Integral Yoga Community - On-line Groups

Savitri: Summaries (Part I)

The following are the canto-wise summaries co-authored by Dave Hutchinson and Will Moss. All summaries upto the canto being read currently are listed.

Book I: The Book of Beginnings

Book I contains the first five Cantos of Savitri, and as such, lays the groundwork for what is to come. Here the broad outlines of the epic are sketched, the principle characters introduced, the broad philosophical and mystical themes which are taken up in far greater detail and complexity later are given their initial statement here. If Savitri were a symphony, then Book I would be the First Movement.

Canto 1: The Symbol Dawn

Thursday Feb 29, 1996
If Book I is the First Movement, then Canto 1 is the Overture. Of the two parts, the first is grand, deep, impersonal: The Eternal Dawn that follows Eternal Night. The second part is personal: Savitri too awakes, on the day of her greatest ordeal, her epic trial by fire. For, "This was the day when Satyavan must die."

[Book One: The Book of Beginnings] [Table of Contents]

Canto 2: The Issue

Thursday Mar 7, 1996
Canto 2 plunges right into the defining moment of choice, the heart of the tale, and shows us the crucial elements of the battle at hand ["The Issue"]. This is Her "day of fate." And here we begin learning about Savitri:

"A heart of silence in the hands of joy
Inhabited with rich creative beats
A body like a parable of dawn
That seemed a niche for veiled divinity
Or golden temple door to things beyond."

We learn of her adversary, Death, and of the Law that binds the world, the destiny that brought Savitri here, and the test She faces.

[Book One: The Book of Beginnings] [Table of Contents]

Canto 3: The Yoga of the King:The Yoga of the Soul's Release" [Part 1 of 2: pp. 22-34]

Thursday Mar 14, 1996
But what has brought Savitri to this momentous point? The rest of Part 1, and all of Part 2 [through Book VIII] are, in terms of the epic, one vast review of the past, to bring us back up to this point in the tale.

Here begins the chronology of "Savitri," with the appearance of "The King," "the Lord of Life," "that son of Force;" One who is never named in all of Part 1 but whom we later learn is Aswapathy, King of Madra, and later, father of Savitri.

But now, he is only

"One in the front of the immemorial quest,
Protagonist of the mysterious play
A colonist from immortality."

This first half of Canto 3 is The Yoga of the King: We see this Son of Force growing in Light and Power, attaining step by step a greater Consciousness with breathtaking majesty and ease, with experiences crowding in on him, until at last,

"He plunged his roots into the Infinite,
He based his life upon eternity."

[Note: As this is the first of the longer cantos spoken of in the Savitri study announcement, it will be taken up over the next two weeks. There is a natural break in the middle, suggested by the title of the canto, so there we will pause until next week. - Will]

[Book One: The Book of Beginnings] [Table of Contents]

Canto 4: The Secret Knowledge

Dave Hutchinson: Sunday April 7, 1996
In this canto we are treated to the secret knowledge of our spiritual journey. Only the first line seems to refer to the character of Ashwapathy at all; after that it is the impersonal voice of spiritual knowledge which speaks to us. Images of travel recur again and again - we are moving, climbing, sailing, reaching. In the beginning we climb from our "flat earthly state" to "these high-peaked dominions sealed to our search" and once the transition is made,

"Our souls can visit in great lonely hours
Still regions of imperishable Light,
All-seeing eagle-peaks of silent Power
And moon-flame oceans of swift fathomless Bliss
And calm immensities of spirit Space."

Soon we move from the individual quest to larger participants on this cosmic scene, and much of the canto describes the interaction between the Soul and Nature in different guises and different stances:

"Along a path of aeons serpentine
In the coiled blackness of her nescient course
The Earth-Goddess toils across the sands of Time.
A Being is in her whom she hopes to know,
A Word speaks to her heart she cannot hear,
A Fate compels whose form she cannot see."

Yet Sri Aurobindo returns to the common sight; the canto moves back and forth between the secret knowledge and our human viewpoint, as if mirroring the unsettledness of a first vision. Few of us can see the depths; the mind routinely looks on the surface of things; the knowledge is subliminal to our sight:

"Our eyes are fixed on an external scene;
We hear the crash of the wheels of Circumstance
And wonder at the hidden cause of things."

Then again, behind these externals, there are conscient powers, the Immortals, "overseers of Fate and Chance and Will," and we are given long descriptions of these hidden actors on the spirit's stage, their roles and implacable, silent, transcendent nature in relation to our changeful and painful lives in time.

The movement of the canto turns once more to the mighty Mother and the Master.

"This is the knot that ties together the stars:
The Two who are one are the secret of all power,
The Two who are one are the might and right in things."

And a part of the knowledge is that in the world, now, the Traveller is lost,

"A wanderer in a world his thoughts have made,
He turns in a chiaroscuro of error and truth
To find a wisdom that on high is his."

Towards the end we return to images of journey, of "the sailor on the flow of Time" At last,

"He crosses over the boundaries of the unseen
And passes over the edge of mortal sight
To a new vision of himself and things."

We end with the knowledge that the there is indeed a work to do, that the Mother has a plan in the seeming randomness:

"To evoke a person in the impersonal Void,
With the Truth-light strike earth's massive roots of trance,
Wake a dumb self in the inconscient depths"

Will Moss: Monday April 15, 1996
In Canto 4, we see the fruits of the knowledge attained by Aswapathy by means of his growth in Spirit in Canto 3. And the view from the "height ... that looked towards greater heights" is truly awe-some.

First, we are given the inner meaning of the individual existence: what it means to be human on this earth. "This world is a beginning and a base". Slowly we grow towards: "The shape of our unborn divinity."

Then is revealed the meaning of the existence of this Earth which is our Mother and our home. "The Earth-Goddess toils across the sands of Time." She grows in strength and light, through the twisted ways of existence, as "the Immortals on their deathless heights" watch on, untouched by the phenomenal event, as they "see its mystic source". And, in one of the most powerfully prophetic passages anywhere, they look toward the inevitable moment when "the masked Transcendent mount[s] his throne".

"As a thief's in the night shall be the covert tread
Of one who steps unseen into his house.
A Voice ill-heard shall speak, the soul obey,
A Power into mind's inner chamber steal
A charm and sweetness open life's closed doors
And beauty conquer the resisting world..."

Then, for the rest of this canto, Sri Aurobindo leads us on a discovery of the inner workings of Creation. It could almost be said that this entire section, beginning with, "A Consciousness that knows not its own truth," wandering in the obscurity of "an enigmatic universe, As if a present without future or past", explores the whole of Creation. First, there is the vagueness and confusion of the current state we find ourselves in. Then we are shown that:

"We whirl not here upon a casual globe
Abandoned to a task beyond our force;
One who has shaped this world is ever its lord:
Our errors are his steps upon the way"

In the next section, we are introduced to That "sole transcendent One:"

"He is the Maker and the world he made,
He is the vision and he is the Seer;
He is himself the actor and the act..."

And yet, "There are Two who are One and play in many worlds", for He is "A playmate in the mighty Mother's game". And now is revealed the ultimate Secret, the inner workings of the dualism of this seemingly ignorant creation: "This whole wide world is only he and she." For "This is the knot that ties together the stars."

Page upon page of luminous revelation follows, showing the One in the many, and the Two who are One. Finally, we come back full circle. For He is:

"The secret God [who] beneath the threshold dwells
He is the Player who became the play,
He is the Thinker who became the thought;
This is the sailor on the flow of Time,
This is World-Matter's slow discoverer".

And yet, could this be the "Consciousness that knows not its own truth," from the beginning of this section? Perhaps now we can see the secret of His obscure searching:

"A power is on him from her occult force
That ties him to his own creation's fate,
And never can the mighty Traveller rest
And never can the mystic voyage cease
Till the nescient dusk is lifted from man's soul
And the morns of God have overtaken his night."

And the ultimate Secret?

"There is a plan in the Mother's deep world-whim,
A purpose in her vast and random game.
This ever she meant since the first dawn of life,
This constant will she covered with her sport,
To evoke a Person in the impersonal Void
For this he left his white infinity
And laid on the spirit the burden of the flesh,
That Godhead's seed might flower in mindless Space."

[Book One: The Book of Beginnings] [Table of Contents]

Canto 5: The Spirit's Freedom

Dave Hutchinson: Wednesday 1 May, 1996
We come to the last canto of Book One, the end of the beginnings. The soul of the King continues its journey outward and upward, to that magic place "where breath and thought were still."

In return, the descent comes down upon him, golden and ecstatic,
"And penetrated nerve and heart and brain."

And he rises beyond the physical, beyond the mortal.

The "wizard modes" of Nature are revealed, the magic of the unbounded mind "Making a finite of infinity" and the mind's role, it's "Circean wonderland" of processes when open to the spiritual influences beyond.

And then the inmost mind, where hangs
"A map of subtle signs surpassing thought" showing
"The seried kingdoms of the graded Law"

At last, with

"Sunbelts of knowledge, moonbelts of widenesses
Stretched out in an ecstasy of wideness"

"He broke into another Space and Time"

[Book One: The Book of Beginnings] [Table of Contents]

Book II: The Book of the Traveller of the Worlds

"He broke into another Space and Time." Having expanded his consciousness entirely beyond the bounds of this Reality, the Traveller begins his journey into the hidden worlds which reside behind this one, worlds which leave their mark on every moment, yet are veiled from the inhabitants of this physical realm.

The largest Book of Savitri [over twice as big as the next largest, in both cantos and pages], The Book of the Traveller of the Worlds is vast in scope and substance, incorporating the whole of the inner planes of Manifestation, the World-Stair, "...a golden ladder carrying the Soul, Tying with diamond threads the Spirit's extremes."

"He saw a lone immense high-curved world-pile
Erect like a mountain-chariot of the Gods
Motionless under an inscrutable sky.
As if from Matter's plinth and viewless base
To a top as viewless, a carved sea of worlds
Climbing with foam-maned waves to the Supreme
Ascended towards breadths immeasurable;
It hoped to soar into the Ineffable's reign:
A hundred levels raised it to the Unknown."

Encompassing Sri Aurobindo's vision and experience of the inner structure of this Universe, the World-Stair is central to his entire philosophy and Yoga:

"It marries the earth to screened eternities.
Amid the many systems of the One
Made by an interpreting creative joy
Alone it points us to our journey back
Out of our long self-loss in Nature's deeps;
Planted on earth it holds in it all realms:
It is a brief compendium of the Vast."

Canto 1: The World-Stair

Will Moss: Wednesday, 22 May 1996
This brief canto, along with the last 'paragraph' of the previous canto, is a summary of Sri Aurobindo's vision of the levels of manifestation of the One.

It is the 'entryway', so to speak, to the vast Inner Worlds explored by the Traveller.

This canto helps ease us in to the exploration of the vast inner worlds represented by Book II, by taking an overall look at the World-Stair, Sri Aurobindo's image of the evolutionary ladder that leads from the lowest low to the highest high of the created Universe.

Beginning with the last canto of Book I, which ends with a first glimpse of this magnificent structure, we see that each level has itself a wide range and a complex inner structure:

"In this drop from consciousness to consciousness
Each leaned on the occult Inconscient's power,
The fountain of its needed ignorance,
Archmason of the limits by which it lives.
In this soar from consciousness to consciousness
Each lifted tops to That from which it came,
Origin of all that it had ever been
And home of all that it could still become." [89]
These planes of Existence, these self-sufficient levels of Reality, are:

"Predestined stadia of the evolving Way,
Measures of the stature of the growing soul" [89]

Then in the present Canto, we get the sense that the Traveller must have become as wide as the universe in order to be able to experience it in its fullness like this:

"All came at once into his single view;
Nothing escaped his vast intuitive sight,
Nothing drew near he could not feel as kin:
He was one spirit with that immensity." [96]

And all was there -- all, that is, except the One:

"Only was missing the sole timeless Word
That carries eternity in its lonely sound,
The single sign interpreting every sign,
The absolute index to the Absolute." [97]

And Sri Aurobindo makes clear that, of all the ways of parsing reality and systematising the universe, this one alone serves to bring us back to our Source:

"Amid the many systems of the One
Made by an interpreting creative joy
Alone it points us to our journey back
Out of our long self-loss in Nature's deeps;
Planted on earth it holds in it all realms:
It is a brief compendium of the Vast." [98]

[Book Two: The Book of the Traveller of the Worlds] [Table of Contents]

Canto 2: The Kingdom of Subtle Matter

Will Moss: Fri, 31 May 1996
The first, and "lowest", of the inner worlds explored in Book II. The Kingdom of Subtle Matter: closest to this world, and filled with forms so subtle and beautiful they are beyond Mortal sight, yet they lend their grace and beauty to earthly things. Eternal, they show what has been, as well as what will be. But for the Traveller, this world proves too confined and narrow, and he soon moves on in his search for the One.

[Book Two: The Book of the Traveller of the Worlds] [Table of Contents]

Canto 3: The Glory and Fall of Life

Will Moss: Wed, 12 Jun 1996
Leaving behind him the narrow, beautiful world of Subtle Matter, the Traveller finds himself in a far broader, turbulent world. At first, it defies his mind's grasp, but finally he is able to perceive the breadths and depths of this new existence. He sees the "hidden kingdoms of beatitude"... "forever wallowing in bliss".

"Calm heavens of imperishable Light,
Illumined continents of violet peace,
Oceans and rivers of the mirth of God
And griefless countries under purple suns." [p.120]

Also in view were worlds not so high and illumined, but filled with the rush and passion of Life. And yet,

"There was no falsehood of soul-severance,
There came no crookedness of thought or word
To rob creation of its native truth;
All was sincerity and natural force." [p.127]

But still there was a gap:

"This world of bliss he saw and felt its call,
But found no way to enter into its joy;
Across the conscious gulf there was no bridge.
A darker air encircled still his soul
Tied to an image of unquiet life." [p.128]

Life, bright from Her beginnings, had fallen in the process of enlivening Matter. A darkness had overtaken Her, and She had lost the Divine contact. These depths too would have to be plumbed by the Traveller before the heights would be his to climb.

[Book Two: The Book of the Traveller of the Worlds] [Table of Contents]

Canto 4: The Kingdoms of the Little Life

Will Moss: Tue, 25 Jun 1996
Having seen the origins and pure action of Life, the Traveller turns to the beginnings of Life in Matter. Starting with the earliest, most subconscient forms of Life, he experiences Her aeonic development and evolution from the most primal beginnings:

"In this slow ascension he must follow her pace
Even from her faint and dim subconscious start:
So only can earth's last salvation come.
For so only could he know the obscure cause
Of all that holds us back and baffles God
In the jail-delivery of the imprisoned soul."

World after world, creation after creation, he follows the almost imperceptible evolution of Life. Shifting the viewpoint from experiencer to observer to Knower, the Poet shows us every facet of these levels of the Little Life, until we too can see something of the Divine Purpose for this otherwise inexplicable realm. As foretold in "The World-Stair", the organizing principle of the evolution of Consciousness in Matter is finally the key to this understanding.

David Hutchinson: Tue, 25 Jun 1996

Having seen the origins and the pure action of Life, the Traveller turns to the beginning of Life in Matter. Starting with the earliest, most subconscient forms of Life, we pass through three distinct realms.

At first we see the meeting point of Life and Matter in a gray, mindless, "faint and dim subconscious start" where "Life cast her seed" into the physical. We see it first from within, a "wierd and pigmy world/Where this unhappy magic had its source." Here one passes "random shapeless energies" Mind is not, yet; here "An inconscient Power groped towards consciousness"

Then the Traveller with his inner eye sees the truth of these workings of Life awake in the world, as "the first writhings of the cosmic serpent Force" and the longings and desires that move this realm as "A lost remembrance of felicity"

The second realm which arises as Life acts on matter is the "kingdom of the animal" Consciousness is here, and the birth of instinct, but not reflection or self-sense. We see aboriginal humanity, limited to the external, living by sense and form, "absorbed in the present act".

Finally we see the third, the realm of the life-mind: "The primitive pattern of the thoughts of man" arises as an intervention from above. Still immersed in Life, and limited to surfaces of things, it is "a restricted clamped intelligence" -- but the beginnings of a thinking entity.

In all we have followed the Traveller along the road leading to the Knower, from the first inconscient movements of life to a beginning of conscious form, and we begin to see something of the Divine Purpose in this otherwise inexplicable realm. As foretold in "The World-Stair," the organizing principle of the evolution of consciousness in Matter is finally the key to this understanding.

[Book Two: The Book of the Traveller of the Worlds] [Table of Contents]

Canto 5: The Godheads of the Little Life

Will Moss: Wed, 10 Jul 1996
The Traveller, "... hoping to learn the secret of this world,"
"...plunged his gaze into the siege of mist
That held this ill-lit straitened continent"
in order to plumb its depths and discover the deep Cause of such an inexplicable creation.

The first thing to meet his gaze is the teeming life of the inhabitants of this world:

"The little deities of Time's nether act
Who work remote from Heaven's controlling eye."

These small godheads were,

"An elfin brood, an elemental kind.
Imps with wry limbs and carved beast visages,
Sprite prompters goblin-wizened or faery-small,
And genii fairer but unsouled and poor
And fallen beings, their heavenly portion lost,
And errant divinities trapped in Time's dust.
Ignorant and dangerous wills but armed with power,
Half-animal, half-god their mood, their shape."

These not only fill [and move] this disembodied world, but also enter into this earth-life we inhabit:

"To all half-conscious worlds they extend their reign.
Here too these godlings drive our human hearts,
Our nature's twilight is their lurking-place:
Here too the darkened primitive heart obeys
The veiled suggestions of a hidden Mind
That dogs our knowledge with misleading light
And stands between us and the Truth that saves."

But the action of these little beings is only the bracket for the larger message of this Canto, referred to at the beginning and the end. The vast middle is used by the Poet for the purpose of expanding his vision of the mechanism of this place, and its utility in the universal scope of things, going beyond the exploration of Life in the last two cantos. Especially moving is the last main section [pp 167-172], in which he portrays the role of the Higher Power in this littleness, and the inevitable denoument.

[Book Two: The Book of the Traveller of the Worlds] [Table of Contents]

Canto 6: The Kingdoms and Godheads of the Greater Life

Dave Hutchinson: Sun, 28 Jul 1996

With the Traveller we now "approach a breath of wider air," leaving behind the little life.

But a similarity remains: both realms have effects on us, though we do not often know it. The Greater Life, however, "inspires us with our vaster hopes," not the "petty wraths and lusts and hates" of the Little Life.

This Greater Life, closer to the spirit, is moved by it; "One mighty passion motives all her works. Her eternal Lover is her action's cause" And so for the beings there, "All feel the cosmic movement in their acts" They feel each other's thoughts, feelings, selves. This is the greater realm, where "is kept grandeur's store, the hero's mould"

Though moved by the hidden spirit, the symbol figures of this realm do not reveal; rather "her signs still covered more than they revealed"

In a beautiful and haunting section we see the spirit of this realm, "a half-blind chained divinity/ Bewildered by the world in which he moved" and are once again shown that despite the greater air, the spirit here is "lost in the splendour of a dream"

Finally, we are left with "the poignant paradox" of this realm, that "in her embrace" the spirit "cannot turn to its source" The forms, the "subtle tangled wierd designs" do not reveal the absolute. No repose can be found here. "No silent peak is found where Time can rest."

Life, the greater power of life, never ceases; "Although defeated, life must struggle on; Always she sees a crown she cannot grasp."

The canto ends on a grey note, presaging the coming Descent Into Night: "All seems in vain, yet endless is the game."

[Book Two: The Book of the Traveller of the Worlds] [Table of Contents]

Canto 7: The Descent into Night

Dave Hutchinson: Thu, 15 Aug 1996

For the complete transformation, one must face the depths as well as rise to the heights. So on this, the birthday of Sri Aurobindo, we undertake the descent. It is a journey all must make who wish to conquer; and we have the consummate Guide and Companion for this difficult part of the path.

Sri Aurobindo, The Traveller, Ashwapathy, "absolved from life," now turns his gaze to the cause of suffering, "into the viewless Vast, / The formidable unknown Infinity." Here he takes us on a journey through the depths, into the very "black pit of Ignorance," where "The evil guarded at the roots of life / Raised up its head and looked into his eyes."

The first he encounters is shapeless, nameless, "A hostile and perverting Mind at work" where "No form was seen, yet a dire work was done."

From this Dark, "He met the prowl and stealthy come and go / Of armed disquieting bodied Influences." Yet these are but the emissaries of a more fundamental Power -- so he journeys further.

And comes to the "borderland between the world and hell," where unreality and falsehood reign. No good remains; though there are bright seemings, "Each rainbow brillance was a splendid lie." All forms deceive; it is a realm where "The Fiend was visible, but cloaked in light."

The scene shifts once more, to a land where "Ego was lord upon his peacock seat," and "Harmony and tolerance nowhere could be seen." A place of persecution, of indignation, of zealot fervour; spiritual seeking here "wandered outcasted...Lost in the circuits of the Ignorance." A dangerous realm, where any traveller must keep God in his heart and the great Name on his lips.

From here, he journeys to a greater darkness, "an armoured fierce domain," where evil exults in her own depths, and staged "between a lurid light and shade /Her dramas of the sorrow of the depths." A phantasmagoria of "wierd distored forms, /And gargoyle masks obscene and terrible...A dragon power of reptile energies /And strange epiphanies of grovelling Force." Here the human heart gives out, and in its place "cold material intellect was the judge" along with "sensation's thrills." It is a place of "bestial ecstasy," of "filth and festering secrets of the Abyss."

And the beings there, "harboured all that is subhuman, vile /And lower than the lowest reptile's crawl." Force, hate, greed, arrogance, are the driving powers.

Finally the Traveller emerges into a "wall-less space...a gaunt spiritual blank." The very sky "a communique of Doom," around were "thoughts that swarmed like spectral hordes," and terror, horror, despair, the sense of death, the Void. Shielding himself, all disappears, and he is left alone "with the grey python Night. /A dense and nameless Nothing conscious, mute."

Belief died, "And all that helps the spirit in its course" leaving only "A nameless and unutterable implacable eternity /Of pain inhuman and intolerable."

Yet in this "slow suffering Time and tortured Space," he endures,and slowly regains his spiritual poise:

"Then peace returned and the soul's
sovereign gaze. ... Mighty and mute the Godhead in him woke.
He mastered the tides of Nature with a look:
He met with his bare spirit naked Hell."

[Book Two: The Book of the Traveller of the Worlds] [Table of Contents]

Canto 8:The World of Falsehood

Dave Hutchinson: Mon, 26 Aug 1996

And now the Traveller journeys to the very heart of night, a "spiritless blank Infinity," "A violent, fierce and formidable world, /An ancient womb of huge calamitous dreams."

He sees that the touch of Life upon Matter gave rise to the "monstrous birth" of "A vast Non-Being...The boundless Nescience of the unconscious depths." The dread power deforms all things, from the insect to the god, and even obscures "the Truth-light in the cavern heart."

This force opposes all light, "prowls around each light that gleams through the dark" attempting "to slay the divine Child." It is "A nature hostile to the Mother-force" and if it conquers, "In ruin ends the epic of a soul."

This Power does not work alone; it is joined by the "giant sons of Darkness" who have come into terrestrial life bringing "All the fierce bale with which the world is racked...mixed in the foaming chalice of man's heart." Yet they are a part of the Spirit's design, "To serve by enmity the cosmic scheme," and "All who would raise the fallen world must come /Under the dangerous arches of their power."

The Traveller now journeys to the last Hell, a "terror of a world /Of agony followed by worse agony, /And in the terror a great wicked joy /Glad of one's own and other's calamity." A place where "only fierce sensations gave some zest...the sting of murderous spite and hate and lust," a place of "horror and the hammering heart of fear."

Hate ruled, "the black archangel of that realm," and "an evil environment worsened evil souls" /All things were conscious there and all perverse."

He then makes the final plunge, into the "root and cause of Hell," and "Its anguished gulfs opened in his own breast." He wanders through desolate symbol tracts, "Where the red Wolf waits by the fordless stream /And Death's black eagles scream to the precipice," and bears all wounds, "pinned to the black inertia of our base."

Finally he approaches "the last locked subconscient's floor" and "There in the slumber of the cosmic Will /He saw the secret key of Nature's change." All changes; the error and pain become "a quivering ecstasy" and "He saw in Night the Eternal's shadowy veil, /Knew death for a cellar of the house of life."

"Hell split across its huge abrupt facade
As if a magic building were undone,
Night opened and vanished like a gulf of dream.
Matter and Spirit mingled and were one."

[Book Two: The Book of the Traveller of the Worlds] [Table of Contents]

Canto 9: The Paradise of the Life-Gods

Will Moss, Mon, 9 Sep 1996

Having won through to the deepest depths of the Shadow that holds all this world in sway, and thereby bringing the Light of Truth to the heart of Falsehood, the Traveller of the Worlds is released into the highest, purest realm of Life.

Here are the heavens of which the first glimmerings of Life hinted, but in their full glory: "...a great felicitous Day. A lustre of some rapturous Infinite,... Immersed in light, perpetually divine."

So pure were these realms, the limits and dangers of lower levels of Life were here unknown:

"...It breathed in a sweet secure unguarded ease
Free from our body's frailty inviting death,
Far from our danger-zone of stumbling Will.
It needed not to curb its passionate beats..."
Joyous landscapes greeted the eye at every turn:
"To meet him crowded plains of brilliant calm,
mountains and violet valleys of the Blest,
Below him lay like gleaming jewelled thoughts
Rapt dreaming cities of Gandharva kings."
The wounds of his long struggle with the Lands of Shadow were here healed:
"After the anguish of the soul's long strife
At length were found calm and celestial rest
And, lapped in a magic flood of sorrowless hours,
Healed were his warrior nature's wounded limbs..."
As he entered deeper and more fully into this world of Bliss and passion unbound,
"A giant drop of the Bliss unknowable
Overwhelmed his limbs and round his soul became
A fiery ocean of felicity;
He foundered drowned in sweet and burning vasts:
The dire delight that could shatter mortal flesh,
The rapture that the gods sustain he bore."

[Book Two: The Book of the Traveller of the Worlds] [Table of Contents]

Canto 10: Kingdoms...of Little Mind

Dave Hutchinson, Sat Sep 21 1996

Asvapathy now travels beyond this "hundred-hued felicity," called by "A memory soft as grass and faint as sleep," the Infinite.

Advancing into the "lucent realms of Mind" he enters a "silver-grey expanse," the boundary between life and mind, the "material mind" which is ever dependent on its ministers, the senses.

From here he escapes "over a wide and shimmering bridge...into a realm of early Light," the Intelligence of mind proper. This mind, a "bodiless energy," "linked body's the effulgence of a Ray above." And even though still "A robot exact and serviceable and false," it opens to imagination and inspiration, so that "The Golden Child began to think and see."

The Mind working with Inconscience develops a "dwarf three-bodied trinity [as] her serf." First is the physical mental, "a slave of a fixed mass of absolute rules," "ever repeating old familiar acts." Next is the vital mental, "the burning vision of Desire" which has "An eager spring to seize and to possess/ Unguided by reason or the seeing soul." Last of the little mind powers is "Reason, the squat godhead artisan," "an imperfect light" using technologies, theodicies, philosophies, "the vast encyclopaedia of her thoughts" to grasp and know.

But when Reason had "Explained the world and mastered all its laws...All staggered back into a sea of doubt" And then? "A quantum dance remained, a sprawl of chance...a ceaseless motion...a chaos...a world of Kali's dance."

But at the edges of this mind a greater Mind can appear, through "great thoughts...Arriving from the rim of eternity." This Ideal, "pure Thought-Mind surveyed the cosmic act."

And there we travel next.

[Book Two: The Book of the Traveller of the Worlds] [Table of Contents]

Canto 11: Greater Mind

Dave Hutchinson, Mon, 21 Oct 1996

The Traveller now passes beyond the labouring Power of mortal mind, into the realm of ideal Mind. "Awake in a luminous sphere unbound by Thought...It casts on our world its great crowned influences"

In this realm, where "Knowledge is the leader of the act /And Matter is of thinking substance made" he finds a triple realm, and a triple flight [of stairs] leading to this world.

The first levels are "close and kin to human mind" and "a fragment of their puissance can be ours" On this first ascent, beings act and intercede, "proffer[ing] their knowledge to the climbing mind" A little higher are the "King-children" who bind the eternals movements into Law, Fate; "Persuading Nature into visible moods /They lend a finite shape to infinite things." They are the architects who create"the wizardry of an ordered universe."

On the second level stand "a subtle archangel race" who descry the unseen, the Inconscient, in "the giant randomness of Force...Distinguish[] each faintest line and stroke" Though these capture the Mother's "whims and lightning moods" the Highest is "to them unknowable."

On the third stand "the sovereign Kings of Thought" who are the direct "Intercessors with a luminous Unseen," partners in the vast control of earth and heaven. This Mind --

Translated the Unthinkable into thought: Br> A silver-winged fire of naked subtle sense, Br>

-- erects the highest walls that thought can manage around the supernal; but at its highest, "In negation found the meaning of the All...took its vast silence for the Ineffable."

This play "Imprisoning eternity in the hours" is part of the "gracious golden game"; through it the Divine "Makes ever new her body to his eyes...she is his heaven here." But "Tying her down, it is ourselves we tie...For Truth is wider, greater than her forms."

[Book Two: The Book of the Traveller of the Worlds] [Table of Contents]

Canto 12: The Heavens of the Ideal

Will Moss, 29 Oct 1996

Here the Traveller moves into a realm of Mind far beyond any semblance of rational thought, where level upon level of heavenly realms exist, each "A new rung ... in Being's mighty stair". Between the rungs of the climbing steps, "the heavens of the ideal Mind", are "seen / In a blue lucency of dreaming Space".

On one side of the stairs is seen,

"In a tremulous rapture of the heart's insight
And the spontaneous bliss that beauty gives,
The lovely kindgoms of the deathless Rose."
"It blooms forever at the feet of God,
Fed by life's sacrificial mysteries.
Here too its bud is born in human breasts."
From this touch,
"A fiery stillness wakes the slumbering cells,
A flame in a white voiceless cupola
Is seen and faces of immortal light,..."

Then, "On the other side of the eternal stairs The mighty kingdoms of the deathless Flame Aspired to reach the Being's absolutes."

Here too are "steps of an ascending Force", These heavens, "Exceeding us, to exceed ourselves they call And bid us rise incessantly above."

Here "through the Ideal's kingdoms" the Traveller "moved at will, Accepted their beauty and their greatness bore, Partook of the glories of their wonder fields,"

But stayed not long, for: "All there was an intense but partial light." And so, "Onward he passed to a diviner sphere", always seeking the greater Unity in the One.

[Book Two: The Book of the Traveller of the Worlds] [Table of Contents]

Canto 13: In the Self of Mind

Will Moss, Thu, 7 Nov 1996

Having left behind the heavens of the Ideal, with its absolute but separative Truths [the Overmind?], the Traveller now comes to a silent State, the Self of Mind, where all truths seem known, and nothing left to conquer: "There paused the climbing hierarchy of worlds."

He looked on the creation, and "All now he seemed to understand and know; ... There he could stay, the Self, the Silence won: His soul had peace, it knew the cosmic Whole."

But all was not as it seemed - a "luminous finger" touched all, and "smote at the very roots of thought and sense." This divine Doubt showed up the Mind's highest verities to be hollow, lifeless: "The magic hut of built-up certitudes Made out of glittering dust and bright moonshine In which it shrines its image of the Real, Collapsed into the Nescience whence it rose."

Beneath the tumult and roil of life was seen,
"And at the bottom of the sleepless stir,
A Nothingness parent of the struggling worlds,
A huge creator Death, a mystic Void,
For ever sustaining the irrational cry
Two firmaments of darkness and of light
Opposed their limits to the spirit's walk
To be was a prison, extinction the escape."

[Book Two: The Book of the Traveller of the Worlds] [Table of Contents]

Canto 14: The World-Soul

Will Moss, Wed, 13 Nov 1996

Having discovered the limitations of even the highest reaches of Mind, the Traveller leaves behind even the mental Self, and plunges into the bare core of Existance. Moving into the depths through

"a luminous shaft:
A recluse gate it seemed, musing on joy",
he is guided by
"a mysterious sound.
A murmur multitudious and lone,
All sounds it was in turn, yet still the same."

As it drew him,

"An incense floated in the quivering air,
A mystic happiness trembled in the breast
Into a wonderful bodiless realm he came,
The silent Soul of all the world was there."

This was a realm of pure Soul:

"All there was soul or made of sheer soul-stuff;
A sky of soul covered a deep soul-ground."
Mind and Life and Body were not needed:
"Thought was not there but a knowledge near and one
Seized on all things by a moved identity,
Life was not there, but an impassioned force,
Finer than fineness, deeper than the deeps,
Felt as a subtle and spiritual power,
Body was not there, for bodies were needed not,
The soul itself was its own deathless form
And met at once the touch of other souls..."

Here he found the place where those who "once wore forms on earth" have come in the pause between death and rebirth, in a "pregnant rest" to "gather back their bygone selves" and

"... remold their purpose and their drift,
Recast their nature and re-form their shape"
in preparation for a return to the field of experience.

Moving ever deeper, he beholds the joined twin Powers which uphold this existence, and behind Them, She "Who brought them forth from the Unknowable." Responding to his supplication, She partially lifts the veil, revealing

"...the large and luminous depths
Of the ravishing enigma of her eyes,
He saw the mystic outline of a face."
"Overwhelmed by her implacable light and bliss," he falls at her feet, unconscious.

[Book Two: The Book of the Traveller of the Worlds] [Table of Contents]

Canto 15: The Kingdoms of the Greater Knowledge

Will Moss, Wed, 20 Nov 1996

Re-emerging from the depths of the World-Soul, the Traveller finds himself once more on the surface, but now there is no "self" and "other": "Himself was to himself his only scene."

Existing at first in a bare Spirit space,

"For ever content with only being and bliss...
It was a plane of undetermined spirit
That could be a zero or round sum of things,
A state in which all ceased and all began."

Gradually he found;

"...the thought that passes beyond Thought,
Here the still Voice which our listening cannot hear,
The Knowledge by which the knower is the known,
The Love in which beloved and lover are one."

Multitude and Unity were joined:

"A thousand roads leaped into Eternity
Or singing ran to meet God's veilless face. ...
A glorious multiple of one radiant Self,
Answering to joy with joy, to love with love,
All there were moving mansions of God-bliss;
Eternal and unique they lived the One."

Rising higher,

"The belt he reached of the unchanging Truth;
Met borders of the inxpressible Light
And thrilled with the presence of the Ineffable. ...
A million energies joined and were the One. ...
A portion of the majesty he was made.
At will he lived in the unoblivious Ray."

This World of Truth-Consciousness grew in him until;

"He came new-born, infant and limitless
And grew in the wisdom of the timeless Child;
He was a vast that soon became a Sun.
A borderer of the empire of the Sun,
Attuned to the supernal harmonies,
He linked creation to the eternal's sphere."

[Book Two: The Book of the Traveller of the Worlds] [Table of Contents]

Book III: The Book of the Divine Mother

Beyond the World-Stair is the Transcendent Divine - The Divine Mother. She is the Goal - and the Origin - which the Traveller has been seeking from the start. Only She can grant him his boon: to mission some portion of herself to earth, to save the suffering world. And in the end, she does:
"A seed shall be sown in Death's tremendous hour,
A branch of Heaven transplant to human soil"

Canto 1: The Pursuit of the Unknowable

Will Moss: Wed, 27 Nov 1996
The Traveller, having reached the peak of the time-bound worlds through the World-Stair, now is drawn to That which exceeds all of this created Universe: the Transcendent Divine. To do so, he must drop away all that he has built up, all thought, all form, all except pure Being.

All lapses as a wave "into a bourneless sea,"
"A Vastness brooded free from sense of Space,
An Everlastingness cut off from Time;
A strange sublime inalterable Peace
Silent rejected from it world and soul."

[Book Three: The Book of the Divine Mother] [Table of Contents]

Canto 2: The Adoration of the Divine Mother

Will Moss: Thu, 5 Dec 1996

After a review of the blank Transcendent now facing the Traveller, the Poet, in a luminous shift of stance and voice, turns to address the reader directly:

"Thought falls from us, we cease from joy and grief;
The ego is dead; we are freed from being and care,
We have done with birth and death and work and fate.
O soul, it is too early to rejoice!
One was within thee who was self and world,
What hast thou done for his purpose in the stars?
Escape brings not the victory and the crown!"

Returning to the narrative, the Poet evokes, in stirring verse, the Presence of "the All-Beautiful", the "Mother Might [which] brooded upon the world"

"She is the golden bridge, the wonderful fire.
The luminous heart of the Unknown is she,
A power of silence in the depths of God;
She is the Force, the inevitable Word,
The magnet of our difficult ascent,
The Sun from which we kindle all our suns,
The Light that leans from the unrealised Vasts,
The joy that beckons from the impossible,
The Might of all that never yet came down.
All Nature dumbly calls to her alone
To heal with her feet the aching throb of life
And break the seals on the dim soul of man
And kindle her fire in the closed heart of things."

Experiencing this Wonder, the Traveller surrenders unreservedly: "His soul was freed and given to her alone."

[Book Three: The Book of the Divine Mother] [Table of Contents]

Canto 1: The Pursuit of the Unknowable

Will Moss: Wed, 27 Nov 1996
The Traveller, having reached the peak of the time-bound worlds through the World-Stair, now is drawn to That which exceeds all of this created Universe: the Transcendent Divine. To do so, he must drop away all that he has built up, all thought, all form, all except pure Being.

All lapses as a wave "into a bourneless sea,"
"A Vastness brooded free from sense of Space,
An Everlastingness cut off from Time;
A strange sublime inalterable Peace
Silent rejected from it world and soul."

[Book Three: The Book of the Divine Mother] [Table of Contents]

Canto 3: The Vision and the Boon

Will Moss: Fri, 3 Jan 1997

Out of the still Void, responding to the unfailing call of Aswapati's surrendered human heart, came She to whom his entire Being belonged. Enveloping and enrapturing his worshipping soul and body, She speaks: Man is still an unfinished work, in which the slow eons have brought a small portion of the inconscient vasts to awareness. But abandon not the tardy climb to Spirit in an escape into Oneness, but stay and help humanity.

" 'Adept of the self--born unfailing line,
Leave not the light to die the ages bore,
Help still humanity's blind and suffering life:
Obey thy spirit's wide omnipotent urge."
Only one boon, to greaten thy spirit demand;
Only one joy, to raise thy kind, desire.
All things shall change in God's transfiguring hour.' "

"But Aswapati's heart replied to her,
A cry amid the silences of the Vast:
'How shall I rest content with mortal days
I who have seen behind the cosmic mask
The glory and the beauty of thy face?' "

And his Vision unfolds,

" ' The unfolding Image showed the things to come.
A giant dance of Shiva tore the past;
I saw the Omnipotent's flaming pioneers
Over the heavenly verge which turns towards life
Come crowding down the amber stairs of birth;
Forerunners of a divine multitude,
Out of the paths of the morning star they came
Into the little room of mortal life.
I saw them cross the twilight of an age,
The sun-eyed children of a marvellous dawn,
Their tread one day shall change the suffering earth
And justify the light on Nature's face. ...' "

His prayer sank down, as if unheard, but then came the Reply:

" 'O strong forerunner, I have heard thy cry.
One shall descend and break the iron Law,
Change Nature's doom by the lone spirit's power.
A seed shall be sown in Death's tremendous hour,
A branch of heaven transplant to human soil;' "

Her form retreated, leaving a wide blank void. Then, like the sea rushing in, the world came back to him in all its noise and bustle, and:

"The Lord of Life resumed his mighty rounds
In the scant field of the ambiguous globe."

[Book Three: The Book of the Divine Mother] [Table of Contents]

[Main Page] [Prev Page] [Next Page] [Search This Section]

[Home] [Index] [E-mail] [Site News] [Search Site]

Last modified on Jan. 18, 1997