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At the Feet of The Mother

The Tragedy of Human Love, pp. 609-611 (SH 299)

Savitri Class in Hindi with Alok Pandey
Book Ten: The Book of the Double Twilight, Canto Two: The Gospel of Death and Vanity of the Ideal

Death now reveals to Savitri the tragedy of human love, its imperfection and impossibility of change. Love cannot survive beyond a brief moment of time. It is born with the bodily lust and dies with it. Or else it drags and lingers together for a while until the body drops off and love too dies. This is what death shows to Savitri to dissuade her from pursuing her tale of love further beyond the limits ascribed to man.


If heavens there are they are veiled in their own light,
If a Truth eternal somewhere reigns unknown,
It burns in a tremendous void of God;
For truth shines far from the falsehoods of the world;
How can the heavens come down to unhappy earth
Or the eternal lodge in drifting time?

How shall the Ideal tread earth’s dolorous soil
Where life is only a labour and a hope,
A child of Matter and by Matter fed,
A fire flaming low in Nature’s grate,
A wave that breaks upon a shore in Time,
A journey’s toilsome trudge with death for goal?

The Avatars have lived and died in vain,
Vain was the sage’s thought, the prophet’s voice;
In vain is seen the shining upward Way.
Earth lies unchanged beneath the circling sun;
She loves her fall and no omnipotence
Her mortal imperfections can erase,
Force on man’s crooked ignorance Heaven’s straight line
Or colonise a world of death with gods.

O traveller in the chariot of the Sun,
High priestess in thy holy fancy’s shrine
Who with a magic ritual in earth’s house
Worshippest ideal and eternal love,
What is this love thy thought has deified,
This sacred legend and immortal myth?

It is a conscious yearning of thy flesh,
It is a glorious burning of thy nerves,
A rose of dream-splendour petalling thy mind,
A great red rapture and torture of thy heart.
A sudden transfiguration of thy days,
It passes and the world is as before.
A ravishing edge of sweetness and of pain,
A thrill in its yearning makes it seem divine,
A golden bridge across the roar of the years,
A cord tying thee to eternity.

And yet how brief and frail! how soon is spent
This treasure wasted by the gods on man,
This happy closeness as of soul to soul,
This honey of the body’s companionship,
This heightened joy, this ecstasy in the veins,
This strange illumination of the sense!

If Satyavan had lived, love would have died;
But Satyavan is dead and love shall live
A little while in thy sad breast, until
His face and body fade on memory’s wall
Where other bodies, other faces come.

When love breaks suddenly into the life
At first man steps into a world of the sun;
In his passion he feels his heavenly element:
But only a fine sunlit patch of earth
The marvellous aspect took of heaven’s outburst;
The snake is there and the worm in the heart of the rose.

A word, a moment’s act can slay the god;
Precarious is his immortality,
He has a thousand ways to suffer and die.

Love cannot live by heavenly food alone,
Only on sap of earth can it survive.

For thy passion was a sensual want refined,
A hunger of the body and the heart;
Thy want can tire and cease or turn elsewhere.

Or love may meet a dire and pitiless end
By bitter treason, or wrath with cruel wounds
Separate, or thy unsatisfied will to others
Depart when first love’s joy lies stripped and slain:
A dull indifference replaces fire
Or an endearing habit imitates love:
An outward and uneasy union lasts
Or the routine of a life’s compromise:
Where once the seed of oneness had been cast
Into a semblance of spiritual ground
By a divine adventure of heavenly powers
Two strive, constant associates without joy,
Two egos straining in a single leash,
Two minds divided by their jarring thoughts,
Two spirits disjoined, for ever separate.

[Savitri: 609 – 611]


(line breaks added to emphasize separate movements)

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