Paramahansa Yogananda's "Leave Thy Vow of Silence" - Owlcation - Education
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Paramahansa Yogananda's "Leave Thy Vow of Silence"

Paramahansa Yogananda's poems serve to deepen yoga meditation, offering devotees new ways of grasping the spiritual nature of all things.

Paramahansa Yogananda

Introduction and Text of "Leave Thy Vow of Silence"

The poem, "Leave Thy Vow of Silence," from Songs of the Soul by the great guru, Paramahansa Yogananda, consists of two verse paragraphs (versagraphs). Each versagraph reveals a speaker who strongly prays that the Divine Creator reveal His presence in the speaker's life. The speaker compares natural phenomena to the nature of its Creator. This devotee perceives that creation simply reflects the characteristics of its Maker, a logical proposition bathed in informed faith.

Excerpt from "Leave Thy Vow of Silence"

Blossoms come and seasons change
They all speak of Thee.
The moon slightly shows Thy smile;
The sun holds Thy lamp of life.
In the arteries of leaves
I see Thy blood flowing. . . .

(Please note: The poem in its entirety may be found in Paramahansa Yogananda's Songs of the Soul, published by Self-Realization Fellowship, Los Angeles, CA, 1983 and 2014 printings.)


In Paramahansa Yogananda’s "Leave Thy Vow of Silence," the ardent speaker lovingly but somewhat forlornly supplicates to his Creator to remove the veil of separation between Himself and the devotee.

First Versagraph: The Creator in Creation

The first verse paragraph describes the nature of the beloved Lord, Whom the speaker so urgently seeks. In the first two lines, the speaker likens the Lord to nature: "Blossoms come and seasons change; / They all speak of Thee."

Then the speaker demonstrates how, along with the flowers of spring, other natural features reflect the Lord: the moon reflects His smile, the sun affords life to earthly creatures as the Lord’s "lamp of life."

The speaker continues his metaphor of nature to God comparison, as he asserts, "In the arteries of leaves / I see Thy blood flowing." This speaker can detect aspects of the Divine Creator in all things that he perceives with the senses. The last four lines of the first versagraph are dramatizing the personal urgency that the speaker feels. He says, "In every thought of mine / Thy heart is beating loud."

This speaker-devotee is so in love with the Divine Reality that he has become aware that this Blessed Being exists in his every thought. And at this point, the speaker demands that the Lord appear to him: "Throw off Thy shroud of nature— / Wake from Thy sleep, O Lord." This speaker is no longer satisfied in experiencing the Lord indirectly through nature or even through his own thoughts.

Knowing the Blessed Creator vicariously through His creation is no longer tolerable, so the speaker gives the Blessed Reality an order to appear before him. The speaker wants his Creator to sleep no longer in His phenomena but to shed the veil that separates the devotee from his Maker.

Second Versagraph: The Desire for Unity

In the second versagraph, the speaker laments his craving, telling the Lord that he has cried a sea of tears, waiting for the Lord to appear: "I have been swimming for Thee / In the sea of my tears." And in the final four lines, the speaker inquires demurely of the Divine Belovèd, "When wilt Thou talk to me, / Leaving Thy vow of Silence?" But then immediately again, the speaker hurls another command: "Wake! Wake! From Thy sleep— / Speak to me now, O Lord."

The intensity of the speaker’s love for and attention to the Ultimate Reality is extremely high. He sees the Lord in all of nature from the sun to the threads of leaves; he realizes that his every thought is impregnated with the essence of God.

The speaker talks to his Creator directly, not only questioning Him, not only praising Him, but actually demanding of Him what is his birthright, that Loving Father God forsake His vow of silence and speak directly to His devotee. This devotee's behavior surely represents the kind in which Divinity finds favor—one who not only follows His rules, but one who demands His love and has the courage to demand it directly to the Lord, Himself.

Autobiography of a Yogi

Autobiography of a Yogi

Life Sketch of Paramahansa Yogananda

The great guru/poet Paramahansa Yogananda was born on January 5, 1893, in Gorakhpur, India. His name at birth was Mukunda Lal Ghosh. Always a spiritually advanced child, at age 17, he met his guru, Swami Sri Yukteswar, under whose guidance he flourished and became the spiritual giant and sacred engine that leads souls back to their eternal abode in the arms of the Divine Creator.

Paramahansa Yogananda came to the United States in 1920 to speak in Boston at the International Congress of Religious Liberals. His speech was so well received that he quickly gathered a following. By 1925, his organization, Self-Realization Fellowship (SRF), was well established with the purpose of disseminating and maintaining the purity of his teachings of yoga. He has come to be known as the “Father of Yoga in the West.”

The following is an excerpt from the introduction to Paramahansa Yogananda’s biography on the Self-Realization Fellowship Web site:

In the hundred years since the birth of Paramahansa Yogananda, this beloved world teacher has come to be recognized as one of the greatest emissaries to the West of India’s ancient wisdom. His life and teachings continue to be a source of light and inspiration to people of all races, cultures and creeds.


Paramahansa Yogananda's in-depth work, Autobiography of a Yogi, has become a spiritual classic worldwide. Many devotees have been drawn to the teachings of this yogi through that autobiography, and many of their stories about how they came to find that work include some of the most inspiring "miracles" of modern American culture.

Such world-renowned figures as Dennis Weaver, Steve Jobs, George Harrison, and Elvis Presley were influenced by the Autobiography of a Yogi and the teachings of the great guru. Weaver even became a lay minister and spoke often at many of the SRF temples in California.

In addition to the autobiography, the great guru has published many collections of his talks, in both written and oral forms. His audio collector's series of ten of his informal talks includes the following titles:

1. Beholding the One in All
2. Awake in the Cosmic Dream
3. Be a Smile Millionaire
4. The Great Light of God
5. To Make Heaven on Earth
6. One Life Versus Reincarnation
7. Removing All Sorrow and Suffering
8. In the Glory of the Spirit
9. Follow the Path of Christ, Krishna, and the Masters
10. Self-Realization: The Inner and the Outer Path

These inspirational talks reveal much information about the great guru that appeals to his devoted followers. Just listening to a God-realized voice offers an uplifting spiritual experience.

The Poetry

For my commentaries on the poems of the great guru, I rely on his marvelous collection titled, Songs of the Soul, the version published in 1983 with its most current printing 2014. Two additional collections of his poems are extant, Whispers From Eternity and Metaphysical Meditations.

Because the "poems" of this great guru function on levels that ordinary poems do not, they are often used in devotional services held by groups of devotees of the SRF teachings throughout the world in the Readings Services as well as their Special Commemorative Services.

Paramahansa Yogananda's poems are more akin to prayers than to the poetry of ordinary poets, whose subject matter often dramatizes only human emotion in its relationship with creation and other human beings, instead of with the Creator; the great guru's poems always invoke the Creator's presence whether directly or indirectly.

Other Publications

The great guru's organization, SRF, also continues to publish collections of his works. Many of his talks have appeared in the series of essays that include Man's Eternal Quest, The Divine Romance, and Journey to Self-realization.

Corrective Translations

The guru has also bestowed on the literary world three important translations of extant perennial works that have been grossly misunderstood in some cases for centuries. His new translations along with his explanatory commentaries are correcting that misunderstanding.

In Wine of the Mystic: The Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam — A Spiritual Interpretation, he shows how that poet's God-realized effusions put on display a man in love with his Creator and not the wine sopped Epicurean that has been misapplied to the work.

In the guru's in-depth translation and commentaries on the ancient Bhagavad Gita, titled God Talks With Arjuna: The Bhagavad Gita — A New Translation and Commentary, the great spiritual leader offers not only the poetic translation of the work but also the relevance for humankind of the psychological and spiritual instruction offered in the ancient poem.

Most importantly for Western culture, Paramahansa Yogananda has offered a full explanation of the phenomenon known as the "Second Coming." Titled The Second Coming of Christ: The Resurrection of the Christ Within You — A revelatory commentary on the original teachings of Jesus, the work explains the true meaning of many of Jesus' words long misunderstood and mischaracterized, such as "The Kingdom of God is within you" and "I and my Father are one."

The Lessons

Of all the publications offered by SRF and the great guru, it is the Lessons that remain most vital. One could dispense with all of the other books, audio tapes, poetry, and other commentaries if one possesses those lessons.

The Lessons begin by offering physical exercises that prepare the physical encasement to sit quietly and still while performing the more advanced exercises that lead to Kriya Yoga practice.

The Lessons contains six steps that can be completed in three years, but each student is free to progress at his/her own pace. The Lessons include instruction in the following techniques: 1. Energization Exercises. 2. Hong-Sau Technique of Concentration, and 3. Aum Technique of Meditation.

After completing the first two steps, the devotee may apply for the Kriya Yoga technique.

Kriya Yoga Initiations

The Kriya Yoga technique features four initiations for a total of twenty lessons. The First Initiation, featuring lessons K1-9, includes the technique of Kriya proper, on which all of the other initiations are based. The Second Initiation contains four lessons, K10-14, and the Third and Fourth include the remaining lessons K15-20.

All of the Lessons, including the Kriya Yoga Initiations, include many explanations based of science, as well as on the life experience of Paramahansa Yogananda. These marvelous works are presented in such way to hold the student-devotees' interest with little stories, poems, affirmations, and prayers that enhance the purpose of each lesson.

Complete Works

In addition to all of the works mentioned above, Paramahansa Yogananda has published many others, including his Cosmic Chants, which offers musical notations as well as the lyric for each chant.

An annotated list of the works of the great guru is offered on the Self-Realization Fellowship Web site under the title, "The Complete Works of Paramahansa Yogananda."

Songs of the Soul - Book Cover

Songs of the Soul - Book Cover

Brief Publishing History of Songs of the Soul

The first published version of Paramahansa Yogananda's Songs of the Soul appeared in 1923. During the 1920s and 1930s, the great spiritual leader revised many of the poems. The final revisions of the poems authorized by the great guru appear in the 1983 printing of the text, which along with the revisions restored many lines that had been omitted from the original version.

I use the 1983 printing for my commentaries. The current printing year is 2014. No further revisions or additions have been made since the 1983 printing. The 1923 versions of the many of the poems may be read at Full Text of Songs of the Soul.

© 2017 Linda Sue Grimes

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