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Birthday of Sri Aurobindo – The Story of Savitri

Today is the birthday of the great Indian sage and seer Sri Aurobindo (15 August 1872 – 5 December 1950). The central theme of Sri Aurobindo’s vision is the evolution of life into a “life divine”.

In an unpublished seminar transcription Sri Kumar speaks about Sri Aurobindo’s chief work, the beautiful story of Savitri, summarising the content of the book:

“Sri Aurobindo is deeply linked to the concept of Savitri. His doctrine on Savitri is considered as a fresh presentation in English of the Rigvedic text. It is even appreciated in the Ashrams of the Hierarchy. The story of Savitri is very well presented by Sri Aurobindo in chaste poetry and is recommended to be read at least one page daily. Such is the instruction of the 2nd ray Ashram. That the intricacies of the light of the dusk and dawn need to be understood is the idea behind such recommendation for the study of Savitri. The book Savitri will receive more and more attention, when man reaches the brim of intellect and enters into intuition. It provides many ideas to consciously walk into the intuitional state which is called the supra-mental state by Sri Aurobindo. Sri Aurobindo is also considered as the modern seer of ancient quality.

The story of Savitri speaks of the importance of the light in darkness. There is a lady called Savitri. She is married to a person called Satyavan. Satyavan means ‘truth bearer’. It is a prophecy that within one year from the date of her marriage with Satyavan, he would die. It is in the horoscope of Satyavan that he would die within one year from the date of marriage. Savitri says, “I will marry him. I will ensure that he survives even after one year.” Her confidence in the Mother was unshakable. She lives with the husband and the in-laws and serves them with utmost veneration and gains their deep affection.

On the annual day, on the date of marriage, when Satyavan was to get into the forest to fetch wood for fire ritual, Savitri accompanied him, because she knew that her husband would die, and she wanted to be with him to ensure that he is brought back to life. So, she accompanied him into the forest. When the hours stroke, Satyavan felt an unimaginable headache. The head reeled and he fell on the ground. Savitri visualised that the soul of Satyavan was going to depart. She kept his head on her lap and sat there.

Then the Lord of the Death approached to excavate the soul from the body. A lot of discussions and arguments between Savitri and the Lord of Death took place. The Lord of Death tried to convince Savitri that every soul that takes to birth shall have to depart from the body. It is the law. Death is inevitable to the one who is born. Savitri argued, “Even while it is inevitable and even while it is the law, the one who formed the law is the Mother, and I seek the protection of the Mother to protect my husband.” The Lord of Death got interested in the wisdom of Savitri. He asked her many questions, many intricate questions about anthropogenesis and cosmogenesis, and she answered them all very well. He felt deeply generous and considerate towards Savitri and said “I would like to grant you a boon. You may ask any boon for your life, other than the life of your husband.” Savitri said, “Bless me with children.” The Lord of Death replied, “So it shall be.” Then Savitri said, “That means, that you have granted life to my husband.”

For a moment, the Lord of Death understood the subtlety, because to such a chaste woman a second husband would not be acceptable. And also for a man. Even after the death of the spouse the surviving spouse continues to experience the presence of the departed spouse in the heart. That is the original super-fine quality of a human being. Generally marriages are not recommended for a second time, because the marriage is for the soul. … The Lord of Death was perplexed having granted the boon of blessing children for Savitri. Savitiri smiled. The Lord of Death understood and also smiled and said, “It is the will of the Lord that I shall not take away the life of your husband.” So, he brought Satyavan back to life.”

When Satyavan was leaving to the forest, the parents knew that the day was fatal. Also Savitri knew it. She told the parents-in-law, “Don’t you worry, I shall accompany your son wherever he goes. Even if he is taken to the planes of death, with the power of the Mother, I will accompany him. I shall please the Devas of the planes of death, because I carry the grace of the Mother, and I am very sure that the Mother’s grace will help me and in turn will also help you.” She gave assurance to the parents-in-law that she shall come back with their son.

This is a story poetically conceived by the Veda to speak of the summer solstice and the return of the Sun in the winter solstice. That is how Satyavan is said to have been brought back. This play happens every evening in the West, when the Sun sets. The light that remains after the sunset is related to Savitri, because the light is still there, though the Sun has already disappeared. The Sun is the truth bearer. The solar disc of the Sun is a blind to the light which is the basis of the whole creation. He is the vehicle of that truth, since the vehicle of that truth is called the truth bearer. That is why the name is given to Satyavan. Savitri means ‘the light that accompanies even during the times of darkness ‘or ‘the light that promises the return of the Sun’.

The story relates to the Sun travelling through the night to dawn again in the morning hours. In the morning hours also the light comes first, and then the sun-ball comes next. That light is called Gayatri, the other name for Savitri. During the day, the light is called ‘the splendour’, and the whole movement of light is called Saraswati.”

Sri Aurobindo in 1916

9 Responses to “Birthday of Sri Aurobindo – The Story of Savitri”

  1. rosalia Says:

    Hoy en Colombia se celebra una fiesta muy especial de la madre , esta historia tan bella de la protección de la madre aun en la muerte, me conmovio mucha. Muchas gracias.

  2. Ms. Kaali Krishna Says:

    Excellent homage to Sri Aurobindo remembering him by reading his great work SAVITRI on this day. Thank you.

  3. Dirk Gysels Says:

    Thank you for reminding us of the life and achievement of this great rishi.
    In Auroville, there is a centre called ‘Savitri Bhavan’. It keeps the light of Savitri blazing.

  4. Sreepallavi Says:

    Thank you. I was longing to here/read the same for past few weeks.. This just right for me.

  5. turpin f rançoise Says:

    mersi mon ami pou les commentaires namastez

  6. V V B S MURTHY Says:

    Thinking of this Great Sage/Maha Rishi is itself a very wonderful thing of beauty. India, the country of ours is very fortunate to have such great personalities taken birth on this land. With that we are so fortunate to have
    to know about, to know and read their works, to know and read about ashram – all these are wonders I can say. Sri Maata and Sri Aurobindo put together silently instilled the fragrance of “integrated yoga in the hearts of the masses. The epics that had come out from Sri Aurobindo could not be compared with any other works of other great personalities of the world.
    Immeasurable greatness is stored in those works – only one has to know and understand them, then only one can proceed further; for this it requires discipline, austerity and shradha, deeksha and nista.

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