January 20, 2007

She must conquer death to conquer life

RY Deshpande Fri 19 Jan 2007 03:53 PM PST
On p. 638 of Savitri we have the following line: Earth saw my struggle, heaven my victory.
This is what Savitri tells Yama, the God of Death from whom she is claiming back the soul of her deceased husband Satyavan. Yama had all along remained unconvinced by Savitri’s powerful arguments and was not ready to release the soul he was carrying with him. And one of the arguments Savitri puts forward is, about her struggle and her victory. Her argument is preceded by a statement that, it is in her unceasing fire that the great stars burn, the fire whose faggots are life and death.
“Savitri could not win the victory in life,” says Devan Nair, “because she lacked death, and she had to conquer death in order to conquer life.” That is true, indeed. The stars in the night get their supernatural fuel from both life and death. That is the mystery of the stars as against the mystery of the suns whose fuel comes only from the transcendent Fire, the divine Agni who knows no night.
But, at the moment, Savitri is stuck, even as Yama remains unyielding. The debate between Yama and Savitri, we must recognise, is not just a set of arguments, a profound metaphysical dialogue, a verbal engagement, a conjuration of one-upmanship, not even sharp and cutting logomachy. With each utterance of theirs, vast occult forces are released, forces clashing one against the other in the cosmic functioning. But Savitri has no other choice but to win. She must conquer death to conquer life. With the power of her total surrender she must carry the cross on her shoulder.

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