In 1991, during a visit to the island of Malta, Sri Chinmoy began a new phase in his artistic career, by drawing the first of what he called ‘Dream-Freedom Peace birds’. The birds are often popularly known as ‘soul-birds’ by virtue of the fact that they represent the boundless flight of the human soul. “For me, birds have a very special significance on a spiritual level.“, says Sri Chinmoy. “They fly in the sky, and the sky is all freedom. So when the birds fly in the sky, they remind me of the soul’s infinite freedom. The soul has come from Heaven. When we think of birds, we are also reminded of our Source, and this gives us enormous joy. “
To date, Sri Chinmoy has drawn over 15 million of these birds, either in single drawings or in vast artworks that contain hundreds of different birds. As well as his other ‘Jharna-Kala’ paintings, his bird drawings have been exhibited in many prestigious locations around the world such as the Louvre and the Sydney Opera House. There have been several exhibitions with large numbers of soul-birds, including an exhibition of one million birds in Ottawa in 1994 and another exhibition of 200,000 birds in Augsburg.
Over the years, Sri Chinmoy has used a great deal of imagination in his choice of artistic ‘canvas’ – as well as a wide variety of paper, he has painted birds on sheets of fabric suspended from a line, and also used a wide variety of everyday objects to draw birds on – plates, cups, seashells, even clocks and children’s toys! He will often do a series of drawings using one particular medium – for example, in late 2004 whilst visiting China, Sri Chinmoy drew a series of birds on Chinese rice paper using traditional calligraphy brushes, whilst in November 2006, he drew another series of birds on black paper which when scratched reveals the coloured paper underneath.
Drawing these birds is something that always gives Sri Chinmoy great joy. “When I draw a bird, I think of the soul — new creation, new hope, new promise, new peace, new bliss and new perfection on earth“, he says. He will often use what other people would consider ‘dead time’ – time waiting for something to happen or travelling between places – do draw a few more of these beautiful birds, exemplifying his philosophy of never wasting a moment. Such is the speed at which he draws these creations that one feels the artist is not so much creating something as setting something free that was already there. For many people, viewing Sri Chinmoy’s birds evoke a spontaneous sense of their own inner flight, and they have met with much praise and admiration over the years from art critics all around the world.