Image: GURRU (Gyana Prabha) GHOSH Mother of Paramahansa Yogananda
40. “Two Black Eyes”
The phrase “two black eyes” operates both as an image and also as a symbol of eternal, spiritual love in Paramahansa Yogananda’s poems about his belovèd mother.
Introduction and Excerpt from “Two Black Eyes”
In Paramahansa Yogananda’s spiritual classic, Autobiography of a Yogi, the great guru avers: “I loved Mother as my dearest friend on earth. Her solacing black eyes had been my refuge in the trifling tragedies of childhood.” But at the tender age of eleven years, the little boy, known then as Mukunda Lal Ghosh, lost those two black solacing eyes when his mother unexpectedly died.
The young Mukunda deeply loved his father, his three brothers, and four sisters, but the loss of his mother was a crushing blow; he asserts, “Years passed before any reconciliation entered my heart. Storming the very gates of heaven, my cries at last summoned the Divine Mother.”
That poignant image of “two black eyes” becomes a symbol for loving protection, and the importance of that image for the yogi/poet is displayed repeatedly throughout his written works, especially throughout his creative writing, but also from time to time, he invokes that image in his philosophical writings.
Excerpt from “Two Black Eyes”
When my brother or my teacher
Stormed at me,
In the haven of my mother’s two black eyes
I found my retreat.
She died —
And I cried —
And I sought those lost two eyes everywhere.
I searched in the stars,
Until, bedimmed by my tears,
They twinkled black eyes everywhere.
The symbolic importance of “two black eyes” in the literary works of Paramahansa Yogananda cannot be overstated. They became his guiding force while he was still a child, and that force motivated him to seek the Ultimate Reality, the Mother of the Cosmos, and in so doing, he became the great guru capable of leading others to finding their own equivalent for which that symbol stands.
It remains no less remarkable that Paramahansaji himself possessed two black eyes, giving the same comfort to his devotees that his mother’s eyes gave to him.
First Movement: A Storm-Tossed World
Paramahansa Yogananda’s poem, “Two Black Eyes,” begins with a storm-tossed world which, nevertheless, offered a safe harbor of security and comfort for the speaker’s young soul. After disagreements with his siblings or teachers, the young lad could withdraw into the welcoming arms of his mother, whose eyes became for him a symbol of unconditional love and safety.
The mother’s loving strength and kindness healed the lad of the worldly wounds inflicted by others. This mother became the young boy’s “haven” and “retreat” from the sharp edges that the world inflicts upon its inhabitants.
Second Movement: A Devastating Event
For any young child who depends so strongly upon a mother’s guidance and protection, the sudden death of that mother would be a devastating event. The speaker proclaims, “I cried.” But then he began immediately “storming the gates of heaven,” searching for the solace that was now so cruelly ripped out of his life.
The young lad literally looked to the heavens “in the stars,” for those two black eyes that had nurtured him in his time of distress. Through his tears, he seemed to see “black eyes everywhere” twinkling in those stars.
But alas! they were not those black eyes that he had lost to cruel death. The youth had to keep searching. His little broken heart would not allow him to cease his search for those two shelters.
Third Movement: Mothering Black Eyes
The speaker reports that although many other sets of black eyes attempted to “mother” him, he could not be satisfied with them. Those generous eyes of others were not the eyes of his mother who had stolen his heart.
The speaker’s love for his mother prompted him to reject the affection of others; he intuitively understood the difference between his love for his mother’s “two black eyes” and the affection offered by relatives and friends who would try to stand in her stead.
Fourth Movement: Storming the Gates of Heaven
Because the speaker could find no solace in the eyes of any other human being, he continues his search for the “two black eyes” that could offer him what the needed. Thus after he had searched and stormed the gates of heaven, the young lad finally contacts his “Divine Mother.”
In attracting his Divine Mother, he intuits that he has also discovered his shelter of the original mother-love that guided him and guarded him in his turbulent childhood.
The Divine Mother offers not only that long-lost love of those “lost two black eyes” but also the Divine Love that every soul is seeking, as She reveals to the searching young Mukunda:
It is I who have watched over thee, life after life, in the tenderness of many mothers! See in My gaze the two black eyes, the lost beautiful eyes, thou seekest! (Autobiography of a Yogi, “My Mother’s Death and the Mystic Amulet”)
In the shelter of unity with the Creator Divine (Divine Mother), the speaker finds his permanent haven, his everlasting retreat from the trammels of the chaotic world.