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Sri Aurobindo

The Rishi

recited by the Mother
Tape recordings

Fragment from the Poem1



Hear then the Truth. Behind this visible world

The eyes see plain,

Another stands, and in its folds are curled

Our waking dreams.

Dream is more real, which, while here we wake,

Unreal seems.

From that our mortal life and thoughts we take.

Its fugitive gleams

Are here made firm and solid; there they float

In a magic haze,

Melody swelling note on absolute note,

A lyric maze,

Beauty on beauty heaped pell-mell to chain

The enchanted gaze,

Thought upon mighty thought with grandiose strain

Weaving the stars.

This is that world of dream from which our race

Came; by these bars

Of body now enchained, with laggard pace,

Borne down with cares,

A little of that rapture to express

We labour hard,

A little of that beauty, music, thought

With toil prepared;

And if a single strain is clearly caught,

Then our reward

Is great on earth, and in the world that floats

Lingering awhile

We hear the fullness and the jarring notes


Then travel forwards. So we slowly rise,

And every mile

Of our long journey mark with eager eyes;

So we progress

With gurge of revolution and recoil,

Slaughter and stress

Of anguish because without fruit we toil,

Without success;

Even as a ship upon the stormy flood

With fluttering sails

Labours towards the shore; the angry mood

Of Ocean swells,

Calms come and favouring winds, but yet afar

The harbour pales

In evening mists and Ocean threatens war:

Such is our life.

Of this be sure, the mighty game goes on,

The glorious strife,

Until the goal predestined has been won.

Not on the cliff

To be shattered has our ship set forth of old,

Nor in the surge

To founder. Therefore, King, be royal, bold,

And through the urge

Of winds, the reboant thunders and the close

Tempestuous gurge

Press on for ever laughing at the blows

Of wind and wave.

The haven must be reached; we rise from pyre,

We rise from grave,

We mould our future by our past desire,

We break, we save,

We find the music that we could not find,

The thought think out

We could not then perfect, and from the mind

That brilliant rout

Of wonders marshal into living forms.

End then thy doubt;

Grieve not for wounds, nor fear the violent storms,

For grief and pain

Are errors of the clouded soul; behind

They do not stain

The living spirit who to these is blind.

Torture, disdain,

Defeat and sorrow give him strength and joy:

’Twas for delight

He sought existence, and if pains alloy,

’Tis here in night

Which we call day. The Yogin knows, O King,

Who in his might

Travels beyond the mind’s imagining,

The worlds of dream.

For even they are shadows, even they

Are not,– they seem.

Behind them is a mighty blissful day

From which they stream.

The heavens of a million creeds are these:

Peopled they teem

By creatures full of joy and radiant ease.

There is the mint

From which we are the final issue, types

Which here we print

In dual letters. There no torture grips,

Joy cannot stint

Her streams,– beneath a more than mortal sun

Through golden air

The spirits of the deathless regions run.

But we must dare

To still the mind into a perfect sleep

And leave this lair

Of gross material flesh which we would keep

Always, before

The guardians of felicity will ope

The golden door.

That is our home and that the secret hope

Our hearts explore.

To bring those heavens down upon the earth

We all descend,

And fragments of it in the human birth

We can command.

Perfect millenniums are sometimes, until

In the sweet end

All secret heaven upon earth we spill,

Then rise above

Taking mankind with us to the abode

Of rapturous Love,

The bright epiphany whom we name God,

Towards whom we drove

In spite of weakness, evil, grief and pain.

He stands behind

The worlds of Sleep; He is and shall remain

When they grow blind

To individual joys; for even these

Are shadows, King,

And gloriously into that lustre cease

From which they spring.

We are but sparks of that most perfect fire,

Waves of that sea:

From Him we come, to Him we go, desire


And so long as He wills, our separate birth

Is and shall be.

Shrink not from life, O Aryan, but with mirth

And joy receive

His good and evil, sin and virtue, till

He bids thee leave.

But while thou livest, perfectly fulfil

Thy part, conceive

Earth as thy stage, thyself the actor strong,

The drama His.

Work, but the fruits to God alone belong,

Who only is.

Work, love and know,– so shall thy spirit win

Immortal bliss.

Love men, love God. Fear not to love, O King,

Fear not to enjoy;

For Death’s a passage, grief a fancied thing

Fools to annoy.

From self escape and find in love alone

A higher joy.


O Rishi, I have wide dominion,

The earth obeys

And heaven opens far beyond the sun

Her golden gaze.

But Him I seek, the still and perfect One,–

The Sun, not rays.


Seek Him upon the earth. For thee He set

In the huge press

Of many worlds to build a mighty state

For man’s success,

Who seeks his goal. Perfect thy human might,

Perfect the race.

For thou art He, O King. Only the night

Is on thy soul

By thy own will. Remove it and recover

The serene whole

Thou art indeed, then raise up man the lover

To God the goal.


1 Full Text of the poem see here.