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Sri Aurobindo

Collected Poems

CWSA.- Volume 2

Part Four. Calcutta and Chandernagore
Poems Written in 1910 and Published in 1920 – 1921

The Mahatmas


(This poem is purely a play of the imagination1, 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 goings2 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 Vyása3 came, the4 great original sage.

He looked upon me with the eye that sees5

And smiled, august and awful. “Kuthumi,”

He cried, “now gather back what thou hast learned6

In many lives, remember all thy past,

Cease from thy round of human births, resume

The eightfold power7 that makes8 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,

Amid9 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 feebler10 race,

But that which Rávan11 knew in Lunca12, 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 Vyása13; 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 snows14

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 Rájayoga15 in three days,

Which men with care and accuracy minute

Ceaselessly follow for an age in vain –

Not Kali’s Rájayoga16, 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 Vyása17, shining like a sun.

He smiled and said, “Now seek the world’s great Lord18,

Sri Krishna, where he lives on earth concealed;

Give up to him all that thou knowst19 and art20.

For thou art he, elect from mortal men

To guard the Knowledge,– yet an easy task

While the third Age preserves man’s godlike force21,–

But when thou seest the iron Kali come,

And he from Dwarca leaves the earth, know then

The time of trial, help endangered Man22,

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,

Vaishya23 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 dumb24 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 that mask25

Perceived the Spirit that contains the worlds26.

I fell before him, but he leaped27 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.


Earlier edition of this work: Sri Aurobindo Birth Century Library: Set in 30 volumes.- Volume 5.- Collected Poems.- Pondicherry: Sri Aurobindo Asram, 1972.- 625 p.

1 1972 ed. SABCL, vol.5: imaginative


2 1972 ed. SABCL, vol.5: doings


3 1972 ed. SABCL, vol.5: Vyasa


4 1972 ed. SABCL, vol.5: our


5 1972 ed. SABCL, vol.5: eyes that see


6 1972 ed. SABCL, vol.5: earned


7 1972 ed. SABCL, vol.5: powers


8 1972 ed. SABCL, vol.5: make


9 1972 ed. SABCL, vol.5: Amidst


10 1972 ed. SABCL, vol.5: feeble


11 1972 ed. SABCL, vol.5: Ravan


12 1972 ed. SABCL, vol.5: Lanka


13 1972 ed. SABCL, vol.5: Vyasa


14 1972 ed. SABCL, vol.5: snow


15 1972 ed. SABCL, vol.5: Rajayoga


16 1972 ed. SABCL, vol.5: Rajayoga


17 1972 ed. SABCL, vol.5: Vyasa


18 1972 ed. SABCL, vol.5: Soul


19 1972 ed. SABCL, vol.5: know’st


20 1972 ed. SABCL, vol.5: hast


21 1972 ed. SABCL, vol.5: form


22 1972 ed. SABCL, vol.5: men


23 1972 ed. SABCL, vol.5: Vaisya


24 1972 ed. SABCL, vol.5: dumbed


25 1972 ed. SABCL, vol.5: the man


26 1972 ed. SABCL, vol.5: world


27 1972 ed. SABCL, vol.5: leapt