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Letters on Savitri

Letters on Savitri
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Letters on Savitri

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Item Code: NAK279
Author: K. D. Sethna
Publisher: Sri Aurobindo Ashram, Pondicherry
Language: English
Edition: 2000
ISBN: 9788170585855
Pages: 124
Cover: Paperback
Other Details: 8.5 inch X 5.5 inch
weight of the book: 210 gms
Editor's Note to the 1951 Edition

Sri Aurobindo intended to write a long Introduction to Savitri: A Legend and a Symbol. Together with one Book out of the twelve of his epic-significantly enough the Book of Death -the eagerly awaited Introduction never got written. Nothing that anybody may pen, however acute, can replace it as an expository and illuminative document on the unusual poetic afflatus - unusual both in message and music - that blows through the twenty-five thousand and odd lines of this Legend of the past that is a Symbol of the future. But luckily we have a substantial number of letters by Sri Aurobindo on what can be called, if anyone achievement by so vastly and variously creative a genius can lay claim to the title, his literary life-work. Out of these letters an introductory ensemble - necessarily in certain places more informal, personal, unreserved, focussed on details, quick-shifting, repetitive than a specially composed piece for the public would be- has been made with the object of throwing, in the poet's own valuable words, some light on the poem's conception and development and on its qualities of inspiration, vision and technique.'

It will perhaps be of interest to touch upon the origin of the series of notes that have been compiled and presented here. No sooner did I commence my contact with Sri Aurobindo in 1927 than I found the air of his Ashram humming with rich rumours of the masterpiece that had been in progress ever since his days in Baroda. Having always had a passion for poetry and having myself tried to catch a spark of the celestial fire, I was extremely thrilled and longed to set eyes on this most significant work of his which he was repeatedly recasting to make it accord with the ever higher ascension of his own consciousness in Yoga. But Sri Aurobindo was in no hurry to show it before it reached the intensest spiritual perfection. It was I, on the contrary, who kept showing him my own little efforts at expressing the few strange glimmers of beauty and truth that at times my discipleship under so gracious a spiritual and literary guru brought me. On one such occasion, to illustrate some point, he sent back with his helpful comments two lines describing "the Ray from the transcendent penetrating through the mind's passive neutral reflection of the supreme quietude of the silent Brahman." They ran

Piercing the limitless unknowable,
Breaking the vacancy and voiceless peace.
I was struck by the profound word-reverberations that reinforced the mystical word-suggestions with a tremendous immediacy of spiritual fact. I asked where the lines came from. The reply was: "Savitri."

I never forgot this first brief impact of the closely guarded secret. Even before it, Sri Aurobindo had tried to make me conscious of a certain element in poetry that hailed from what he called the Overhead planes, the hidden ranges of consciousness above the intellect, with their inherent light of knowledge and their natural experience of the infinite. He distinguished four planes: Higher Mind, Illumined Mind, Intuition, Overmind. The last-named has been, according to him, the top reach of the dynamic side of man's spirituality so far: a transcendental poise of immutable Brahman or featureless Nirvana is the Beyond to it usually realised when in isolated cases there is a leap to the ultimate status of that infinite silence of self-liberation which can be attained on any plane of the cosmos by an inner withdrawal. The master dynamism of the Divine, the integral earth-transformative power which Sri Aurobindo designated as Supermind or Gnosis or Truth-Consciousness and which was his own out- standing personal realisation, rendering his Yoga a unique hope for the world, has lain unmanifest and mostly unseized and, until certain radical conditions are completely fulfilled, cannot find direct expression in life or literature. Even the expression of the Overmind with its massive and comprehensive yet intensely immediate vision - especially in the entire authenticity of its undertones and overtones of rhythm - is rare, as is also to a less degree that of the Higher Mind's broad connective clarity, the Illumined Mind's many-sided opulence of colourful insight, the Intuition's swift and close and all-seizing focus. What the ancients termed the mantra -the stuff of Divinity itself appearing to become revelatory scriptural word as in some parts of the Vedas, the Upanishads and the Gita - is the clearest voice of the Overmind in its few past visitations on earth. Less openly, the Overmind is the chief presence in the world's greatest poetic phrases of various types. More and more Sri Aurobindo sought - by patiently criticising, appraising, distinguishing - to help me not only respond, in my appreciation of poetry, to the rising scale of the Overhead note but also bring some strain of it into my own verses. The quest of that note grew for me a dominant occupation and most I prayed for a touch of the Overmind.

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