Introduction to letters on Savitri
These letters are published at the end of Savitri for their rare value as a great poet's informal
self-commentary. Apropos that value, a few facts of deep personal interest may be mentioned about
the coming of this poem to its close.
Some months before his passing, Sri Aurobindo, as if in foreknowledge of the event, said: "I want to finish Savitri soon." The words took by utter surprise the disciple, his scribe, who has been used to the grandly patient way in which so far it had been composed and frequently retouched and amplified. Even when, in the past, composition had been extraordinarily swift - once four to five hundred lines needing hardly any change were dictated in succession - there had been no hurry in the poet's attitude to his work. But now he increased immensely the general tempo of composition and revision. There seemed a race with time. And it was almost towards the end that, after rapidly revising the long second canto of the Book of Fate, he paused with some satisfaction. Then he inquired what still remained to be written. On being told about the Book of Death and Epilogue entitled The Return to Earth, which were yet to be caught up into a larger utterance, he remarked: "Oh, that? We shall see about that afterwards." Savitri, as the footnote to the Book of Death indicates, was not completed in the common meaning of the term and indeed Sri Aurobindo's original plan was to give this part of the poem as well as the Epilogue a thorough recasting. But his strange remark suggests that later, for reasons of his own, he was not anxious about them and that what he had thought necessary had been done. So it is impossible to say definitely that he did not wish Savitri to be, on the whole, just as he had left it after making corrections and additions in the Canto already mentioned of the Book of Fate.
These corrections and additions were the last things he wrote in this epic of twenty-three thousand [eight hundred and thirty seven (4th edition, 1993) lines, over which he spent so many years. Among them, in view of subsequent circumstances, three newly written passages in the speech of Narad stand out most significantly. The first is about the sacrifice the God-Man gives in history:
The second dwells on the inner meaning with which Satyavan's departure from the earth is packed:
The third is the passage of seventy-two lines, absolutely the last piece of poetry dictated by
Sri Aurobindo, in which, with a sound as of massive repeating bells, Narad admonishes King
Aswapathy's wife when she protests against the fate of loneliness that will be her daughter's
Savitri's in consequence even as it appeared to be that of Sri Aurobindo's spiritual co-worker,
the Mother, at the time the Master of the "Integral Yoga" withdrew from his body. Some lines may