The book under review is another of the many valuable compilations made by Dr A. S. Dalal from the writings of Sri Aurobindo and the Mother. But for the first time here is a compilation from the poetical works of Sri Aurobindo, and that too from his magnum opus Savitri
. Those who love Savitri
should certainly be delighted to go through this book.Savitri
is no ordinary poem; it is Sri Aurobindo's new concept of poetry written from his Overmind aesthesis. According to Raymond Piper, who is quoted in the book's Foreword, the epic is "perhaps the most powerful artistic work in the world for expanding man's mind towards the absolute". Rightly has he called Savitri
"the most comprehensive, integrated, beautiful and perfect cosmic poem ever composed". The poem describes "all Time's huge curve" rising from the viewless abysm of the Inconscient into the equally viewless summit of the Superconscient—"Climbing with foam-maned waves to the Supreme" (Savitri
, 98). To comprehend such a work of almost 24,000 lines of high poetry, poetically as well as thematically, may prove not only difficult but almost impossible for the general reader.
The title of the compilation and the passages selected therein follow, more or less, in line with the theme of Savitri
. The title touches on two cardinal aspects of Sri Aurobindo's Integral Yoga. In his explanation of the mystery of terrestrial creation Sri Aurobindo puts forward "the cardinal fact of a spiritual evolution as the meaning of our existence here". To him the truth of evolution lies in the evolution of consciousness. Evolution "carries with it in its intrinsic sense, in the idea at its root the necessity of a previous involution…all that evolves already existed involved, passive or otherwise active, but in either case concealed from us in the shell of material Nature. The Spirit which manifests itself here in a body, must be involved from the beginning in the whole of matter and in every knot, formation and particle of matter; life, mind and whatever is above mind must be latent inactive or concealed active powers in all the operations of material energy" (The Problem of Rebirth
). And evolution is the method by which the lights of consciousness in the abysm of the Night emerge as life and mind and a consciousness which is spiritual and supramental: "all must be until the highest is gained" (Savitri
"In the enigma of the darkened Vasts, | In the passion and self-loss of the Infinite | When all was plunged in the negating Void" (Savitri
, 140), the Being too plunged into the dark to liberate the consciousness (Non-Being) from its inconscient state. Sri Aurobindo's Savitri
shows the way to this stupendous cosmic and supra-cosmic task the Divine has undertaken. The Spirit's return journey takes the form of evolution, in which the various levels of consciousness emerge stage by stage on earth. Dr Dalal has attempted to show this through sections six to twelve of this compilation. But evolution shall not end here with the achievement of Nirvana and Cosmic Consciousness (sections 14 and 15). Sri Aurobindo's vision and realisation have taken evolution to its summit (section 13), the Supramental stage—"All the world's possibilities in man | Are waiting as the tree waits in its seed" (Savitri, 482). Some of the passages presented in sections 17 and 20 and elsewhere give the difficulties on the path of Yoga, and these sections shall prove especially helpful to readers.
In the title of the book, The God-Touch
, Dr Dalal touches on the other cardinal aspect of Sri Aurobindo's Integral Yoga. As Sri Aurobindo wrote in The Mother
The human in us…is too weak and obscure to be lifted up suddenly to a form far beyond it. The Divine Consciousness and Force are there and do at each moment the thing that is needed…and shape in the midst of imperfection the perfection that is to come.
The compiler has rightly emphasised, as Sri Aurobindo has done in Savitri, "All can be done if the god-touch is there." To quote again from Chapter 6 of The Mother:
The Mother's power and not any human endeavour and tapasya can alone rend the lid and tear the covering and shape the vessel and bring down into this world of obscurity and falsehood and death and suffering Truth and Light and Life divine and the immortal's Ananda.
If faith, sincerity and surrender are there, the Divine shall act and help, even unannounced and in our unconscious moments.
It is hoped that the present compilation will give a foothold to readers in this regard. Savitri is a vast ocean of spiritual and supra-spiritual realms of consciousness which are "a great connected complex movement, rather superimposed with no rigid line of demarcation". Dr Dalal in his compilation has selected beautiful passages from Savitri which describe some steps of Sri Aurobindo's Integral Yoga, but the selections do not convey wholly the poet's yogic vision. However, full credit goes to the compiler for bringing out this work with the specific aim expressed in the Preface: "The way of reading certain passages from Savitri on specific themes suggested by this compilation may make a special appeal to some readers, and may induce them to read the epic more often." Dr Dalal has done a service for such readers, and it is hoped they will be inspired to a deeper study of the poem. The compilation gets added lustre from the Foreword written by Manoj Das.
Dr A. K. Ganguli retired as Professor of English, Delhi University. He is the author of Sri Aurobindo's Savitri: An Adventure of Consciousness and Sri Aurobindo: The Poet of Nature & Other Writings on Savitri, available with SABDA.