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The Descent into Night
by RY Deshpande on Fri 24 Apr 2009 04:46 AM IST Permanent Link Cosmos
If we wish to see the autobiographical—rather speaking more appropriately, or hagiographically, the aurobiographical—account in the ancient tale of Savitri, then there should not be any difficulty in associating Sri Aurobindo with Aswapati and the Mother with Savitri herself. This is true not only in the sense of its legendary bearings but also in terms of its symbolic contents. The one-to-one correspondence that is likely to come in the first is extended in its spiritual context by the other aspect. Truly, it is the remarkable visionary power of the legend itself that luminously supports the revealing possibilities of the symbol. In a sense they actually enrich each other. [...]
The birth of Savitri means the birth of a new world. This she brings about by meeting the luminous Presence behind Death and obtaining the boon of a divine life upon earth. She always works in us towards that change, awaking us to the sense of our true innate spiritual entitlement. Sometimes it is feared that by laying too exclusive a stress on the aspect of the legend alone, we might somewhat overshadow this mantric power of Sri Aurobindo’s Savitri. This will have the deleterious effect of distancing us away from what was intended to be. If such is the danger then we should at once disassociate ourselves from the apprehensive outcome which the notion of a legend may carry in it. Our conjoining with its trenchant historicity could thus shut us off from the future it can unfold for us. But we should appreciate the fact that the ancient tale of Savitri in its charged symbolic contents is assuredly the auroral forehistory of the new age that is dawning on us. It is timeless in purpose and poignant in relevance.
The symbolic legend of Savitri describes a twofold journey. If one is a journey that climbs greater and greater spiritual heights into the Transcendent, the other journey is a deepening journey which plunges into the occult depths of this material existence. One is the Journey of the Lord of Life, and the other the Journey of the Sun-bright Executrix. They have undertaken the journeys by assuming human forms in full acceptance of all the thousand limitations of ours, by embracing all the ordeals of our mortality. The exalted purpose is to open out ways of infinity for this creation to progress in its unbounded possibilities. Behind this purpose is of course the blazing happy samkalpa of the Supreme himself, his Will behind this Creation. But in order to accomplish it contingencies of the inconscient workings have to be also taken care of. Across the path of this arduous journey there stands presently an incorrigible power, the colossal shadow-figure of Death.
The Mother and Sri Aurobindo’s age-old concern is to decisively deal with this Shadow-Power, Death. Their incarnation—a double incarnation—is the sine qua non for the success. This aspect is well focused in the traditional story. To win back the evolving soul of Satyavan from Yama, the uncompromising Immortal, it is necessary that, from the fire-altar of Aswapati’s tapasya, emerge Savitri as a radiant daughter. The Vedic Rishis had this intuition when they presented to us the Myth of Savitri in the context of the issue involved in this mŗtyuloka. That is the lasting truth behind it.