About Sri Chinmoy
Sri Chinmoy (August 27, 1931 – October 11, 2007) is an Indian born spiritual Master, poet, writer, musician/composer, athlete and world peace dreamer whose extraordinary and unique creative and physical achievements inspired millions globally and powerfully expressed the unlimited potential of the human spirit.
Spiritual teachers exist to love, serve and inspire humanity and Sri Chinmoy's life was certainly a fast flowing torrent of creativity and action dedicated to those goals. Yet, despite his many and varied acheivements during his 43 years in the West, Sri Chinmoy remained a humble man, describing himself as "a student of peace" for, as he would often say, "it is only a student who can learn."
A more detailed account of Sri Chinmoy's life and activities
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Great hearts steadily send forth the secret forces that incessantly draw great events.
– Ralph Waldo Emerson.
Sri Chinmoy: Music and Musical Instruments
From an early age, music played a very significant role in Sri Chinmoy's life. He was known for his sweet, rich and powerful singing voice in his youth and would chant and sing devotional songs whenever he had the time. Later in life Sri Chinmoy sometimes performed, accompanying himself on the harmonium, at special functions held by the Indian Consulate in New York City where he worked for two years after arriving from India in 1964.
Gradually, Sri Chinmoy began adding new instruments to his repertoire – Indian esraj, cello, concert flute, piano, harp, and synthesiser. His meditation students, who hail from a very broad range of cultures and backgrounds, took great delight in offering or crafting new instruments for Sri Chinmoy to try. As the years passed, he accumulated a wide variety of classical western, hybrid and traditional instruments representing many of the world's cultures.
Sri Chinmoy's love of variety had tremendous spiritual relevance. He taught that ultimately, and despite outer differences, humanity emanates from the one divine source that is striving to manifest itself as unity in multiplicity. He also often commented that it is through music that mankind finds its common language and experiences universal oneness. Sri Chinmoy's life was in many ways the synthesis of all cultures and he strongly felt that at the heart of all art, music and human endeavour existed the message of oneness, happiness, satisfaction and peace.
Question: "What role will music play in bringing about world oneness?"
Sri Chinmoy: "Music will play a most important role in bringing about world oneness, for music embodies the Universal Heart, the Oneness-Heart. Music transcends the barriers of nations, nationalities and religions. Music embodies universal Light and universal Truth, and music also embodies the oneness-reality which we see in universal Love, universal Light, universal Awareness and universal Wakefulness. Universal Wakefulness we see inside all music. Music has to play a most important role in bringing about world oneness, for music is the connecting link between the One and the many and between the many and the One." (Source)
Throughout his life Sri Chinmoy was the embodiment of self-transcendence – the art of constantly challenging oneself, setting new goals and going beyond ones limitations and previous accomplishments. Approaching everything he did with a tireless, childlike enthusiasm, Sri Chinmoy composed over 20,000 devotional songs in his native Bengali and in English, and offered nearly 800 free public concerts. In private concerts for his students Sri Chinmoy occasionally played a very large number of different instruments. In 2005, at Interlaken in Switzerland, he performed on 170 instruments, while in August 2005, to celebrate his 74th birthday, Sri Chinmoy played 74 flutes and performed on 74 pianos.
"Self-transcendence gives us joy in boundless measure. When we transcend ourselves, we do not compete with others. We do not compete with the rest of the world, but at every moment we compete with ourselves. We compete only with our previous achievements. And each time we surpass our previous achievements, we get joy." – Sri Chinmoy. (Source)
Sri Chinmoy and Gandharva Loka
It was Sri Chinmoy's love for the spiritual value of music coupled with his view of humanity as a global family that inspired him to encourage his students to open world music stores. For a number of years two of his students had a small music store in New York. In the late 1980s Sri Chinmoy suggested to one of his European students that he open a music store offering unique musical instruments from all over the world. An enthusiastic and accomplished musician himself, Sri Chinmoy's student embraced the concept and Sri Chinmoy offered the name 'Gandharva Loka' to the enterprise – a Sanskrit phrase meaning Abode of the Celestial Musicians (Gandharvas are celestial musicians). There are now Gandharva Loka stores in Austria, Germany, Switzerland, Canada and New Zealand.
Question: "What is the spiritual significance of music, which is something that every culture on earth has and cherishes?"
Sri Chinmoy: "There is an outer existence and an inner existence. Music touches immediately the inner existence, the existence that aspires to become happy and, at the same time, tries to share its happiness with the rest of the world. Music touches the depths of our being and brings to the fore what it discovers there. The melody and the harmony of music are not only giving joy to mankind but are also helping mankind to reach the highest state of consciousness, which is filled with peace, love, joy and fulfilment." (Source)