World leaders have mourned the death of Indian spiritual guru Sri Chinmoy and paid rich tributes to the man who was among the nominees for this year's Nobel Peace Prize. Chinmoy died of a heart attack on Thursday October 11 at his home in New York. He was 76.
Many world figures who had known the guru have sent their tributes. Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev said: "My long-time close friend Sri Chinmoy has passed away... he will forever remain a man who dedicated his whole life to peace." Archbishop Desmond Tutu said in his message: "He worked tirelessly to bring different faiths together and inspired many to emulate." The Archbishop had nominated Sri Chinmoy for the Nobel Peace Prize and Gorbachev had supported the nomination, according to the Sri Chinmoy Centre. Both are Nobel laureates themselves.
Among others who paid homage to Chinmoy were former US vice president Al Gore, the co-winner of this year's Nobel Peace Prize, Indian spiritual teacher Dada Vaswani and sitar maestro Ravi Shankar. Vijay Nambiar, chief of staff to the UN secretary general, came personally to pay homage to the deceased.
Sri Chinmoy was a spiritual master who dedicated his life to inspiring and serving mankind. He inspired his followers to feats of extreme physical endurance. Sri Chinmoy spent some years in the Aurobindo Ashram at Puducherry in south India, before coming to the US in 1964 to work in the Indian consulate.
Popular mythology tends to imagine a guru – in the word's original and proper Hindu sense of spiritual adviser or teacher – as a placid and mostly sedentary figure. Not so Sri Chinmoy, who wove vigorous exercise into a meditational system that preached peace and inner harmony and gained him thousands of disciples worldwide, as well as admirers ranging from the last Soviet leader, Mikhail Gorbachev, to the Olympic champion Carl Lewis and the soul and jazz singer Roberta Flack.
And of what other spiritual leader from the Indian subcontinent, Christendom or the Islamic world could it be claimed that he (or she) not only produced countless thousands of books, poems, songs and drawings – but also ran ultra-marathons, swam the English Channel, shoulder-pressed 7,000lb on a special apparatus and publicly lifted trucks, planes, houses to underline the urgency of boosting humanitarian aid?