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 installment of the earliest draft of Savitri was published in the online forum of Overman Foundation on 4 April 2013. The second installment is published here.
With warm regards,
But on a morn when summer still was young
And the last cuckoo cried among the leaves,
While Uswapathy listened to the morn,
Out of the shadows of the white alcoves
Came Sâvithrî to his side burning in silence
Like a young torch of incense and of flames.
She bore her body like the sob of bliss
Of earth’s mute adoration towards heaven
Awakened in beauty’s living form. He saw,
Pensive, her sweetness woven of golden fire,
Carved like a nectar-cup for thirsty gods.
Then took the father on his knees the child;
Lifting her face he gazed down questioning
Into the wonder of her long veiled eyes,
Deep pools of thought and love as yet unstirred,
That marvelled still at life and saw things far.
There conscious of pure brooding depths he spoke,—
Those sister queens so willed who passionate watched
Their nursling with a tremulous delight,
Enamoured of her firm tender ways and words,
Her laughter, music of tranquility,
Her lustrous eyes waking in sweet large night,
Her limbs that were linked poems made of gold
And her slim moonbeam feet. “O child,” he said,
“Though sixteen years have ripened in thy brow
Thy life dreams still, shut in its own pure bud
Unburst by winds and ardent light. Fragrant
Thou bloomest like a lone forgotten flower
No hand has plucked to lay before the god.
The heavens perhaps guard thee for some great soul
Or too proud-missioned from a divine dawn
Thy light repels the common sons of men.
Go forth and bear the torch of a sweet quest,
Thy heart. For somewhere surely arrived on earth
Waiting unknown thy perfect comrade lives
Kept for thee by the recompensing gods.
Bird of the spaces, soul, I set thee free;
Venture into the world and find thy mate
Winging across far lands.” She went, obeying,
Like one who understands a form of words,
But waits to see their secret meaning dawn.
Her chariot rolled not among cities thronged,
Nor sought the clamorous markets of the land,
Nor sojourned in the palaces of kings;
But through green musing woods, past rough-browed hills,
Over wind-trod pastures and in happy groves
Glided its course like a swift lonely hope
Aware of a sweet mystery withheld
Among its dreams. Still were there remnants left
Of old primaeval spaces where one heard
The sweet and dumbly murmuring voice of earth
In the great passion of her sun-kissed trance
And quieted the all-seeking mind could feel
The unwearied clasp of her mute, patient love
And know for a soul the mother of our forms.
Vague-hearted, listening to a murmur long,
Rhythm of an immenser wordless thought
That gathers in the silence behind life
Like one who waits some sudden revealing stroke,
Through such bright scenes, her kindred spaces, led
By the veiled guardians of her deathless past,
She saw her road in her instinctive mind.
There the king-sages from their labour done
Lived happily with birds and beasts and dawn
And evening, watched with the bright constant stars,
Seeking the soul of things with boundless love,
Or sojourned inly with a voice profound
And a surprising light. Some sat aloof,
Pale hermits with the tiger-skin for robe.
Others with wives and children who grew built
Among these silent mighty influences
Into the towers of manhood they must be,
Unripe for burdens yet and wars, lived sparely
On the raw forest-fruits, kindled the flame
And chanted morn and eve the mystic’s hymn.
They dwelt like spirits from Time’s dull yoke released,
Once more as infants pure, their radiant thoughts
Expecting silence. Mid these haunts of peace
Welcomed by the great mild ascetics, sweetly
Cherished by the calm bright-eyed women pure,
Resting on plains or among mountains large
Through hushed tranquility of forest nights
And when the first cried of the woodland woke,
Watching high dawn break through the giant hills,
Swift-wheeled she journeyed; so far-roaming came
By river-banks and spaces lapped in gold
Into the country of the Shalwa kings
And on its borders solitary and grand
Saw woodland verges trodden by wild deer
And wandered over by the peacock herds.
Cool-perfumed and with pleasure-burdened feet
The morning breezes faltered among flowers;
Light flooded heaven’s regions, all the land
Life flooded. On green earth, in sapphire skies
The free hare bounded and the shrill kite wheeled;
Doves cooed untiring in the easeful shade,
The snow-white cranes toiled clanging through the air
And flame-winged wild-drakes swam in silvery pools.
Her chariot journeyed echoing through a wide
Uncultured earth strewn with deep glades divine
That screened their sheltered murmurs from the sun.
Primaeval peace was there and in its bosom
Held undisturbed wild life of birds and beasts:
Man the artificer had not arrived,
Nor formal labour claimed for dull great cares
Fields tenanted by sunlight and the rain
And pastures of the free life of the earth.
(To be continued)