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Sri Aurobindo

Collected Poems

SABCL - Volume 5

I. Short Poems

The Mahatmas


(This poem is purely a play of the imaginative1, a poetic reconstruction of the central idea only of Mahatmahood.)

The seven mountains and the seven seas

Surround me. Over me the eightfold Sun

Blazing with various colours – green and blue,

Scarlet and rose, violet and gold and white,

And the dark disk that rides in the mortal cave –

Looks down on me in flame. Below spread wide

The worlds of the immortals, tier on tier

Like a great mountain climbing to the skies,

And on their summit Shiva dwells. Of old

My doings2 were familiar with the earth,

The mortals over whom I hold control

Were then my fellows. But I followed not

The usual path, the common thoughts of men.

A thirst of knowledge and a sense of power,

A passion of divine beneficence

Pursued me through a hundred lives. I rose

From birth to birth, until I reached the peak

Of human knowledge, then in Bharat born,

I, Kuthumi, the Kshatriya, the adept,

The mighty Yogin of Dwaipayan’s school,

To Vyasa3 came, our4 great original sage.

He looked upon me with the eyes that see5

And smiled august and awful. “Kuthumi,”

He cried, “now gather back what thou hast earned6

In many lives, remember all thy past,

Cease from thy round of human births, resume

The eightfold powers7 that make8 a man as God.

Then come again and learn thy grandiose work,

For thou art of the souls to death denied.”

I went into the mountains by the sea

That thunders pitilessly from night to morn,

And sung to by that rude relentless sound

Amidst9 the cries of beasts, the howl of winds,

Surrounded by the gnashing demon hordes,

I did the Hathayoga in three days,

Which men with anguish through ten lives effect,

Not that now practised by earth’s feeble10 race,

But that which Ravan11 knew in Lanka12, Dhruv

Fulfilled, Hiranyakashipu performed,

The Yoga of the old Lemurian Kings.

I felt the strength of Titans in my veins,

The joy of Gods, the pride of Siddhas. Tall

And mighty like a striding God I came

To Vyasa13; but he shook his dense piled locks,

Denying me; “Thou art not pure,” he cried.

I went in anger to Himaloy’s peaks

And on the highest in the breathless snow14

Sat dumb for many years. Then knowledge came

Streaming upon me and the hills around

Shook with the feet of the descending power.

I did the Rajayoga15 in three days,

Which men with care and accuracy minute

Ceaselessly follow for an age in vain –

Not Kali’s Rajayoga16, but the means

Of perfect knowledge, purity and force

Bali the Titan learned and gave to men,

The Yoga of the old Atlantic Kings.

I came to Vyasa17, shining like a sun.

He smiled and said, “Now seek the world’s Great Soul18,

Sri Krishna, where he lives on earth concealed,

Give up to him all that thou know’st19 and hast20;

For thou art he, elect from mortal men

To guard the knowledge, yet an easy task

While the third age preserves man’s godlike form21.

But when thou seest the iron Kali come

And he from Dwarca leaves the Earth, know then

The time of trial, help endangered men22,

Preserve the knowledge that preserves the world,

Until Sri Krishna utterly returns.

Then art thou from thy mighty work released

Into the worlds of bliss for endless years

To rest, until another aeon comes,

When of the seven Rishis thou art one.”

I sent my knowledge forth across the land.

It found him not in Bharat’s princely halls,

In quiet asrams, nor in temples pure,

Nor where the wealthy traffickers resort –

Brahmin nor Kshatriya body housed the Lord,

Vaisya23 nor Sudra nor outcaste. At length

To a bare hut on a wild mountain’s verge

Led by the star I came. A hermit mad

Of the wild Abhirs, who sat dumbed24 or laughed

And ran and leaped and danced upon the hills

But told the reason of his joy to none,

In him I saw the Lord, behind the man25

Perceived the spirit that contains the world26.

I fell before him, but he leapt27 and ran

And smote me with his foot and out of me

All knowledge, all desire, all strength was gone

Into its source. I sat an infant child.

He laughed aloud and said, “Take back thy gifts,

O beggar!” and went leaping down the slope.

Then full of light and strength and bliss I soared

Beyond the spheres, above the mighty Gods

And left my human body on the snows.

And others gathered to me, more or less

In puissance to assist, but mine the charge

By Vishnu given. I gather knowledge here,

Then to my human frame awhile descend

And walk mid men, choosing my instruments,

Testing, rejecting and confirming souls –

Vessels of the Spirit; for the golden age

In Kali comes, the iron lined with gold,

The Yoga shall be given back to men,

The sects shall cease, the grim debates die out

And atheism perish from the Earth,

Blasted with knowledge; love and brotherhood

And wisdom repossess Sri Krishna’s world.


Later edition of this work: The Complete Works of Sri Aurobindo.- Set in 37 volumes.- Volume 2.- Collected Poems.- Pondicherry: Sri Aurobindo Ashram, 2009.- 751 p.

1 2009 ed. CWSA, vol.2: imagination


2 2009 ed. CWSA, vol.2: goings


3 2009 ed. CWSA, vol.2: Vyása


4 2009 ed. CWSA, vol.2: the


5 2009 ed. CWSA, vol.2: eye that sees


6 2009 ed. CWSA, vol.2: learned


7 2009 ed. CWSA, vol.2: power


8 2009 ed. CWSA, vol.2: makes


9 2009 ed. CWSA, vol.2: Amid


10 2009 ed. CWSA, vol.2: feebler


11 2009 ed. CWSA, vol.2: Rávan


12 2009 ed. CWSA, vol.2: Lunca


13 2009 ed. CWSA, vol.2: Vyása


14 2009 ed. CWSA, vol.2: snows


15 2009 ed. CWSA, vol.2: Rájayoga


16 2009 ed. CWSA, vol.2: Rájayoga


17 2009 ed. CWSA, vol.2: Vyása


18 2009 ed. CWSA, vol.2: Lord


19 2009 ed. CWSA, vol.2: knowst


20 2009 ed. CWSA, vol.2: art


21 2009 ed. CWSA, vol.2: force


22 2009 ed. CWSA, vol.2: Man


23 2009 ed. CWSA, vol.2: Vaishya


24 2009 ed. CWSA, vol.2: dumb


25 2009 ed. CWSA, vol.2: that mask


26 2009 ed. CWSA, vol.2: worlds


27 2009 ed. CWSA, vol.2: leaped