Savitri (Савитри)

Savitri is an epic poem composed in blank verse by Sri Aurobindo. Just as Dante’s Divine Comedy describes his travels through Hell, Heaven and Purgatory, similarly Savitri can be seen as narration of the spiritual journey undertaken by Sri Aurobindo and the Mother as part of their Integral Yoga. It details the varied occult worlds they witnessed, the states of consciousness they experienced, and the work of Supramental Transformation that they undertook in their life.

Painting by Priti Ghosh of the Sri Aurobindo Ashram. Click image for source.

Overview

See these links for a good overview

  1. Gopal Bhattacharya’s talk on Savitri
  2. Summary of Savitri by Jyotipriya
  3. Savitri (wikipedia page)
  4. Tehmi’s summary of Savitri
  5. Summary of some cantos by Will Moss

Brief description of the twelve sections of Savitri

  1. The book of beginning : discusses the Yoga undertaken by Aswapati for his individual self-realization.
  2. The book of the Traveller : Here, Aswapati explores the various planes of consciousness.
  3. The book of the Divine Mother : Aswapati continues his Yoga for a Universal realization and New creation.
  4. The book of the Birth and Quest : This book narrates the birth of Savitri, her growth and finally her setting out on the quest to find her husband.
  5. The book of Love : The meeting of Satyavan and Savitri.
  6. The book of Fate : In this book, Savitri learns of the fate that awaits Satyavan.
  7. The book of Yoga : Savitri’s Yoga consisting of her realization of the psychic being, Nirvana and Cosmic Consciousness.
  8. The book of Death : The death of Satyavan as fated.
  9. The book of Eternal Night : Savitri undertakes the Yoga of Transformation of Death to bring back Satyavan.
  10. The book of the double Twilight : Savitri continues the Yoga of Transformation of Death.
  11. The book of everlasting day : Savitri continues the Yoga of Transformation of Death.
  12. Epilogue : Conquest of Death and return of Savitri (Divine Mother) with the Satyavan(Earth’s soul).

In the words of Sri Aurobindo

“The tale of Satyavan and Savitri is recited in the Mahabharata as a story of conjugal love conquering death. But this 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 Word, daughter of the Sun, goddess of the supreme Truth who comes down and is born to save.
  • Aswapati, the Lord of the Horse, her human father, is the Lord of Tapasya, the concentrated energy of spiritual endeavour that helps us to rise from the mortal to the immortal planes.
  • Dyumatsena, Lord of the Shining Hosts, 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 incarnations or emanations of living and conscious Forces with whom we can enter into 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.”

(Sri Aurobindo. On Himself p 265)

Aswapati’s Yoga falls into three parts.

  • First, he is achieving his own spiritual self-fulfilment as the individual and this is described as the Yoga of the King.
  • Next, he makes the ascent as a typical representative of the race to win the possibility of discovery and possession of all the planes of consciousness and this is described in the Second Book (Book of the Traveller): but this too is as yet only an individual victory.
  • Finally, he aspires no longer for himself but for all, for a universal realisation and new creation. That is described in the Book of the Divine Mother.

(Sri Aurobindo in a letter to Amalkiran, Letters on Poetry and Art, p 330)

In the words of the Mother Mirra Alfassa

“…everything is there (in the poem): mysticism, occultism, philosophy, the history of evolution, the history of man, of the gods, of creation, of Nature. How the universe was created, why, for what purpose, what destiny – all is there. You can find all the answers to all your questions there. Everything is explained, even the future of man and of the evolution, all that nobody yet knows. He has described it all in beautiful and clear words so that spiritual adventurers who wish to solve the mysteries of the world may understand it more easily. But this mystery is well hidden behind the words and lines and one must rise to the required level of true consciousness to discover it. All prophesies, all that is going to come is presented with the precise and wonderful clarity. Sri Aurobindo gives you here the key to find the Truth, to discover the Consciousness, to solve the problem of what the universe is. He has also indicated how to open the door of the Inconscience so that the light may penetrate there and transform it. He has shown the path, the way to liberate oneself from the ignorance and climb up to the superconscience; each stage, each plane of consciousness, how they can be scaled, how one can cross even the barrier of death and attain immortality. You will find the whole journey in detail, and as you go forward you can discover things altogether unknown to man.”

(Mother’s talk on Savitri as recorded by Mona Sarkar)

Savitri is really a condensation, a concentration of the universal Mother – the eternal universal Mother, Mother of all universes from all eternity – in an earthly personality for the Earth’s salvation. And Satyavan is the soul of the Earth, the Earth’s jiva. So when the Lord says, ‘he whom you love and whom you have chosen,’ it means the earth. All the details are there! When she comes back down, when Death has yielded at last, when all has been settled and the Supreme tells her, ‘Go, go with him, the one you have chosen,’ how does Sri Aurobindo describe it? He says that she very carefully takes the SOUL of Satyavan into her arms, like a little child, to pass through all the realms and come back down to earth. Everything is there! He hasn’t forgotten a single detail to make it easy to understand – for someone who knows how to understand. And it is when Savitri reaches the earth that Satyavan regains his full human stature.

(Mother’s Agenda, Jan 22 1961)

Blog posts

Click on savitri-books

Online resources

  1. Glossary (and in book form as “Lexicon of an Infinite Mind“)
  2. see the Ashram website for a Adobe PDF copy.
  3. Mother’s talk on How to read Savitri. Also available here
  4. Savitri Bhavan in Auroville
  5. Invocation Journal published by Savitri Bhavan
  6. Savitri (German)
  7. Savitri (Italian)
  8. Savitri (Spanish)
  9. Savitri (Spanish wikipedia page)
  10. Blog on Savitri
  11. Another blog – Read Savitri with a blank mind
  12. Fifty Lectures on Savitri by Mangesh Nadkarni (this is a pdf file)
  13. M.P. Pandit’s readings on Savitri (audio files)
  14. Nirodbaran’s recitation of Savitri (audio files)
  15. More articles on Savitri

Books

  1. A.B. Purani. Sri Aurobindo’s Savitri – an approach and study (online)
  2. M.P. Pandit. Introducing Savitri (sabda)
  3. M.P. Pandit. Lectures on Savitri (sabda)
  4. M.P. Pandit. A Summary of Savitri (sabda). The book has been posted online.
  5. M.P. Pandit. Yoga in Sri Aurobindo’s epic Savitri (sabda) (discusses verses pertaining to Yoga practice in Savitri)
  6. Jugal Kishore Mukherjee. The ascent of sight in Sri Aurobindo’s Savitri
  7. Mangesh Nadkarni. Savitri – a brief introduction (sabda)
  8. Asoka Ganguli. Sri Aurobindo’s Savitri (sabda)
  9. Bibliography of Savitri (original version here)
  10. For more books, search for title “Savitri” in the SABDA catalog
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24 thoughts on “Savitri (Савитри)

      1. VijeeKannan

        Thank You sir for your kind reply. I have already purchased 1 volume in Tamil ( Aadi kaandam). I am looking for the rest.

    1. Sandeep Post author

      A Tamil translation of Savitri is now available.

      Savitri — Idhayaththai Allum Iravaakkaaviyam — 2 Volumes (Savitri: The Immortal, Soul-entrancing Epic) (Tamil): A.I. Ravi Arumugam — Tr. in Tamil; Narmada Pathippagam, 10, Nana Street, Pondy Bazaar, T. Nagar, Chennai-600017. Rs. 1200.

      See the review of this translation by Prema Nandakumar in The Hindu http://www.hindu.com/br/2004/03/16/stories/2004031600121800.htm

      Ravi Arumugam’s in-depth study of the poem and allied literature has yielded rich dividends. He has wisely chosen to translate the entire work as easily readable prose paragraphs touched by the poetic elan of the Tamil mystics of the past. His prayerful involvement in the poem has done the rest. The metaphysical mode of the narrative calls for a firm grip on the story line. Fortunately, the translator has not spared any effort in keeping us well-informed through his detailed introduction and footnotes while entering the mysterious territory of a mystic poem that glides across Vedantic and Tantric spaces.

      In this effort, he has brought back several significant Tamil words into currency and embroidered new phrase combinations that are logical and poetic at the same time. Certainly this book is a precious gift for the Aurobindonians who read Tamil. Also, it is a welcome guide for all readers who search for truth’s clear streams. Above all, the work is an infusion of strength to Tamil literature and proves once again that the language is as vibrant as ever.

      Reply
  1. Pingback: Summary of Savitri by Jyotipriya (Dr Judith Tyberg) | Integral Yoga of Sri Aurobindo & The Mother

    1. Sandeep Post author

      thanks, although I think “read by all” should be changed to “read by those who are open to its vibratory power”. People should read Savitri only when they are inwardly ready for it.

      Reply
      1. Neil

        Sandeep says:

        People should read Savitri only when they are inwardly ready for it.

        Even when they are not inwardly ready for it, as it does not take preparation to understand it. Or I should say no matter how much one prepares it will do not one scintilla of good! To be quite simple here, one either one vibrates with it or doesn’t. Moreover, it can vary with regards to one’s inner disposition and aesthetics. One small example, if one is not drawn to Milton and Wordsworth in the least; the grandeur of the English poetic and prosaic beauty and inner vision that vibrates in the very architectonics of the Sphota, or the arrangement of and sculpturing of emotional patterned articulation from Inner vision and planes not just prosaically seen, but seen-touch and felt (e.g., the overhead vision, “The Winds come to me from the Fields of Sleep” or “Those thoughts that wander through eternity.”, etc.), then chances are one will miss a “je n cest quoi” (or certain something) with Savitri.

        If one just hears Savitri (and hearing/feeling here is key), or for that matter he many mantric passages from Wordsworth, Milton, et al ) with the intellectualized ear rather than from the solar-plexus intwined thereof..one will miss it or, perhaps, capture, as it were, a picture post card or snap shot and plainly not the inner essence and vibratory inner power , which is a material-felt power of vision that is formed in truth from the Greek word enthosiasmos (Inspiration) or planes of inner seeing (or as I am fond of referring to, the planes of Inner Intent).

      2. Sandeep Post author

        Neil,

        I am not disputing the rich melodies present in Savitri. My comment above “savitri should be read by those who are inwardly ready” was intended to soften a particular assertion “Savitri should be read by all who practice spiritualism”, which, to me, smacks of religious zeal and proselytism. One can’t make reading of Savitri compulsory for all initiates.

        Matters such as appreciation of Savitri are best left to individual discretion. Each has to awaken to it in his or her own time and manner.

    1. Sandeep Post author

      Read it little by little naturally until it grows on you. We tend to absorb only as much as our consciousness is capable of, so be neither too hard nor too lax while reading.

      Have you checked the talk “Mother’s talk on How to read Savitri” listed above? This is what she says:

      … you must not read it as you read other books or newspapers. You must read with an empty head, a blank and vacant mind, without there being any other thought; you must concentrate much, remain empty, calm and open; then the words, rhythms, vibrations will penetrate directly to this white page, will put their stamp upon the brain, will explain themselves without your making any effort.

      Source: http://intyoga.online.fr/onsavit.htm

      She also made the following general observation on our ability to grasp scriptures:

      There is one thing certain about the mind and its workings; it is that you can understand only what you already know in your own inner self. What strikes you in a book is what you have already experienced deep within you. Men find a book or a teaching very wonderful and often you hear them say, “That is exactly what I myself feel and know, but I could not bring it out or express it as well as it is expressed here.” When men come across a book of true knowledge, each finds himself there, and at every new reading he discovers things that he did not see in it at first; it opens to him each time a new field of knowledge that had till then escaped him in it. But that is because it reaches layers of knowledge that were waiting for expression in the subconscious in him; the expression has now been given by somebody else and much better than he could himself have done it. But, once expressed, he immediately recognises it and feels that it is the truth. The knowledge that seems to come to you from outside is only an occasion for bringing out the knowledge that is within you.

      Source: https://auromere.wordpress.com/2010/06/10/hermeneutics-how-to-read-holy-scriptures/

      Reply
  2. abhijit

    i have heard that certain lines in savitri can be used as a mantra for solving problems like say health abundance etc do you have any idea of that and does any book or source dealt with that

    Reply
    1. Sandeep Post author

      I am not aware of such uses and I asked a few longtimers living in the Aurobindo Ashram who also responded in the negative. You can ask the people at Savitri Bhavan

      Money and health come and go. Adversity can be used as a stimulus to build character, discipline and endurance and self-reliance. These are the true friends that stay with us forever.

      Reply
  3. Pingback: Allusions in Savitri – part 2 | Integral Yoga of Sri Aurobindo & The Mother

  4. Sandeep Post author

    How to read Savitri? There are two ways – silently or aloud

    Reading Savitri silently or aloud—they have different powers. Copying Savitri’s few pages daily has another power. Reading aloud is an invocation to the transcendental gods, calling them to come unto us. Reading silently is to enter into the hush of creative silence:

    Silence, the nurse of the Almighty’s power,
    The omniscient hush, womb of the immortal Word,
    And of the Timeless the still brooding face,
    And the creative eye of Eternity.

    For the full article, see http://savitri.in/savitri/?q=content/reading-savitri-silently-or-aloud

    Reply
  5. Pingback: Ways of navigating this blog | Integral Yoga of Sri Aurobindo & The Mother

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