Founder: Chinmoy Kumar Ghose, known as Sri Chinmoy
Date of Birth: 1931
Date of Death: 2007
Birth Place: Bangladesh
Year Founded: 1964
Sacred or Revered Texts: The Vedas, The Upanishads, and The Bhagavad Gita are the most sacred and influential texts used by Chinmoy and his followers. (Chinmoy, 1996) In addition some of the many books authored by Sri Chinmoy could also be considered sacred.
Size of Group: 5,000 followers worldwide, 1,500 in the United States, and 1,000 in Canada (Melton, 1996, p.876).
Sri Chinmoy was orphaned at the age of 12. At that time he entered Aurobindo Ashram, a spiritual community in South India. As a child Chinmoy had profound mystical experiences (Melton, 1991, p.96). He resided at the ashram for 20 years practicing meditation and spiritual discipline. There he attained the level of Nirvikalpa Samadhi which is “the highest mystical state compatible with functioning in the physical world” ( Jackson, p.3). In 1964 he received a call from God that took him to New York. Three years after his arrival he founded the first Sri Chinmoy Centre. Today there are Sri Chinmoy Centres in 50 different countries the purpose of which are to provide a place to hold meditation classes and athletic events. (“Sri Chinmoy, the Composer”) For the past 30 years Sri Chinmoy has resided in Jamaica, New York promoting world peace and helping people search for inner truth.
Sri Chinmoy spent 20 years in the Aurobindo Ashram of South India, but does not consider his work a succession of that of Sri Aurobindo Ghose, a well known yoga master. Chinmoy strongly emphasizes meditation and seeks to live his life as an example of peace. World peace, world cooperation, international harmony, and personal harmony are what he is striving to achieve. He has dedicated his life to spreading the message that it is not only possible and but fate for the world to unite as a family and together aspire to peace (Chinmoy, 1996, p.xi). Chinmoy claims that his role as a Spiritual Master is “to help seekers live so that these inner riches [peace, joy, light, and love] can illumine their lives.”(Chinmoy, 1996, p.255) Chinmoy attempts to spread his message through literature, music, art, and athletics (See Remarks below). Chinmoy places a special emphasis on the surpassing of self-imposed limitations. He does not claim to be the Supreme Guru but he does claim to believe in one. Sri Chinmoy is not just an audience group as it may appear. He has devout followers which he calls his children.
The life he encourages for his “children” is one of regular meditation, living and working in the world, vegetarianism, and celibacy (Melton, 1996, p. 876). Chinmoy is accepting of other religions and ways of living but strongly encourages followers to strive to achieve his ideals.
Remarks: Sri Chinmoy is recognized as a writer, musician, artist, and athlete. Chinmoy has written over 1,300 books most of which are transcripts of his talks, collections of his poetry or selections of spiritual aphorisms (Melton, 1991, p. 97). As a musician Chinmoy has given approximately 470 Peace Concerts since 1984. (According to “The Brooklyn Website” p.1) He has written approximately 13,000 songs to date and plays at least 70 different musical instruments! ( Jackson, p.3) Chinmoy has drawn 5-1/2 million “Dream-Freedom-Peace Birds” that are being exhibited around the world. (According to “The Brooklyn Website” p.2) Chinmoy is probably most well known for promoting endurance runs and marathons worldwide. He founded the Sri Chinmoy Marathon Team which organizes approximately 500 races around the world each year. The reason for doing this is not to raise money (it’s a nonprofit organization) but to promote peace across the world.
An honor bestowed on Chinmoy is that he is Spiritual Advisor to the United Nations (Chinmoy, 1995). For the past 23 years he has offered prayer and meditation meetings for anyone to attend every Tuesday and Friday at the U.N. (According to “Sri Chinmoy” Hinduism Today Issue 94-02 p.1). Secretary-General U Thant, a personal friend of Chinmoy’s, originally invited Chinmoy to offer the weekly meditations (According to ” Nepals’ Monarch…” Hinduism Today Issue 95-04, p.1)
Another method Chinmoy uses in order to spread his message of peace is to meet with world leaders. He has met with dozens in the past and has been described as the international ambassador of peace (Melton, 1996, p.876). He has met with Pope Paul VI (According to “Bomb Threats” webpage p.1), Nepal’s Monarch (King Birendra), (According to ” Nepals’ Monarch…” Hinduism Today Issue 95-04, p.1) and Mikhail Gorbachev. Chinmoy is reported to be a close friend and confidant of Michail Gorbachev.
Chinmoy, Sri. 1995. The Garland of Nation-souls: Complete Talks at the United Nations . Deerfield Beach, FL: Health Communications.
Chinmoy, Sri. 1995. Heart Songs, Everyday Prayer & Meditations. Minneapolis, MN: Hazeldon.
Chinmoy, Sri. 1996. Commentaries on The Vedas The Upanishads & The Bhagavad Gita . New York: Aum Publications.
Hinduism Today . 1995. ” Nepal’s Monarch Dedicates Unscaled Peak to Peace.” Available on line at: http://www.spiritweb.org/HinduismToday/95-04-Nepals-Monarch.html
Jackson , Devon. 1996. “Bless You Sir, May I Jog Another?” Outside Magazine (October) Available on line at: http://outside.starwave.com/magazine/1096/9610febl.html
Melton, J. Gordon. 1996. The Encyclopedia of American Religions .Detroit: Gale Research. pp 875-76.
Melton, J. Gordon. 1991. Religious Leaders of America .Detroit: Gale Research. pp. 96-97.
Union of International Associations. 1996. “The World Guide to Religious and Spiritual Organizations.” New Providence, NJ: Munchen. p. 205.
Created by Victoria Johnston
For Sociology 257, Fall, 1997
Last modified: 07/18/01