Paramahansa Yogananda’s "My Native Land"

Updated on December 29, 2017
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After I fell in love with Walter de la Mare's "Silver" in Mrs. Edna Pickett's sophomore English class, circa 1962, poetry became my passion.

Paramahansa Yogananda

Source

Introduction and Text of Poem, "My Native Land"

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.

(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.")

As the speaker of "My Native Land" expresses the nature of a true patriot, he also offers a loving tribute to India, the birth country of the great guru/poet, Paramahansa Yogananda.

My Native Land

The friendly sky,
Inviting shade of banyan tree,
The holy Ganges flowing by —
How can I forget thee!

I love the waving corn
Of India's fields so right,
Oh, better than those heav'nly grown
By deathless gods of might!

My soul's broad love, by God's command,
Was first born here below,
In my own native land —
On India's sunny soil aglow.

I love thy breeze,
I love thy moon,
I love thy hills and seas;
In thee I wish my life to cease.

Thou taugt'st me first to love
The sky, the stars, the God above;
So my first homage — as 'tis meet —
I lay, O India, at they feet!

From thee I now have learned to see,
To love all lands alike as thee.
I bow to thee, my native land,
Though mother of my love so grand.

Commentary

First Stanza: Beloved Natural Attractions

The friendly sky,
Inviting shade of banyan tree,
The holy Ganges flowing by —
How can I forget thee!

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." His attitude demonstrates the advantageousness of positivity because other less evolved souls might see these natural features very differently.

The speaker avers that he could never forget his native land, as he stresses three of its noted and beloved features. As he addresses directly the land of his birth, the speaker is expressing his expanded feelings of sacredness and his gratitude for the blessings his home country has bestowed upon him.

Second Stanza: Positive Attitude

I love the waving corn
Of India's fields so right,
Oh, better than those heav'nly grown
By deathless gods of might!

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.

The speaker shows his positive attitude that renders him capable of maintaining a mindset that allows his heart to keep within it a stillness coupled with a sacred purpose. He will be able to influence all those who come within his sphere with his aura of blessedness.

Third Stanza: A Strong Legacy of Love

My soul's broad love, by God's command,
Was first born here below,
In my own native land —
On India's sunny soil aglow.

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.

With such a strong legacy of love and devotion to his Divine Creator, the speaker may go forth to all corners of the globe, and he will still find within his own soul the courage to remain full of hope as he spreads love, tenderness, and affection to all who come within his scope.

Fourth Stanza: Affection for Natural Features

I love thy breeze,
I love thy moon,
I love thy hills and seas;
In thee I wish my life to cease.

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.

The words of this speaker in tribute to his birth country that also raised him up to be a man of God are strong and clear; they possess the power to change hearts and minds. The misguided minds who have chosen to denigrate their own native lands will remain in darkness and despair until they too can realize gratitude for what they have been offered. The example being set by this speaker can move those dark minds toward the light where happiness, calmness, and joy reside.

Fifth Stanza: Most Vital is the Love for God

Thou taugt'st me first to love
The sky, the stars, the God above;
So my first homage — as 'tis meet —
I lay, O India, at they feet!

In these 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.

The speaker has been fortunate enough to have realized his need for and eternal dependence on his Divine Creator. Because he knows without any doubt the value of that bond, he will remain eternally grateful that he learned that valuable lesson, and having learned it early in his own birth country will remain a sacred blessing that will bind him to that land in a sacred trust.

Sixth Stanza: Keeping the Native Land First, While Loving Other Lands

From thee I now have learned to see,
To love all lands alike as thee.
I bow to thee, my native land,
Thou mother of my love so grand.

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.

For this speaker, India will always remain in his heart, occupying the first seat of love. His first allegiance will always be to his native land, and far from separating him from other nations, that love, which keeps India first in his heart, is what allows him to respect and love other countries. He expects other individuals to love and respect their own native lands as he does his, and thus he can love and respect others and their own special forms of patriotism.

© 2016 Linda Sue Grimes

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