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 "Thy Secret Throne"
This playful poem, "Thy Secret Throne," is displayed in twelve riming couplets: there are five couplets in the first stanza and seven couplets in the second stanza. The speaker is playfully accusing the Divine King Father of maintaining a secret hiding place from where he seems to taunt his children/subjects as he eludes them.
The speaker, however, than also asserts that this Divine Belovèd cannot remain hidden forever from all of his children. Those who desire the Divine Presence with a loving and searching and demanding heart will find that Belovèd "with deeper mind."
(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 "Thy Secret Throne"
Behind the screen
Of all things seen,
How dost Thou hide —
Elude the tide
Of marching human eyes,
That 'round Thee rushing hies? . . .
(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 "Thy Secret Throne," Paramahansa Yogananda’s speaker is showing the playfulness of the Lord, Who only seems to be hiding somewhere deep in His created cosmos.
First Stanza: Dramatizing the Hiding Place of God
The speaker in Paramahansa Yogananda’s "Thy Secret Throne" from Songs of the Soul dramatizes the hiding place of the Lord, who seems to be reigning as a silent king somewhere deep with His land of cosmic creation. But the Divine also resides in "all things seen." The Divine Essence secrets Itself "behind the screen" of every particle of creation. The speaker directly addresses the Belovèd, "How dost Thou hide." He remarks that the Lord is evasive as He escapes the sight of "marching human eyes."
Even as these individuals look for the Divine Presence, that Presence escapes them in their constant motion. The speaker then offers encouragement to all those who seek, assuring them that it will "not be long" until they are able to contact the Object of their desire. With "eyes and grace" bestowed upon them by the Creator Himself, they will be able to discover the "hiding place" of the Divine Belovèd.
Second Stanza: The Miracles of Science
The speaker then testifies to the miracles of scientific study that have led to the remarkable capabilities of splitting atoms: "Sage science splits / Each atom knit." But the speaker makes a rather startling statement when he mentions the overlooked purpose for splitting that tiny atom; instead of releasing the power of the atom for destructive purposes, the speaker reminds mankind that the original urge to learn through science is "to find apace / Thy hiding place."
All discovery, research, and learning have provided knowledge that has been employed by mankind for both good and ill, but the only true reason for any search for knowledge is to discover the Creator behind the creation. The speaker then cleverly poses the question: "Is heart of atom, electron, / Thy secret throne?" Before answering the question, which at first might appear merely rhetorical, the speaker adds that, in fact, the scientist delves deep into phenomena to "find Thine art and lore" of all creative things and events that are hidden from the naked eye and ear.
The speaker then offers a clue to finding the answer to his question: he confirms that the home of the Divine seems to remain "far, remote" from human grasp. He avers that God is not to be found in His created things. The scientist cannot find God in the depths of the atom or even within the electrons or other particles of the atom. Looking for God within His creation will always result in failure. Finding the hiding place of God will require that the seeker search with "deeper mind."
Kingdom of God Within
With the phrase "deeper mind," the speaker alerts the listener/reader to the fact that the "kingdom of God" is within each human being, and not an entity to be found outside of the human soul somewhere in the cosmos or in any of the island universes that orbit within that physical cosmos.
All true religions maintain that it is not the physical body nor the mind but only the soul of each human being that has the capacity to realize the Ultimate Reality or God. Jesus Christ averred this fact regarding this issue:
And when he was demanded of the Pharisees, when the kingdom of God should come, he answered them and said, The kingdom of God cometh not with observation: Neither shall they say, Lo here! or, lo there! for, behold, the kingdom of God is within you. (Luke 17:20-21 King James Version) (my emphasis added)
The speaker in Paramahansa Yogananda's "Thy Secret Throne" from Songs of the Soul, as always, makes startling statements that may seem fanciful at first, but just a little thought, or experience with the yoga techniques of this great guru, brings those claims alive with possibility: the goal of uniting with Absolute Truth becomes much more than a quaint notion.
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.
Self-Realization Fellowship Guided Meditation on Expanding Love
© 2019 Linda Sue Grimes