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Man-handling of Savitri by RY Deshpande

The book titled ‘Man-handling of Savitri’ by RY Deshpande and published by the Savitri Foundation is meant to discredit the restorative work that was undertaken on Sri Aurobindo’s poem Savitri  by the Ashram in its archives department and to promote their own version of the Savitri poem. These provocative actions are only designed to cause disturbance, discontent and division in the Ashram and the larger collective.

The Publisher’s note states:

“Apparently the issue of editing Savitri maybe of a minor nature, of interest only in its academic context. But in yogic context it assumes alchemical significances; it could be the thin line that divides evolutionary success and failure.”

In other words, R.Y. Deshpande, the founder and ‘brain’ of the Savitri Foundation, sees himself as the only person after Sri Aurobindo who is able to understand and draw that thin line that apparently exists in the choice of words and their various interpretations in the Savitri poem, based on which the Universe’s evolution will either fail or succeed!

A copy of the book’s cover and publisher’s note can be seen below:


Man-handling of Savitri-Cover

Publisher’s note:

 March 29, 2012
The composition of Savitri has a long history, starting from August 1916 till mid-November 1950. The epic began as a short narrative based on the Mahabharata tale and grew from about eight hundred to twenty-four thousand lines. In the process it developed into a symbolic transformative legend which is also the luminous medium for presenting experiences and realisations of the Yogi-Author, his prophetic vision.
While the first part of Savitri is essentially in Sri Aurobindo’s own hand, the other two appear mostly by dictation. There are now some eight thousand sheets of manuscripts and typescripts. During the period of composition these drafts went back and forth, to the typist, the press, and back to the Author who took every opportunity to expand or revise the earlier text. Understandably, the involved process through which the final version of Savitri came out in 1950-51 could entail variations in the readings. It is said that a “substantial number of discrepancies” or “serious errors” have crept into it.
As not unlikely, while preparing an edited version of such a work judgemental aspects would also enter in. It is claimed that the Revised Edition of Savitri which came out in 1993 is the outcome of a systematic comparison and study of the archival documents. Effectively now it carries the stamp of official approval. However, the claim made by this edition needs an independent verification. Unfortunately its approach is based on some dubious premises, making it suspect at places. In it there is no hesitation in speaking of “oversight” on part of the Author himself or in seeing his “final intentions”. The worse is, he at times making slips and forgetting his own spiritual philosophy or poetic art. Such ideas are not only tawdry; they lack the simplest yogic etiquettes.
The current work is just a brief attempt in indicating the flaws that have crept in the official publication of Savitri, the 1993 Revised Edition. A detailed presentation could be undertaken in the course of time, it running into several thousand pages of a book. But for a satisfactory account access to the Archival data bank is desirable.
In the context of editorial revisions of Savitri it is necessary that we take due care of the complexities. Perhaps the best procedure for editors of the Savitri-text could be to fix the first complete version as the basic reference. As far as the said “slips and oversights” are concerned extensive research notes and references could be provided; these might include several readings as we have in different drafts. Presentation of the data should be the foremost concern in any objective research and editing. By providing such “factual” details a new chapter of study can open out. If we go a step farther, the best thing will be to make the Archival documents a part of Open Resources. In fact these should be made in the digital version and put on the Internet.
Apparently the issue of editing Savitri maybe of a minor nature, of interest only in its academic context. But in yogic context it assumes alchemical significances; it could be the thin line that divides evolutionary success and failure. It must also be emphasised that the Word of Savitri in its pristine glory and power that can give expression to the Real-Idea in our life continues to be always valid. That is its true value and that will always remain faultless and free,—because behind it is the yogic force of its creator.




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