Occasionally, something will grab hold of my mind and won’t let go. Does that happen to you too? A few weeks ago I was watching an Ananda video on YouTube. As internet sites do, they suggest things they think might interest you. In my case, there was a link to the song “Shenandoah.” Perhaps foolishly, I played it, and then its hauntingly lovely melody wouldn’t leave my mind.

The words, however, are not particularly uplifting. It’s an old American folk song, sung by voyagers as they set out into the unknown. The lyrics start,

O Shenandoah,
I long to see you,
And hear your rolling river.
O Shenandoah,
I long to see you,
Way, we’re bound away
Across the wide Missouri.

The Missouri River represented the dividing line into the unknown territory of the time. Then, subsequent verses tell of the singer’s love for the daughter of Shenandoah, who was a famous Native American chief. As I said, the words aren’t particularly negative, just not uplifting, so I decided to spiritualize them. If the melody was going to haunt me, I thought that I might as well be haunted by Divine Mother. So I rewrote the lyrics as:

Anandamoyi Ma

Anandamoyi Ma, the “joy-permeated mother.”

O Divine Mother, I long to know You.
Fade away, O world of maya.
Divine Mother, I long to know You.
Away, I’m bound away into the deep sushumna.

O Divine Mother, I long to see You.
Fade away, O gaudy maya.
Divine Mother, I long to see You.
Away, I’m bound away through the bright Kutastha.

O Divine Mother, I long to hear You.
Fade away, O noise of maya.
Divine Mother, I long to hear You.
Away, I’m bound away to merge into the bliss of AUM.

I chose these three “destinations” quite purposely, as they represent the essence of our yogic path. First we must interiorize our life-force, bring it into the deep astral spine, and then lift it up and through the spiritual eye. Once we do that, the ego can melt away as our true Self merges with all that is.

Sometimes it isn’t possible to stop a thought or a desire, but it is always possible to spiritualize it—a strategy we can use in many contexts. Yogananda said, “I don’t ask you to overcome temptation, just to resist it.” When something is nagging at you, find a way to turn it toward the light.

This world has many more tentacles that pull on us than just a song or melody. But we can always find a way to spiritualize them. Swami Kriyananda suggested, for example, that if you have a strong desire to buy something, go ahead and get it. But then give it away.

Once he and I spent two days at Disney World in Florida, which has areas representing various countries. In the Japanese “village,” there was an exquisite tea service that caught Swamiji’s eye. Finally, after three visits to look at it, he decided to buy it. Imagine our surprise when, a couple of weeks later, Devi and I received it as a present. We still use it to serve tea to our guests, always remembering Swami’s kindness when we do so. His ability to “spiritualize” a desire is still a blessing forty years later.

When the world pulls at you, turn its call toward God, and you will get an instant blessing.

In the arms of Divine Mother,

Nayaswami Jyotish

P.S. If you want to hear a recording of Shenandoah, search for: Sissel Kyrkjebø – Shenandoah – 2001.

Subscribe to the Touch of Light podcast. Download the audio recording of this week’s blog by right-clicking here. Or listen to it here (5:21):


  1. They say, you receive an answer when you need it most and from the source you can’t predict.

    Your blog is a perfect guide to direct my awareness and consciousness into the Astral highway and then direct it up to merge with the Spirit.

    Thanks for this upliftment. Jai Guru OM!

  2. I love the idea of spiritualizing everything.
    By the way, I just moved to Missouri this week. lol
    I saw both rivers, the Mississippi and the Missouri.

    1. Namaste Candice, All rivers are special. But “paying tribute” to rivers (of North America) feels today especially meaningful. The are gifts. Upon hearing the song Shenandoah, I went in my mind’s eye to the Missouri, lingered and then returned eastward to the Connecticut river that flows past my home. I recently moved here, and bathed in it throughout the summer, calling it the Ganges of New England: It is wholesome, long, slow-moving with many tributaries; flowing South from Canada into the Long Island sound (Atlantic). Aren’t our physical and astral spines also rivers, conduits in which currents (of life force) flow? I many ways, melody and river merge in that original song. And Nayaswami Jyotish’s ‘s attunement to both melody and river and , inspires us to “DIVE DEEP”.

  3. Beautiful message!
    I’ve been trying to meditate with the help of a group class. It’s very difficult to put your thoughts or songs away. But maybe I can try to channel them in the right direction.

  4. What a beautiful voice she has! Thanks for recommending the video. And what a lovely, creative way to spiritualize the song.

  5. Dear Jyotish, I love your idea! I also remember that song well — and yes, it was lovely but sad. I’m going to tape the new words to my fridge because now that melody is going through my head :-) All is well. Many thanks.

  6. Thank you for introducing me to Sissel. In watching many of her you tube videos, she is a truly beautiful soul reflecting God’s joy and beauty…no surprise I found her through
    wonderful Ananda.
    Jai Guru

  7. Googling “Shenandoah” reveals a number of definitions, in terms of the Native American origin of the word. One seems particularly apt: “Beautiful daughter of the stars.”

    Your use of the tune and your new lyrics are particularly creative. Very nice.

  8. I discovered Sissel Kyrkjebø a few years back, via YouTube of course (what a conduit towards so many uplifting creations!) If Divine mother appeared and sang, I believe she would sound like Sissel . Her version of Imagine, by John Lennon, is wonderful as well.

    We’d all love to hear the Ananda singers, perform Shenandoah with your lyrics Jyotish! Please consider this if possible!

    Meanwhile, I’ll work on turning material desires into light soaked nuggets that float in the sky….

    Blessings to all of you at Ananda Village and throughout the world!

  9. I sang the song with the lyrics you wrote and it became a happy song😇Thank you dear Jyotish🎶
    It’s so true that some songs are beautiful but sad, and if so they are not doing their job.
    I can’t imagine someone wanting to listen to a song so they can be sad.
    Everyone one loves to be happy😇

  10. Dear Jyotishji,

    Thank you for this nice blog. Wonderfully re-written poem. Love the points from Master to resist the temptation than overcome it and how Swamiji showed to ‘spiritualiize the desire’ ! So nice.

    Thank you ever,

    With love and gratitude
    – ilango

  11. Dear Nayaswami Jyotish Ji,

    Thank you very much for this blog and for the inspiring advise on how to change the thoughts / desires to God reminding ones.
    Very nice lyrics. Enjoyed reading it


  12. Such a beautiful song Jyotish! I think we should hear it at a SS Service.
    Thank you for being such a great yogi and beautiful example to us all.

  13. Just want to be clear, I’d like to hear your lyrics to that melody at Sunday Service, just as Swamiji rewrote a few lyrics.🙏🏻

  14. J.,
    Your song is wonderful and the words inspiring. But, I will sing Shenandoah as is just as I will sing “O Chi” (The Misty Mountains” about Ireland as well. Thanks!

  15. Hello You All Nice People, I am new with ANANDA and I am very happy of reading such beautiful comments which I find deep as Jy.’s. Shenandoah Lyrics. By the way, me and my wife first visited the U. S. in the Spring of 1979 – we were 28 nd 26, married in 77 – and enough casuality we took Route 66 from Washington DC through Shenandoah Valley then to York and Lancaster into the Amish and Menonite’ s counties to Baltimore and NYC… we alwsys rember this trip. I feel You are driving me through it up again. From Mar del Plata, Argentina, Roberto.

  16. Jyotishji – nice Deviji-like story. Fascinated by things and idea of things that stick, especially those we don’t like. I’ve had several deep friends whom in the beginning of our relationship I tried every way possible to avoid. One guy I couldn’t stand and said to another friend, Why does there always have to be someone like him in every group? Five years later I was best man at his wedding. Mahalo for taking me back there.

  17. I would love to hear the Ananda singers do that beautiful song with your lyrics!!!!

  18. Dear Jyothishji, I like your strategy of spiritualising our desires instead of fighting it .It is so helpful to turn the obstinate desires GOD WARD,Thank you very much 🙏🙏

  19. Dear Jyotishji,

    Thank you for the wonderful and creatively inspired reminder to spiritualize desire in whatever form it comes.

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