Sri Chinmoy is a spiritual teacher seeking to inspire humanity through a variety of activities. Through his many interests and achievements such as writing, music, art and philosophy Sri Chinmoy has shown how a spiritual life can help to awaken our inner and outer potential.
Born in Bengal, north India he was brought up in an Ashram in the South of India where he spent many hours in meditation and pursuing spiritual activities. He was also a very good athlete, becoming decathlon champion for the ashram. In 1964 Sri Chinmoy moved to New York, US where he has lived for the past 42 years. His teachings and philosophy have inspired many sincere seekers to pursue his path of self discovery and there are now many Sri Chinmoy Centres in over 60 countries throughout the world.
Sri Chinmoy began painting on November 19th, 1974. He was staying in a hotel room in Ottowa, Canada when he felt inspired from within to purchase some paper and crayons. His first picture was a simple rose but from these humble beginnings Sri Chinmoy immersed himself in his new found project completing many 100s of new paintings. His style of painting is very spontaneous and unique. Using a variety of sponges, brushes and even his own hand, he creates bold sweeping strokes of multifarious colours. He paints at a rapid yet unhurried pace. When painting Sri Chinmoy says he enters a meditative consciousness. He does not use his mind or think about what to paint. Instead he follows the spontaneous creativity his meditation gives him easy access to. When asked whether he has anything in mind when painting a bird. Sri Chinmoy replied
"I have nothing in mind. I try to keep my mind as empty, vacant and tranquil as possible. The outer mind is like the surface of the sea. On the surface, the sea is full of waves and surges; it is all restlessness. But when we dive deep below, the same sea is all peace, calmness and quiet. It is there that we find the source of creativity."
- Sri Chinmoy (1)
By October 3rd, 1975, Sri Chinmoy had completed his first 100,00 paintings, and on November 16th , 1975 he painted a remarkable 16,031 paintings in one 24 hour period. This seems an almost unimaginable achievement but to watch Sri Chinmoy paint enables an insight into his remarkable creative capacity.
The art of Sri Chinmoy has been displayed in many prestigious galleries across the world including the Louvre, The mall Gallery London, The national gallery in Ottawa and the Australian Parliament House in Canberra. A gallery of Jharna Kala paintings creates a powerful effect as the variety and light of the paintings creates both a joyful and peaceful effect. Each painting has its own uniqueness and has a capacity to absorb the viewer in the painting.
In addition to the Jharna Kala drawings Sri Chinmoy has also evolved a very unique style of drawing of “Soul Bird” drawings. These soul bird drawings are simple sketches of birds, symbolising our own soul bird and desire for freedom. These simple but beautiful birds are created very quickly involving only a few strokes of a pen. Sometimes Sri Chinmoy will draw just one on a page, or a certain object. On other occasions he will draw a family of several birds together. Sri Chinmoy gets tremendous satisfaction from drawing these birds, when signing his name he will also often add an individual bird. Sri Chinmoy writes.
"These birds reflect the heart's oneness. They represent unity in multiplicity. Each bird is different, but when you look at them, you feel unity. A tree has so many leaves and flowers, but they are all part of the same oneness-tree. Here there are 70,000 birds, but as soon as we think of the bird-consciousness, it becomes one bird. The bird-consciousness represents the consciousness of our soul's inner freedom."
- Sri Chinmoy (1)
At the end of 2005 the number of Soul Birds drawn by Sri Chinmoy numbers over 15 million. With regard to his prolific output some people may say quantity and quality cannot go together but Sri Chinmoy says that there is no reason why quantity cannot be synonymous with quality. As he writes himself.
“I am responsible for the quantity. My Inner Pilot, my most compassionate Lord Supreme, is responsible for the quality!” (2)
Approaching his 75th birthday Sri Chinmoy is still creating many new paintings. Although based on the similar theme his paintings are imperceptively evolving creating new styles and always offering great freshness and newness. On a recent trip to China he drew many Soul Birds in a classic Chinese style. Imperceptibly blending his own unique style with the artistic traditions of China.
(1) From Sri Chinmoy Answers Part 3
(2) Sri Chinmoy Art - Website dedicated to the Jharna Kala art of Sri Chinmoy
(3) Bird Drawings from Sri Chinmoy Art
(4) Art Gallery of Sri Chinmoy at Sri Chinmoy Centre
(5) Peace - Bird Exhibit by Sri Chinmoy
“Both art and spirituality have a goal, and that goal is supreme joy, supreme delight. "
- Sri Chinmoy