Paramahansa Yogananda’s “My Native Land”: Tribute to India
While demonstrating the nature of a true patriot, the speaker in Yogananda’s “My Native Land” offers a loving tribute to India, the country of his birth.
Paramahansa Yogananda’s “My Native Land” from Songs of the Soul features six rimed stanzas, each of the first three with the rime scheme ABAB. The fourth stanza’s rime scheme is ABAA, and the final two stanzas’ rime scheme is AABB.
First Stanza: “The friendly sky”
The speaker addresses his native land, portraying its natural features: a strong sun that makes it ever so sweet that the “banyan tree” offers comforting shade, and the river deemed sacred to devotees, the “holy Ganges flowing by.” The speaker avers that he could never forget his native land, as he stresses three of its noted and beloved features.
Second Stanza: “I love the waving corn”
In the second stanza, the speaker proclaims his affection for the “waving corn” which makes the “fields so bright.” To the speaker, those fields are a physical symbol of the land that gave him birth. Those fields are superior to those grown by “deathless gods” in mythological accounts.
Third Stanza: “My soul’s broad love, by God’s command”
In the third stanza, the speaker dramatizes the reason for his deep love for his country: it was in his own native land that he learned that he was a unique soul, a spark of the Divine. He learned to love God in the land where he was born. This love of the Divine places a permanent glow about his native nation for which he is eternally grateful.
Fourth Stanza: “I love thy breeze”
The speaker then pronounces his affection for the “breeze,” "the moon,” the “hills and seas” as they appear from his native India. Love of one’s nation shines through in the natural features that exist there, and this glow attaches itself to those things of nature, making them even more alluring to the heart of the native. And even though the patriot may wander, his memory will still harken back to and be inspired by that glow.
Fifth Stanza: “Thou taught’st me first to love”
In two rimed couplets, the speaker now dramatizes the love that is most important to him: the love of God. He demonstrates his gratitude that India taught him to love “the sky, the stars, and God” above all. Therefore as he offers homage, he offers it first to “India,” and he does so by laying his devotion at India’s feet, an ancient Indian tradition, followed by devotee to master.
Sixth Stanza: “From thee I now have learned to see”
In the final stanza, the speaker shows that he has learned through his great love and respect for his native country that he can love and respect all nations: he can “love all lands alike.” He bows to India for the great lessons in love, patriotism, and altruism that she has taught him.
© 2016 Linda Sue Grimes