The 1936-37 version of Savitri: Second Installment

Dear Friends,

We are happy to announce that Overman Foundation has received permission from Sri Aurobindo Ashram Trust to publish the 1936-37 version 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.

About this version, Nirodbaran writes in his Twelve Years With Sri Aurobindo: “It is only in the version of 1936, sent in instalments privately to Amal [Kiran], that we find for the first time, brief descriptions of the planes, starting with the plane of subtle matter. Later these brief descriptions are amplified and each plane gets a fairly long Canto to itself. In the 1936 version there are no Cantos yet—there are only sections with sub-headings.” (p. 177, 1995 edition)

The first installment of the 1936-37 version of Savitri was published in the online forum of Overman Foundation on 27 August 2013. The second installment is published here.

With warm regards,
Anurag Banerjee
Overman Foundation.





Ascent to Godhead—Unveiling

A world’s desire compelled her mortal birth.
A leader of the immemorial play
In which the One discovers himself through forms
And the blind Void struggles to live and see,
A thinker and toiler in the ideal’s air,
Adept and king, drew down the luminous Power.
His was a spirit that leaned from subtler breadths
Of Nature screened to our soon-wearied search
And shed their grandiose ray on human life.
A strength of the omnipotent Permanence
Imprisoned in the moment and its flow,
Enmeshed in this thick maze of narrowing thoughts,
This groping consciousness with its half-view,
He kept the vision of the vasts behind.
Their ocean impulse lifted every breath,
Enlarged the spaces of life’s dreams and made
A playground for the living Infinite.
Each moment was a beat of puissant wings.
His mind was like a fire assailing heaven,
His will a hunter in the trails of light.
Impelled by the veiled Delegate within,
His days mapped a long growth towards heights supreme
A skyward being nourishing its roots
On sustenance from occult spiritual founts
Climbed through white rays to find an unseen sun.
Though Earth’s the body and the instruments,
Yet deep in man celestial Powers can dwell:
The form deceives, the person is a mask!
Still in the symbol of humanity draped,
In him a pure and brilliant Witness sat
Unrecognisable by the outward view.
Day after day the strong Inhabitant
Watched the dim icon growing by his gaze
And pressed his will upon the changing cells:
Persuading flesh to hold the untarnished beam,
Transmuting heart and brain in golden fire,
He shaped the figure of his unborn might.
Hastening the human process from above
That turns this frail earth-engine for heaven-use,
The Mechanician of etheric Space,
The Craftsman of the magic stuff of Self
Who labours at his high and difficult plan
In the wide workshop of the wonderful world,
Moulded in inward Time his rhythmic parts.
A Presence wrought behind the ambiguous screen
And beat his soil to bear a Titan’s weight;
Refining half-hewn blocks of natural force
It built his soul into a statued god.
Thus helped, the invisible Grandeur outlined here
Its first magnificent frame of things to be;
Man’s fallen nature brooked celestial birth.
A Seer arose, a shining Guest of Time.
For him the limiting firmament ceased above,
In a tense period of the sleepless Urge
A gap was rent in the all-concealing vault;
Caught in a voiceless white epiphany
The toiling thinker widened and grew still,
Wisdom transcendent touched his quivering heart,
And with a silver cry of opening gates,
Breaking the intellect’s hard and lustrous lid,
Across our mental sky he glimpsed above
The superconscious realms of motionless peace
Where judgment ceases and the word is mute
And the Unconceived lies pathless and alone.
Thence momentary winged upliftings came
And voices that an inner listening hears
Cast on him from the unreachable Secrecy,
In flame-wrapped outbursts of the immortal Word
And flashes of a close unbearable Light,
Hints of the Truth to which the heavens aspire.
Or inspiration with her lightning feet,
A sudden messenger from the all-seeing tops
Releasing over the reason’s slender curve
White spaces of a knowledge beyond speech,
Bore earthward fragments of revealing thought
Hewn from the silence of the Ineffable,
Lent vibrant words to the unuttered Vast,
Or of the Timeless she disclosed one face.
Awakened to the lines that Nature hides,
Attuned to her movements that exceed our ken,
His wide gaze bodied viewless entities
And, piercing through our vision’s narrow walls,
Neighbour and comrade of the Invisible,
He saw the cosmic Forces at their task
And knew the occult impulse behind man’s will.
Thence sprung the greatness of his front to earth.
One and harmonious by the Maker’s art,
The human in him paced with the divine;
Its acts betrayed not the interior flame.
An Influence guided him sublime, remote,
A genius heightened in his body’s cells
That knew the meaning of its fate-hedged works
Kin to the march of unaccomplished Powers
Beyond life’s arc in spirit’s immensities.
Mind in a larger consciousness was drowned
And needed not to plan precarious steps
Driven by screened prompters who compel its choice
The universal strengths were linked to his:
Filling this smallness with their bourneless breadths
He drew the energies that transform an age,—
Immeasurable by the common look,
Made of great dreams a mould for coming things
And cast his deeds like bronze to front the years.
Lonely his days and splendid like the sun’s.
Far-peaked he seemed, apart in selfless toil,
A demiurge shaping the lives of men.
But even this grandeur could not be his close.
Far richer is the spirit’s ample right
Than earth’s uplook to a remote Unknown.
Our world is a beginning and a base
Where Life and Mind have built their structured dreams,
And now those half-way splendours are our light
Arresting us with their imperfect blaze.
But greater realms delay, by us undreamed,
That from the timeless Glory shall stoop down
To commune with our seized illumined clay.
Above Thought’s largest sweep and highest sky
Lie hidden altitudes unviewed, unreached;
There, kin to the ineffable secrecies,
Treasured within the Infinite’s stainless folds
They keep for us our rapturous heritage,
The calm immunity of spirit space,
The golden plateaus of immortal Fire,
The moon-flame oceans of unfallen Bliss,
To which the indwelling Daemon points our flight.
A burning Witness in the sanctuary,
He looks through Time and the blind walls of Form
And sees the goal of the unconscious world,
The heart of the mystery of the journeying years.
Earth quests through the soul’s war and quivering pain
The pure perfection this dim Nature needs,
While far above us like gold dazzling suns
Veiled by the Ray no mortal eye can bear,
A Mind not haunted by misleading gleams,
A Will expressive of soul’s deity,
A Strength not forced to stumble by its speed,
A Joy that trails not sorrow for its shade,
On the eternal summits wait their hour.
As if the original Ukase still held back
In the locked archives of the spirit’s crypt,
This was the signature and fiery seal
Of Wisdom on the dim Power’s hooded works,
Who builds in ignorance the steps of Light,
This the Immortal’s promise to the days.
Our time-clamped aims unreal grew and small.
His being, prophetic now of godhead won,
Resiled from poor assent to Nature’s terms.
Its height refused the lowness of earth’s state,
Its wideness discontented cast away
The tedious treasure of her limited gifts,
Her shreds of knowledge packed in careful heaps,
Her timid store of wounded brief delights,
Pale scanty earnings of the bargain made
Between our littleness and bounded hopes
And the compassionate Infinitudes.
He felt the doubtfulness of all things here,
The incertitude of man’s proud confident thought
The transience of the achievements of his force.
All that was yet vouchsafed from the Beyond
Resembled a miser shower from gilded clouds
Cast to beguile our dalliance with the mire.
This casual coin could fill his want no more.
A bribe of distant light was not enough,
The Glory we glimpse afar must be his home.
Impatient of the burden of its gains,
His soul retired from all that he had done.
A portion of the world and yet apart,
Amid the restless noise of human toil
Impassive he lived, immune from earthly ties,
A figure in the ineffable Witness’ shrine
Pacing the vast cathedral of his thoughts
Under its arches dim with Infinity
Mid heavenward brooding of invisible wings.
Aware of his occult omnipotent Source,
Allured by the omniscient Ecstasy,
He felt the invasion and the nameless joy.
A call was on him from intangible heights;
Indifferent to the little outpost Mind
He dwelt in the wideness of the Eternal’s reign.
Life’s circumscribing soil could hold no more
His spirit from the adventure of the Vasts.
There now it shot from the tense bow of Time,
A ray returning to its parent Sun.
A living centre of the illimitable,
One-pointed to the immaculate Delight,
Questing for God as for a splendid prey,
He mounted burning like a cone of fire.
Pallid and faint in distant fading streaks
The earth-nature’s summits sank below his feet;
He climbed to meet the infinite more above.
Thus borne on the surge of the enlarging Self,
He left the Inconscient whence our stuff is drawn
To win the ungrasped Immense from which we come.
To a few is given that godlike rare release.
One among many thousands never touched,
Engrossed in the external world’s design,
Is driven by a pointing hand of light
Across his soul’s unmapped immensitudes.
A pilgrim of the everlasting Truth,
He has turned from the voices of the narrow realm,
He has cast from him our measures and our bounds
And left the little lane of human time;
Now through the vestibules of the Unseen
Trod are the precincts of a vaster plan:
All that was grasped and certain far behind
And the deep cosmic murmur falling still,
A lone forerunner of the Godward earth
Among the symbols of yet unshaped things,
Watched by closed eyes, mute faces of the Unborn,
Journeying to meet the Incommunicable,
He hears the echo of his single steps
In the eternal courts of solitude.
As rose his spirit into pathless heights,
A strong Descent leaped down, a Flame, a Power,
A violent Ecstasy, a Sweetness dire;
His nature shuddered in the Unknown’s grasp:
Overswept, compelled as by some dangerous Bliss,
It underwent a new and bourneless change.
In a pure voidness and eternity,
As when a timeless Eye annuls the hours,
All that represses our fall’n consciousness
Was taken from him like a forgotten load.
A fire was lit that burned the limiting past;
Its outworn high thought-buildings disappeared
Making large room for a new self to live.
A greater Force than the earthly held his limbs;
Increased and heightened were the instruments,
Huge workings bared his undiscovered sheaths,
Strange energies wrought and screened tremendous hands
Loosened the triple net of tenebrous strings
That ties us with these knots of nerve and brain
And cramps us to a fixed external gaze.
His spirit breathed a superhuman air.
A cosmic vision looked at things through light:
Illusion lost her aggrandising lens,
Atomic were her shapes that loomed so large
And from her failing hand her measures fell:
In the enormous spaces of the Self
The living form seemed now a wandering shell;
Earth was one room in his million-mansioned house,
The mind a many-frescoed outer court,
His soul the tongue of an unmeasured fire.
The imprisoned deity rent its magic fence;
All barriers crashed around the huge escape:
The fixed immovable peripheries
Effaced themselves beneath the Incarnate’s tread;
All-knowing guardians of an ignorant world,
The dread velamen and the bottomless crypt,
Circle and end of every hope and toil,
Could not restrain nor slay the arisen Power;
The old adamantine vetoes stood no more.
Immune, rejecting Nature’s obsolete law,
It burst the narrow dams that keep us safe
Against the forces of the Universe:
Abolished were the scripts of destiny.
Overpassing the stature by Earth-fate assigned,
A boundless point travelling infinity,
He found unpathed unwalled his titan scope.
All was uncovered to his sealless eye:
By the compulsion of some termless Gaze
A secret Nature yielded to his search,
Masked by occult innumerable doors,
Her perilous arcanes and hooded powers:
Her gulfs stood nude, her far transcendences
Flamed to transparencies of crowded light.
Life in him learned its huge subconscient rear;
The little fronts unlocked to the unseen vasts.
All being was seen in its unnumbered planes:
Ascending and descending twixt life’s poles,
The seried kingdoms of the graded Law,
Each lifting tops to its own high Beyond,
Predestined stadia of the evolving Way,
Paces of the many-visaged Wonderful,
Measured the stature of the growing soul
In a hierarchy of climbing harmonies
From Matter’s abysses to the spirit’s peaks.
A giant order was discovered here
Of which the tassel and extended fringe
Are the scant stuff of our material lives.
Across the unfolding of the seas of self,
At once remembrance and apocalypse,
Appeared the numberless countries of the One.
A many-miracled consciousness unrolled
Vast aim and process and unfettered norm,
Half-caught at first through wonder’s gleaming lids
A larger Nature’s great familiar roads:
Affranchised from the mesh of earthly sense
Wide continents of potency were glimpsed,
Sun-tracts of knowledge, moon-belts of delight,
Beyond this indigent corporeal range.
Adventurer and discoverer in realms
Denied to this perishing eye, this failing tread,
A voyager upon uncharted routes
Fronting the viewless danger of the Unknown,
He broke into another Space and Time.

(To be concluded)

[1] From Sri Aurobindo’s Notes: In the “Yoga of the Lord of the Horse” which is the next series of sections, “there is a long passage describing Aswapati’s progress through the subtle physical, vital and mental worlds towards the Overmind” (1 November 1936). “‘The Yoga of the Lord of the Horse’ covers a number of sections making the greater part of the first book; it is not the title of a section only. This title is essential to the plan of the work…” (16 November 1936). Asked about the titling of the first section of the series, Sri Aurobindo replied: “For the moment I can think of nothing but Ascent to Godhead—Unveiling.” To the statement “I suppose the Horse is Dadhikravan of the Vedas”, the answer was: “Yes” (9 November 1936).


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