Early years in India (1931 – 1964)
Sri Chinmoy was born in a little village of Shakpura in the East of India (now Bangladesh) on 27th August 1931 as the youngest one of seven children. He grew up in a harmonious atmosphere of a spiritual family with parents who were full of love, three brothers and three sisters. The whole family was devoted to spiritual life in the most sincere way, and his eldest brother Chita enounced worldly life and joined Sri Aurobindo’s Ashram. As a child, Sri Chinmoy visited the Ashram twice and met The Mother. When he was 11, his father passed away, and a year later, his mother too. All the children, including Chinmoy, moved to the Ashram where they practiced a life of spiritual discipline, prayer and meditation. In the Ashram young Chinmoy had the deepest spiritual experiences which led to God realization. That happened in Chinmoy’s early years and in fact, according to his own words, was only a “renewal” of the realization he had achieved in his previous lives. The next 20 years he spent in the Ashram deepening his realization and progressing spiritually up to unimagined heights. The Ashram life and Sri Aurobindo’s teaching meant balanced development of all parts of a being–heart, mind, vital energy and physical body, so Chinmoy worked intensively on acquiring outer education at the Ashram school, as well as on strengthening his body by going in for sports. He was especially successful in athletics. For many years he was the Ashram’s champion in many disciplines. During his life at the Ashram he started writing poetry and translating spiritual writings mostly from Bengali into English.
In the West (1964 – 2007)
When he was 32, he got an inner call to go to the West, to America, in order to share his realization through inspiration and spiritual guidance with seekers from the other side of the ocean. Following that call, in 1964 he moved to America, New York City, where he spent the rest of his life. Slowly, a group of spiritual seekers started gathering around him. They became his disciples and founded the first Sri Chinmoy Centres. In the following decades, the Centres will spread to about 50 countries on all continents. Sri Chinmoy’s activities will expand to lots of fields with the aim of manifesting his inner light in art, literature, sport, university lectures, as well as in other numerous spheres of life.
Sri Chinmoy deeply believed that United Nations had the capacity to be an instrument of peace among nations and he served that ideal for 37 years. At the invitation of the UN General Secretary U Thant, in 1970 he started conducting meditations dedicated to peace at the UN Headquarters in New York and he remained consistent to this activity till the end of his earthly life.
“The United Nations is humanity’s home. The lofty vision of the United Nations is that we all belong to a peace-loving oneness-world-family. This vision will eventually transform the face and fate of the world.”
In order to support the ideal of interfaith tolerance and oneness among religions, Sri Chinmoy took part in several interfaith activities. He believed in deep oneness of all religions and in their common direction towards the Good. In 1993 he was invited to open the Parliament of the World’s Religions in Chicago with the silent meditation, on the one hundredth anniversary of the first addressing of a spiritual Master from India, swami Vivekananda at this Parliament. Later in 2004, he was asked again to open the Parliament of the World’s Religions in Barcelona.
“If we live in our oneness-heart, we will feel the essence of all religions which is the love of God. Forgiveness, compassion, tolerance, brotherhood and the feeling of oneness are the signs of a true religion.”
“Yes, I believe in one God, one Source. Love of God is like a tree — the life-tree — and it has many branches. Each of the branches has its own identity and its own name, such as Christianity, Buddhism, Hinduism, Judaism, Islam and so forth. But they are still branches of the same tree.”
Sri Chinmoy wrote and published 1573 books using various literature forms like prose, aphorisms, poems, questions and answers, stories and plays. His university lectures were published as well. The richness of forms is the result of the variety of topics he dealt with – from the deepest spiritual topics and plays about the lives of great spiritual Masters, to anecdote retelling of daily events and humorous stories. The majority of his writings can be found through: http://www.srichinmoylibrary.com/
Poetry was Sri Chinmoy’s favorite mean of expression – he wrote over 70 000 poems. Till the end of his life he cherished a concise, aphoristic form through which he dealt with the most various topics of spiritual life – from seekers’ inner cry and problems on the way to the Goal, to the experiences of the complete union with the Absolute. The most of those aphorisms were published in the serials “Ten Thousand Flower-Flames”, “Twenty-Seven Thousand Aspiration-Plants” and “Seventy-Seven Thousand Service-Trees”.
“A sea of Peace and Joy and Light Beyond my reach I know.
In me the storm-tossed weeping night Finds room to rage and flow…”
(Sri Chinmoy, from ‘The Golden Flute’)
In November 1974 Sri Chinmoy painted his first piece of art. Although without formal art education, he established his own, unique art style called “Jharna-Kala”(Fountain-Art). The formats of his pieces of art range from tiny pencil drawings to huge colorful acrylic paintings. He painted over 200 000 paintings that were exhibited at over 20 leading world’s galleries, including Louvre inParis. According to the words of the author, the purpose of this art is to expressthe soul’s world in the way that will inspire people.
“Usually when I draw, I try to be in a contemplative mood — in a prayerful, soulful consciousness — and I do not talk.”
Read more on: https://www.srichinmoyart.com/
The Soul Birds
In 1991 on Malta Sri Chinmoy started a new project – “Soul Birds“. In the following 16 years he painted over 15 million of these birds. For Sri Chinmoy these birds symbolize freedom and aspiration of a soul. At one of his exhibitions a renowned violinist Yehudi Menuhin commented them in the following way: “I congratulate you on this beautiful achievement that gives wings to us, people, and transforms us into birds which we tried to compete with.”
“These birds represent unity in multiplicity. Here we have 70,000 birds. Each bird is different, but when you look at them, you feel unity. As soon as we think of the bird-consciousness, it is one. The bird-consciousness represents the consciousness of our soul’s inner freedom.” – Sri Chinmoy
Read more: http://www.srichinmoyart.com/soul-birds/
Sri Chinmoy was a prolific composer – he composed 22 000 songs in English, as well as in Bengali. In many cases, he composed music to his own poems, but very often he created lyrics and music simultaneously, which were written down by his disciples. He met a lot of prominent musicians like Pablo Casals, Leonard Bernstein and Yehudi Menuhin. Here is what they told about Sri Chinmoy’s creative work:
“You are a miraculous model of the abundance in the creative life that we lesser mortals seek, and I can only hope that I may some day meet you and perhaps participate in that cosmic fountain of stillness and profound energy which you inhabit.”
“I am most grateful to you for the most wonderful moment of my life. Bless you, bless you, bless you!” – Don Pablo Casals
“What Sri Chinmoy does is God-given. He has a tremendous, a fantastic creative urge.” – Pundit Ravi Shankar
Listen music on: http://www.radiosrichinmoy.org
In 1984 Sri Chinmoy held his first Peace concert in Cologne, Germany. In the following 23 years he held free concerts around the world, including the ones in concert halls like Royal Albert Hall in London, Carnegie Hall in New York, Nippon Budokan in Tokyo and Opera House in Sydney. He held 777 concerts dedicated to peace. Music that he performed was simple, spontaneous and addressed to the heart, not to the mind.
“Music is the psychic enlightenment. Music is the supreme fulfillment of the aspiring human soul.”–Sri Chinmoy
Watch more on: http://www.srichinmoyconcert.org/
In April 1997 the first Peace Torch was lit in New York signifying the beginning of a global peace manifestation – Peace Run. It is a relay run that passes through more than 150 countries on all continents. The motto of the run is: “Peace begins with me” and its aim is rising of consciousness about the need for peace, as well as giving the opportunity to all the people to take part in spreading this idea. Peace Run takes place every two years.The average annual route is over 40 000 km which are about the width of Equator. Since the beginning of this manifestation, the runners have covered about 600 000km – whichis as if they have run from the Earth to the Moon and back. More than 7 million people of all races, nations, faiths and age have carried the Peace Torch and more than 25 000 schools participated. Everyone who wishes can take part in the run, no matter if he/she runs tens of kilometers or just a few steps.
“This Peace Run is not only unprecedented; it is also the very beginning of something that humanity and Mother Earth will forever and forever treasure”
Read more on: http://www.peacerun.org
“Running helps us considerably. Running is continuous motion. Because of our running, we feel that there is a goal — not only an outer goal but also an inner goal.” – SriChinmoy
Sri Chinmoy started goingin to sports in India and continued it actively in America. He ran 21 marathons and 5 ultra marathons. The significant part of his philosophy is that age is not an obstacle – he himself took part in various athletic competitions up to his elderly age, promoting an attitude that we do not compete with others, but solely with ourselves, trying to transcend our own best results. Self transcendence is the basic motto of all races organized by Sri Chinmoy Marathon Team.
“Self-transcendence gives us joy in boundless measure. When we transcend ourselves, we do not compete with others. We do not compete with the rest of the world, but at every moment we compete with ourselves.”
“Age is no barrier. I find that the mind makes us feel we are very old. The moment I use my heart, I am 20 years old again. When we experience deep meditation, we see that spiritual energy is the source of physical, vital and mental energy.” – SriChinmoy
Sri Chinmoy Marathon Team was founded in 1997 and since then it has organized numerous marathons, ultra marathons and triathlons. Throughout the years SCMT has become the biggest world’s organizer of long distance races: marathons, ultra marathons, triathlons, ultra distance swimming and events that include several sports. The famous races are the ones on 700, 1 000 and 1300 miles in New York, as well as 6 and 10 day races.
Sri Chinmoy Marathon Team organizes the longest certificated race in the world – 3100 Mile Self Transcendence Race (about 5 000 km). Starting in 1997 this race takes place every year in New York, Jamaica, Queens. New York Times describes this event as “Everest ultra distance running”. The race lasts 52 days and the participants have to cover 96.5 km daily – more than two marathons. Sri Chinmoy met a number of prominent runners like Jesse Owens, Carl Lewis, Emil Zatopek and Paula Radcliff.
Read more on: http://www.srichinmoyraces.org
Until 1985 Sri Chinmoy wasn’t much interested in weightlifting. But in his age of 54 he opened a new chapter in his going in for sports – lifting up huge weights in most different ways. From his age of 54 to 76 he made progress and achieved results that puzzled and amazed the world’s greatest authorities in this field. They said the following about his lifting:
“I have learned from Sri Chinmoy that the size of the arm does not make the man; the size of the heart makes the man. Nobody on earth has done what Sri Chinmoy has done.” – Bill Pearl, five time Mr. Universe and World’s best built man of the 20th century.
“Sri Chinmoy is a very spiritual man. I feel the reason Sri Chinmoy lifted this weight is because of his love of God and belief that through God all things are possible. This man has done the impossible because of faith, wisdom and love of God. Through God we can do anything and He allows us to reach beyond human endeavours.” – Muhammad Ali, one of the greatest boxers of all times
Sri Chinmoy’s motive was, as he had said, to inspire humanity and to show that age is not an obstacle for progress. He broke series of records in this field in the age when those, who used to go in for this sport, are already retired. He lifted huge weights, cars, elephants, planes and – people.
“I am trying, according to my humble capacity, to be of dedicated service to the world…. All this I am doing to inspire others. … Inspiration is a divine element inside our life. When we are inspired, we try to climb up the Himalayas. When we are inspired, we try to swim the English Channel. When we are inspired, we go from one country to another country to inspire people and to be inspired by them. I feel that when we inspire humanity, we automatically become good citizens of the world. This is my philosophy. My weightlifting feats I have done solely to inspire humanity.” – Sri Chinmoy
Read more on: http://www.inspiration-lifts.org
Lifting up the World with a Oneness-Heart
Sri Chinmoy used weightlifting to honor, in a unique way, people who were in various ways inspiration to their communities and to the world. The programme “Lifting up the World with a Oneness-Heart“ went on from 1988 to 2007. On a specially constructed platform Sri Chinmoy lifted overhead over 8 300 people, including Nelson Mandela, Carl Lewis, Muhammad Ali, numerous actors, singers, artists, strugglers for the world peace, but also entirely anonymous people from all walks of life, offering them in that way respect and acknowledgement.
“I am trying with my capacity to encourage and inspire people in various walks of life who have inspired others in sports, literature, science or politics, or in their own personal lives. I lift them up to show my appreciation for their achievements” – Sri Chinmoy
Read more on: http://www.inspiration-lifts.org/lifting-up-the-world/
Sri Chinmoy called his teachings the “Path of the heart” or the “Path of love,devotion and surrender.” It is the path on which the emphasis is on bhakti yoga (the path of devotion), but it also includes karma yoga (selfless service to the world) and jnana yoga (yoga of wisdom). In a broader sense it is an integral path on which a disciple accepts the world and lives in it, in contrast to the old traditions that require withdrawal from the world. Sri Chinmoy never charged his guidance and he described the role of a Guru or a Spiritual Master as the role of an elder brother in a family:
“Guru is a Sanskrit word which means “he who illumines”. The one who offers illumination is called a Guru. According to my own inner realisation I wish to say that there is only one real Guru, and that is the Supreme.” – Sri Chinmoy
Sri Chinmoy’s path
Sri Chinmoy did not want to found a religion. He said that he only offered a spiritual path in tradition of yoga. According to him, many paths can lead to the same goal. There is no conflict among different religions and paths and each seeker should choose the one that suits him most.
Read more on: https://www.srichinmoy.org/sri_chinmoy/sri-chinmoys-path
Sri Chinmoy entered Mahasamadhi on 11th October 2007 early in the morning. The previous evening he held a usual meditative function with his disciples in New York.The last poem in his last book of poetry, that he had published just a few days before, was:
“My physical death is not the end of my life–I am an eternal journey.”
A selection of awards and recognition conferred on Sri Chinmoy during his lifetime.
Pilgrim of Peace Award. (Pellegrino di Pace) Presented by: Centro Internazionale Per la Pace Fra I Popoli. 16 May 1998, Galleria Palazzo Colonna, Roma.
The Gold Papal Seals. Presented by: Pope Paul VI, 22 March 1972 and 27 June 1973 for service to humanity.
Distinguished Service Award. Presented by: United Nations Association of America 1976, 1977.
United Nations Silver Medallion. Presented by: United Nations Secretary General Kurt Waldheim, 16 July 1976 — “In appreciation for Sri Chinmoy’s work at the United Nations and in recognition of his work for world peace.”
New York Marathon Medal. Presented by: Fred Lebow, President of the New York Road Runners Club, 1977.
Hindu of the Year Award. Presented by: Hinduism Today 1997.
Jesse Owens Humanitarian Award. Presented by: The Jesse Owens Foundation, 15 November 2002, Chicago.