Former Under-Secretary-General and High Representative of the United Nations
In Sri Chinmoy, the world has lost a great man of peace. President Nelson Mandela wrote in his tribute, “Today, the world is a lesser place as I recall his lifetime of service to humanity in the great cause of world peace.” The outpouring of messages from all parts of the globe reflects this loss so sincerely.
When I joined many UN officials, religious leaders of all faiths, political figures, humanitarian workers, renowned musicians and world-class athletes from all around the world, along with thousands of his followers, to pay our final tribute as his body lay in wake, I saw a halo and a resplendent smile of nirvana on Sri Chinmoy’s face.
As has been very aptly described, this sudden demise ended 76 years of a life brimming with both the inner vision and the dynamism to bring that vision to fruition. Forty-three years of his life were spent in the West, where he brought into being a path of spirituality that combined all the poise and inner searching of the East with the newness and enthusiasm of the West.
In the years since his arrival in the West, Sri Chinmoy became a model of the potential of humankind, opening meditation Centres throughout the world for peace and harmony. He tirelessly travelled the globe to share his inspiration and goodwill.
I have known Sri Chinmoy for two decades while representing Bangladesh at the United Nations and also while serving in the world body. My family, my wife—who is present here—and I have always received his unending love and affection. I was deeply touched by his continuing prayer and hope for the progress of Bangladesh, the country in which his birthplace is located. I have joined Sri Chinmoy in many of his inspirational activities. I have been in his presence during his meditation sessions, when he encouraged inner and outer silence, and I have felt his own sincerity and peace within. His vision of a “oneness-world of peace” within each individual and for humanity at large has been most enriching and empowering for me.
From our first meeting till he left us, Sri Chinmoy and I have kept in close touch, supporting each other’s endeavours for global peace. I recall with immense humility when, upon the United Nations General Assembly’s adoption in 1999 of the Declaration and Programme of Action for the Culture of Peace, Sri Chinmoy wrote to me in his unique style that “The world-peace-dreamers, world-peace-lovers and world-peace-servers shall treasure your unique offering to the world at large.”
He is a man of the highest spiritual stature, and internationally recognised as the true global Ambassador of Peace. As has been succinctly said in one of the eminent tributes which poured forth since his demise, “Throughout his many years, Sri Chinmoy enriched the lives of countless others and served as a model of generosity and discipline to those he met, fostering an atmosphere of compassion, harmony and unity.”
Respected and loved worldwide, Sri Chinmoy’s philosophy for world peace was manifested through a wide array of activities, ranging from literature to art to sports to music. The universal nature of his philosophy embraced and encouraged people of all backgrounds, faiths and nationalities to work together for peace. He is the finest example of a person who has a true vision of peace and one who has untiringly and selflessly inspired peace all over the world. He worked tirelessly to bring the different faiths together, and inspired many to emulate.
An ardent supporter of the United Nations, Sri Chinmoy reminded all of us time and again not to lose sight of the soul of the United Nations. In the early ’80s he had earned the admiration of the international community for leading the regular peace meditations at the United Nations, founded under the aegis of our most respected United Nations Secretary-General U Thant.
Hailed as a modern-day renaissance man, Sri Chinmoy wrote over 1600 books of prose and poetry, mostly on spirituality; composed nearly 21,000 pieces of music; and performed more than 750 peace concerts worldwide, all offered free of charge, in the most prestigious halls of the world’s mega-cities.
Sri Chinmoy’s language speaks directly to the heart of his readers. He has a unique ability to convey abstract philosophical concepts simply, powerfully and meaningfully, and this is an aspect of Sri Chinmoy and his teachings that appeals greatly to his followers. Sri Chinmoy has written on many spiritual qualities, such as gratitude, tolerance and patience, and how to deal with problems such as depression, ego and jealousy.
Sri Chinmoy believed in a perfect harmony between the inner life and the outer life, and emphasised that men and women should go together in their spiritual quest.
His astounding feats of weightlifting he was able to accomplish because of the inner peace and the strength he held within himself. “The physical and the spiritual must go together,” said Sri Chinmoy; “they cannot be separated.”
Sri Chinmoy’s life is an expression of boundless creativity. His paintings and 16 million “Dream-Freedom-Peace-Birds” drawings have given joy and inspiration to countless people.
A dedicated humanitarian, Sri Chinmoy’s service organization, The Oneness-Heart-Tears and Smiles, collected and distributed worldwide millions of dollars of medical supplies throughout Asia and Africa. Devoted to easing pain and alleviating suffering, this initiative began in 1991 as part of Sri Chinmoy’s humanitarian endeavours. This organization is currently active in over 125 nations, a number of which are served by the United Nations Office of the High Representative, the last few years under my humble guidance and supervision.
Over 7,000 people drawn from different races and cultures, from all religions, forming a true global family, continue to follow his philosophy through more than 300 Sri Chinmoy Centres worldwide. Today, Sri Chinmoy serves as spiritual guide to students in some 60 countries around the world, encouraging a balanced lifestyle that incorporates the inner disciplines of prayer and meditation with the dynamism of contemporary life.
He said so emphatically something which is specially relevant to the work of the United Nations: “The power that dominates cannot solve world problems. The power that loves can solve world problems.”
It has been an honour for me to know him. I believe his Himalayan dedication and commitment to peace deserve to remain with us forever in the life of each one of us, inspiring us to work for creating the culture of peace that is so much the need of our time. That would be the international community’s everlasting recognition of his dedicated service for humanity. He would live in our hearts and in our endeavours for a peaceful world.
I still cannot reconcile myself to the reality that my loved and respected brother-friend Sri Chinmoy is no more. Maybe he wrote his own eulogy when he said, “My physical death is not the end of my life—I am an eternal journey.”
His Excellency Ambassador Anwarul Chowdhury, former Under-Secretary-General and High Representative of the United Nations: