Paramahansa Yogananda's poems serve to deepen yoga meditation, offering devotees new ways of grasping the spiritual nature of all creation.
Introduction and Excerpt from "Thy Divine Gypsy"
Paramahansa Yogananda’s poem from Songs of the Soul features a speaker who dramatizes the spiritual journey of an ardent worshiper of the Divine Reality who sees the Creator everywhere. The speaker in this poem is asserting his desire to faithfully follow his own uncharted path to the Divine Belovèd. As he moves through creation, he will enjoy all wholesome aspects of that creation. Most important for this speaker is that creation at every step and moment keeps his mind focused on the Divine Creator, without whom all the beauty he will experience could never have been created.
Excerpt from the 3rd stanza of "Thy Divine Gypsy"
. . . I will eat the food that chance will bring;
I will drink from the crystal sparkling spring;
I will doff my cap and off will go.
Like a wayward brook of long ago,
I will roll o'er the green
And scatter the joy of all my heart
To birds, leaves, winds, hills — then depart
To stranger and stranger lands, from East to West. . . .
(Please note: This poem appears in Paramahansa Yogananda's Songs of the Soul, published by Self-Realization Fellowship, Los Angeles, CA, 1983 and 2014 printings.)
The speaker in this poem is traveling a path to soul-union with the Over-Soul, or Divine Reality, or God. He is insisting dramatically that he will continue through this uncharted territory to his Divine Goal, enjoying all the healthful, wholesome aspects of that creation that remind him of his Belovèd Creator.
First Stanza: Roving and Roaming Through the Landscape
The speaker metaphorically likens himself to a rover and asserts that he plans to "roam, roam, and roam." He will create and sing songs that no one else has yet composed and performed This speaker is not like the Robert Frost character that merely hints at choosing a road less traveled; this determined, spiritually strong speaker insists that he will definitely travel that unexplored road.
This devoted and certain speaker will "sing to the sky," "sing to the winds," and he will "sing to [his] red clouds." This determined and sincere traveler/speaker will acknowledge and commune with all of the Creator’s creations as he roams, and he will be the "King of the lands through which [he] roam[s]."
This spiritually inspired speaker is demonstrating the unique path followed by true spiritual seekers. They take charge of their own lives as a reigning monarch would do with his own kingdom, but instead of governing other people/subjects, the spiritual travel governs only himself. This speaker’s sojourn on earth will compare metaphorically to the travels of fabled roaming people who pitched their tents in varied locations, enjoying the fruits of each location.
Second Stanza: No Ordinary Roamer
This joyful speaker will be even more unconventional than an ordinary roamer: instead of living in a tent, he will employ "the shady trees" for his tent during the daytime, when the sun is hot overheard. And by night, this itinerant will engage "the stars" to be his "candles." The moon will serve as his lamp that will "light [his] silver, skyey camp." He is no ordinary rover; he is a "divine roamer."
This metaphorical journey will include enjoyment of the natural elements such as trees, sunlight, moonlight, all the stars and the sky itself. He will pay attention to God’s creation with a special love that comes from the search for the Divine Bliss. As the speaker travels, he will keep in his heart and mind the reason and goal for such journey, and that goal will sweeten every experience he meets along the path.
Third Stanza: Letting His Divine Creator Care for Him
This blissful speaker will not worry about finding food; he will be satisfied with whatever his Creator provides him. He will take his liquid sustenance at the "crystal sparkling spring." The speaker will "doff his cap" and move on. He will "scatter the joy" of his bursting heart to "birds, leaves, winds, hills." Then again, this divine roaming speaker will be off for sights unseen and places hitherto unknown. He anticipates visiting and enjoying "stranger and stranger lands, from East to West." The speaker then repeats his divine refrain: "Oh! I will be a [roamer]— / Roam, roam, and roam."
Fourth Stanza: A Soul Traveling the Cosmos
The speaker finally avers that he will "roam and roam—through aeons roam." It becomes clear that the speaker is referring to his soul, not just his physical and mental encasements. This yogic traveler is suggesting that the physical level of being is nothing but a dream. As the time approaches for this wandering soul to rest, he will "dream of Thee whom I love best." And by dreaming of the Creator, he will, in fact, "wake from many lifetimes’ dreams fore’er." Once the traveling, roaming narrator unites his soul with its Creator, "Thou and I, as one, shall wander everywhere." After the speaker has contacted his own Divine Belovèd, his Creator, the two will become one and journey forth as one "Divine [Roamer]."
The metaphorical travels can only refer to the movements of the soul. The speaker elucidates the many wonders that the soul will enjoy—all of the beautiful creations that the Divine Belovèd Creator has issued to His creation. The speaker as an adventurous child of God is staking his claim to his share of inspiration that God has infused into the lives of each created soul that is a spark of Divinity—each wandering, searching, life-experiencing soul may be understood to the a "Divine Gypsy."
Use of the Term, "Gypsy"
It should be unequivocally obvious that the term, "gypsy," in this poem and commentary does not refer to the Romani people. That term has simply meant traveler of roamer since at least the mid-20th century and is widespread in that usage.
The insidiousness of cancel culture, political correctness, and identity politics has bred a culture of language police who find racism and oppression everywhere; thus, the football team, "Washington Red Skins," had to loose its name and logo, despite the fact that many of the indigenous people originally called "Red Skins" take no offense at the term.
The same situation exists with the Romani; some find the term, "gypsy," offensive while the vast majority do not. But scandalmongers have spilled barrels of ink trying to turn the innocent term, "gypsy," into the new "ni**er," currently the worst slur on the planet—so bad that one cannot even think of spelling it out on the page on any Web site.
Grammarphobia offers the following conclusion about use of the term, "gypsy":
Our conclusions are that “Gypsy” (with a capital “G”) is offensive to some people, and should be used with caution if at all. It should be avoided entirely if any ethnic connection is implied; instead, the words “Roma” or “Romani” should be used. Meanwhile, the non-ethnic uses of “gypsy” (with a lowercase “g”) should not be condemned.
Grammarphobia then continues with a fairly detailed history of the term. Interestingly, as that history acclaims, "The OED defines this ethnic sense of 'Gypsy' as 'a member of a wandering race (by themselves called Romany), of Hindu origin'." Paramahansa Yogananda was a Hindu. And if the fact that he was also an avatar does not convince the blundering offense-takers that he would never disparage any group by naming-calling or otherwise, the fact that he was a Hindu might help on that score.
Will the publishers at Self-Realization Fellowship eventually cave to the LangPo (language police) and replace "Thy Divine Gypsy" with "Thy Divine Roamer" in Paramahansa Yogananda’s Songs of the Soul? Only time will tell. For the time being, I have caved simply to get my article to appear on HubPages and have substituted in a number of places the term, "[roamer]," for the current offensive term, "gy**y."
- Linda Sue Grimes. "Paramahansa Yogananda's Spiritual Poetry: 'Father of Yoga in the West'. " Owlcation. Updated January 3, 2021.
- - - -. "Robert Frost's 'The Road Not Taken'." Owlcation. Updated December 28, 2020.
- Ryan Wilson. "New poll finds that 9 in 10 Native Americans not offended by 'Redskins' name." CBSsports. May 19, 2016.
- Patricia T. O’Conner and Steward Kellerman. "Is ‘Gypsy’ a slur?" Grammarphobia. March 18, 2019.
Paramahansa Yogananda: To Make Heaven on Earth
© 2017 Linda Sue Grimes