As I write these words it’s March 7, the 65th anniversary of Paramhansa Yogananda’s mahasamadhi (conscious exit from the body). He left this earth in a dramatic fashion. At a banquet in Los Angeles in honor of the visiting Indian ambassador, after a short and very sweet talk, the great master recited his poem, “My India.” As he read the final lines, his body slipped to the floor, and his soul departed for higher realms. He had predicted the time of his passing and had said that he wanted to die “with his boots on” serving, as he always had, as a teacher and model to all receptive seekers. [Listen to Swami Kriyananda tell the story of Yogananda’s passing.]
A great master’s acts are never without intention, especially such a significant one. Let us look at “My India,” not as just a lovely poem, but as his final words of advice to us. The last touching sentences are:
Hail, Thou mother of religions, lotus, scenic beauties, and great sages!
Thy doors are open wide to welcome
God’s true sons from every corner of the earth,
Where Ganges, woods, Himalayan caves, and men dream God.
I am hallowed; my body touched that sod!
The essence of the poem is the essence of his entire mission: The Purpose of Life is to Know God. The poem begins:
Not where the musk of happiness blows,
Not in lands where darkness and fears never tread,
Not in homes where unceasing smiles reign,
Nor in Heaven nor prosperous lands
Would I be born.
If once more I must assume a mortal garb,
A thousand famines may wrack my body,
Waste my flesh, and leave me prostrate,
Yet would I be born again in Hindustan.
A million thieves of disease
May steal my flesh,
And clouds of fate
Send scalding showers of searing sorrow—
Yet would I prefer in India to reappear!
. . .
Because it was there I first learned
To love God, and all things beautiful.What happens to us, what conditions we must face, what trials we must overcome are not important. What is essential is that we make the search for God the focus of our lives. Swami Kriyananda often said, “The great masters don’t come in order to clean up our mud puddles. They come to help us get out of them.” In his poem Yogananda says that, if I must dream another birth, let me not seek a pleasant one, but rather let my dream be filled with yearning to know God.
Birth and rebirth may seem far off, but each evening’s sleep is like a little death, as we shed awareness of this body and ego. And each morning is a little rebirth, as we awake yet again from the forgotten worlds of slumber. Before we sleep, let us resolve to be reborn in the morning in the state of consciousness where God is foremost. And when we awaken in the morning, let our first thought be, “Let this day, above all else, be dedicated ‘to love God, and all things beautiful.’”
Paramhansa Yogananda begins Autobiography of a Yogi, his spiritual classic, with these words: “The characteristic features of Indian culture have long been a search for ultimate verities and the concomitant disciple-guru relationship.” This, above all else, is India’s gift to the world. If we live in that consciousness, we, too, can say at the end of life, “I am hallowed; my body touched that sod!”
In deepest appreciation,
Listen to the audio version of this blog read by Jyotish, or download it as an MP3.
Thank you, Jyotish. inspiring and beautiful. The “rainbow” looks huge as if it fills the sky. Did it?
Thanks ? Paramahansa Yogananda , Blessings to all you and the Eternal Bliss is with you !
Yes. It very nearly filmed the horizon. It really seemed like a special gift from Master.
Yogananda made a incredible change in my life with Autobiography of a Yogi.
Thank you dear Jyotish for this absolutely awesome article from beloved Master Yogananda, words never quite define his essence. Bless you again for sharing. Namaste
Thank you for sharing these wonderful words of inspiration. They touched my heart.
Yessss! Thank you, Jyotish
Thank you for sharing this and especially the audio version with the special comment about the rainbow cloud.
Wow, what a great message. Thank you, Jyotish!
Thank you, Jyotish! What a beautiful message, accompanied by a beautiful “cloud rainbow!” For sure … a special gift from the heavens. <3
The Rainbow,Master’s poem,and your expressions.All Divine!! I am grateful for your sharing.Thank you! Thank you!!
Very touching reading and listening to you dear Jyotish ~ and seeing the rainbow cloud you saw.
I feel a blessing and I hope to be aware even more in living my days loving God and Guru ~ and serving others all I can.
With deep love in Master and in Swamiji to you and to Devi,
Dear Nayaswami Jyotish Ji,
Thank you for this lovely blog :)
Joy in reading it !
In Masters love,
Thanks a lot for not only enlightening the world community but also Indians about ‘Bharat’ and it’s soil recaptulating the last beautiful words ‘My India’ by Swami ji.
Thank you for the article, hearing it in your voice added volumes to it too. The picture was mesmerizing.
What a nice article