Photographer: Suhas Mehra. Please do not reproduce any of the photographs without explicit permission.
The more I look through some of the photographs shot at or around Chandragiri Hill in Shravanabelagola, Karnataka, the more alive they seem to become. There is something deeply real, living, a mysteriously hidden spirit in these rocks and stones. An image of a climb, an upward movement, from matter to spirit, seems to be the story being expressed through these pictures.
Nowhere else do we find this story of ascent, of the involution and the evolution, told better than in Sri Aurobindo’s Savitri. With some help from Beloo I have selected a few verses from the epic poem which breathe life, meaning and soul into these photographs.
A long dim preparation is man’s life,
A circle of toil and hope and war and peace
Tracked out by Life on Matter’s obscure ground. (Book I, Canto III, p. 24)
In his climb to a peak no feet have ever trod,
He seeks through a penumbra shot with ﬂame
A veiled reality half-known, ever missed,
A search for something or someone never found,
Cult of an ideal never made real here,
An endless spiral of ascent and fall
Until at last is reached the giant point
Through which his Glory shines for whom we were made
And we break into the inﬁnity of God. (p. 24)
Out of the rich wonders and the intricate whorls
Of the spirit’s dance with Matter as its mask
The balance of the world’s design grew clear,
Its symmetry of self-arranged effects
Managed in the deep perspectives of the soul,
And the realism of its illusive art,
Its logic of inﬁnite intelligence,
Its magic of a changing eternity. (p. 40)
The world was a conception and a birth
Of Spirit in Matter into living forms,
And Nature bore the Immortal in her womb,
That she might climb through him to eternal life. (p. 43)
In Matter shall be lit the spirit’s glow,
In body and body kindled the sacred birth;
Night shall awake to the anthem of the stars,
The days become a happy pilgrim march,
Our will a force of the Eternal’s power,
And thought the rays of a spiritual sun.
A few shall see what none yet understands;
God shall grow up while the wise men talk and sleep;
For man shall not know the coming till its hour
And belief shall be not till the work is done. (Book I, Canto IV, p. 55)
This is our deepest need to join once more
What now is parted, opposite and twain,
Remote in sovereign spheres that never meet
Or fronting like far poles of Night and Day. (p. 56)
We must ﬁll the immense lacuna we have made,
Re-wed the closed ﬁnite’s lonely consonant
With the open vowels of Inﬁnity,
A hyphen must connect Matter and Mind,
The narrow isthmus of the ascending soul:
We must renew the secret bond in things,
Our hearts recall the lost divine Idea,
Reconstitute the perfect word, unite
The Alpha and the Omega in one sound;
Then shall the Spirit and Nature be at one. (pp. 56-57)
Two are the ends of the mysterious plan. (p. 57)
Two seem his goals, yet ever are they one
And gaze at each other over bourneless Time;
Spirit and Matter are their end and source.
A seeker of hidden meanings in life’s forms,
Of the great Mother’s wide uncharted will
And the rude enigma of her terrestrial ways
He is the explorer and the mariner
On a secret inner ocean without bourne:
He is the adventurer and cosmologist
Of a magic earth’s obscure geography. (p. 69)
To see a few more of the pictures from Chandragiri Hill, please visit Beloo Mehra on her other blog, where she weaves them into her meditative musings on Forgetting and Remembering.
Want more of Karnataka? How about this photo-feature on Panchkuta Basadi, Kambadahalli?
To view some more photo-features on this blog, click HERE.