December 03, 2005

For all time and for all mankind

V. V. B. Rama Rao LANGUAGE IN INDIA HOME PAGE Volume 3 : 8 August 2003
Intuitive knowledge leaping into speech
Hearing the subtle voice that clothes the heavens,
Carrying the splendour that has lit the suns,
They sang Infinity's names and deathless powers
In meters that reflect the worlds,
Sight's sound waves breaking from the soul's great deeps.
-- Sri Aurobindo in Savitri
Savitri is scripture as pregnant as lofty as the Upanishad. The lines cited above as an epigraph are from the holy text. The lines are mantra, revealed to the drashtas of yore with blessed resources of spiritual inwardness describing how language offers itself and performs the most sublime function through a visionary.
  • We find another exegesis of the workings and ascent of thought in the drashta, the seer Sri Aurobindo's poem Thought the Paraclete.
  • The mystic mind bursts forth in effulgent thought (the very spur to expression and language) aspiring to become one with the universal radiance and ultimately merging itself into its origin.
  • The heightened sensibility in the inspired mind releases expressive, electrifying language. It flows forth bubbling, seeking, electrifying expression.
  • The virtue of such language is that, in the initiated reader, it is capable of throwing a flood of discovered light through the medium of speech, vaak or musical sound, naada.

The poem speaks of Thought as the Holy Spirit leading the mind upward through stages: the higher mind, the illumined mind, the intuitive mind and the over mind to the supra mental region which finally leads to the identification of the finite to the infinite. What is significant here is that it is not so much a matter of style as a dimension of the inner spirit, which defies analysis. It is a highly 'intuited' revelation.

Sri Aurobindo remains a perfect example of Hero as Poet and Hero as Man of Letters expounded by Thomas Carlyle. The poet is a heroic figure belonging to all ages; whom all ages possess. He is the vates sacer, the sacred seer seen by Carlyle in Dante and Shakespeare. Sri Aurobindo answers Carlyle's description of the Poet and inspired Maker; who Prometheus-like, can shape new symbols, and bring new fire from Heaven to fix it here. "A musical thought," we are told by the Sage of Chelsea, Carlyle, "is one spoken by a mind that has penetrated into the innermost heart of the thing; detected the inmost mystery of it; namely the melody hidden in it; the inward harmony of coherence which is its soul whereby it exists, and has a right to be here in the world. All inmost things, we may say are melodious, naturally utter themselves in song."
In this sense there is little difference between prose and poetry for the seer, the drashta. Everything is music and every thing is mantra. Everything is sweet and everything is luminous and light emitting. But, Sri Aurobindo as he said himself somewhere about his Savitri, wrote the poem just for himself. We don't find in Sri Aurobindo the despair Carlyle was said to have felt "in the face of a nature dis-godded and language desacralized." Our seer and saint Sri Aurobindo has in him the power of language to alter human lives, to take the initiated reader, his disciple and follower godward. He did re-god nature and re-sacralize language.
When a devout reader approaches the Gita , an Upanishad or a piece of any sacred text of an inspired genius, say like Sri Aurobindo, the very subject of the discourse is sublime and the appreciation of style is automatic along with the loftiness of thought, understanding, insight and intuition. The quality of communication itself is holy. Understanding. Aurolangue goes to the domain of saadhakas and enlightened ones slowly initiated and introduced to the higher realms. This is caviar to the general.
Aaryavarta has a hoary tradition of language reflecting the complexity and the sublimity of thought of her great sages, saints and seers. This unique aspect of language is reason for its glory amidst diversity and multiplicity. Here language is only a springboard to launch the reader into the spiritual. Modern models of the emerging stylistic evaluation, translation technology and procedures of splitting, and dissecting discourse to the level of morpheme and phoneme is not much of an aid to understanding Aurolangue. Hard effort in terms of pondering and contemplation is essential to get at the pure metal of the author's intuition and intent.. Hence the relevance of Ruskin's famous trope. This could even be a worthwhile caveat to readers approaching Sri Aurobindo.
Sri Aurobindo's works are for all time and for all mankind. A mere reading would never do. Each line or each sentence has to be taken in slowly (chewed and digested is the Johnsonian dictum) for contemplation, eventual enlightenment, and ultimate spiritual joy, aananda. Here is a very brief example, a bit of the poem The Rose of God, that could be a useful beginning for fruitful contemplation:
Rose of God, smitten purple with the incarnate divine Desire
Rose of Life, crowded with petals, colours' lyre!
Transform the body of the mortal like a sweet and musical rhyme,
Bridge our earthward and heavenward, make deathless the children of Time.

What more aspiration or prayer could there be than this? Does this not echo many an Upanishad invocation? The harnessing of the polychromatic variations in the poem would take a separate paper for itself. The springs of spiritual aspiration lay at the bottom of the cadence and naada, which always runs as an undercurrent yielding a benediction.

As for initiation, the individual reader must fend for himself. Initiation is to being led into. A reader would do well to slowly get familiar with the seer's turn of expression with a degree of reverence. His own thought should be above the mundane, the commonplace and the routine. A basic familiarity with or an understanding of spirituality would be a great help.

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