Paramahansa Yogananda's "'Tis All Unknown"
Introduction and Excerpt from"'Tis All Unknown"
Paramahansa Yogananda’s "‘Tis All Unknown" from Songs of the Soul consists of three stanzas, each with a varying rime scheme. The theme dramatizes the mysterious beauty of the unfolding of human consciousness to Divine reality, using the metaphors of dawn and the rosebud.
The speaker in this marvelously high spiritual poem likens the day's dawning to the opening of rosebud petals that then gently hint at the miraculous beauty of truth in the unfolding of human consciousness upon attaining self-realization, that is, union with the Divine Reality.
(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 Third Stanza of "'Tis All Unknown"
. . . The rosebud opened,
The day now smiled
In fullness fine.
Still I opine
'Tis all unknown
Just why the rose was blown . . .
(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 in Yogananda’s "'Tis All Unknown" likens the dawning of day to the unfolding of rosebud petals, hinting at the beauty of the opening of human consciousness.
First Stanza: Opening of Day
The first stanza consists of nine lines with the rime-scheme, AAABCCDDE. The speaker avers that each day opens like a rosebud; the rays of the sun each hour grow stronger as the petals of rose open to reveal the full blossom.
The beauty that had been hidden by night or the absence of sunlight now comes in view, just as the rosebud had hidden the beauty of the opened rose. The "unfolding smile" of the opening rosebud heartens the speaker, whose mood had been a "drooping, lagging heart."
The petals of sunlight "spread[ ]" and new hope is engendered in the speaker. "Joys" are brought forth in the mysterious beauty of the opening day. And finally, the speaker exclaims, "Today" has arrived.
Second Stanza: Rosebud Opening with the Day
The second stanza consists of seven lines with the rime-scheme, ABBCDDD. The speaker then spies a literal rosebud in the light of the sun and remarks that as the day moves on the rosebud will open even if the day seems "lazy" and "gloom[y]."
The speaker admonishes the lethargic day by commanding it to, "Forsake thy sleep / "O lazy day!" He commands that lazy day to be open unto the many possibilities that have been afforded it, merely by the fact that it exists.
The speaker then commands the day to open up as completely as the rosebud would have already done. He commands it to open, "To chase my gathered gloom away!"
Of course, the speaker is also likening his own consciousness to that of the opening rose and the dawning day. He is figuratively commanding his own consciousness to open fully to the Divinely driven abilities it possesses.
Third Stanza: Rosebud and Day Open Fully
The final stanza consists of ten lines with the rime-scheme, ABCCDDEEFF. The speaker then reports that the day has fully opened as the rosebud has. The "day now smiled / In fullness fine." But then the speaker offers a wise observation.
Even though the rosebud and the day both open and spread their beauty regularly, their purpose remains mysterious to the human observer. The speaker declares, "‘Tis All Unknown / Just why the rose was blown; / And day was drowned in night."
Why day follows night with "glorious dawn / So swiftly marching o’er the lawn!" is a phenomenon of nature that will remain a mystery until the human observer is able to open his consciousness as the rosebud opens and the daylight dawns banishing the darkness of night.
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."
Brief Publishing History of Songs of the Soul
The first published version of Paramahansa Yogananda's 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. Songs of the Soul
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.
Opening to God's Love in Meditation - Part 2
© 2017 Linda Sue Grimes