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Paramahansa Yogananda's "Om"

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

Paramahansa Yogananda

Introduction and Excerpt from "Om"

Paramahansa Yogananda has explained in detail how the human consciousness can regain its divine stature as a soul-aware child of the Divine Creator. He has explained that the spine is the locus in the human body in which the meditating devotee makes progress by moving the consciousness from the base of the spine (coccyx) to the spiritual eye, located between the eyebrows.

The great guru has analyzed, elucidated, explained, and demonstrated this journey up the spine in many of his writings, including the SRF Lessons. In this poem, he has in a colorful drama, declaimed on that metaphorical, metaphysical journey.

Excerpt of "Om"

Whence, oh, this soundless roar doth come,
When drowseth matter's dreary drum?
The booming Om* on bliss' shore breaks;
All heaven, all earth, all body shakes.

(Publisher's note: *An alternate transliteration of Aum, the threefold energy of creation, preservation, and destruction. Cosmic Intelligent Vibration.)

(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.)


This poem features a marvelously colorful drama declaiming on the soul's journey up the spine from its earthly situation to its heavenly destination.

First Movement: A Poetic, Rhetorical Question

A poetic, rhetorical question begins this dramatization of the experience of listening to the "Om sound." The speaker uses this question technique merely to emphasize the etheric nature of that sacred sound, that the sound is not of the earth but of the heavens.

The speaker includes in the question the time during which the Om sound occurs—after the earthly sounds have been quieted. He colorfully describes that event as the "dreary drum" of matter drowsing. It is during this time of cessation of movement on the material level that the spirit becomes ascendent in human awareness.

Again, colorfully, the speaker likens the Om sound to the oceanic waves that break upon the shore, but these shores are shores of "bliss." Then he proclaims that as the human awareness takes in that blissful sound everything, all creation, takes on an equally blissful patina, dramatically shaking in spiritual delight.

Second Movement: Leaving the Physical for the Astral

As one remains in deep contact with the Om sound, identification with the physical body is removed. The vibrating waves that uphold creation become still and silent as the heart become quiet and the lungs cease to function.

Listening to the Om sound as it quiets the internal organs in the human body instills a vibrant health to the body. Much needed rest is given the heart and lungs, as the soul become dominant because it has become aware that it is united with the Divine Vibration.

Third Movement: Quieting the Physical

Metaphorically likening the body to a house, the speaker describes that house as being soothed, as in the state of falling asleep in a soft, dark, comfortable room. However, the light of the spiritual eye can be observed in the forehead, and dreams that are created from subconscious memories are stilled.

As all this occurs, it is then that the Om sound appears or come treading into the awareness of the meditating yogi. In the stillness and quietness of all physical body functioning, the Om sound can make itself known.

Fourth Movement: Beginning the Journey Up the Spine: Coccyx, Sacral

The fourth movement begins by naming the sounds of Om as heard in the spine, beginning at the coccyx region. The speaker calls this Om, "Baby Om," and he reveals that as Baby Om, that sacred sound resembles the sound of a "bumblebee." This chakra is elementally the earth center.

The speaker then moves up the spine to the sacral region, whose Baby Om sound becomes the sound of the flute, "Krishna's flute." And the element involved with the sacred chakra is water; thus the speaker colorfully says that is where one meets the "watery God."

Fifth Movement: Continuing to Ascend: Lumbar and Dorsal

Continuing up the spinal set of chakras, the speaker now lands in the lumbar area, whose sound resembles a "harp," and whose element is "fire." Thus the speaker in this spinal region, experiences God singing as fire.

Next, the speaker ascends to the dorsal chakra, whose element is air, and whose sound resembles a bell. The speaker dramatically likens that prana or energy to the "soul resounding" as that "wondrous bell."

Sixth Movement: Moving On Up: Cervical and Medulla-Spiritual Eye

Continuing the "upward climb," the speaker now reveals that the human body can be metaphorically likened to an upturned tree. The speaker is climbing the "living tree." He now experiences the cervical chakra, whose sound is like rumblings of the restless ocean and whose element is ether.

Finally, the speaker ascends to the medullary and spiritual eye centers which combine by polarity to express the "Christ center." He colorfully expresses experiencing that center as joining the "Christmas Symphony." At this point, the Baby Om has matured to full adulthood. All of the sounds from the buzz, flute, harp, ocean roar combine to produce the full-fledged Om sound.

Seventh Movement: Celebrating the Omnipresent Sound

The final movement of the poem finds the speaker celebrating the marvelous, sacred nature of the amazing sound of the Om. He calls it a "soundless roar" because we must remember that these sounds are not physical, earthbound, sense detected sounds. They are, in fact, the "music of the spheres."

These sounds, particularly as they combine to result in the blessed Om, bring about "light" over "dark." And from the "mist of nature's tears," the Om announces that all creation is upheld by this divine sound. Like the Divine Creator Himself, this sacred Om continues to be "resounding everywhere" to the soul who has united its awareness with that sacred sound.

Autobiography of a Yogi - A Spiritual Classic

© 2018 Linda Sue Grimes

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