Lesson 51: Hiding in Human Guise
There are 12 months of the year and 12 signs of the zodiac: Aries, Taurus, Gemini, Cancer, Leo, Virgo, Libra, Scorpio, Sagittarius, Capricorn, Aquarius, and Pisces.
“Savitri” is composed of 12 chapters, each representing a movement through the zodiac. Chapter 1, the sign of Aries, is the sign of new beginnings, as the opening line says: “It was the hour before the Gods awake.” Lesson 51 is anchored in Chapter 10, the sign of Capricorn, the sign of the mountain goat who climbs to the vast heights, solitary and alone. It is here at the end of Chapter 10 that a new height is reached. It is here that Savitri defeats Death. And just like “Savitri,” the unfolding of your life, too, is found in the rhythm and movement of the stars.
“There is the image of our future’s hope;
There is the sun for which all darkness waits,
That there is the imperishable harmony;
The world's contradictions climbed to her and are one:
There is the truth of which the world's truths are shreds,
The light of which the world's ignorance is the shade
Till truth draws back the shade that it has cast,
The love our hearts called down to heal all strife,
The Bliss for which the world's derelict sorrows yearn:
Thence comes the glory sometimes seen on earth,
The visits of Godhead to the human soul,
The beauty and the dream on nature's face.
There the perfection born from eternity
Calls to it the perfection born in time.”
And as the perfection has been born in Savitri, her confrontation with Death is about to end. She says to Death:
“But who can show to thee Truth’s glorious face?
Our human words can only shadow her.
To thought she is an unthinkable rapture of light,
To speech a marvel inexpressible.
O Death, if thou couldst touch the Truth supreme
Thou wouldst grow suddenly wise and cease to be.
If our souls could see and love and clasp God's truth,
Its infinite radiance would seize our hearts,
Our being in God's image be remade
And earthly life become the life divine.”
And for the last time , Death replies.
“If truth supreme transcends her shadow here
Severed by knowledge and the climbing vasts,
What bridge can cross the gulf that she is left
Between her and the dream-world she has made?
Or who could hope to bring her down to men
And persuade to tread the harsh globe with wounded feet
Leaving her unapproachable glory and bliss,
Wasting her splendor on pale earthly air?
Is thine that strength, O beauty of mortal limbs,
O soul who flutterest to escape my net?
Who then art thou hiding in human guise?
Thy voice carries the sound of infinity,
Knowledge is with thee, Truth speaks through thy words;
The light of things beyond shines in thy eyes.
Where is thy strength to conquer Time and Death?
Hast thou God’s force to build heaven’s values here?
For truth and knowledge are an idle gleam
If Knowledge brings not power to change the world,
if Might comes not to give Truth her right.
A blind Force, not Truth has made this ignorant world,
A blind Force, not Truth orders the lives of men:
By power, not light, the great Gods rule the world:
Power is the arm of God, the seal of fate.
Oh human claimant to immortality,
Revealed by power, lay bare thy spirit’s force,
Then will I give back to thee Satyavan,
Or if the Mighty Mother is with thee,
Show me her face that I may worship her;
Let deathless eyes look into the eyes of Death,
An imperishable Force touching brute beings
Transform earth's death into immortal life.
Then can thy dead return to thee and live.
Prostrate earth perhaps shall lift her gaze
And feel near her the secret body of God
And love and joy overtake fleeting Time.”
But Savitri did not answer.
“Thus changed, she waited for the Word to speak.
Eternity looked into the eyes of Death
And Darkness saw God's living Reality.”
But Death resisted still.
“The two opposed each other face to face.
His being like a huge fort of darkness towered;
Around it her light grew, an ocean’s siege.
Awhile the Shade survived defying heaven:
Assailing in front, oppressing from above,
A concrete mass of conscious power, he bore
The tyranny of her divine desire.
His body was eaten by light, his spirit devoured.
At last he knew defeat inevitable
And left crumbling the shape that he had worn,
Abandoning hope to make man's soul his prey
And force to be mortal the immortal spirit.
Afar he fled shunning her dreaded touch
And refuge took in the retreating Night.”
It is here at the end of Chapter 10 that Savitri conquers Death. Even when asked by Death to show him what she knows so that Death may worship her, Savitri does not answer. She resides within the Wisdom, the Truth and the Light of who she is. This is her power, her might. It is also yours. Said a different way, there is nothing to do for it has already been done.
“In the dream twilight of that symbol world
The dire universal Shadow disappeared
Vanishing into the Void from which it came.
As if deprived of its original cause,
The twilight realm passed fading from their souls,
And Satyavan and Savitri were alone.
But neither stirred: between those figures rose
A mute invisible and translucent wall.
In the long blank moment’s pause nothing could move:
All waited on the unknown inscrutable Will.”
Death has been defeated and Satyavan has returned to life as the two lovers sit waiting on the will of God to make itself known. Waiting can be so difficult, waiting for wisdom to fill faultlessly the minutes and hours of each day and each circumstance.
Seemingly though, Savitri’s mission has been accomplished. But a grander vision awaits her just as a grander vision awaits you. And as you wait, listening for the infallible words that are woven like magical threads into the unnoticed and mundane steps of everyday life, who is it that is there hiding in human guise, waiting? Underneath the struggle, beneath the wounds of the past, absent of the millions of meaningless thoughts that rule your mind, who is hiding in human guise?