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Paramahansa Yogananda's "At the Fountain of Song"
Introduction and Excerpt from Poem, "At the Fountain of Song"
Spoken by a yogi/devotee who practices the techniques of Kriya yoga that lead the practitioner to God-realization, or self-realization, this poem focuses on the awakening of the spinal centers that exude sound, as well as light, to the meditating devotee.
Paramahansa Yogananda’s "At the Fountain of Song" from Songs of the Soul displays in eight stanzas of varying lengths. The rime schemes enhance the meaning of each stanza’s drama.
The poem metaphorically compares the practice of yoga to searching in the earth for a wellspring. However, instead of water, this special wellspring exudes music. The word,"song," in this poem is a metaphor for the Cosmic Aum sound, heard in deep meditation.
Excerpt from "At the Fountain of Song"
Dig, dig, yet deeper dig
The stony earth for fount of song;
Dig, dig, yet deeper dig,
The soil of muses's heart along. . . .
(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 devotee in Paramahansa Yogananda’s "At the Fountain of Song" dramatizes his search for self-realization.
First Stanza: Command to Meditate Deeper
In the first quatrain-stanza, the devotee commands himself to meditate deeper and deeper in "[t]he stony earth," with earth referring to the coccygeal chakra in the spine. Again, the speaker/devotee commands himself to continue his yoga practice, so he will move along the path quickly to liberation.
The speaker is creating a metaphor of his body as the earth, into which earth-dwellers must "dig" to procure the life giving substance of water. The spiritual seeker is digging into his soul as he meditates to find the spiritual life-giving substance of spirit.
Second Stanza: A Glimpse of the Sought After Substance
In the second stanza, also a quatrain, the devotee receives just a glimpse of the fountain; it is only a bubble that bursts quickly and then is gone. As the seeker after water would likely get glimpse of the substance as he digs, the yoga seeker may also detect a "sparkle" now and then.
Beginning yoga practitioners experience exhilaration with their routine but find it difficult to hold that experience, and then they must make a decision to continue or to give up. The work to find water must continue until a gush is found, just as the yogic seeker must continue to seek until he has experienced the union his soul seeks.
Third Stanza: Continuing Awareness
If the devotee continues to "dig," he will begin to experience awareness of the next chakra—the water, or sacral, chakra. In this quatrain, the speaker/devotee again commands himself to dig deeper to make the bubble return.
The devotee has again received just a glimpse, and he encourages himself to continue practicing so that the "bubble-song again [will] grow." As the seeker continues his meditation practice, he finds is consciousness moving up the spine, chakra by chakra.
Fourth Stanza: Seeing and Hearing
The devotee exclaims that he now hears the sound of the water chakra; he metaphorically "see[s] its bubble-body bright." But he cannot touch it, meaning he cannot completely grasp control of the feeling of bliss to which he has ventured very close.
Now he commands his own soul to "Bleed, O my soul, do amply bleed / To dig yet deeper—dig!" The speaker/devotee is spurring himself on to deeper meditation, so he can unite his soul fully with Spirit.
Fifth Stanza: Consuming Peace and Beauty
Hearing again the "mystic song," the devotee becomes consumed with the peace and beauty of the feeling it offers. The "violin tones" continue in unending satisfaction to the devotee. The many songs make the listener feel that they will soon be exhausted, but they are not; they continue without pause.
The speaker grows ever more determined to continue his journey up the spine. Thus he continues to command himself to dig ever deeper in the spiritual realm until he can bring for that fountain in its entirety.
Sixth Stanza: Satisfying the Spiritual Thirst
The devotee dramatizes his experience by metaphorically comparing it to drinking a satisfying beverage: "I drink its bubble voice." As the devotee imbibes, his throat becomes greedy for more and more of the soothing elixir. He wishes "to drink and drink always."
The speaker knows that this is the kind of beverage that he can drink endlessly with physical satiation. Only the soul can expand without boundary. Thus he can command himself to drink without ceasing.
Seventh Stanza: Moving Up to the Fire
After experiencing the "water" chakra through the "mystic song," the devotee’s consciousness moves up the spine again to the "fire," lumbar, chakra: "The sphere’s aflame," because "[w]ith flaming thirst [he] came."
The devotee then spurs himself on again to "yet deeper dig." Even though he feels that he can practice no longer, he is determined to continue. The growing awareness inflames the devotee's desire to know more, to experience more of the deep beauty and peace of the spiritual body.
Eighth Stanza: The Object of Digging
The devotee continues to dig deeper in his meditation, even though he surmised that he had experienced all the bliss he could find. But then the speaker/devotee pleasantly experiences the "undrunk, untouched" fountain.
Through the speaker/devotee's faithful and determined effort and practice, the object of all of his "digging" has come into view. The overflowing fountain of song inundates the devotee with its refreshing waters. He has successfully unearthed his goal and is free to bask in the bliss of its waters.
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.
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.
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."
© 2016 Linda Sue Grimes