The English of Savitri
«The English of Savitri» is based on transcripts of classes given by Shraddhavan at Savitri Bhavan in Auroville from August 2009 to October 2010, which have been edited for conciseness and clarity, while aiming to preserve some of the informal atmosphere of the course. Shraddhavan first started teaching English through close readings of Sri Aurobindo’s revelatory epic Savitri: a legend and a symbol with a small group of interested adults in 1980. In August 1998 these classes were resumed at Savitri Bhavan, taking place in the early mornings three times a week in the thatched hut which was the first construction on the site of the future complex. Later, weekly classes were held there in the afternoons to accommodate a growing number of students, including young Tamil teacher-trainees from the Arul Vazhi School located in Promesse, Auroville. These classes were given the name ‘The English of Savitri’. In May 2009 we had the joy of completing the course, as this group reached the end of the poem. A new start was made from the beginning on Thursday August 6. Thanks to the initiative of Sungheui from Korea, the new series of classes were filmed and recorded. Edited transcripts of these classes began to be published serially in the Bhavan’s journal of Study Notes on Savitri, ‘Invocation’, from issue 32 onwards, since it was felt that they may be of interest to many readers. In fact these articles found an enthusiastic response from students of Sri Aurobindo’s mantric epic, and one Savitri-lover from Gujarat, Shri Kirit Thakkar, undertook to translate them into Gujarati. They are now being published in book form in several volumes by Yukta Prakashan publishers of Vadodara. This suggested the idea of collecting the original English articles in book form too. This is the first such volume, covering all the five cantos of Book One of the poem, ‘The Book of Beginnings’.
The aim of this course, which is still ongoing, is to assist people who wish to improve their understanding of Sri Aurobindo’s revelatory epic, to enter more deeply into its atmosphere and, as a side-effect, to improve their knowledge of the English language. The Mother has mentioned:
For the opening of the psychic, for the growth of consciousness and even for the improvement of English, it is good to read one or two pages of Savitri each day.
Those who attend this course are encouraged to do homework: to read a little from Savitri every day, to revise what has been read and discovered in the class, such as the meanings of individual words and new phrases, and to aspire for the mantric power of Savitri to open the deep heart centre and widen the consciousness.