[Based on a talk given at Savitri Bhavan on 5 October 2006, Part I. A good deal of material presented here has been drawn from my book Narad’s Arrival at Madra.]

 

What are the five songs Narad is singing on his way from Paradise to Earth? He has left his home on the fateful morning and set himself to visit Aswapati. There he has to deliver the Word of Fate. Savitri is about to return after her discovery of Love. Bur she must also know Death. Narad discloses it. It is in Love-and-Death that the destiny of this creation is locked, rather locked in the Love that confronts irredeemable Death. Narad has a difficult mission to accomplish but whatever he is going to do, he will do it in the name of his illustrious Vishnu, Vishnu the Sustainer of the Creation. Naturally, therefore, on his way he will sing five songs whose theme is connected with the work of this Godhead. These five great songs follow in epic-lyric succession, recounting the entire course of the earthly evolution. The recitation proceeds with the rapidity that is characteristic of a majestic heroic narrative. In one mighty breath the long aeonic march of time is traced, foreseeing even the possibility of the new wonder that is waiting to be born.

 

Let us read the description in the text, as we have at the beginning of the Book of Fate.

 

He beheld the cosmic Being at his task,

His eyes measured the spaces, gauged the depths,

His inner gaze the movements of the soul,

He saw the eternal labour of the Gods,

And looked upon the life of beasts and men.

 

Here are all the actions of sight—beholding the cosmic Being’s task, eyes measuring the spaces, gazing the movements of the soul, seeing the labour of the Gods, and looking upon beasts and men. Narad sees great things with which the cosmic Being or Virat Purusha is at the task of upholding and promoting the order of the worlds. Given in swift and suggestive manner, we already have here the picture of the travail of the evolution. But as Narad is approaching the earth, there occurs readjustment in his disposition:

 

A change now fell upon the singer's mood,

A rapture and a pathos moved his voice;

He sang no more of light that never wanes,

And oneness and pure everlasting bliss,

He sang no more the deathless heart of love,

His chant was a hymn of Ignorance and Fate.

 

The travail begins. Narad is entering into this transient and sorrowful world, grim and death-afflicted. Not the joys of bright heaven, but the grey sadness of life has entered into his song, its gloom and ephemerality and its smallness. That sadness seems to reside for ever in the future of this mortal creation. Yet what Narad is chanting is a hymn; it is the praise of Ignorance and Fate. It is a powerful hymn revealing the Truth that is present behind the vastness of this Ignorance, behind primordial Ignorance and Fate, revealing the truth-real of Ignorance and Fate, their presence at the origin of things.

 

He sang the name of Vishnu and the birth

And joy and passion of the mystic world,

And how the stars were made and life began

And the mute regions stirred with the throb of a soul.

 

There are a thousand dubious forces working in this world, of Ignorance and Fate, and there occurs the birth of Vishnu. He the all-pervasive not only comes from time to time, but his is also the permanent birth, the birth of the eternal in time which now must be as the name of Vishnu. There is a mystic joy in it, a mystic passion. The first sound of the coming of the cheerful soul of life is heard, the green rustle of a happy movement. In Narad’s song, of the name of Vishnu, is the bright vigour that can give a form to the divinity that through the aeonic movement is slowly shaping this creation. The long travail is on the verge of bearing rich and golden fruit in the greatness of the name of that Godhead himself.

 

He sang the Inconscient and its secret self,

Its power omnipotent knowing not what it does,

All shaping without will or thought or sense,

Its blind unerring occult mystery,

And darkness yearning towards the eternal Light,

And Love that broods within the dim abyss

And waits the answer of the human heart,

And death that climbs to immortality.

 

Narad sings of the inconscient Self and the somnambulist Force, they presently shaping our will and thought and the senses. In that shaping is an in-built infallibility, though it is of the blind Occult’s, and there is the sufficient thrust behind it, propelling it on this adventure of the unknown consciousness; this is possible because of the Wisdom present behind all the unseeing and unknowing acts. From darkness to light, tamaso mā jyotir gamaya, from death to immortality, mŗtyor mā amŗtam gamaya,—that is the celebration of ascent as a result of those acts. This ascending movement has become possible because of the sacrifice Love made long ago, at the zero hour marking the beginning of the evolutionary process. The cosmic Being’s task, the hymn of Ignorance and Fate, the throb of the soul would then mean the assurance of a marvellous creation coming out of the Womb of Darkness.

 

He sang of the Truth that cries from Night’s blind deeps,

And the Mother Wisdom hid in Nature’s breast

And the Idea that through her dumbness works

And the miracle of her transforming hands,

Of life that slumbers in the stone and sun

And mind subliminal in mindless life,

And the consciousness that wakes in beasts and men.

 

The cry of the Truth is the cry of the involved Being’s, the Being, the Purusha, locked up in bottomless pit of the Involution; it is that cry which is trying to emerge out of the Night. The wise dynamic Force with her feeling and concern for this Truth, and the working of the Idea though alienated from the Real,—they both are present in the mute breast of Nature. The result of these high involvements, the involvement of the Truth-Idea-Force, is the growth of consciousness that has presently arrived at the human stage. All this progress has taken place in Ignorance; but being the cry of the Truth itself, it shall proceed beyond it and step into the vasts of Knowledge. This in the very nature of things is inevitable, willed as it is in the eminence of the manifesting Real-Idea.

 

He sang of the glory and marvel still to be born,

Of Godhead throwing off at last its veil,

Of bodies made divine and life made bliss,

Immortal sweetness clasping immortal might,

Heart sensing heart, thought looking straight at thought,

And the delight when every barrier falls,

And the transfiguration and the ecstasy.

 

This is the fifth song Narad is singing when he is about to alight upon Earth. The theme is of the glory and marvel entering into the unfolding evolution. By this evolving soul are left behind the dreadful abysms of Ignorance and it is now ready to step into Knowledge; the broad vistas of Truth-Idea stretch invisibly on; the veil is getting thinner and thinner; the splendid possibility of divine Wonder living in Matter’s house has been unequivocally asserted. The life divine shall be real in the divine’s birth on earth. There is harmony and sweetness and joy; the involved Spirit has triumphed over the obduracy of the physical Nature. In the divine multitude’s oneness is the victory of the Spirit. Out of that shall arise a new and marvellous creation. Sad thoughts have become sweet songs. The long-suffering existence is now changing into a thing of beauty which is a joy for ever.

 

By the process of an amazing poetic logic, with the swift-running force of a narrative, revelatory with the power to realise what is revealed, the poet has accomplished the miracle of tracing the entire course of this measureless evolution, accomplished just with a few tens of lines the stupendous. Out of the Inconscience and the obscurity of Matter came first Life and then Mind; what is now expected is the glory and marvel of the divine birth, the gold-green organic birth of the name of Vishnu here. Such is the delightful song of Narad in the rasa of felicitous devotion, imbued with its bliss. This song has the entirety of sweetness to bring joy to the hostiles who have stood too long in the way of this growth of consciousness. They are happy that they will soon be vanquished in the greatness of the Spirit and that, in its victory, their horrendous task will get terminated; the product of the dark Inconscience shall be metamorphosed into its divine element.

 

And as he sang the demons wept with joy

Foreseeing the end of their long dreadful task

And the defeat for which they hoped in vain,

And glad release from their self-chosen doom

  And return into the One from whom they came.

 

Evolution need not have been a painful process, explains Sri Aurobindo in one of his letters. But then a dark possibility could have been there, left unattended, remaining untapped, and it had to be worked out and exhausted, its potential turned into a divine opportunity. In this many-dimensional unfoldment of the divine delight the infinity of Inconscience had to be met in its full scope and operative might. In response to every descent that had occurred until now, it always threw answers antagonistically to distort it, if not destroy it. Therefore, triumphing over it means establishing a greater delight in mode of the very existence-consciousness itself. The demons now return into the supreme Origin from where they had come, back to the bright Womb of Creation. Thus is cleared the hazardless way for the evolution to grow from lesser knowledge to greater knowledge, to the widening infinity of knowledge. The miracle is of reaching, via the gainful Ignorance, the divine multitude by the mechanism offered by such an extraordinary possibility.

 

After a long journey from Paradise to Earth, Narad the heavenly sage now reaches his destination. His stadia on the way were: Heaven, World-Soul, Mind, Material Things, Earth and now he is here, on the banks of Alacananda, in the crown city of king Aswapati, Madra, flowering up in delicate stone. It is on one summer morning that Narad visits the king’s palace. After meeting the royal family he leaves the palace at noon, more importantly, after delivering the Word of Fate. He must have been here for about four or five hours of the morning. Wouldn’t that morning prove to be the auroral morning in the brightness of the topaz sun? Such is the beauty and charm of Savitri’s poetry.

 

This theory of evolution traced in Narad’s five songs, appears in different forms in different places in the epic’s narrative. We have a long description of it, a lucid and gorgeous essay in verse, when Savitri launches herself on the yogic journey exploring the inner depths of her being. (pp. 477-87) The first thing she notices is the cosmic past, moving through it as in a dream. She notices the shadowy beginnings of the world-fate, how from the indeterminate state creation took its first mysterious steps and how the human creature was born in Time. By the labour of the blind World-Energy a conscious being was made. “This is the little surface of man's life”, man who lives unknown to himself. And yet there is the ancient aspiration for God-Light-Freedom-Immortality:

 

Man in the world’s life works out the dreams of God.

But all is there, even God’s opposites;

He is a little front of Nature's works,

A thinking outline of a cryptic Force.

 

But there “are occult Shadows, there are tenebrous Powers”, the Titan and the Fury and the Djinn are constantly at work, and

 

Tremendous forms and faces mount dim steps

And stare at times into his living-rooms.

 

But it is only the soul housing the divine Might who can dislodge them. There is a guardian power, there are Hands that save, and the calm heavenly eyes regard the human scene:

 

Our greater self of knowledge waits for us,

A supreme light in the truth-conscious Vast:

It sees from summits beyond thinking mind,

It moves in a splendid air transcending life.

It shall descend and make earth’s life divine.

Truth made the world, not a blind Nature-Force.

 

And how did man arrive on the evolutionary scene? He arrived with the descent of the Mental Being, Manomaya Purusha, when the life-form had evolved with sufficient scope for him to step in. This man the mental being forms the needed bridge between Animal and God leading to the possibilities that lie ahead for him, as much as they stepping into him:

 

In the prone obscure beginnings of the race

The human grew in the bowed apelike man.

He stood erect, a godlike form and force,

And a soul’s thoughts looked out from earth-born eyes;

Man stood erect, he wore the thinker’s brow:

He looked at heaven and saw his comrade stars;

A vision came of beauty and greater birth

Slowly emerging from the heart’s chapel of light

And moved in a white lucent air of dreams.

He saw his being’s unrealised vastnesses,

He aspired and housed the nascent demi-god.

 

And where is he going to go?

 

At last climbing a long and narrow stair

He stood alone on the high roof of things

And saw the light of a spiritual sun.

Aspiring he transcends his earthly self;

He stands in the largeness of his soul new-born…

He reaches his fount of immortality,

He calls the Godhead into his mortal life.

 

In her yogic consciousness Savitri re-lived the entire evolutionary experience and even as a portion of the mighty power descended in her, she saw three possibilities of the future that can open out with the discovery of the soul:

 

It marked her the centre of a wide-drawn scheme,

Dreamed in the passion of her far-seeing spirit

To mould humanity into God’s own shape

And lead this great blind struggling world to light

Or a new world discover or create.

Earth must transform herself and equal Heaven

Or Heaven descend into earth’s mortal state.

 

That is the best the past can disclose, leaving the alternatives open:
 

·    mould humanity in God’s shape;

·    discover a new world;

·    create a new world.

 
But whatever be the future course the stipulation is, Earth must transform herself into Heaven or else Heaven descend into earth’s mortal state. By what method, through which agency the transformation is going to take place might seem to be not so important; what is important is, it must happen. Which one is going to happen is left open at this stage—the past doesn’t know the future. Indeed, it is the divine Will and the divine executive Force together who are going to work out the desirable but cherished alternative.

 

But here comes Narad singing the song of the transfiguration and the ecstasy. There is power in the rendering of his song, and whatever he is going to sing is going to happen. Even as he sings of the glory and marvel to be born, the demons weep with joy, they foreseeing their dreadful work soon coming to an end, the long-expected moment approaching in the earthly time. In it will come to a close their self-chosen doom they, having finished their terrible and dreadful task, returning to the One from whom they had come. Narad’s arrival, rather his singing on the way the great name of Vishnu, defines that moment. Such is the certainty of the song, the power of the words and of the recital.

 

Therefore, in the context of the evolutionay prospects, Narad’s action is going to be extremely crucial, decisive in its fundamentals. If any one of these three alternatives is to materialise then the imperative is, the true inner soul should be first found. As Savitri has been marked to be the “centre of this wide-drawn scheme” in the unfoldment of the future, it is necessary that, after the survey of the cosmic past, she must set herself on that path, of the soul’s discovery. Narad’s singing of the song of the approaching transfiguration and the ecstasy, and in its anticipation the weeping of the demons with joy, are indicative of the possibility of Savitri doing all her work in the essential discovery of her soul. Narad in that subtle way, by the logic of the luminous occult-mysterious, becomes instrumental for her to begin the Yoga, the difficult and unique Yoga of the Conquest of Death. He proves himself to be the benign preceptor of the ready human soul and helper in promoting God’s will and God’s work in the creation, he the “slave of God”.

 

Narad has arrived in the palace hall, and there Aswapati and his wife Malawi receive him with due regard and reverence, they surely knowing each other well, not meeting presently for the first time. Aswapati in the Mahabharata story of Savitri addresses him as his spiritual teacher and guide, gururhi bhagavān mama, and is one who is respected and honoured even by the gods, dévasatkŗtah. He comes and sings to the royal hosts for an hour, on the eventful morning, before the return of Savitri from the quest of her life’s partner. In her extensive wandering riding the carven chariot she had gone to the distant land of the Shalwa kingdom and is now back with her glad and pulsating heart, impatient to reveal the discovery to her parents. Appropriately, therefore, Narad’s song is the song of love with its sweet-scented buds of truth blossoming in that youthful dawning hour. This is the sixth song Narad sang that morning, a song quite different from the earlier five songs he was chanting during his long but swift heaven-to-earth journey; those were the travel songs, the songs of the self-absorbed devout peripatetic, and now here is the glow and warmth of intimate human tenderness and feeling, as much as the human aspiration in the expectation of the happy and the lovely and the charming. (pp. 417-18)

 

He sang to them of the lotus-heart of love

With all its thousand luminous buds of truth,

Which quivering sleeps veiled by apparent things.

It trembles at each touch, it strives to wake

And one day it shall hear a blissful voice

And in the garden of the Spouse shall bloom

When she is seized by her discovered lord.

A mighty shuddering coil of ecstasy

Crept through the deep heart of the universe.

Out of her Matter’s stupor, her mind’s dreams,

She woke, she looked upon God’s unveiled face.

 

There is yet another song connected with Narad’s present visit to Aswapati. He has delivered the message, of the death of Satyavan whom Savitri has chosen as her life’s partner, her mate and equal; the death is to occur exactly one year after their marriage, a death that cannot be prevented by any means, earthly or heavenly, occult or spiritual. But there is something yet wonderful which Narad has done: he has not only “steel”ed the will of Savitri, to remain firm in her resolve of marriage with Satyavan; he has initiated Savitri on the Path of the Yoga, Yoga of the Conquest of Death. He has done it and is now ready to take his leave from the royal family.

 

On his way back to his abode in Heaven Narad continues to sing, and the echo is heard in the listening hush of the Earth’s soul. This is his seventh song: (p. 462)

 

He spoke and ceased and left the earthly scene.

Away from the strife and suffering on our globe,

He turned towards his far-off blissful home.

A brilliant arrow pointing straight to heaven,

The luminous body of the eternal seer

Assailed the purple glory of the noon

And disappeared like a receding star

Vanishing into the light of the Unseen;

But still a cry was heard in the infinite,

And still to the listening soul on mortal earth

A high and far imperishable voice

Chanted the anthem of eternal love.

 

It is the Anthem of Eternal Love, Love whose concern is the mortal Earth, Love who moves the sun and every star in the sky of the night, Love that brings all genuine happinesses to us. In that sense what Narad has done is something absolutely wonderful. He came and spoke of the death of Satyavan, indicated the dangerous brink on which one day Savitri would be standing, standing face to face with Death whose opposition stands in the way of the divine Love’s manifestation on mortal Earth. This manifestation of Love has to be the culmination, and the true beginning, of the glory and triumph of the evolutionary soul’s progress on the Earth. So, Narad begins his journey with the Song of Evolution and concludes it, on his way back home, with the Anthem of Eternal Love.