Sri Chinmoy’s memorial service took place yesterday, attended by thousands of his students and dozens of luminaries from all around the world.
The ceremony opened with some minutes of meditation, filling the space with a deep and profound silence. This was followed by two of Sri Chinmoy’s mantric songs peformed by his favourite musical group, an all female ensemble who have performed at venues all over the world.
Then Shivaram Trichur, a student of Sri Chinmoy’s since the very earliest days of his coming to America, read out some ancient Indian slokas, or scriptural verses, concerning the immortality of the soul. Among them was this one, invoking the eternal relationship between a meditation teacher and his student:
Saha nav avatu,
Saha nav bhuknatu,
Saha nav viryam haravavahai.
(May he protect us both.
May he nourish us both.
May we both work together with energy, indomitable and endless.)
– from Kali-Saṇṭāraṇa Upanishad, translation by Sri Chinmoy.
There were also performances by a group led by Satyajit Saha; this group performed arangements of Sri Chinmoy’s music and writings every week at Sri Chinmoy’s meditation functions. This was followed by another group which performed an arrangement of Smile, My Soul, Smile, also written by Sri Chinmoy.
Then luminaries from all around the world came up to pay their respects; many who could not attend sent heartfelt messages of appreciation and condolence which were read out. You can read many of those tributes on SriChinmoy.org.
Then a choir of Sri Chinmoy’s students sang the song ‘When I am Gone Away‘, that Sri Chinmoy asked be performed only upon his Mahasamadhi – the name given to the process by which spiritual Masters leave the body and enter into the soul’s world:
When I am gone away,
Remember me, O children sweet,
No, not because I failed,
No, not because I cried,
No, not because I tried,
No, not because I saw my Lord in you,
No, not because I served my Lord in you,
No, not because I fulfilled my Lord in you,
No, not because I was your Pilot true,
No, not because I was your ‘Infinite’ blue,
O but because my life was all gratitude, gratitude, gratitude
To you, to you, my children sweet, to you.
Then one by one, all those present, students and visitors alike, filed up to the casket where Sri Chinmoy’s body lies, and placed a beautiful rose at the foot of the casket in appreciation of Sri Chinmoy’s life work. In the background, a recording was played of Sri Chinmoy singing the mantra ‘Gratitude’ over and over again, spontaneously composing the music as he sang.
Today (October 15th), people are still arriving to pay their respects to the earthly body Sri Chinmoy has left behind. Many musical groups that used to play soulful music at Sri Chinmoy’s meditation functions are now performing in the background for the visitors, creating an unearthly spiritual atmosphere in this beautiful warm and sunny day.