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Paramahansa Yogananda’s "After This"

Updated on February 19, 2018
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The poetry of Paramahansa Yogananda serves to enhance the activity of meditation, ultimately leading the individual soul to Divine Reality.

Paramahansa Yogananda

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Introduction and Excerpt from Poem, "After This"

The great yogi/speaker in Paramahansa Yogananda’s "After This" from Songs of the Soul, reveals a fascinating characteristics of an advanced soul that has become aware of its unity with Spirit. Such a soul has the marvelous ability to pass on the methods under which he was able to achieve such a feat.

The speaker intimates that such is the only desire that such an advanced, God-united individual possesses. He wishes only to be of service to all the those who are still blind and deaf to the qualities of self-realization.

The great guru makes its clear that no matter what form his might take as directed by the Divine Beloved, he will glad do so because he, in fact, is in control of his own actions. Such an exalted soul is never the victim of any other person or force.

The freedom of such a soul is exact and final. The great guru wants to instruct all of humanity to possess such soul freedom.

The speaker in the great guru's "After This" reveals that as an advanced yogi, he will always guide and guard his devotee, even after the saint has left his body. He speaks for the benefit of all of his devotees, who aspire to achieve his spiritual stature.

Excerpt from "After This"

After the prison-petals of earth-life fade,
And the soul-scent slips
Into the mighty cosmic wind of Spirit,
No more would I love a flower-cage life —
Unless to mingle the dewdrop tears of other prisoned souls with mine,
And show them the way that I my freedom won. . . .

(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.)

Commentary

The speaker of Paramahansa Yogananda’s "After This" reveals that an advanced yogi will always guide and guard his devotee, even after the saint has left his body. He speaks for the benefit of all of his devotees, who aspire to achieve his spiritual stature.

First Movement: Only to Help Others

In this poem,"After This," the great guru's speaker reminds his devotees that even after the guru's soul departs from its physical encasement, that great soul will still possess the one and only wish possessed by a self-realized being.

A self-realized soul does not wish to undergo further incarnations, "Unless to mingle the dewdrop tears of other prisoned soul with mine, / And show them the way that I my freedom won."

Such a God-united soul will always be glad to reappear in physical form so that he might pass on to those left behind instructions in the techniques that allowed the saint to achieve his final soul freedom.

Second Movement: Liberation is Power

The great spiritual leader then dramatizes the many activities that occur on the earth, stating that he "would not mind dwelling / In roses and daffodils, for a time, / If it is of my own free will."

Students of the Paramahansa Yogananda have learned that their souls reincarnate in an evolutionary upward progression from the mineral to the saint. As a human being, the soul has the opportunity to understand its condition and aid in it own evolution.

The great yogi, then, poetically avers that he would not mind having his soul live in the plant kingdom, if he had the ability to choose that existence. The soul who has gained self-realization, or union with Divinity, has that awe-inspiring ability.

The great guru then remarks that if he were forced to remain bound to physical bodies "forever," he would not fancy that. Not only would he not like to "stay behinds bars of beauty / Of violet sun-gold rays," he would not want to be forced "to live / Even in a golden heavenly cage."

The emphasis is on the ability to exercise completely his own free will. As a self-realized soul, this yogi is experiencing the ultimate freedom, which he would not trade for the best of earthly circumstances.

Third Movement: A Soul Retaining Bliss

Because the speaker possesses the ability to exert his own free will, he can willingly undergo any physical transformation without losing that ability.

This great advanced one can truthfully assert, "From flower to flower will I fly," and "I will wear the blackness of the night," and he will not mind being the most "famous man" or the least known man. This great soul can retain its own bliss, no matter what God instructs him to be or do.

Fourth Movement: Unaffected by Duality

As a free soul nurtured eternally by bliss, this great yogi will be content to be "the tiniest cosmic spark," "the clouds," "the babble of the brook," or "the voice of the nightingale." It simply matters not where his soul may be sent; he will retain his consciousness of ever-new bliss.

Fifth Movement: Loving with the Love of God

As the great yogi continues his drama, he metaphorically transforms his being into many entities. Thus, the great advanced soul offers a catalogue of individual activities through which he will become united with all of humanity: "Holding to the log of laughter / I will float to the shores of bliss." He will "sing through the voices of all," and he will "preach through all temples and prayers."

This great one will "love with the love of God" because "the hearts of all will be [the great yogi’s] heart." All souls will be his soul, and all smiles, his own smile. His capacity to engender his own stature in others will demonstrate the unity of God and God’s creation.

Life Sketch and Publications 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.

Publications of Paramahansa Yogananda

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.

The Poetry of Paramahansa Yogananda

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.

Other Publications

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.

Corrective Translations

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."

The Lessons

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.

Complete Works

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."

God! Christ! Gurus!

© 2017 Linda Sue Grimes

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