Savitri (book)

Savitri: A Legend and a Symbol is a 24,000 verse poem by Sri Aurobindo about an individual who overcomes the Ignorance, suffering, and death in the world through her spiritual quest, setting the stage for the emergence of a new, Divine life on earth. It was completed shortly before his death in 1950.

The poem is based on the Mahabharata story of Satyavan and Savitri. In the poem, Sri Aurobindo describes the involution and evolution of the cosmos and of consciousness.

Author's note

Sri Aurobindo had intended to write a lengthy introduction to Savitri, which never occurred. He did, however, write an author's note acting as an effective summary that appears at the beginning of the poem in all its published versions:

The tale of Satyavan and Savitri is recited in the Mahabharata as a story of conjugal love conquering death. But this legend is, as shown by many features of the human tale, one of the many symbolic myths of the Vedic cycle. Satyavan is the soul carrying the divine truth of being within itself but descended into the grip of death and ignorance; Savitri is the Divine Word, daughter of the Sun, goddess of the supreme Truth who comes down and is born to save; Aswapati, the Lord of the Horse, her human father, is the Lord of Tapasya, the concentrated energy of spiritual endeavour that helps us to rise from the mortal to the immortal planes; Dyumatsena, Lord of the Shining Hosts, father of Satyavan, is the Divine Mind here fallen blind, losing its celestial kingdom of vision, and through that loss its kingdom of glory. Still this is not a mere allegory, the characters are not personified qualities, but incarnations or emanations of living and conscious Forces with whom we can enter into concrete touch and they take human bodies in order to help man and show him the way from his mortal state to a divine consciousness and immortal life.


The Mother, who was Sri Aurobindo's spiritual collaborator said this of Savitri: "... everything is there: mysticism, occultism, philosophy, the history of evolution, the history of man, of the gods, of creation, of Nature. How the universe was created, why, for what purpose, what destiny - all is there. You can find all the answers to all your questions there. Everything is explained, even the future of man and of the evolution, all that nobody yet knows. He has described it all in beautiful and clear words so that spiritual adventurers who wish to solve the mysteries of the world may understand it more easily."


The Creator Spirit is Absent in the Creation -- There is the Spirit, the Source of creation. But in creating a universe, it withdrew Its spiritual properties (of Delight, Knowledge, Oneness, etc.). Savitri arose to bring that Divinity of the Pure Existent into the world, into the lives of men. She will do this by overcoming the limitations that exist in life, including the essential Ignorance, division, duality, conflict, pain, etc. born of creation, through her inner, spiritual quest.

Savitri Arises to Bring Divinity to the Earth -- Her Infinite Love of being is expressed through her Love for Satyavan. He however is doomed to die. She must overcome all of the ills of the earth to save him, including death itself. (Her love for him, and the threat of his death are the compulsion for Savitri to overcome the Darkness and limitations of life. Or to put it another way, the Divine person must bear the undivinity of the world to transform it.)

The King's Yogic Ascent, and Aspiration -- Savitri's father King Aswapathy is a person who is going through his own willful conscious evolution -- i.e. yoga. Though he makes an initial effort to rise, he falls back in his efforts; but out of that he develops a new strength to rise again and go even higher. Thus, though there was difficulty in his ascent to higher consciousness, he develops an Equality of being that makes him more immune from the exigencies of the lower consciousness that wants to drag him down.

Aswapathy then resumes his inner spiritual ascent, and experiences along the way a personal evolution culminating in Spiritual Transformation. Through that process, he comes to know his soul and true self within; he perceives the transcendent Spiritual reality, and feels the Force of the Divine Mother within himself. As a result, he comes to understand the deepest meaning and purpose of life, and begins to be released from the essential Ignorance and other limitations that weigh down our normal human consciousness. As a result, of his vast new awareness and experience, he aspires for the same for the world -- i.e. for the progress, evolution, and transformation of all of humanity. His daughter Savitri, has come to earth to fulfill the King's aspirations. However, she will need to do so by overcoming Satyavan's impending death.

History of publication

Savitri was originally brought out canto by canto in small fascicles and in periodicals published by the Sri Aurobindo Ashram. These periodicals were the Sri Aurobindo Mandir Annual, in 1946 and 1947, the quarterly Advent in 1946 and 1947, and the Sri Aurobindo Circle Annual in 1947. These instalments were also made available simultaneously in fascicles Canto-wise. The fascicles covered the first four Cantos of Book 1 and Book 3. The fifteen Cantos of Book 2 were published in book-form in two parts, Cantos 1-6 and Cantos 7-15, in 1947 and 1948 respectively.

The whole poem first appeared in book-form in two parts in 1950 and 1951. Sri Aurobindo's letters written to his disciples on various aspects of the poem are now part of the book. This modern epic written in a modern language is also a modern day scripture. It recounts the saga of human victory over ignorance and conquest of death. Painstakingly composed in a rhythmic meter, each line of the poem is suffused with power of Mantra.

Devotees of Sri Aurobindo and the Mother the world over are known to recite a page or two from the poem as a daily routine as an aid to their spiritual growth. Many even find the answers to their doubts and questions by opening the book at random. On special occasions, continuous recitation of Savitri on a relay basis is also quite common in the Centers where the works and yoga teachings of The Mother and Sri Aurobindo are studied and practiced. Regular camps and conclaves are also organized at different places in the world to study the poem and contemplate over its occult force.

The devotees of The Mother and Sri Aurobindo live their lives in a state of expectancy for the next higher evolution of consciousness. Reading Savitri is itself considered as practice of integral yoga and a potent vehicle of aspiration. And, therefore, its central role in the process of yoga is often affirmed with both awe and affection. Says Rod Hemsell

It is arguable, perhaps--the seer having received this boon of drsti, sruti, smrti in a clairaudient trance, as the simultaneous inevitable revelation of the truth of his realization, thence to be delivered forth by him as mantric verse for the subsequent illumination of fit hearers--that this sacred word might best be read, and received, by the listening heart of a clairaudient silence. And for those gifted with clairaudience (as we know from Sri Aurobindo's diaries that he was) and disposed to receiving the supramental revelation, this might well be true. But Sri Aurobindo's theory of mantra, the text of Savitri itself, and our experience, seem to support rather emphatically the notion that it is the audible sound, with its dynamics of pitch, rhythm, image, and conceptual spiritual content that has a unique potential and power to effect in the fit outward hearer the experience of which it speaks, and of which it is the living symbol.

It is to demonstrate the truth of this hypothesis, at least in part, that we have undertaken the Savitri/Agenda experiment--a series of immersion workshops in which we simply allow the Word to be heard and absorbed, in as clear and deep a manner as we can manage at the present time. And in the context and atmosphere thus created by Savitri, we turn to the Mother's Agenda with the aspiration to hear and know as profoundly and intimately as possible her experience of transformation. The effect of this attempt thus far has been overwhelmingly gratifying. And it has made dramatically clear the fact that the experience of transformation narrated by Sri Aurobindo in Savitri and by the Mother in her Agenda are one and the same. The two together create a resonance that seems to literally dissolve the membrane that separates our worlds and unite us with them in a remarkably vivid and tangible sense.

This of course will not seem too surprising to those who are familiar with their work. But what can be surprising is the degree to which one finds oneself brought face to face with their experience and into a deeply luminous identity with Sri Aurobindo, the Mother, and the work of transformation.


  • ed. Aurobindo Ghose, Sri Aurobindo Ashram (1954) ASIN B0007ILK7W
  • Lotus Press (1995) ISBN 0-941524-80-9


  • Jugal Kishore Mukherjee , The ascent of sight in Sri Aurobindo's Savitri (2001) ISBN 81-7058-656-9
  • D. S. Mishra , Poetry and philosophy in Sri Aurobindo's Savitri (1989) ISBN 81-85151-21-0

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