Paramahansa Yogananda's "The Splinters of Thy Love"
Introduction and Excerpt from "The Splinters of Thy Love"
Paramahansa Yogananda’s short 13-line poem, “The Splinters of Thy Love,” dramatizes Divine Love as “splinters” or small strips of wood lying “strewn in many a heart.” The speaker of the poem is thus asserting that these “little fragments” have descended from “above," that is, from the higher consciousness that is one with the Divine Reality.
Excerpt from "The Splinters of Thy Love"
The splinters of Thy love
Lie strewn in many a heart.
These little fragments of Thy love
Descended from far above,
I find spread here and there; and charmed, I start
To seize all and with care collect. . . .
(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 speaker of the poem asserts that these “little fragments” come from “above” or from the higher consciousness that is one with Divinity.
First Movement: Metaphorically Splintered
The speaker is addressing the Divine Reality of Love. He metaphorically avers that God's love has been splintered and those little strips of wood now lie throughout humanity in the hearts of each Divine-created child. The speaker is alluding to the fact that each child of the Divine Belovèd is basically and essentially a spark of the Divine. Each soul is nothing but a piece of God's divine essence.
The speaker employs the metaphor of wood being splintered into its smaller pieces. Such pieces are used to start fires more easily. Thus, the speaker wishes metaphorically to set ablaze those splinters of love that rest in the hearts of children of the Divine Belovèd.
Second Movement: Fragments from Above
The speaker then proclaims that those "little fragments" have come from "above." "Above" is traditional direction of the spirit that it is above the created things of the earth. The speaker reports that he has observed these little splinters of love in the hearts of those people he has encountered.
The speaker secretly is implying that those in whom he has observed those bits of love may likely not even be aware of their possession. Therefore, the speaker begins to "collect" those splinters together for he has been "charmed" to see those glimmers of love in each individual. He gently grasps each splinter, collecting them with "care."
Third Movement: The Panorama of God's Love
The speaker then asserts that he is sure that he has seen "Thy whole unbroken love" that seems to be spread hither and yon. Each spark of the Divine taken together by a seeing individual totals the entire panorama of God's love.
The speaker has gathered those splinters metaphorically together, and because he is able to see God's existence and love in each individual, he is capable of intuiting the Divine Reality Itself.
Fourth Movement: Strong Devotion
The speaker finally asserts that because of his strong devotion, he can meld into one "varied collection" all the pieces of love that exist in various forms such as "friendly" and "parental."
Because love exists in many ways as it spreads out over the field of humanity, when observed and understood through devotion and deep affection, that love may be realized as the love of God.
The speaker claims that he collects those splinters of love in order to "match it" to that of the Divine Reality. It is, of course, already existing as such, but the speaker's ability to intuit those collected splinter of bits and sparks of God allows him to metaphorically split and then recollect them for his drama.
Unique Rime Scheme
The poem has a unique rime scheme: ABAABCCDDEFFE. The rime scheme alone demonstrates a unique view of language, art, and consciousness. These poems of Paramahansa are not ordinary poems; they are informed and inspired by the superconscious state of mind, in which the great guru is ensconced.
The other-worldly nature of this poem, as well as the other poems it accompanies in Songs of the Soul, exemplify a writer who is more than an ordinary poet, whose extraordinary poems reveal the relationship of the soul to the Oversoul or Divine.
(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.")
Union of Divine and Individual
The poem insists that each individual human heart contains a part of the Divine. All the “splinters” of the Divine are spread over the globe in the hearts of each human being, whom God has created in His image, as the Christian faith professes.
The first two lines release the metaphor that likens God’s love to the tiny pieces of wood that “lie strewn” in hearts throughout the world. Then the next two lines reveal that these tiny pieces come from the Divine.
The Speaker Collects the Splinters
The speaker of the poem reveals that he gathers those “splinters” that he finds “spread here and there.” He is a guru to all those individuals whom he finds life after life, in order to lead them back to the Divine.
He is charmed by his devotees; he collects them “with care,” and he is reminded that he has seen the whole of God’s love collected into one being from the many tiny pieces of love he feels from the hearts of the many individual devotees.
The Guru Defines God
As a guru, one who leads those in darkness back into light, the speaker asserts that he has seen God’s “whole unbroken love that’s everywhere.” Therefore, he has the strong will and the intense devotion with which he can “weld [his] varied collection / Of tiny bits” of love.
And after he fuses all of those “splinters,” the speaker makes a complete tree, and his collection “matches” that of God. He has merely connected all of the hearts into one vast tree of love. That tree of love is God.
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.
Learn to Meditate - Part 4
© 2017 Linda Sue Grimes