Paramahansa Yogananda's poems serve to deepen yoga meditation, offering devotees new ways of grasping the spiritual nature of all things.
Introduction and Excerpt from "One That’s Everywhere"
The great spiritual leader, Paramahansa Yogananda, composed many amazing, divinity-inspired poems that inspire and uplift all who are blessed to hear them. One need not be a follower of the great guru's teachings to understand, appreciate, and benefit from these beautiful, spiritually blessed compositions. The great guru's classics, Metaphysical Meditations and Whispers from Eternity, are filled with pieces that guide and inspire as they accompany the devotee on the path to self-realization through the meditation techniques created and offered by the great guru.
Especially helpful because of its literary value is the great guru's volume of poem titled Songs of the Soul, in which this poem, “One That’s Everywhere” appears. This poem features two variously rimed stanzas. The speaker celebrates all natural creatures, including language-blessed humankind. The great guru's poem reveals that Divine Omnipresence strives to reveal Itself through all creatures, even the so-called inanimate.
All of nature asserts itself from a divine origin. However, because the other creatures remain without language and a definite manner for clear communication, they do not reach the level of capabilities that the human being does. The complex brain of each human individual that retains the ability to create such a complex and clear system of communication bespeaks the special creation that the human being has undergone through evolution.
(Please note: The spelling, "rhyme," was introduced into English by Dr. Samuel Johnson through an etymological error. For my explanation for using only the original form, please see "Rime vs Rhyme: An Unfortunate Error.")
Excerpt from "One That's Everywhere"
The wind plays,
The tree sighs,
The sun smiles,
The river moves.
Feigning dread, the sky is blushing red
At the sun-god's gentle tread. . . .
(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.)
The speaker in Paramahansa Yogananda's poem, "One That’s Everywhere," reveals that Divine Omnipresence strives to reveal Itself through all creatures, even the inanimate.
First Stanza: Varied Creations of Nature
In the first stanza, the speaker begins with deliberation by cataloguing a short list of nature’s entities all coupled with their own special activity: wind playing, tree sighing, sun smiling, and river moving. These varied creations of nature offer the human individual a vast field for thought and wondrous amazement about the natural environment. This speaker interprets the activities in playful and colorful ways. For example, instead of observing mundanely that the wind blows, his cheerful, creative mind interprets, "the wind plays." Similarly, instead of merely averring that the sun shines, he offers the unique perspective that "the sun smiles." The association of "sun" and "smiles" is now quite a widespread phenomenon.
To remark about the largest natural feature of mankind’s field of vision, the speaker offers an expansive line: "Feigning dread, the sky is blushing red / At the sun-god’s gentle tread." The beauty of the sky becomes intense and palpable through this marvelous interpretation of events. The triple rime, dread-red-thread, multiplies the phenomenal effect of sun’s rays as they paint the sky. The speaker then dramatizes the daily occurrence of planet Earth transforming from dark to light: "Earth changes robes / Of black and starlit night / For dazzling golden light."
Second Stanza: Expressing Individuality
Referring to Mother Nature as "Dame Nature," the speaker reports that this metaphoric lady of nature enjoys decking herself out in fabulous colors that humanity observes as the "changing seasons." The speaker then proclaims that "the murmuring brook" attempts to convey "hidden thought" that an unseen, inner spirit brings to the flowing water. This deeply-inspired, observant speaker then reveals, "The birds aspire to sing / Of things unknown that swell within."
These linguistically mute creatures of nature all are motivated by the unseen, unheard, omnipresent Divinity, about which they strive to articulate in their own unique manner. But it is humankind, who "first speaks in language true." While the other natural creatures, also made in the image of the Divine, strive to express their own individuality as they sing of their inner spirit, only the human creature has been blessed with the ability to create and employ a fully formed system of communication.
Only the human being is capable of expressing the Divine in a conscious way. Human individuals are able to speak loudly and clearly and "with meaning new." All natural creatures, however, are inspired by the divine, but their expression of the great spirit remains only partial. It is a great blessing, therefore, to reach the status of being born in human form, for in that blessed state the human being is allowed to "fully declare / Of One that’s everywhere."
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.
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.
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.
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."
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.
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."
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
© 2019 Linda Sue Grimes