Sri Aurobindo: Savitri, A Legend and a Symbol.
Publisher: Pondicherry: Sri Aurobindo Ashram, 1978
Price: Rs 705
Since 1977, my favourite book has been Sri Aurobindo’s Savitri. I first read it as a student of M.A. English since it was a prescribed textbook. When I visited the Sri Aurobindo Ashram at Pondicherry in 1978, I bought a copy and read it again in 2014 to guide a Ph.D thesis on Sri Aurobindo’s works.
The tale of Savitri is covered in The Mahabharath as a story of conjugal love conquering death. But the legend is, as shown by many features of the human tale, one of the many symbolic myths of the Vedic cycle. Satyavan is the soul carrying the divine truth of being within itself but descended into the grip of death and ignorance. Savitri is the Divine World, daughter of the Sun, Goddess of the Supreme Truth who comes down and is born to save. Aswapathi, the Lord of Horse, her human father is the Lord of Tapasya, the concentrated energy of the spiritual endeavour that helps us to rise us from the mortal to the immortal planes. Dyumatsena, the Lord of the Shining Hosts, the father of Satyavan, is the divine mind here fallen blind, losing its celestial kingdom of vision, and through that loss its kingdom of glory. Still this is not a mere allegory, the characters are not personified qualities, but the incarnations or emanations of living and conscious forces with whom we have concrete touch and they take human bodies in order to help man and show him the way from his mortal state to a divine consciousness and immortal life.
There is a myth that Savitri can’t be understood. Yes, on a single reading it can never be understood. The reader has to enter his own inner being while reading Sri Aurobindo’s Savitri. Sri Aurobindo says that his poetry is future poetry which is not intended for contemporary readers. Behind every character of the poem we find Sri Aurobindo’s presence. Savitri and Satyavan are Sri Aurobindo’s ideal couple. There is a yogic bond between them.
The whole poem is full of symbols, mysteries and transcendental knowledge. Ashwapathi travels to the beginning of creations through yogic trance.
Savitri’s yoga proceeds to realize the truth. Her aim is: Man has to conquer the death and transform himself into divinity. Man’s highest wisdom is nothing but his brilliant guess. This world is a thousand fold expression of one God. None can reach heaven who has not passed through hell. Such are the great meanings one can get from Savitri.
— Prof G. Damodar (Retd) Department of English, Kakatiya University, Warangal