The Rubaiyat: Quatrain 1

by Paramhansa Yogananda; edited by Swami Kriyananda

From The Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam, Explained

Quatrain One

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 Sultan’s Turret in a Noose of Light.


Thus sang the inner Silence:

"Forsake your sleep of ignorance: Awake!

"For the dawn of wisdom has flung into the dark bowl of your unknowing the stone of spiritual discipline—that weapon of divine power that can break the bowl and put to flight the paling stars of earthly desire.

"Behold, Wisdom—’the Hunter of the East’—has cast a noose of light to encircle the kingly minaret of your egoic pride: wisdom to free you at last from the long night of spiritual ignorance!"

Expanded Meaning

Forsake delusion! Absorb into your innermost Self the calm light of wisdom.

Listen! your soul calls you to embrace a new adventure. As the sun travels from east to west across the sky, so does the light of civilization and of knowledge move across the earth. From the east comes Wisdom’s call: Awake! all you who sleep in ignorance.

What has pride brought you but melancholia and pain?—dark products of soul-ignorance. Dispel gloom forever: Abide from today onward in the light of inner peace.

Keys To Meaning

Morning—The dawn of awakening from delusive material existence.

Bowl of Night—The dark night of soul-ignorance.

Stone—Delusion-shattering acts of spiritual self-discipline.

Stars—Falsely attractive material desires.

Hunter of the East—Eastern wisdom, hunter and destroyer of delusion.

Sultan’s Turret—The kingly minaret of pride.

Noose of Light—The light of wisdom, which, like a lasso, haloes the darkness of ego to ensnare it, transforming it forever into kindred light.

* * * * * * *

Editorial Comment

It has long been a tradition in the East to face eastward during prayer and meditation. The reason, Paramhansa Yogananda explained, is that subtle rays of wisdom radiate westward over the earth.

It is a tenet in other traditions also that enlightenment comes from the east. American Indian tribes, for example, believe that a dwelling place should be built with its entrance eastward—"from whence," claim the Sioux Indians, "all good things come."

Kedem (meaning "that which lies before, or in front") is the Hebrew word for east, and implies the direction to be faced during prayer.

In mystical tradition, east also represents the forehead, specifically the point midway between the eyebrows. Modern medicine would identify this point with the region just behind it, in the frontal lobe of the brain. This area is, anatomically speaking, the most advanced part of the brain. The devotee, by concentrating deeply here, finds the "sun" of inner, spiritual vision dawning upon his consciousness.

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