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Paramahansa Yogananda's "When I Take the Vow of Silence"

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 "When I Take the Vow of Silence"

The great guru's "tak[ing] the vow of silence" refers to his leaving his physical body, an act called mahasamadhi for spiritually advanced yogis. He describes the beauty that he will be experiencing, in order to both temper the sadness the devotees will feel at his physical absence and also to remind them of what will be in store for them when they also "take [their] vow of silence."

This great inspiring poem works its magic on devotees who have come many decades after the period of time specific to the composition of this work. It allows those future followers a glimpse of what their beloved guru is experiencing after following a lifetime of yogic meditation and prayer.

Excerpt from "When I Take the Vow of Silence"

When I take the vow of silence
To remain enlocked with my Beloved
In the arms of His everywhereness,
I shall be busy listening to His symphony
Of creation's bliss songs, and beholding hidden wondrous visions.
Yet I shall not be oblivious of you all . . .

(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.)

Reading of "When I Take the Vow of Silence"


The speaker is a highly advanced soul, a great yogic guru, who is helping his immediate devotees adjust to life without his physical presence, as his impending departure from his physical encasement is imminent.

First Movement: No Dying for the Self-Realized

The great yogi lets his devotees know that after he "dies," he will be with the Divine Belovèd, Whom all are seeking. The yogi will be hearing the beautiful sounds of the "symphony / [o]f creation's bliss songs." He will also be viewing magnificent "visions" at his new locus in the cosmos.

Yet at the same time, the great avatar will be able to remain aware of each devotee and that devotee's progress to his/her own self-realization. The liberated guru will have taken on the same omnipresent forces of the Divine Mother and Blessed Heavenly Father.

Second Movement: Omnipresence of the Liberated Body

The speaker then describes his new body as it will have merged in the Great Creator. From that exalted place, he will be able to see his followers as they stroll across the "fresh grass-blades," which now he will cognize as part of his own body. United with the Divine Creative Essence, the great yogi will be able to remain aware of his devotees as he watches them with "mothering tenderness."

That mothering love may be detected in every beautiful flower that blooms through the love that God and Guru afford their aspirants. Loving and following the guidance of the Blessèd Lord and the Divine Guide of the Guru will bring the devotees to the awareness of their spiritual presence, regardless of where each may temporarily reside, on the physical, astral, or causal plane.

Third Movement: Essence in All Beautiful Things

The speaker avers that his essence will remain in all beautiful things that the earth has to offer. The gentle breezes that refresh the devotee's body will be like a "caress" from the great guru, if the devotee is capable of perceiving it.

The great yogi lets his devotees know that in those gentle breezes he will be caressing them specifically to "relieve [their] worries and fears." With the warmth of the sun, the great liberated yogi will be able to "enwrap" each devotee who is experiencing "the chill of delusive loneliness."

Gazing at the ocean, the devotee will be gazing directly at the guru. After his mahasamadhi, that great spiritual leader will remain in unity with the Divine Creator. The "silver rays" of the sky above the ocean will sing with the presence of that great yogi-soul.

Fourth Movement: Remembering God is Remembering the Guru

The speaker then describes how he will communicate with his devotees: he will speak to them only "through [their] reason." He will no longer "scold" them but will correct them "through [their] conscience." He will "persuade only through [their] love" and through the fact they too possess a "heart's longing to seek the Beloved only."

The great yogi continues his catalogue of ways he will continue to communicate with his devotees: he will continue to "tempt" them to "enjoy the Beloved's love alone." The speaker then makes a startling yet wondrously apropos remark, telling them to forget him if they wish, but do not forget "my Beloved." And when they continue to remember, adore, and worship the Divine Beloved, they will not be able to forget the great guru, who led them to the Blessed Creator.

Paramahansa Yogananda

© 2018 Linda Sue Grimes

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