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Set of Rubaiyat stanzas with added material:
 1  –  2  –  3  –  4  –  5  –  6  –  7  –  X  –  8  –  9  –  10 

Recap

Get a firm foundation before you erect a building, so that it will not crack greatly and fall. Yogananda tries to explain the Medieval Persian poem Rubaiyat by commenting on Edward FitzGerald's first Rubaiyat version from 1859, saying it catches the Medieval Persian Omar Khayyam's original intent. If so, it would be remarkable for many reasons.

  1. The Rubaiyat is a collection of quatrains. Any original Rubaiyat seems hard to find, but there are over one thousand such Persian poems attributed to Omar Khayyam. (The estimated number varies from about 1,200 to over 2,000). Different writers have selected several of them and rearranged them subjectively to support one interpretation or another. This has led to widely differing versions. Khayyam never identified himself as a Sufi (mystic), nor did anyone in his time say he was a Sufi either. On several occasions he mocks the devoutly religious who criticise the non-religious.

  2. FitzGerald made five editions of Rubaiyat verses, but his translations were not faithful ones, since many of the verses are paraphrased, and some of them cannot be confidently traced to any Rubaiyat quatrains at all. Some critics informally refer to the FitzGerald's English versions as "The Rubaiyat of FitzOmar", which recognises the liberties FitzGerald took with his source and also credits FitzGerald for the considerable portion of the "translation" that he made himself. FitzGerald called his work a "transmogrification". The word stems from transmogrify, a humorous term for "transform in a surprising or magical manner". It means he changed some Rubaiyat verses to make his own work out of them.

  3. There are only few firm connections between Yogananda's outpourings and later FitzGerald editions and somewhat related translated Rubaiyat poems. That FitzGerald had made many changes in later editions of his work, was a thing Yogananda chose to ignore, just as he undermined the value of "his own" translation, which Persian scholar helped him with. Instead, Yogananda decided that FitzGerald's first, quite freewheeling transmogrification was more "divinely inspired" than his later, more skilled and maturer editions, and better than Yogananda's own attempts at translating many verses with a scholar's help.

  4. Yogananda's furtive method was to pick imagery from FitzGerald's work and claim he had got to Khayyam's deep meanings through such word-images. However, quite a lot of these "central words" are missing in FitzGerald's later editions, as well as in several Rubaiyat translations. What about "deep Omar meanings" then? A good commentary is different. In addition, Yogananda's stock phrases can feel tedious and unrewarding as well.

    There are currently two divergent versions of Yogananda's commentary in book form, by two different publishers: Crystal Clarity and Self-Realization Fellowship. And this is what both versions do not tell: The Persian poems said to be by Omar Khayyam are hardly all of his making. "Omar" poems are by many. Again: Edward FitzGerald made up a large part of the imagery in his own Rubaiyat, which is not a translation. Yogananda chose to comment on FitzGerald's first edition, not his further developments through four more editions; he claimed he got to Omar Khayyam by words and images that are to a large part made by FitzGerald. Yogananda's method is to read meanings into FitzGerald's first version. Large parts of Yogananda's "commentary" could be unfounded. And two publishers have elaborated on Yogananda since.

The English scholar George Saintsbury (1845–1933) has called the old, Persian Rubaiyat poems a ragbag of old quatrains. They are attributed to Omar Khayyam. In the following, several verses of the first Fitzgerald version are put next to his fifth version, and works by Whinfield, Graves-Shah and still others are given next, so we can compare them a bit and estimate whether they share any common ground, verse by verse.

A sample of eleven stanzas is presented. After each of the stanzas are Yogananda thoughts according to an SRF editor who has polished many of his first comments. One question: How far are the key images used in Yogananda's purport substantiated by translations? See for yourself, that is easily done. Violet-coloured Yogananda-ideas below seem unsupported by and large, and seem to be Yogananda-invented. There is a good chance they are.

1st Stanza

FitzGerald's First Verse

FitzGeralds' 1st ed.
Awake! for Morning in the Bowl of Night
Has flung the Stone that puts the Stars to Flight:
And Lo! the Hunter of the East has caught
The Sultán's Turret in a Noose of Light.

FitzGerald's 5th ed.
Wake! For the Sun, who scatter'd into flight
The Stars before him from the Field of Night,
Drives Night along with them from Heav'n, and strikes
The Sultán's Turret with a Shaft of Light.

Graves and Shah
While Dawn, Day's herald straddling the whole sky,

Offers the drowsy world a toast 'To Wine',

The Sun spills early gold on city roofs

Day's regal Host, replenishing his jug.

Whinfield, v. 233
The sun doth smite the roofs with Orient ray
And, Khosrau like, his wine-red sheen display;
Arise, and drink! the herald of the dawn
Uplifts his voice, and cries, "Oh, drink to-day!"

Bare Bones - Verse 1

The day breaks.
Have some wine.

✿✿✿

The violet sentences in the following lack back-up from the Graves-Shah translation. In my added remarks, Lacking means "lacking in the Graves-Shah translation at least." There are other valuable versions of the text to take into account too. Now, Yogananda "comments" on phrases that are not found in any real translation of Omar, but only in FitzGerald's free creation, are unsourced. Yogananda's use of FitzGerald words and imagery to interpret what an obscure writer, Omar Khayyam, meant by words "that are not there" in any original, violates good work odiously. Reading Khayyam meanings into Fitzgerald-made stuff, is far from good. So is wilful cheating.

Yogananda Glossary, verse 1

  • Morning: Dawn of awakening from delusive earthly existence.
  • Bowl of night: The darkness of ignorance, which imprisons the immortal soul in mortal consciousness.
  • Stone: Spiritual discipline.
  • Stars: The attractive twinkling of material desires.
  • Hunter of the East: Eastern wisdom, a mighty slayer of delusion.
  • Sultan's turret: The sovereign soul.
  • Noose of light: Divine illumination of wisdom.
In the first verse, a little less than 30% of the phrases that Yogananda stands on - 2 key phrases out of 7 - could actually refer back to some original Persian poem, and slightly more than 70% seem unfounded. Details follow:

Lacking: Bowl of night, interpreted by the guru as "darkness of ignorance". That interpretation stands on his feet. We find no such mention in the Graves-Shah translation.

In fact, there is no mentioning of night and darkness and bowl in a translation of Omar Khayyam's first verse, and therefore no reason to bring in Yogananda clichés about "darkness of ignorance" either. As you may glimpse below, Yogananda ends up with a cliché-ridden collection of phrases. If that seems good enough for you, you lose much more favorable ways of handling old and ambiguous poetry.

Lacking: Stone of spiritual discipline. And Yogananda interprets the 'Fitz stone' as 'spiritual discipline' at random it seems. Enjoy a little discussion around it here: [◦Link].

Lacking: Stars "the attractive twinkling of material desires". A Fitz image is made into another random Yoganandic metaphor, seemingly. It is not good enough.

Lacking: Hunter of the East somewhat arbitrarily taken to mean "Eastern wisdom, a mighty slayer of delusion" where 'the Sun' would suffice - and here is where propaganda sets in to some, sadly enough.

Sultan's turret - Yogananda's "the sovereign soul" - is not in the Graves-Shah translation, which has "city roofs". Whinfield has "the roofs".

Noose of light becomes "shaft of light" in later FitzGerald editions. Instead of Yogananda's quite elaborate "The divine illumination of wisdom, which destroys the captive darkness surrounding the soul" - what is talked of is after all early morning sunshine.

SPIRITUAL INTERPRETATION BY YOGANANDA

The inner Silence sings:
"Awake! Forsake the sleep of ignorance, for the dawn of wisdom has come. Hurl the hard stone of spiritual discipline that breaks the bowl of dark unknowing, putting to flight the pale stars of mock-lustered material desires. "Behold, the Eastern Wisdom, the Hunter and Destroyer of delusion, has caught the proud minaret of the kingly soul in a noose of Light, dispelling its imprisoning mortal darkness."

m

The yogi puts rather much into a verse of FitzGerald's making, saying he sees what Omar meant by not writing anything of the sort. And yes, it is awfully guru-embarrassing.

FitzGerald's later editions do not speak of "bowl of night", "flung the stone", "hunter of the East". "The sultan's turret" is intact in the five editions, though. Others translate the original into ""roofs" or city roofs", as you can see.

The Graves-Shah verse involves a hailing of the dawn and sunlight in a direct and simple way.

And Whinfield's take is in short: "A new morning. Arise, and drink! Oh, drink today!".

How sensible is it to interpret "drink" spiritually? Opinions differ, as mentioned in the introduction. Should we adjust to what Yogananda puts into FitzGerald's verse? Among Yogananda's key ideas are: Eastern wisdom, darkness of ignorance, spiritual discipline, soul, divine illumination. The fact that he elaborates on these pivotal concepts does not make them appear in any original text, and someone has to tell it so as to put things straight.

PRACTICAL APPLICATION BY YOGANANDA

Most people, though apparently awake, are really asleep in delusion. [That is not the main issue. - TK] Pursued by the compelling commands of their hounding habits, they have not yet been awakened by [sunlight - TK] wisdom to walk its pleasant pathways. Where life is in danger for lack of watchfulness, it is not safe to sleep. So it is unwise to slumber in the dark doorways of evil habits, which invite the danger of possible death to wisdom and true happiness.

Destroy false pride. [Unfounded - TK] Awaken the soul [yourself] and remain ever wakeful, striving each day to be different and better in all ways. Your soul was not meant to be a prisoner of passion, sleeping behind bars of ignorance. Jerk yourself from sloth; race forward with progressive activities, and catch success in the net of soul creativity.

m

No substantial basis for most of Yogananda's elaborate oration is found. And what does that suggest?

Yogananda (or should we say SRF or Yogananda-SRF) jerks some well established ideas over an adaptation of a Medieval poem. Actually, these essentially Hindu ideas carry much of his commentary. But how many of the Yoganandic "key symbols" in the poem are missing in a Rubaiyat translation!

Yogananda source: Wm 3-4.

To add to this a little

Kriyananda studied the 1937–1944 instalment version of Yogananda's Rubaiyat commentary in the magazine Inner Culture. It is a less worked up version than two later-published books, and is also called the "original commentary" stenographed and edited by a Yogananda staff. Perhaps not his own verbatim words, but still: closer to them than other versions:

Yogananda's Original

The inner Silence silently sang: "Awake, forsake the sleep of ignorance, for the dawn of wisdom has thrown the stone of discipline to break the bowl of nocturnal unknowing, and put the starlike, pale, mock-lustred material desires to flight.

"Behold, the hunter of Eastern wisdom has cast a noose of light to catch the kingly minaret of pride of the soul and dispel its darkness."

Moral:

Forsake melancholia, bask in the Light of Peace which destroys all false pride and inner gloom. Note changes from the "original" to the book by SRF: The inner Silence does not silently sing any longer, and melancholia is gone . . .

Kriyananda tells more of the problems he grappled with as an editor in the preface to the Crystal Clarity edition:

"The starlike, pale, mock-lustred material desires" became one of them to him. He considered that the central image was of putting the paling stars to flight. But no, that happens by itself, so to speak. Besides, there is no mention of such shooing in translations.

The "bowl of nocturnal unknowing" was another problem to him, for reasons he goes into, and he thinks Yogananda was unclear when writing "the hunter of Eastern wisdom": Is such wisdom the hunter or the hunted, he speculates.

In the second section he comes to the solution that not "melancholia" but delusion is the main thing to "forsake". Words, words - Trying to improve on sarv takes a lot.

"Bask in the Light of Peace". One basks in sunlight, says Kriyananda.

What Yogananda meant by "false pride" was not immediately clear to that editor either.◦ Read on as you feel for it]

There was an "original Yogananda" with reservations, from one of his later editors. One may compare with SRF's lated edited-expanded on Yogananda also. And to repeat; the "Bare Bones" of the first stanza are simply:

The day breaks.
Have some wine.

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2nd Stanza

FitzGeralds' 1st ed.
Dreaming when Dawn's Left Hand was in the Sky
I heard a voice within the Tavern cry,
"Awake, my Little ones, and fill the Cup
Before Life's Liquor in its Cup be dry."

FitzGeralds' 5th ed.
Before the phantom of False morning died,
Methought a Voice within the Tavern cried,
"When all the Temple is prepared within,
"Why nods the drowsy Worshipper outside?"

Graves and Ali-Shah
Then shouts ring out among us at the tavern:
'Rise too, you good-for-nothing tavern lad!
Refill our empty bowls with today's measure
Before the measure of our lives be filled!'

Whinfield, v. 1, 136, 200, 233
At dawn a cry through all the tavern shrilled,
"Arise, my brethren of the revelers' guild,
That I may fill our measure full of wine,
Or e'er the measure of our days be filled."

Life's caravan is hastening on its way;
Brood not on troubles of the coming day,
But fill the wine-cup ere sweet night be gone,
And snatch a pleasant moment, while you may.

When false dawn streaks the east with cold, gray line,
Pour in your cups the pure blood of the vine;
The truth, they say, tastes bitter in the mouth,
This is a token that the "Truth " is wine.

The sun doth smite the roofs with Orient ray
And, Khosrau like, his wine-red sheen display;
Arise, and drink! the herald of the dawn
Uplifts his voice, and cries, "Oh, drink to-day!"

Bare Bones - Verse 2

It's dawn already.
Drink while you can.

✿✿✿

FitzGerald at times combined several Persian quatrains to form one of of his. That explains why four correlated Whinfield poems are given above.

Yogananda Glossary, verse 2

Yogananda's glossary is based on FitzGerald's 1st edition. The violet sentences in the following lack a certain back-up in FitzGerald's mature takes, his second, third, fourth and fifth edtion, and, further, are hardly supported by one or more translations. Whinfield's brings examples. There is more on that right below the verses.

  1. Dawn's left hand: The first yearning to solve the mystery of life. Not supported. Further, FitzGerald has "false morning" in later editions.
  2. A voice: Intuition of the soul. However, note that Winfield (233) says it is the reddened sun who cries "Drink!"
  3. Tavern: Sanctum of inner silence. Well, taverns are not exactly quiet places. In such a light, Yogananda's interpretation seems strained.
  4. Little ones: Undeveloped thoughts, earliest intuitions of life's purpose. Not supported, and seems far-fetched.
  5. Fill the cup: Fill the consciousness, interprets Yogananda. Two entries further down he takes 'cup' to mean body. FitzGerald 2-5 abandons the term 'cup'. Winfield has a similar expression.
  6. Life's liquour: Life's vitality. Yogananda-interpreted that way.
  7. Itc cup: The human body. Compare two entries above, where cup is taken to mean consciousness.
  8. Be dry: Vanish. Hardly supported. A fig does not disappear from being dried.

The informal stats: Only 2-3 out of 8 key terms with Yogananda are there in later FitzGerald editions and the translation of Whinfield. Yogananda's "in flagranti hit score" as to translation-supported key terms is somewhere between 25% and 38% - which easily translates to something like "not really wise and proficient". After all, there is awfully much in Yogananda's Omar commentary that is not supported by later FitzGerald editions and the translations, and key parts in Whinfield's translation are wholly missing in FitzGerald's first edition too.

What to think of what to drink? Whinfield (200) suggests that wine is truth. As shown previously, he is not the only one who thinks thus. But scholars disagree about the drinking issue too. Some see Omar Khayyam as a materialist, and others say he was spiritual and misunderstood and the Rubayat is deeply esoteric through mystic interpretations of its themes against Islamic teachings: drinking alcohol is forbidden in Islam. (Wikipedia, "Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam")

Some say the world is an inn, and we are the travellers. Inside that tavern, some like to drink. Others strive to do their duties instead of drinking much, and others again seek to combine drinking and toiling. It takes many sorts to make a world.

Yogananda source: Wine of the Mystic, p. 7 ff, and Self-Realization Magazine, Spring 1972:31-32.

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3rd Stanza

FitzGeralds' 1st and 5th ed.
And, as the Cock crew, those who stood before
The Tavern shouted – "Open then the Door!
You know how little while we have to stay,
And, once departed, may return no more."

Graves and Ali-Shah v. 3
'Loud crows the cock for his dawn drink, my Saki!'
Here stand we in the Vinter's Row, my Saki!'
'Is this an hour for prayer? Silence, my Saki!'
'Defy old custom, Saki; drink your fill!'

Graves and Ali-Shah v. 4
Rarest of lads, rising to greet the dawn;
Favour my bowl of crystal, pour red wine!
This moment filched from the grey corpse of night
We long may sigh for, never repossess.

Whinfield, v. 81, 258, 295
The Bulbul to the garden winged his way,
Viewed lily cups, and roses smiling gay,
Cried in ecstatic notes, "O live your life,
You never will relive this fleeting day."

Whoe'er returned of all that went before,
To tell of that long road they travel o'er?
Leave naught undone of what you have to do,
For when you go, you will return no more.

See! the dawn breaks, and rends night's canopy:
Arise! and drain a morning draught with me!
Away with gloom! full many a dawn will break
Looking for us, and we not here to see!

Bare Bones - Verse 3

The cock crows.
Now's the time to drink. Again. While we have a chance. Hurry!

✿✿✿

Yogananda Glossary, verse 3

The emphasised Yogananda words (in violet) are his interpretations.

  1. Cock: Wisdom, says Yogananda. If drinking is wise, or if it is wise drinking that is referred to, his interpretation may be termed tenable. However, there are many and other meanings of cock, rooster or cockerel. They include fanning out with brilliance; the cock as a solar symbol and sign of illumination; the messenger of the Underworld, screeching out warnings. Other attached meanings include courage, arrogance and flamboyance.

    One of the twelve signs of the Chinese zodiac, the Rooster is a Chinese symbol of honesty, and physical, moral fortitude and bossiness.

    Hearing a Rooster's voice in our dreams may indicate we need a wake-up call.

    The cockerel is an unofficial symbol of France too.

    In slang it refers to the penis. Depending on your interpretation, the imagined meanings of the verse change.

  2. Tavern: Bodily life. It is a yogi's interpretation.
  3. Door: Portal of inner silence. If a tavern of drinking people is ever quiet. A body door (opening) is meant, if the other guru interpretations are fit.
  4. Little while we have to stay: The short span of bodily life. It could be, although the guru may seem to stretch the meaning much at first glance.
  5. Once departed: Having left this earth forever, after acquiring wisdom. The essential Yogananda at this place is hardly: Drink so that you grab the cock - Drink for cockiness, and be annoying. If it is a cock of wisdom, it is a cock of wisdom. But it is not clearly stated in FitzGerald's verse, is it?
  6. May return no more: Need never again reincarnate. Perhaps, if "a cock of wisdom" helps that much.

All in all, the guru's interpretation tells of his view of life. There is some consistency in his appointing and interpreting of verse symbols this time. But where else does the cock serve as a symbol of wisdom? In tantra-yoga, in the wisdom of yab-yum. Yab-yum represents the primordial union of wisdom and compassion, depicted as a male deity in sexual union with his female consort. The "penis of wisdom" is there in the Buddhist art of India, Bhutan, Nepal, and Tibet. (Wikipedia, "Yab-yum") Yogananda's sections called Spiritual interpretation and Practical application can be boiled down to this:

Proper wisdom may awaken you: Make the best of this present life.

Keep awake to life's highest duties: Meditate to gain bliss.

By comparing translated verses and extracting a sort of "lowest common denominator" of them, we could end up with an inkling of what is Yogananda-inferred. Yet, consistent yoga interpretations do well not to mar an original by tendentious so-called interpretations derived from second-hand verses only.

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4th Stanza

FitzGeralds' 1st and 5th ed.
Now the New Year reviving old Desires.
The thoughtful Soul to Solitude retires,
Where the White Hand Of Moses on the Bough
Puts out, and Jesus from the Ground suspires.
Graves and Ali-Shah, v. 5
Now that our world finds riches within reach,
Live hearts awake and hanker for wide plains
Where every bough is blanched by Moses-hand
And every breeze perfumed by Jesus-breath.
Whinfield, v. 116, 201
Now spring-tide showers its foison on the land,
And lively hearts wend forth, a joyous band,
For 'Isa's breath wakes the dead earth to life,
And trees gleam white with flowers, like Musa's hand.

Now is the time earth decks her greenest bowers,
And trees, like Musa's hand, grow white with flowers!
As 'twere at 'Isa's breath the plants revive,
While clouds brim o'er, like tearful eyes, with showers.

Talbot, 13, 80
The world sighs out for Happiness, and saith
"The very desert liveth: where is Death?"
The hand of Moses blooms on many a bough,
And every breeze is sweet with Jesus' breath.

The sweet Spring-breezes now the world adorn,
In hope of rain its eyes salute the morn;
The hands of Moses whiten many a spray,
The breath of Jesus moves the thrusting corn.

Bare Bones - Verse 4

Spring! Branches blossom.
The air of plains smells nicely.

✿✿✿

The New Year is of spring and eagerness, and not winter-time: The first day of the Persian New Year is called Nowrus, and is celebrated on the day of the vernal equinox, which is ca. 21 March. [Wikipedia, sv. "Nowrus"]

Yogananda Glossary, verse 4

The emphasised Yogananda words are his interpretations.

  1. New year: New dawn of wisdom.
  2. Old desires: The age-old longing of the soul in quest of Spirit.
  3. The thoughtful soul: The soul that reasons and discriminates.* It is explained that "the soul . . . has no need to reason or discriminate." [p. 10].
  4. Solitude: The inner silence of spiritual consciousness.
  5. White Hand: Purified consciousness.
  6. Bough: Universal wisdom; Christ Consciousness.
  7. Ground: The cosmic delusion of mortality.

Musa is Moses and Isa Jesus.

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5th Stanza

FitzGeralds' 1st ed.
Iram indeed is gone with all his Rose,
And Jamshýd's Sev'n-ring'd Cup where no one knows;
But still the Vine her ancient Ruby yields,
And still a Garden by the Water blows.

FitzGeralds' 5th ed.
Iram indeed is gone with all his Rose,
And Jamshýd's Sev'n-ring'd Cup where no one knows;
But still a Ruby gushes from the Vine,
And many a Garden by the Water blows.

Whinfield, v. 5
Iram indeed is gone with all his Rose,
And Jamshyd's Sev'n-ring'd Cup where no one knows;
But still a Ruby kindles in the Vine,
And many a Garden by the Water blows.

Bare Bones - Verse 5

A famous rose garden is gone.
A famed divining cup as well.
However, there is still love in spirit(s)
And other gardens still exist.

✿✿✿

Yogananda Glossary, verse 5

The emphasised words are Yogananda's interpretations.

  1. Iram: Outward or sense-conscious state of man's mind and life. Iram: A fabulous garden supposed to have been planted in Arabia by Shaddad bin Ad. "Iram, planted by King Shaddad, and now sunk somewhere in the Sands of Arabia," says Heron-Allen in a verse note. [p. 29]
  2. Rose: Temporary sense pleasures. Roses are ancient symbols of love and beauty. Ancient Greeks and Romans identified the rose with their goddesses of love, Aphrodite, also known as Venus. The rose can symbolise much else, and has been used as an emblem of silence. The Hidden Meaning of Dreams further says that Freud considered the red rose to symbolise the female genitalia. [Hmd, sv. "Rose"]
  3. Jamshyd: The soul's kingly consciousness of Infinity. Jamshed was a king of the Kainian dynasty.
  4. Sevin-ringd cup: The cerebrospinal receptacle with its seven ring-like centers of consciousness and life. Through these seven plexuses the soul's life and consciousness descend from Spirit into the limitations of the body, and must ultimately ascend into the freedom of the Infinite.* Jamshyd's Seven-ring'd Cup was was a Divining Cup, and typical of the 7 Heavens, 7 Planets, 7 Seas, and so on, explains Heron-Allen [p. 29].
  5. Where no one knows: The average person is unaware of the existence of the spinal centers and of their spiritual significance.
  6. Vine: Soul.
  7. Ancient ruby: The age-old soul-bliss (the fruit or "ruby" grapes of the soul-vine). The ruby in the wine is a phrase or image that occurs in several quatrains, Whinfield shows. The ruby is a symbol of passionate love, according to The Dreamer's Dictionary [Ddu].
  8. Garden: Self-realization, blooming with spiritual qualities.
  9. Water: Wisdom.

Yogananda's claimed Omar interpretations are perhaps tedious, but maybe some of his good observations make up for it somehow? Below are mainly guru extracts:

There is a good reason for reasoning and discriminating well and enter the Presence. Souls have entered, found wisdom and freedom.

Garner the blossoms of success where they are found: Retire often to plan your life.

Being thoughtful and adequate is no sin.

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6th Stanza

FitzGeralds' 1st ed.
And David's Lips are lock't; but in divine
High piping Pehlevi, with "Wine! Wine! Wine!
"Red Wine!" – the Nightingale cries to the Rose
That yellow Cheek of her's to'incarnadine

FitzGeralds' 5th ed.
And David's lips are lockt; but in divine
High-piping Péhlevi, with "Wine! Wine! Wine!"
Red Wine!" – the Nightingale cries to the Rose
That sallow cheek of hers to incarnadine.

Graves and Ali-Shah v. 6
A glorious morning, neither hot nor dank,
With cheeks of roses newly bathed in dew;
The nightingale, in Pahlevi, prescribes
For every sallower cheek: 'Wine, wine and wine!

Whinfield, v. 119
Drink wine! and then as Mahmud thou wilt reign,
And hear a music passing David's strain:
Think not of past or future, seize to-day,
Then all thy life will not be lived in vain.

Bare Bones - Verse 6

A glorious morning.
Carpe diem! Seize today's music and drink wine, wine and wine!

✿✿✿

Yogananda Glossary, verse 6

The emphasised Yogananda words are his interpretations.

  1. David's lips are lock't: The voice of the Infinite is outwardly silent.
  2. High piping Pehlevi: The lofty language of divine wisdom. As Pehlevi (Pahlavi) is the tongue of the heroic age of Persia, so divine wisdom is the language of the Infinite.
  3. Red wine: Spiritually vitalizing divine bliss.
  4. Nightingale: Intuition. As the nightingale regales man with songs at night, so in the darkness of inner silence, wherein all material phenomena are obscured, truth sings through the devotee's intuition.
  5. Yellowcheeked rose: The spiritual aspirant, once rosy-cheeked and enthusiastic, whose life has paled with the severity of self-discipline and self-denial.
  6. To incarnadine: To crimson or vivify life with divine bliss.

Yogananda says a nightingale sings divinely, truly, wisely. That is because humans happen to like it. Most birds sing as fit for their kind. Some like the sound of seagulls too, and thus they scream "divinely, truly wisely", they too, so long as "Beauty is in the ear of the listener".

A wise man develops appreciations and a sensitive taste for life's finer joys, If crows and magpies dominate the bird chorus around the city dwellers, at least the bird sounds may be better than hearing no sounds at all, or the sounds of traffic jams.

Granted that, it is wisdom to go for cultivating superior joy fruits. Compare Buddha's karma teachings.

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7th Stanza

FitzGeralds' 1st ed.
Come, fill the Cup, and in the Fire of Spring
The Winter Garment of Repentance fling:
The Bird of Time has but a little way
To fly – and Lo! the Bird is on the Wing.

FitzGeralds' 5th ed.
Come, fill the Cup, and in the fire of Spring
Your Winter-garment of Repentance fling:
The Bird of Time has but a little way
To flutter – and the Bird is on the Wing.

Whinfield, v. 59, 212, 425
My law it is in pleasure's paths to stray,
My creed to shun the theologic fray;
I wedded Luck, and offered her a dower,
She said, "I want none, so thy heart be gay."

Ah! thou hast snared this head, though white as snow,
Which oft has vowed the wine-cup to forego;
And wrecked the mansion long resolve did build,
And rent the vesture penitence did sew!

Each morn I say, "To-night I will repent
Of wine, and tavern-haunts no more frequent";
But while 'tis spring, and roses are in bloom,
To loose me from my promise, O consent!

Talbot, v. 16
But bring me Wine; for words I do not care;
I have thy lips, and all my Heav'n is there;
Bring wine to match thy cheeks; my penitence
Is full of tangles as thy clust'ring hair.

Bare Bones - Verse 7

There is much else to say about
Luck as the pleasure of shunning theology.

✿✿✿

Yogananda Glossary, verse 7

The violet words in boldface are in the first edition of FitzGerald and not in translations that fit the occasion. Yogananda' interpretations of the FitzGerald words and phrases are violet too, but not in boldface.

  1. Fill the cup: Fill your consciousness.
  2. Fire of spring: The warmth of spiritual enthusiasm.
  3. Winter garment of repentance: The soul-bliss-freezing regret that follows sense indulgence.
  4. Bird of time: Fleeting, ever-changing human life.
  5. A little way to fly: Only a little time remains.
  6. The bird is on the wing: Life is flying away without any definite purpose.

"Bring me wine; I do not care for words," says Omar - [cf. Arthur Talbot's translation, Qo, v. 16]. Is the teaching, then, not to bother about what Omar said or did not say, and interpret what he probably did not write, as Yogananda did?

It is good to fill one's mind with positive stuff anyhow, for time flies, and with it, human life. Make the best of it - if you can in the wider perspective.

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Xth Stanza

No Verse – FitzGeralds' 1st ed.
[FitzGerald did not include this verse in his first edition.]

Verse 8 - FitzGeralds' 5th ed.
Whether at Naishápúr or Babylon,
Whether the Cup with sweet or bitter run,
The Wine of Life keeps oozing drop by drop,
The Leaves of Life keep falling one by one.

Graves and Ali-Shah 8
Life passes. What is Balkh? what is Baghdad?
The cup fills – should we care whether with bitter
Or sweet? Drink on! Know that long after us
The Moon must keep her long-determined course

Whinfield, v. 134
When life is spent, what's Balkh or Nishapore?
What sweet or bitter, when the cup runs o'er?
Come drink! full many a moon will wax and wane
In times to come, when we are here no more.

Talbot, v. 47
Who cares for Balkh or Baghdad? Life is fleet;
And what though bitter be the cup, or sweet,
So it be full? This moon, when we are gone,
The circling months will day by day repeat.

Bare Bones - Verse x

The cup of life keeps falling asunder.
Wine on while you still can!

✿✿✿

Explanation: FitzGerald included a verse 8 in later editions. It was not in his first edition. The base of his verse is also in the translations of Graves and Ali-Shaw, Whinfield and Talbot.

Yogananda Glossary

None (because the verse is missing in FitzGerald's first edition).

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8th Stanza

FitzGeralds' 1st ed
And look – a thousand Blossoms with the Day
Woke – and a thousand scatter'd into Clay:
And this first Summer Month that brings the Rose
Shall take Jamshýd and Kaikobád away.

FitzGeralds' 5th ed.
Each Morn a thousand Roses brings, you say:
Yes, but where leaves the Rose of Yesterday?
And this first Summer month that brings the Rose
Shall take Jamshyd and Kaikobád away.

Graves and Ali-Shah v. 9
Rest in the rose's shade, though winds have burst
A world of blossom; petals fall to dust –
Jamsheds and Khusros by the hundred thousand
Lie tumbled by a similar stroke of time.

Bare Bones - Verse 8

Roses blossom and wither;
Like us they do.

✿✿✿

Neither Whinfield nor Talbot seem to have any matching verses.

Yogananda Glossary verse 8

As usual here, the violet words in boldface are in the first edition of FitzGerald and not in the translations that are provided. Yogananda' interpretations of the FitzGerald words and phrases are in violet too, but not in boldface.

  1. Blossoms: Good and bad qualities that bloom in and around the soul.
  2. Day: Awakening of wisdom.
  3. Woke: Manifested.
  4. Scatter'd into clay: Destroyed by wisdom.
  5. First summer month: Spiritual ardor, and the ecstasy of deep meditation.
  6. Rose: Self-realization.
  7. Jamshyd and Kaikobad: The spiritual sovereignty of realized souls.

When a man meditates deeply and finds the rose blooming in his house, so to speak, his duty as a gardener ceases, says Yogananda, for such a rose is free to roam (!) Other lovely flowers may die in the arms of time while such a rose blooms along and is not compelled to live on earth.

That is his teaching. The rose is a figurative element in it. The body house is too.

One may compare Yogananda's flower teachings with what is taught about "flowers along the spine" in the "body house" in tantra yoga, where there is a systematic presentation of figurative lotuses (called chakras) with differing petals along the "interior spine", or sushumna nadi [See Spo 1974]

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9th Stanza

FitzGeralds' 1st ed
But come with old Khayyám, and leave the Lot
Of Kaikobád and Kaikhosrú forgot!
Let Rustum cry "To Battle!" as he likes,
Or Hátim Tai cry Supper – heed them not.

FitzGeralds' 5th ed.
Well, let it take them! What have we to do
With Kaikobád the Great, or Kaikhosrú?
Let Zál and Rustum bluster as they will,
Or Hátim call to Supper – heed not you.

Graves and Ali-Shah v. 10
One ample draught outdoes the fame of Kawus,
Kobad the Glorious or Imperial Tus.
Friend, never bow your neck even to Rustum
Nor proffer thanks even to Hatim Tai.

Whinfield, v. 455
Whilst thou dost wear this fleshy livery,
Step not beyond the bounds of destiny;
Bear up, though very Rustems be thy foes,
And crave no boon from friends like Hatim Tai!

Bare Bones - Verse 9

Have an ample draught.
Mind your own business first of all.

✿✿✿

Yogananda Glossary, verse 9

The violet words in boldface are in the first edition of FitzGerald and not in the translations that are provided along with it. Yogananda' interpretations of the FitzGerald words and phrases are in violet too, but not in boldface.

  1. Old Khayyam: Age-old wisdom that brings soul liberation.
  2. Kaikobadand Kaikhosru: Forgotten souls once incarnate on earth.
  3. Rustum: Potentially great soul who wastes life in temporal pleasures.
  4. Hatim Tai: The worldly-minded man who intently pursues mundane duties.
  5. Cry supper: Unthinking attachment to material activities.

What Yogananda thinks

Merely mourning the lot of others will not save you from a fate like theirs.

It is seldom wise to imitate the ways of those who are bound for grave disillusionment.

Never mind the fools who are indolent or engrossed in mundane life. You can cultivate wisdom which gives happiness.

The rich and powerful while away their time and death.

People eat breakfast, lunch, and supper, pursue their material duties; yet they die like gold-laden mules, unaware of much else.

The divine philosopher is the truly happy man. Therefore, cultivate wisdom which gives happiness.

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10th Stanza

FitzGeralds' 1st ed.
With me along some Strip of Herbage strown
That just divides the desert from the sown,
Where name of Slave and Sultan scarce is known,
And pity Sultán Máhmúd on his Throne.

5th ed, v. 11
That just divides the desert from the sown,
With me along the strip of Herbage strown
Where name of Slave and Sultán is forgot –
And Peace to Máhmúd on his golden Throne!

Talbot, v. 151
Where'er on earth my wand'ring gaze I place,
A garden lav'd by Kausar's stream I trace;
Heaven in the desert, Hell hath disappear'd,
And Paradise is in her Angel face.

Bare Bones - Verse 10

For some reason the poet seems to prefer his heavy drinking.
He could have found a garden by the desert.

✿✿✿

A garden or oasis, a place to drink and sleep beneath the trees: You may not have thought about it, but kriya "quiet gasping" has a lot in common with whisky drinking too.

Yogananda Glossary, verse 10

The highlighted Yogananda words are interpretations.

  1. Strip of herbage: Narrow plot of superconsclousness, the soul's evernew wisdom, hidden between subconsciousness and waking consciousness.
  2. Divides: Subtly separates.
  3. Desert: The desolate subconscious mind, where the fresh daily experiences of the conscious mind are lost and buried.
  4. The sown: Atmosphere of material civilization cultivated by the conscious mind.
  5. Slave: Subject to instincts, illusions, and distractions of the subconscious mind.
  6. Sultan: Powerfully developed material consciousness.
  7. Pity Sultan Mahmud on his throne: Feel compassion for those who vainly seek happiness in temporal power.

Yogananda based

The dreary desert of delusion, wrong, ensnaring actions may be teeming with people who are lonely even in a crowd, and joyless in the middle of false pleasures.

Sleep can do you good, but may be crowded out during the busy wakeful state. Free yourself by deeply rejuvenating sleep. Deep sleep and beyond it to the experience of pure consciousness, turiya, which is neither a dreary waste nor a cultivated centre of restless living. [More on the value of sound sleep]

Haphazard-looking Wisdom of Yogananda

In the previous verse glossaries, Yogananda reads wisdom into eleven different things - and many of them appear to be FitzGerald-inventions and not by any medieval poet either:

  • Hunter of the East (verse 1),
  • noose of light (1),
  • cock (3),
  • New Year (4),
  • New dawn (4),
  • high piping Pehlevi (6),
  • day (8),
  • bough (4),
  • water (6),
  • old Khayyam (9),
  • strip of herbage (10).

Last Words

Yogananda's Wine of the Mystic is of poor quality and little importance.

Contents


Yogananda Rubaiyat Commentary, Wine of the Mystic, Literature  

Arnot, Robert Page, ed. The Sufistic Quatrains of Omar Khayyam in Definitive Form: Including the Translations of Edward Fitzgerald (with Edward Heron-Allen's Analysis) E. H. Whinfield [and] J. B. Nicolas. London: M. Walter Dunne, 1903. ⍽▢⍽ Good for some comparison work. Online at archive.org.

Graves, Robert and Ali-Shah, Omar: The Rubaiyyat of Omar Khayyam. Cassell. London, 1967. ⍽▢⍽ May be closer to original Persian than the version produced by Edward Fitzgerald. However, the source of Omar Ali-Shah's version was most likely a study by Edward Heron-Allen (below). Since Ali-Shah did not inform about it, but claimed that the manuscript used had been in his family for 800 years, the reputation of the poet Graves and the credibility of Ali-Shah got severe blows.

Heron-Allen, Edward, tr., ed. The Ruba'iyat of Omar Khayyam. London: H. S. Nichols, 1898. ⍽▢⍽ The manuscript that FitzGerald used to produce his Rubaiyat, was copied for him by a professor at Cambridge, and a photographic facsimile was given to Allen. He translated the Persian into English prose in 1898, with a view to showing how far FitzGerald's work was a correct rendering of the original, and how far an adaption.

Inner Culture (Mag.): See Self-Realization Magazine.

Khayyam, Omar. The Ruba'iyat. Trs. Peter Avery and John Heath Stubbs. Reprint paperback ed. London: Penguin Books, 1989. ⍽▢⍽ One of the better translations, with no effort to rhyme the poem. Here are 235 quatrains, more than twice as many as in FitzGerald's. Materialism is clearly expressed.

Khayyam, Omar. Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam: Rendered into English Verse by Edward Fitzgerald. Online Etext: Urbana, IL: The Gutenberg Project, 2008. ⍽▢⍽ The first and fifth editions, with notes. Some notes explain phrases or terms so they make more sense across the centuries and cultural differences.

Self-Realization Magazine. Los Angeles: Self-Realization Fellowship.

Talbot, Arthur B. Quatrains of Omar Khayyáám. London, Elkin Mathews, 1909. ⍽▢⍽ Talbot cast Heron-Allen's literal prose translation into a metric form. His aim was to give as literal a metric rendering as possible. Heron-Allen made many valuable suggestions to him.

Whinfield, Edward H., tr. The Quatrains of Omar Khayyam. 2nd, corrected and enl. ed. London: Kegan Paul, Trench, Trubner, 1901. ⍽▢⍽ 500 stanzas of fine quality.

Yogananda, Paramahansa. The Wine of the Mystic. Paperback ed. Los Angeles: Self-Realization Fellowship, 1996 (1994).

Yogananda, Paramhansa. The Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam. 2nd ed. Nevada City, CA: Crystal Clarity Publishers, 2008. ⍽▢⍽

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