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Paramahansa Yogananda on India

My India My Pride
By Paramahansa Yogananda

On behalf of the entire Desh-Videsh team, I would like to pay tribute to Paramahansa Yogananda, the great yogi and ardent promoter of Hinduism and India. As we celebrate India’s Independence Day on August 15, we celebrate by publishing one of his most popular poems, “My India My Pride” as well as article “Visions of India.”

Paramahansa YoganandaVisions of India

India is the epitome of the world in everything. It is a land of all kinds of climates, religions, commerce, arts, peoples, scenery, stages of civilization, languages. Her civilization dates back many thousands of years.

The Secret of India’s Vitality

The real life and secret of India’s vitality is her spiritual culture, which has made her the motherland of religions since time immemorial. India has been the grand inspirer of human minds and souls, the spiritual model of all religions.

Her greatest and richest legacy to the world has been the scientific techniques for the spiritual advancement of man, discovered and handed down for centuries by her saints and seers.

A Land of Never-to-be-Forgotten Mystery

India is a land of mystery, but a mystery that reveals itself to the sympathetic inquirer and seeker. In India there are the ancient caves of meditation where yogis and swamis saw the faggots of ignorance blaze with the wisdom of God. There is the vast Ganges made sacred by centuries of meditation near its banks by many God-realized saints.

India has the grandest and highest mountains in the world — the Himalayas. Darjeeling, in the north, is the Switzerland of India. In India there is the Taj Mahal at Agra, the finest dream of architecture ever materialized in marble to symbolize the ideal of human love, and in Delhi, the unique ruins of ancient castles and vast palaces of princes. There is the blueness of the skies; the bright sunshine; the innumerable varieties of fruits and vegetables; the many types of people; the dark forests and jungles where tigers roam. All these make India different, fascinating, romantic, never-to-be forgotten.

Contrast, Surprise, and Adventure

India is a land of great contrasts — untold riches and utmost poverty; the highest mental purity and coarse, plain living; Rolls Royces and bullock-carts.

In the north, we find blue-eyed and blond-haired Hindus, and in the hotter south, the dark, sun-kissed skins of the tropics. From start to finish, India is a land of surprises, of contrasts and extremes. Life becomes prosaic with too much business, too many dull certainties. In India one feels that life is a great adventure, a thing of mystery and surprise.

India may not have skyscrapers and all the comforts of modern life. She has her faults, as do all nations. But India shelters many unassuming, Christ-like spiritual “skyscrapers” who could teach their Western brothers and sisters how to get the fullest spiritual joy out of any condition of life.

My India My Pride
By Paramahansa Yogananda

Not where the musk of happiness blows,

Not where darkness and fears never tread;

Not in the homes of perpetual smiles,

Nor in the heaven of a land of prosperity

Would I be born

If I must put on mortal garb once more.

Dread famine may prowl and tear my flesh,

Yet would I love to be again

In my Hindustan.

A million thieves of disease

May try to steal the body’s fleeting health;

And clouds of fate

May shower scalding drops of searing sorrow –

Yet would I there, in India,

Love to reappear!

Is this love of mine blind sentiment

That sees not the pathways of reason?

Ah, no! I love India,

For there I learned first to love God

and all things beautiful.

Some teach to seize the fickle dewdrop, life,

Sliding down the lotus leaf of time;

Stubborn hopes are built

Around the gilded, brittle body-bubble.

But India taught me to love

The soul of deathless beauty in the dewdrop

and the bubble –

Not their fragile frames.

Her sages taught me to find my Self,

Buried beneath the ash heaps

Of incarnations of ignorance.

Though many a land of power, plenty, and science

My soul, garbed sometimes as an Oriental,

Sometimes as an Occidental,

Travelled far and wide,

Seeking Itself;

At last, in India, to find Itself.

Though mortal fires raze all her homes

and golden paddy fields,

Yet to sleep on her ashes and dream immortality,

O India, I will be there!

The guns of science and matter

Have boomed on her shores

Yet she is unconquered.

Her soul is free evermore!

Her soldier saints are away,

To rout with realization’s ray

The bandits of hate, prejudice, and patriotic selfishness;

And to burn the walls of separation dark

Between children of the One, One Father.

The Western brothers by matter’s might

have conquered my land;

Blow, blow aloud, her conch shells all!

India now invades with love,

To conquer their souls.

Better than Heaven or Arcadia

I love Thee, O my India!

And thy love I shall give

To every brother nation that lives.

God made the earth;

Man made confining countries

And their fancy-frozen boundaries.

But with newfound boundless love

I behold the borderland of my India

Expanding into the world.

Hail, mother of religions, lotus, scenic beauty,

And sages!

Thy wide doors are open,

Welcoming God’s true sons through all ages.

Where Ganges, woods, Himalayan caves, and men dream God –

I am hallowed; my body touched that sod.

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