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.
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