Sunday, November 11, 2007
SONG OF SONGS AND LEGEND OF SAVITHRI
THE LEGEND OF SAVITRI IN RELATION TO THE SONG OF SONGS.
When I was staying at Kurisumala Ashram in the late sixties, Dom Bede Griffiths drew my attention to the writings of Sri Aurobindo. He particularly suggested that I should read his work on ‘The Life Divine’, and also I should look at his long epic poem on ‘Savitri: Legend and Symbol’. Sri Aurobindo worked on this poem over many years, only completing it just before he died. It seemed to be related to the effort of Sri Aurobindo to understand the journey of human consciousness, which he called ‘Integral Yoga’, through a passage into the underworld. Here in the world over which Yama, the Lord of Death, rules, we encounter the unconscious depths, rather as they are described also in the ‘Tibetan Book of the Dead’. For Sri Aurobindo, as I understood his work, the yogic path is not just one of ascent, as understood in Kundalini Yoga, where the vital energies that lie dormant at the base of the spine, like a coiled serpent, are released and allowed to flow upwards from chakra to chakra, until they transform the mind, but it is also a journey downwards, to confront all that is darkest, and least under the control of the conscious mind. Here, as in Dante’s Divine Comedy, the psycho-pomp, or intuitive power that accompanies the human individual, is like Beatrice, an almost divine figure of spiritual insight. This figure emerges from Indian legend as Savitri, daughter of the Sun.