The author takes the 83-line opening passage from Savitri, „The Book of Fate“, which announces and describes the arrival of the sage Narad at Aswapati‘s palace in Madra, as the focus of his study, suggesting it as a point of entry to plunge into the very heart of the mystery of Sri Aurobindo‘s epic poem. He follows several discussion threads suggested by the passage, including the ancient theory of five elements and their deeper subtle-occult chemistry, a varied look at evolution‘s scientific and occult-yogic aspects and its fullest gnostic possibilities, and a deeper examination of a few key phrases from these lines of poetry that illumine the significance of Narad‘s appearance in the narrative.
Narad’s Arrival at Madra by a sadhak of the Integral Yoga, R.Y. Deshpande, is like one of Narad’s own devotional hymns, but offered to the profound knowledge of Deshpande’s master Sri Aurobindo, who revealed it in his magnificent epic Savitri. The fact that Sri Aurobindo put his revelation into a story from the Mahabharata and did not invent his own has its deeper implications, for it reaches into our historical and evolutionary depths, orienting us to the realization of the Vedic Knowledge, providing us with new keys, and integrating our new discoveries with the ancient knowledge.
Professor of Physics at the Sri Aurobindo International Centre of Education in Puducherry, R.Y. Deshpande is a well-known author and editor of several books and publications dedicated to studies of Sri Aurobindo’s Savitri, many of which, such as Satyavan Must Die (now out of print), The Ancient Tale of Savitri, Vyasa’s Savitri, and Perspectives of Savitri, have become books of constant reference, serving a great deal to assist and guide us to a deeper understanding and appreciation of Savitri.
This book is somewhat different from the author’s previous ones. It has its own depth of subjective reflection into the matter and meaning of creation. Using a wide scope of knowledge from different perspectives, including the mythological, historic, poetic, psychological, philosophical, and even scientific, to arrive at a better comprehension and understanding of the subtle processes of life and the evolutionary ascent that mankind is undertaking, the author brings all of them into the focus of a profound knowledge of Savitri, as if offering them to its light to find out and probe their truths, as it were, on the ground of this knowledge-experience. The author is openly engaged in the discovery of his own understanding without the “hesitation of an intellectual,” sometimes even daring to step on shaky ground where he could be easily criticized by the reasoning mind, but, carried by the light and force of his deeper intuition, finding his way through to very subtle truths, which may otherwise have remained hidden from him. Here we meet him as a researcher, a scientist, a philosopher, a yogin, and a poet, who has his luminous insights from his studies of Sri Aurobindo’s and the Mother’s works and his happy truths, sunrita in the words of the Veda, that he wants to share with us.
Sri Aurobindo’s Savitri first appeared in 1950–51 and since then it has attracted a varied readership. A number of studies at different levels have also been made during the last fifty years. This book is based on the opening passage of 83 lines from Savitri’s “The Book of Fate.” It is divided into four major parts and has in all 26 chapters plus a poem on Narad. In the book Sri Aurobindo’s Narad comes out in a unique way.
While the Arrival introduces the heavenly sage Narad and describes his urgent and important visit to Aswapati’s palace in Madra, the focus is on a spiritual being taking a physical form. The ancient Sankhya theory of Matter is presented in considerable detail. The discussion of the primordial five elements and the occult-subtle chemistry associated with them is a rewarding exposition. Even as Narad is on his way to Madra, he sings five songs related to this mortal creation and the gnostic possibilities that are open to it. An elaborate discussion on the theories of evolution, finally leading to the appearance of an intermediate race governed by the Mind of Light, the work the Mother was busy with, makes a comprehensive study covering scientific and occult-yogic aspects, metaphysical issues, and the evolution of spiritual Man. There are several discussions related to a few key phrases in the 83-line passage.
The following excerpt might give some idea of Narad’s Arrival at Madra:
Savitri is a poem, a magnanimous literary work. Not only that.… it is a … conquering Force….She is the Daughter of Infinity who speaks with the tongue of an occult fire and has the power to bring to closed sight the forms of the far and the invisible; what is silent takes in her the shapes of sound. By living in her the Real becomes realisable. Let us always live in Savitri who gives us the Truth and the things of the Truth.…
The Book of Fate itself is unique in several respects. It is crucial; it is strategic too: subject-wise it occurs right in the middle of the story; it marks a sudden turning point in the narration of episodes; in the development of ideas it brings an altogether new element with a forward moving thrust; as a facet of poetic art, we have in it the unexpected rushing unto us with the swift flood of poignant and breathtaking uncertainties; its spiritual lyricism has the enthralling sweetness to remove all anguish from the frail heart of the mortal creature … if heaven has already been conquered, then it speaks of the victory that shall be won over the night who is standing across the path of the greatly consequential divine Event, the event that must occur; the forces of the past have been quintessenced in it and the possibilities of the evolutionary future at once opened out; in its secret purpose and functioning, with its weighty occult charge, it initiates Savitri, the incarnate divine Power, in a unique and decisive manner to the double Shakti Yoga, the Yoga of gathering the might of God in her soul and of total surrender to the Supreme, in order to prepare herself for the missioned task, to do the work she had come here to accomplish as the heaven-sent Force, the work that she must carry out for which the foundation has been laid by the tapasya of Aswapati; its prophetic declarations make sure that the things that were promised long ago shall now be fulfilled, that the world-destiny in God’s will shall be shaped directly by her. Hazardous may be the attempt, and deep and painful the travail, yet in it must be put all, everything, so as to secure the delightful Wager of the Wonderful. It seems that the Yogi-Poet has established in this revelation, in this far-consequential mantric pronouncement the completeness of his mighty Siddhi itself.
This great knowledge of the Veda and of Savitri cannot be reached only by reading or even by academic studies but by a constant opening to it and invoking it to illumine our understanding. It will not be visible to our mind, which tries to grasp and understand it, if this higher knowledge is not activated within; it should first enter our consciousness and illumine it and only then we will be able to penetrate into the depth of its content. This growth of a new consciousness within us requires time and sincere aspiration towards self-discovery and self-realization and only then, after some time, it starts gleaming within us with the golden illuminations of the hidden treasures of our self-existence, invoking and nourishing in us, in the words of the Veda, the upward movement of the honey-waves of the ocean-heart towards the upper ocean of the Supreme Existence and the ecstasy of the supreme fulfillment.
The author has entered the premises of that secret knowledge of Savitri, traveling and wondering about all matters, delighted with its truths, “mad with the luminous wine” of its Bliss. — Vladimir Yatsento