Sri Chinmoy is a spiritual teacher who sleeplessly served the aspiring heart of humanity and tirelessly dedicated his life to the fulfilment of the unlimited potential of the human spirit. Among his many activities, Sri Chinmoy composed over 22,000 songs during his lifetime.
Sri Chinmoy was born in 1931 in Shakpura, a small village near Chittagong, East Bengal, in what is now Bangladesh. At the age of 12, after both of his parents passed away, the young Chinmoy travelled with the rest of his brothers and sisters to the Sri Aurobindo Ashram in Pondicherry, South India.
At the Sri Aurobindo Ashram, Sri Chinmoy spent many hours each day meditating and practising spiritual disciplines. But true to his philosophy of combining a deep inner life with a dynamic outer life, Sri Chinmoy was also an avid athlete, competing in soccer, volleyball and track and field, where he was the ashram 100m sprinting champion for 17 years. At the ashram Sri Chinmoy also took singing lessons and developed the musical capacity that would play such an important role in his later life.
At the ashram Sri Chinmoy composed his first three songs: Tamasa Rate, Sundara Hate, and Jago Amar Swapan. These songs are not only timeless in their musical beauty, but also haunting in the poetry of their lyrical expression. An auspicious beginning indeed for the young composer!
In 1964, after 20 years of tremendous inner and outer discipline at the ashram, Sri Chinmoy was inspired from within to be of service to the aspiring spiritual seekers of the West. On April 13th, 1964, the Bengali village boy made his fateful journey to the Big Apple — New York — where he soon began giving talks on meditation and spirituality.
True to his inner vision, sincere spiritual seekers were soon drawn to the young Yogi, and in 1966 Sri Chinmoy established his first meditation centres in Puerto Rico and New York. From these modest beginnings, the Sri Chinmoy Centres now number almost 400 around the world, all united by the selfsame goal:
“We are all seekers, and our goal is the same: to achieve inner peace, light, and joy, to become inseparably one with our Source, and to lead lives full of true satisfaction.”
– Sri Chinmoy, from “Wings of Joy”
In a way Sri Chinmoy’s entire life was a song — a Heaven-climbing song and a humanity-serving song. So it is not surprising that for everything in life Sri Chinmoy wrote a song. Through songs he expressed the transcendental heights of his own inner experiences. Through songs he identified with the abyss of human despair and the soaring human aspiration for the divine. Through songs he spoke for all seekers of Truth.
Sri Chinmoy never tired of writing or hearing soulful songs. As a man of prayers and meditations, soulful music played a most significant role not only in his life but in the life of any spiritual seeker:
“When we listen to soulful music, or when we ourselves play soulful music, immediately our inner existence climbs up high, higher, highest. It climbs up and enters into something beyond. This Beyond is constantly trying to help us, guide us, mould us and shape us into our true transcendental image, our true divinity.”
– Sri Chinmoy.org
From the publishing of his first songbook (The Garden of Love-Light) in 1972 to his passing in 2007, Sri Chinmoy composed over 22,000 songs — an average of 640 songs per year for 35 years! Of these 22,000 songs, over 13,500 are in his native Bengali and over 8,300 are in English, ranging in length from one-line mantric songs to a 208-line epic.
When asked about the source of this tremendous creativity, Sri Chinmoy explained:
“If we know how to pray and meditate to gain a free access to the world of inspiration, if we have an inner communication with our Pilot Supreme, then quality and quantity can go together. I have composed thousands of songs and poems and painted thousands of paintings. For all my achievements I entirely depend on the Grace of the Supreme. His Grace gives me inspiration and guides me in everything I do — whether I am writing a poem, composing a song, painting a painting, running a marathon or giving a lecture. Everything I do depends on the inner guidance, and this inner guidance is nothing other than Compassion and Grace from Above.”
– Sri Chinmoy, from “Sri Chinmoy Answers, part 29”
As well as being a prolific composer, Sri Chinmoy was also a prolific performer. He performed his songs for the public in over 700 concerts around the world, always free of charge. During his concerts, Sri Chinmoy would usually perform on a dozen or more instruments, sometimes singing while playing.
Music was not Sri Chinmoy’s only creative offering; he was also a prolific author, poet and artist. And when he was not creating he was working to create a more peaceful world through a wide variety of grassroots initiatives, such as the Sri Chinmoy Oneness-Home Peace Run.