So Long, Sri Chinmoy

Sri Chinmoy with Sumo wrestlers.

Sri Chinmoy entered Mahasamadhi last week at age 76. The Jamaica, Queens based spiritual leader was a prolific writer, musician, artist, and advocate for peace, love, and surrender. Before vegetarianism was as popular as it is today, odds were always decent you could at least find an Chinmoy-inspired joint in most major metropolitan areas of the US (Google search, e.g. my personal fave, Chicago's Victory's Banner). He also named my friend Abhaya, as he did John McLaughlin's Mahavishnu Orchestra.

His admirers and followers included Mikhail Gorbachev, Carlos Santana, Roberta Flack, Clarence Clemons, Representative Gary L. Ackerman, Al Gore, Desmond Tutu, John McLaughlin and tens of thousands of others.

Chinmoy's unique approach to extreme athleticism and health, especially in service of peace, left a lasting impression—

“His life was all about challenging yourself and being the best you can be,” said Carl Lewis, the Olympic sprinter, a friend of Mr. Chinmoy’s. “He told his disciples to go out and meet a challenge you don’t think you can do.”
New York Times
After a knee injury ended his own running, in his 60s, Mr. Chinmoy began lifting weights and within several years could shoulder-press more than 7,000 pounds on a special lifting apparatus. He publicly lifted heavy objects including airplanes, schoolhouses and pickup trucks, to help increase awareness of the need for humanitarian aid...

He also lifted more than 8,000 people since 1988, including world peace figures like Nelson Mandela and Desmond Tutu. 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.

“I thought it was some magician’s trick, but it wasn’t,” Mr. Ackerman said yesterday. “He was running extreme marathons before people even knew what extreme sports were. When you were around him, you had the sudden realization you were in the presence of somebody very, very holy and very devout.”
New York Times

Further details: a few moving tributes from President Mikhail Gorbachev, Desmond Tutu and others; NPR's piece; ABCNews' video memorial; the New York Times' first and second articles about his passing; a Congressman Gary Ackerman video, paying respects; the Sri Chinmoy organization's official announcement.

Link (via Arthur).
Image credit: American Sumo.

posted by
Spiros Antonopoulos

TAGS — death, Hinduism, NYT, peace, physical culture, Sri Chinmoy, vegetarianism

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1 total remarks for this post. Add your own remarks below.

Wed 17 Oct 2007 at 09:17PM

MysticSaint

thanks for sharing this. may God bless the soul of Sri Chinmoy.

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Foremost credit goes to my wife Erin for her tireless patience + support of this endeavor. Thanks to Barry Silver for the artwork in the above banner and for his friendship, to Robert Beer for the illustrations. Thanks to Eddie Stern for his ongoing support and for providing inspiration. Thanks to my fellow farmers at One Digital Farm for help growing this.

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