Paramahansa Yogananda's poems serve to deepen yoga meditation, offering devotees new ways of grasping the spiritual nature of all creation.
Introduction and Excerpt from "Thy Homecoming"
From Paramahansa Yogananda's Songs of the Soul, the Whitmanesque form of this poem will be immediately apparent to readers. It spills across the page in robust, long sentences that burst the bounds of the ordinary poetic line. And such a form befits magnificently the subject of this poem: the uniting of the individual soul with the Over-Soul, or Divine Reality.
The speaker's metaphoric locus could only be the Milky Way, far beyond the little Earth but still part of humankind's astronomical awareness. His brilliant descriptions bring much needed light to the imagination as it attempts to envision such a place in the galaxy.
Excerpt from "Thy Homecoming"
Thy mansion of the heavens is lit by perennial auroral displays of mystic lights.
Stellar systems arch across the trackless highways of eternity that lead to Thy secret home.
Comet-peacocks spread their plumes of rays and dance in wild delight in Thy garden of many moons.
The planetary dance glides in stately rhythm, awaiting Thy homecoming.
I sit on a little patch of the Mill Way and behold the glory of Thy kingdom spread round me — endlessly, everywhere . . .
(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 dramatizes a vision that the great guru/poet experienced, as he explains in the epigram that opens the poem.
First Movement: The Epigram
The purpose of epigrams is to set the stage for what is to come. While most literary works necessarily begin in medias res, there are occasions when the subject needs a bit of introduction. And the momentous occasion of this subject definitely falls into that category that requires a setting of stage.
The speaker explains that this poem will focus on a vision that he experienced while undergoing "an ecstatic state of God-realization." He envisioned himself "sitting on a little patch of the Milky Way, beholding the vast universe . . . ." God then becomes "manifest" to the speaker's consciousness, and during the celebration of this "Homecoming," the speaker becomes aware that all inanimate things were also celebrating "in the mansion of light."
Second Movement: A Mystical Vision
The speaker begins to describe what he has seen in his God-united vision. He employs the metaphor of the "mansion" as the sacred and embellished residence of the Divine Awareness. The "heavens" compose this mansion wherein their multi-colored lights that possess a mystic nature.
Instead of mere roads or lanes as the Earth dweller experiences, the star pathways are "trackless highways of eternity." These systems of stars conduct the speaker's destination to the Divine Belovèd's "secret home."
The speaker then colorfully metaphorizes the many rays of light that dances, and seem to look like "comet-peacocks." They spread their multi-colored feathers as they move about rhythmically in the "garden of many moons."
Third Movement: Anticipating an Arrival
These planetary entities of the stellar system continue to dance because they are anticipating the arrival of the Divine for His "homecoming," The rhythm mimics the act of rhythm achieved in Earthly dramas enacted by governmental bodies. Yet instead of the choppy effect waded through by state musical bands, these dances seem to simply glide along in smooth, adorning fashion.
The speaker now announces that he is situated "on a little patch of the Milky Way." And it is from this position that he can testify that the sight he sees is a glory magnificent. The Lord's "kingdom" opens out around the speaker, and it extends "endlessly, everywhere."
The speaker then likens the heavenly action to "fireworks." Stars shoot and seem to be hurled through the sky. The "devoted forces" that throw these masses of light are dazzling and provide the speaker with feelings that he is enjoying a massive festivity in the heavenly realm. The sky show delights and amazes the viewer of these wondrous light festivals. The star show remains magical as they are continually moving through the aid of "unseen bands."
Then the speaker utters an amazing description: "Meteorites skip, glow, swoon, and fall to earth — mad with Thy joy." Remembering that he had claimed that all inanimate things seemed to be celebrating the Lord's homecoming, the reader will find this fascinating image one of incredible importance, especially the claim that those meteorites are experiencing a madness filled with the joy of the Divine.
Fourth Movement: A Joy-Filled Prospect
The speaker then affirms that all people and all things including the very atoms themselves become joy-filled at the prospect of the arrival of the "uncrowned King of the Universes." While this "king" remains "uncrowned," his kingdom spreads out throughout infinity, throughout eternity because the speaker has averred that not only does one "universe" exit, but also there exist many "Universes" over which this King reigns.
The speaker's ability to continue reporting Earth events demonstrates the omnipresence he has contacted in his mystical vision. He thus can report that the very Earth "trees drop flowers" to honor the Divine. Also the sky becomes a massive incense burner as it sends to the Divine its "fire-mist incense."
The forces of heaven metaphorically transform into "candlesticks" that wield the stars to light up "Thy temple." The abundance of light will spark in the reader's memory the scientific fact that all creation is made of light, and that the only difference between substances is the rate of vibration of those bodies of light.
The speaker now broaches the subject of the seeming absence of the Divine Reality from His creation. He simply hid Himself ever so quietly and secretly inside the matter that He created. And His "subjects"—a nod the continued royalty metaphor—have long failed to detect him only because of their "ignorance." They have simply ignored Divinity, as they have become enmeshed in matter-bound creation.
Because of this ignorance, this failure to seek the Light, the Lord's mansion has become dark. Without knowledge of the presence of the Divine, God's children remain in darkness. Those children have allowed the mansion of the Divine Reality to remain without Him. They have ignored the spiritual for the physical, and thus darkness is the result.
Fifth Movement: Turning Out Darkness
However, the speaker now reports that that darkness is in the process of being turned out of the Lord's mansion. Radiant light is beginning to pour into the home that has hitherto contained rooms that had become "gloom-drenched." The report that the Lord is on His way to appear at His homecoming sparks the dissolution of the darkness and gloom that matter-only minds have allowed to dominate.
The lights of heaven are beginning to spark, as the gates of darkness begin to open. Huge, fiery "bonfires" filled with "nebulous mists" all are reporting the fabulous news of the arrival of the Divine. His home is being readied by the scouring off of aeons of matter-smeared mud from the chambers of the hearts and minds of his subjects who are, in fact, His children.
The welcome mat is being fastidiously arranged for this royal homecoming. The speaker reports that even the sun and moon stand like steady "sentinels" as they anticipate the arrival of the Divine.
Sixth Movement: Light That Remains Forever
Without the uncrowned King, life has been drab, dark, and dreary. The kingdom has remained "a lonesome wilderness of matter," as the darkness has seared off the inclusive heart-soothing brilliance that the metaphoric sunlight of Perfect Reality yields forth.
The speaker thus finds himself in a jovial mood: he runs wild as he dances on the physical plane. But he also is capable of finding himself "skimming over the Milky Way." His joy uplifts his soul and affords it the delicious ability to move throughout the Cosmic Expanse. And the speaker moves with this all-pervading joy, he urges all of creation—"everything, every atom, every speck of consciousness"—to open their minds and hearts to the Divine Light that is now arriving and pouring its beams over and into Creation.
Once that dull darkness has been overcome, and the bright light of the Divine has been allow to permeate the hearts and minds of His heretofore ignorant children, that darkness will be banished forever. The speaker avers that this arrival—this extraordinary "homecoming"—comes with the majestic power of "driving darkness forevermore from Thy cosmic kingdom."
Paramahansa Yogananda’s 125th Birthday
© 2018 Linda Sue Grimes