For more info: Sri Chinmoy’s official site
Sri Chinmoy in Boston
Sri Chinmoy’s work as a spiritual teacher was based in New York, and he made the short trip to Boston many times in his more than 40 years of service in America. He had a special connection with the American Revolution, feeling especially inspired by the lofty ideals on which this country was founded, and he timed one of his concerts here so that he could view the re-enactment of the Battle of Lexington on Patriot’s Day.
On another occasion he remarked to his local students that the entire world knows Boston in terms of the Revolution, but that Boston also symbolizes evolution – the evolution of humanity.
Sri Chinmoy was also a runner and a great admirer of runners – especially marathon runners, since he viewed the marathon as a metaphor for humanity’s seemingly endless journey to enlightenment. He ran the Boston Marathon route himself, met with Bill Rodgers (the famous marathon champion) at Bill Rodgers’ running shoe store, and made several special trips to Boston to be a spectator along the marathon route.
His closest connection in this area, however, was with Harvard. Sri Chinmoy felt that Harvard represented the union of “the Western mind and the Eastern heart”. He hinted that he felt a number of current and past Harvard professors had been Vedic seers in previous incarnations. He certainly felt that the Transcendentalists had a strong connection with the ancient rishis of the Vedas, specifically Thoreau and Emerson for whom Emerson Hall at Harvard is named.
Whether because of this strong inner connection, or whether because Harvard was the one university he had heard of as a child in a small village in Bangladesh, Harvard always had a special place in Sri Chinmoy’s heart. He gave more than a dozen free public meditations, concerts and lectures at Harvard, and in 1978 he donated his first 300 books to the Harvard Divinity School Library. The Dean of the Divinity School at the time, Dr. Krister Stendahl, later remarked that when the history of twentieth century spirituality came to be written, that collection would prove a priceless treasure. Sri Chinmoy’s students have continued to donate his books to the library, which now holds nearly all of his more than 1500 books in its archives, making it the most complete collection in the world.
Sri Chinmoy offered many lectures, concerts and public meditations in Boston, including a public meditation (in 1978) and later an organ concert (in 1988) at Trinity Church. In 1993 a ceremony at the State House marked Massachusetts becoming a Sri Chinmoy Peace State, joining thousands of Sri Chinmoy Peace Blossoms around the world. He also offered lectures at colleges in Amherst and on Cape Cod.
Most of his Boston-area appearances were at Harvard, however, most notably a series of seven lectures at Harvard Divinity School in the spring of 1975 published as Earth-Bound Journey, Heaven-Bound Journey. The question about the spiritual source of creativity was asked by Brother Blue, the beloved storyteller and performance artist who was a graduate of Harvard Divinity School and a great admirer of Sri Chinmoy.
In 1974 Sri Chinmoy gave a lecture at Harvard as part of his 50-state university lecture tour, and he gave several talks at Harvard, Radcliffe, Smith and Mt. Holyoke as part of his Ivy League/Seven Sisters lecture tours. His private lecture for a class on world religions at Harvard in 1983 was published as A Seeker’s Heart-Songs. Professor Diana Eck, chairman of the Department of the Study of Religions, offered to Sri Chinmoy the Pluralism Project Award in 2000 for his support of the world’s religions. She presented it to him at a concert at the Science Center, one of several venues where he offered concerts at Harvard, also including Paine Hall and Sanders Theatre.