Review of Swami Yogananda‘s Book of Glorious Prayers

By James W. Warnack [Church Editor for the Los Angeles Times]

East-West, March-April, 1930

Almost startling in its deviation from orthodox conceptions, Swami Yogananda’s new book —“Whispers From Eternity” —blazes a new trail of thought about prayer. The Swami contends that the average supplicant for God’s favor goes to Him like a beggar, and that he receives, therefore, a beggar’s pittance, instead of his rightful heritage as a Son of God. . . . . . . .In “Whispers From Eternity,” there are no set forms bet a bubbling stream of fresh fountain-spray of new ideas, falling on the heart like dew and wine.

The book is dedicated: “Unto all the soul-temples of Christians, Moslems, Buddhists, Hebrews and Hindus, wherein the Cosmic Heart is throbbing equally, always.” The introduction is by Amelita Galli-Curci, noted singer.

In one of his prayer-demands to the Eternal Spirit, the author writes:

“I will not offer unto Thee an intellectual, man-tortured and disciplined song; I will offer unto Thee the wild songs of my heart. I will not offer unto Thee civilized, emotion-born music or brain-made song-flowers, but I will offer unto Thee the wild blossoms which grow on the high tracts of my soul.”

A strength seldom found in the honey-sweet poems of the Orientals, and exceeding in vigor even the majestic verses of Tagore, permeates almost every page of Yogananda’s book. (From Los Angeles Times). For instance, take this invocation:

“Be Thou my General in my invasion of Ignorance. I bled for Thy name’s sake, and I will ever bleed. With gory limbs, broken body, slapped honor, and wearing the thorn-crown of derision, I will fight, undismayed, through the thickest skirmish of trials. With the sword of peace, I will smite the soldiers of persecution.”

Or, consider the following, another example of strength wedded to beauty and gentleness:

“I am the flitting butterfly of Eternity, sweeping through immeasurable time. The beauty of my nature-wings I spread everywhere, to entertain everything. Suns and star-dusts are daubed on my wings. Behold my beauty!

Cut all the silken threads of thy shrouding follow—and follow me in my flight to myself.”

In still another unusual poem, Swami Yogananda appeals to God to “be the President of the United States of the World”:

“O Cosmic President, bless us that we may obey Thy laws of life; and respect, with kindness, the freedom of all Thy free-born children-citizens: not only the good, and the error-intoxicated men, but also the mammals, birds and beasts, frail flowers, mute grasses and jungle weeds, crushed low under the tread of our cruel, unheeding feet.”

The Western mind, which considers such ways of approaching the Supreme Being to be not in keeping with the spirit of reverence, should strive to remember that, to the Hindu, “Brahma” is everywhere, at all times, imminent and pre-eminent,—and that He is called “Father, Mother, Brother, Sister, Friend,” all in a breath, and—to the Hindu—not inconsistently.

When the Hindu sings, “I am the bubble, make me the Sea” (one of Yogananda’s favorite original songs), he is praying not for absorption in the sense of self-destruction (as is erroneously imagined by many critics of Hindu thought), but rather, he is seeking the expansion of the personal self into the greater Self, his own true Selfhood. “Nirvana,” instead of meaning a state of nothingness, means, instead, a consciousness of the All-ness of life—a difference so vast as to be incalculable by finite mind.

One soul, out of many thousands, reaches in this phase of existence what the Hindus call the state of ‘Samadhi.” When that height of development is at lst the reward of many centuries of God-craving, the man becomes a “Master.” Swami Yogananda is a Master of Masters, a Swami of Swamis. He cannot be compared with lesser teachers. Every line in “Whispers From Eternity” tells a story of greatness. One has only to read these prayer-demands, in order to feel a definite spiritual growth within himself. The book cannot be recommended too highly.

 

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