scene
Where all things perish, as the foam the stars.
One is for ever! There no Suthyavân
Changing was born and there no Sâvithrî
Claiming her ancient joy from grief. There Love
Came never with his fretful soul of tears.
No gaze, no heart that throbs, It needs no second
To aid Its being and to share Its joys,
But lives apart immortally alone.
If thou desirest immortality,
Be thou alone. Sufficient to thy days
Live in thyself. Forget the man thou lov’st;
Think him the wandering vision of a dream.”
But Sâvithrî replied for man to Death:
“O Death who reasonest, I reason not;—
Reason that doubts and breaks and cannot build.
I am, I love, I will.” Death answered her:
“Know also! Knowing, thou shalt cease to love
And cease to will, delivered from thy heart.
Then shalt thou rest for ever and be still,
Consenting to the impermanence of things.”
But Sâvithrî replied for man to Death:
“When I have loved for ever, I shall know.
I know my being is a flame self-lit;
I know that knowledge is a vast embrace;
And man was born beneath the monstrous stars
Dowered with a mind and heart to conquer thee.
For one who lives in us, came masked by death.”
Death swayed his awful brows and ceased from speech;
Through the long fading night by her compelled,
Gliding half-seen on their unearthly path,
Phantasmal in the distance moved the three.
But not for long the darkness’ reign endured.
For as they moved all widened, all grew pale.
The dismal twilight brightened now its hues
And soon the sorrow of the Night was dead.
Into a happy misty twilit world
Surprised by a blind joy with gripping hands
She slipped,—vague fields, vague hedges, rainy trees,
An air that dared not suffer too much light
And scenes dim-hearted in a drifting haze
Vague cattle white roamed glimmering through the mist;
Vague spirits wandered with a bodiless cry;
Vague melodies touched the soul and fled pursued
Into harmonious distances unseized
Wishing no goal for their delightful steps.
Through vague ideal lands strayed happily
Or floated without footing or else paced
Led by a low far chanting as of gods
Forms and half-luminous powers. In this sweet chaos
A strange consistency of shapes prevailed;
A victory of initial light was born,
A spirit of purity and elusive presence
Of faery beauty and ungrasped delight
That sweeter seemed than any ecstasy
Earth or all-conquering heaven can quivering seize.
Their bold formations are too absolute;
Carved by an anguish of divine endeavour
They stand up sculptured on the eternal hills
Or quarried from the living rocks of God
Win immortality by perfect form.
They are too clear, too great. This only touched
The flying feet of exquisite desires,
Strange sweet beginnings of perfection, first
Happy imaginings of a heavenly world,
Which rest in a dim passion of pursuit
Thrilled with their first far joys that will not cease.
All in this world was shadowed forth, not limned,
Like shapes of colour in a tinted blur
Or fugitive landscapes of suggested forms,
A glimmering Eden full of faery gleams.
Here in its magic lanes that fled her feet,
Past vanishing hedges, hurrying hints of fields,
Assailed by sweetness of its voices dim,
Treading she found no end. Then turned the god
And cried, “Into a void eternity
Escapes this world, for never has it lived.
Shadowing out glories it shall never seize
It builds up images illusion feeds
With cloudy colours and aerial hues
To escape from the coarse cruelty of things.
Hope begets hope, the old bright vainness new,
Cloud gratifies happy cloud, phantom by phantom
Sweetly is chased. O child of earth, behold
Thy infinite seeming of desires enjoyed!
Vainly thou torturest, vain soul of man,
The hour’s delight to reach infinity’s
Long void and fill its gulfs. Chastise thy heart
With noble knowledge and unhood to see
Thy nature raised into clear living heights,
The Heaven-bird’s view from unimagined peaks.
But if thou give thy spirit to a dream
Soon harsh necessity will smite thee awake.
Coarse, fleeting are the happiest human things.
Thy passion is a sensual want refined,
Thy love a hunger and one day shall cease
By bitter treason, or wrath with cruel wounds
Separate, or thy unsatisfied will to others
Depart, when first love’s joy lies stripped and slain.
Purest delight began and it shall end.
Then shalt thou know thy heart no anchor swinging
Thy happy soul moored in eternal seas.
How can the winging aeons clamp their flight
To one, a helpless wanderer like thyself? Ah, cease!
Vain are the cycles of thy brilliant mind.
Renounce, forgetting hope and joy and tears,
Thy passionate nature in the bosom profound
Where Love lies slumbering on the breasts of peace.”
And Sâvithrî replied to the dim god:
“Another language now thou usest, Death,
Melting thy speech into harmonious pain.
But I forbid thy voice to slay my soul.
Allowed by Heaven and wonderful to man
Passion sweet fiery rhythms chants to Love,
And when the strains are hushed to high-winged souls,
Into empyreans vast its burning breath
Survives beyond, the core of heavenly suns,
A flame for ever pure. Surely I know
One day I shall behold my great sweet world
Put off the dire disguises of the gods,
Unveil from terror and disrobe from sin.
One who has love and lover and beloved
Is the sweet cause of all our bitter griefs.
From the bright vision of his soul a Child
Eternal built himself a wondrous field
And wove the measures of a marvellous dance.
There in its circles and its magic turns
Attracted he arrives, repelled he flees.
Bearing a sweet new face that is the old
His bliss laughs to us or it calls concealed
Like a far-heard, unseen, entrancing flute
From moonlit branches in the throbbing woods
Tempting our angry search and passionate pain.
In the wild devious promptings of his mind
He tastes the honey of tears and puts off joy,
Repenting, and has laughter and has wrath,
And both are a broken music of the soul
That seeks out reconciled its heavenly rhyme.
He for my heart was always Suthyavân.
Has he not lain in wait for me through lives
Unnumbered, in the thickets of the world
Pursued me like a lion through the night
And clasped me like a happy ruthless flame
And touched me like a soft persuading breeze,
Sometimes with wrath and sometimes with sweet peace
Desiring me since first the world began?
And if there is a happier greater God,
Then let him wear the face of Suthyavân
And let his soul be one with him I love,
So let him seek me that I may desire;
Since one heart only beats within my breast
And one God sits there throned. Advance, O Death,
Beyond the phantom beauty of this world,
Of its vague citizens I am not one,
Nor has my heart consented to be foiled.
I cherish, god, the fire and not the dream.”

(To be continued)