Sri Chinmoy is a meditation teacher who spent his life dedicated to the ideal of a better world, where everyone could live together in harmony.
To this end, he created a prolific output of published writings, musical compositions, art and poetry. In addition, he was the guiding force behind many popular athletic, cultural and grassroots initiatives such as the Sri Chinmoy Oneness-Home Peace Run (the world's largest peace torch relay) and the Sri Chinmoy Marathon Team (a pioneer in organising ultradistance running events that challenge the human spirit). Sri Chinmoy lived in New York City from 1964 till his passing in 2007, but frequently travelled all over the world to give concerts and other inspirational events, including many visits to Singapore.
Born in 1931, he spent much of his adolescence and early adulthood in the Sri Aurobindo Ashram in South India, immersed in meditation for much of of the day and attaining very high states of meditative consciousness. In addition he was a talented athlete and excelled as a sprinter and decathlete; and wrote and published frequent articles and poems, the beginnings of a prolific literary career. On April 13th, 1964, at the age of 32, Sri Chinmoy moved to New York to share his inner realisations and to serve the goal of world harmony. At the request of then United Nations Secretary General U Thant, he began holding meditations for the staff and delegates at the United Nations.
Sri Chinmoy in Singapore
Sri Chinmoy often composed songs in honour of the countries he visited, extolling the fine qualities of that country. Here are the lyrics of the song he wrote about Singapore:
Singapore, Singapore, Singapore, Singapore!
Power and beauty's splendour-shore.
O bold lion-strength, O swift deer-speed,
Curiosity-world you gloriously feed.
Free is your duty's service-delight.
Sure is your giant confidence-height.
In addition Sri Chinmoy loved to recount his travel experiences - for example, here is an amusing anecdote from his Singapore travels:
A Public Honour
(presenting prizes during the Asiatic Veterans Athletics Competition in 1983)
In about five minutes’ time I heard an announcement over the loudspeaker, “Sri Chinmoy, a man of peace and a world-renowned athlete, is now going to present the prizes for the 20-kilometre walk. He will be escorted by the President of the All-India Veterans Association.”
At the centre of the stadium were three girls wearing beautiful saris - not cotton, but silk. They held golden dishes, and the medals were lying on the dishes. The first, second and third place finishers stood behind the girls.
There were also three musicians with bugles. They marched in from one side, and I was escorted to the centre of the stadium from the other side by the big shot.
The person who came in first stood on the top platform in the middle. The second and third place finishers were on either side. We faced the winners.
The man who escorted me would go to each girl to get the appropriate medal, and then give it to me. Then I would go and present the medal to the athlete.
The first one bowed halfway down. I put the medal on him like a garland and shook hands with him. Then I did this for the second and third place finishers. Then we all stood facing the audience.
I was on one end, and the President of the All-India Veterans Association was on the other end. The girls were standing near the President. Then the first place winner raised the hands of the second and third place winners, while the buglers played for two minutes.
When that was over I wanted to go, but Milka Singh said, “No, you have to wait. I want you to see the Prime Minister. She will come here in a few minutes. I will try my best to introduce you, but I can’t promise. Anyway, you can’t leave yet.” So I remained there with the other big shots waiting to meet the Prime Minister.
In five minutes again they announced my name. This time they said, “Sri Chinmoy of the United States will present the prizes for 400-metre hurdles. We are so happy to have him here. He will be escorted by the Commander of the Air Force.” So the Air Force Commander escorted me into the stadium.
Again there were three girls, the buglers and the winners. This time the Commander gave me the medals, and I gave them to the winners. In the 400-metre hurdles, the first place finisher in his age-group was my friend from Singapore, Chandra. 31 March 1983