The Vision and the Boon by Sri Aurobindo | Critical Analysis

 

The Vision and the Boon by Sri Aurobindo Analysis

Savitri is a magnificent conception and a colossal undertaking Aurobindo aims at presenting a world vision. He combines in his vision the alacrity of the West with the illumination of the East. Mrs. Prema Nandakumar rightly remarks that “The well-known story of the young wife Savitri, who saved her husband from an untimely death, thus scoring a victory over the seeming inexorability of fate, is here swathed in the robes of vedantic metaphysics and given a poetic reincarnation”. When the human soul is prompted by spiritual struggle, it rises from the unconscious state to the full stature of Divinity. Savitri is symbolic of the true wife’s devotion and power-unflinching devotion and power to overcome even the greatest of evils-Death. And Satyavan is truth. Thus Beauty, Love and Power (the power of devotion and chastity) allied to Truth can dare anything and achieve anything.

In the fourth Canto, Aswapathy tries to know the basis of the secret knowledge. The mystery is that of the Lila of God descending into clay and clay again aspiring to God-head. Then the soul achieves a complete spiritual transformation. Aurobindo then resorts to a retrospective narration describing the birth and childhood of Savitri, her growth from girlhood to manhood. She happens to go near the hermitage where Satyavan was looking after his aged parents. Savitri and Satyavan meet in joy and recognise the hand of fate. Narada, the divine sage speaks highly of Satyavan’s varied perfections but informs that he is fated to die a year later. But Savitri remains unperturbed and is prepared for the cosmic role of struggle and redemption.

Satyavan is the soul carrying the death and ignorance. Savitri is the Divine Lord, daughter of the Sun, goddess of the supreme truth who comes down and is born to save. Satyavan whom Savitri marries is the symbol of the soul descended into the kingdom of Death and Savitri, the Goddess of Divine Light and knowledge comes down to redeem Satyavan from Death’s grasp. It is for Savitri, the avatar or incarnation to bring the heavens down and raise the earth to heaven.

In spite of the resistance of the flesh, the vital and the mind, the light ultimately leads man to a vision of superhuman peaks. The way to the supreme lies through man’s worship of high ideals in his life. There is the ideal of love, of beauty, of goodness, of intellectual knowledge. There is also the promising fact of inspiration and intuition coming down into his consciousness. In the midst of darkness and frustration, human struggle goes on. The Goddess Savitri promised the descent of a limitless mind, a sweet and violent heart of ardent calm moved by the passion of the gods, embodying all powers and greatness.

Aswapathy, the issueless king, had long been in spiritual discipline (yoga). Suddenly he felt the presence of the Divine Mother within himself who granted the prayer of the king that a “human heart” endowed with All Knowledge, All-Love and omnipotence would be born on earth. The granting of the prayer meant the birth of Savitri. Aswapathy worshipfully invokes Savitri and when she appears, he speaks to her of his aspirations of transforming life on earth into the life divine to which the mother gives consent. It fulfillment of the boon, Savitri is born and grows up as if she were a parable of the evolutionary destiny of man.

Aurobindo accounts for the distressing plight of the modern man who has lost the sense of discrimination. He is unable to discern the permanent from the impermanent owing to his overstress on the intellect. The Divine Mother fears a great harm to humanity if she descends on earth before the destined hour. The human race is not ripe and prepared enough to receive her. So Aswapathy is asked not to seek merger in the infinite but to accept the difficulty and god-like toil and live for the slow-paced omniscient purpose of preparing the stage for the divine descent. She states that man who is submerged in ignorance aspires in vain to change the cosmic dream. He is in the most unenviable and pathetic predicament. He does not have spiritual guidance.

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‘The Vision and the Boon’ constitutes the central situation. It throws light on Aswpathy’s penance and long spiritual training and the vision of the Divine Mother and the boon vouchsafed to him by her. The major part of the Canto is cast in the form of speeches. There is spontaneous flow of intuitive feelings in it. They contain a flowing rhythm, and a rapturous melody, accompanied by a unique directness of expression. The diction is exalted and the style is grand. It reveals the vision of the Divine Mother and the boon granted to the King. The vision turns out to be a reality. The King’s prayer is allowed and the world-Mother sends Savitri to earth to save mankind from the clutches of Death and to vindicate the presence of the supreme. The Mother predicts that Savitri shall be the embodiment of “All-Knowledge”, All-Love, and “All Heaven’s Beauty.” And that “Nature shall overleap her mortal step and that fate shall be changed by an unchanging will.”

The prediction proves to be true. The Doom is averted and the normal course of Nature is changed. Nothing short of this can be expected of the sun-eyed child and the seed of the supreme. Thus the tale of Satyavan and Savitri is one of the many symbolic myths of the vedic cycle.

 

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