Whispers from Eternity: Original and Edited Poems Compared
Two books with the same title
Many devotees consider Paramhansa Yogananda’s collection of spiritualized prose poems, Whispers from Eternity, to be his most beautiful and inspiring book. The first edition, copyrighted 1929, was received with rave reviews, heart-felt praise by writers and poets, and deep appreciation by devotees.
Yogananda himself ranked Whispers with the Christian and Hindu bibles. He said, “There are three Bibles which I read and from which I draw my outer inspiration: the Christian Bible, the Hindu Bhagavad Gita, and my Whispers from Eternity, which were given to me by God.” (Spiritual Recipe, East-West Magazine, May 1932)
Self-Realization Fellowship currently publishes and sells two entirely different books entitled Whispers from Eternity. Sincere devotees very much want to know which book contains the whispers that were given to Paramhansa Yogananda “by God”?
History and Background
The first edition of Whispers from Eternity was published in 1929. The “third enlarged edition,” published in 1935, includes all of the 1929 edition, plus twenty-nine more poems, chants, essays, and prayers. The fifth revised edition, copyrighted 1949, is identical to the 1935 version, except two works were added and two others deleted. From 1929 to 1949, Whispers was enlarged but otherwise unchanged.
Seven years after Yogananda’s passing, SRF published the revised eighth edition of Whispers from Eternity. This is a completely different book, rewritten by Tara Mata under the guise of “editing.” In this 1959 version, large sections have been removed, including much of the instruction in how to pray and how to use the book. Of what remains, almost every sentence has been changed.
Later, when the 1929 edition went into the public domain, an independent company, Amrita Foundation, Inc., published it. Devotees, able now to compare Yogananda’s original to Tara’s edited version, protested. So in 1981 SRF reprinted the 1949 edition as Whispers from Eternity, First Version, even though it is, in fact, the third version.
SRF also continues to publish Tara’s edited 1959 version, now in the ninth printing.
Comparison of Original and Edited Poems
“Prayer at Dawn” and “Prayer at Eventide”
These are particularly interesting because there is an SRF recording of Yogananda saying these prayers. (Chants and Prayers: The Voice of Paramahansa Yogananda.)
You hear his powerful voice saying, “I, Paramhansa Yogananda, am praying with you. Pray with me….” The prayers that follow are exactly the same as in the 1949/1981 version of Whispers. They flow from him in powerful, finished form, as he himself describes it, “received from God.”
Comparison of “Prayer at Dawn”
|1949/1981 reprint, SRF||9th Edition, 1986, SRF|
|With the opening of the earliest dawn and the lotus-buds,||At dawn and the opening of lotus buds,|
|my soul softly opens in prayer to receive Thy light.||my soul flower softly unfolds to receive Thy light.|
|Bathe each petal of my mind with Thy radiant rays!||Each petal is bathed in rays of bliss.|
|I saturate myself with the perfume of Thy presence, and I wait to waft with the breeze the aroma of Thy message of love to all.||The early breezes waft the perfume of Thy presence.|
|Bless me, that with the spreading dawn I may spread Thy love everywhere.||Bless me, that with the spreading aurora I spread to all men Thy message of love.|
|Bless me, that with the awakening dawn I may awaken all souls with my own and bring them to Thee.||With the awakening day may I awaken countless souls with my own and bring them to Thee.|
Comparison of “Prayer at Eventide”
|1949/1981 reprint, SRF||9th Edition, 1986, SRF|
|The day is done.||The day is done.|
|Refreshed and sanctified with the sunshine of the day,||Purified by its sunshine,|
|I pass through the portals of evening, dimly adorned with faint stars, to enter into the temple of silence and worship Thee.||I pass through the faintly starlit portals of evening.|
|I worship Thy Spirit of approaching calmness.||I bow to Thine approaching Spirit of calmness.|
|What prayers shall I offer, for I have no words to offer Thee?||What prayers shall I offer? For I have no words worthy of Thee.|
|I shall light a little fire of devotion on the altar of my soul.||On the altar of my heart I will light a fire of devotion.|
|Will that light suffice to bring Thee into my dark temple—my dimly lighted temple, dark with my ignorance?||Shall that little blaze suffice to attract Thee to my temple—dimly illumined, long dark with ignorance?|
|Come! I crave, I yearn for Thee!||Come, O Lord, I yearn for Thee!|
“Prayer at Noon”
There are 110 words in the poem as Yogananda wrote it. The 15 boldfaced words are the only words that also appear in Tara’s edited version.
everything is fully awake.
Awaken Thou me, likewise!
Thou art invisible, yet Thine energy flows through the rays of sunshine.
Fill my veins with Thine invisible rays,
making me strong and tireless.
As the sun shines in the busiest streets, may I behold Thy rays of protecting love in the crowded places of my life’s activities.
As the light shines steadily, undisturbed, on the street, whether crowded or empty,
so May I hold my calmness and my strength steadily,
while I move through the crowded or empty streets of life.
Give me strength; and what I receive, teach me to share with others