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Culture

Sri Chinmoy: Beloved Spiritual Leader Passes Away

Sri ChinmoyInformation compiled by Nicole Pugh

Internationally renowned leader and spiritual teacher Sri Chinmoy passed away on October 12, 2007 in his home in Queens, New York. The cause of death was a heart attack. Sri Chinmoy was loved and respected worldwide and hailed as a modern day renaissance man. He wrote over 1,600 books, composed thousands of pieces of music and played over 800 Peace Concerts in venues like Lincoln Center and Carnegie Hall. He was an avid athlete and his universal philosophy encouraged people of all backgrounds, faiths and nationalities to work together for peace.

Sri Chinmoy was born on August 27, 1931 in a small village in east India. Orphaned when he was eleven years old, he traveled with his six brothers and sisters to a spiritual community in the south of India, where he spent the next twenty years in intense prayer and meditation. Heeding an inner call, in 1964 he traveled to the United States and made New York City his home. In the forty-three years he was in the West, Sri Chinmoy became a model of the potential of humankind. Opening centers throughout the world for peace and harmony, he tirelessly traveled the globe to share his inspiration and goodwill. He was a champion of interfaith harmony and was beloved by leaders for peace and spiritual leaders worldwide.

Mother Theresa wrote about Sri Chinmoy: “I am so pleased with all the good work you are doing for world peace and for people in so many countries. May we continue to work together and share together, all for the glory of God and for the good of man.”

Sri Chinmoy was an ardent supporter of the United Nations. Since 1970, he had served as the leader of the Peace Meditation at the United Nations, an association of delegates and staff he founded under the aegis of the third UN Secretary-General, U Thant. Chinmoy taught that “the physical and the spiritual must go together—they cannot be separated.” In this light, he astounded sports heroes and luminaries when he began a weightlifting career in 1986 at the age of 55. He credited his inner peace for the ability to lift thousands, sometimes even tens of thousands, of pounds. From cars to animals to small planes, Sri Chinmoy lifted almost every object imaginable in various styles of strongman lifts. He was also known for lifting people.

“He lifted more than 8,000 people since 1988, including world peace figures like Nelson Mandela and Desmond Tutu,” wrote the New York Times in an obituary report on October 13, 2007. “He hoisted the Rev. Jesse Jackson, Eddie Murphy, Susan Sarandon, Yoko Ono and Richard Gere. Mr. Chinmoy lifted 20 Nobel laureates and a team of sumo wrestlers. He lifted Sid Caesar and a (reformed) headhunter from Borneo, and picked up Representative Gary L. Ackerman, a Democrat, and Representative Benjamin Gilman, a Republican, at the same time.”

Mr. Chinmoy’s love of sports spanned a lifetime and resulted in a number of landmark programs for peace and self-transcendence. In 1987, he founded the World Harmony Run, the world’s largest relay for peace involving tens of thousands of participants in over seventy nations.

Mr. Chinmoy built a worldwide network of meditation centers and had more than 7,000 disciples. Jyoti-Bihanga, opened under Sri Chinmoy’s encouragement by his San Diego students in 1988, remains a popular eatery today. He last visited San Diego in June of this year to offer two free concerts of his music at Copley Symphony Hall. A musician since his youth, Sri Chinmoy made dozens of recordings, composed over 20,000 songs and offered over 800 Peace Concerts during his life—all free of charge.

Sri Chinmoy was known to gather with his disciples at a private tennis court off 164th Street in New York City that doubled as a garden meditation site known as Aspiration Ground. Hundreds of his students gathered at Aspriration Ground on October 12th to honor the life of this amazing man and spiritual leader. Many flew in from places around the world. Leaders who could not be present but who sent letters of condolence ranged from U.S. celebrities and politicians to Prime Ministers from countries as varied as Nepal and Namibia. Numerous Nobel Peace Prize winners offered statements as well.

Legendary music producer and humanitarian Quincy Jones wrote about Sri Chinmoy: “I don’t have words to express my sadness. Sri’s spirit will always be with us all. His love could fill an ocean. I join the many people touched by this man and pray that his message will touch many more. Sri, we love you, and we miss you.”

For more information, visit www.srichinmoy.org. This article was compiled from information distributed by the Sri Chinmoy website and the Sri Chinmoy Center, San Diego chapter as well as the New York Times Obituary section (Sri Chinmoy, Athletic Spiritual Leader, Dies at 76, October 13, 2007)