As a young child Sri Chinmoywas brought up in a Hindu family. The family was of Brahmin caste but they did not adhere to the rigid caste rules and often helped those of other castes. At the age of 12 Sri Chinmoy left his village in Chittagong, East Bengal and travelled with his 3 sisters and 2 brother to join his eldest brother Hriday Ghose in the Sri AurobindoAshram in Pondicherry. Sri Aurobindo was a pioneer of ‘Integral Yoga’
This was a modern form of yoga that did not renounce the world but sought to bring the divine into all aspects of life. For over 20 years Sri Chinmoy lived in the ashram spending many hours in meditation, achieving elevated states of spiritual consciousness. These states of self realization led to some of Sri Chinmoy’s most profound poetry. In poems such as Immortality and The Absolute we get a glimpse of the deathless state beyond mind and form.
‘My eternal days are found in speeding time;
I play upon His Flute of rhapsody.
Impossible deeds no more impossible seem;
In birth chains now shines Immortality.’
- From Immortality by Sri Chinmoy
In 1964 Sri Chinmoy travelled to America to offer the ancient spiritual traditions of India in a modern and dynamic form to aspiring seekers in the West. He has lived in New York since 1964 and has been offering meditations at the United Nations for over 30 years. Sri Chinmoy has lectured on spirituality, yoga and meditation at many universities in both America, Europe and other parts of the World. He teaches that all religions lead to the same goal and fundamentally share common values.
Sri Chinmoy’s path encompasses all 4 of the principle types of Yoga;
Bhakti Yoga – yoga of devotion
Jnani Yoga – yoga of Wisdom
Raja Yoga – Yoga of Philosophy
Karma Yoga – Yoga of Divine Action.
Question: Sri Chinmoy, what path of Yoga is your particular teaching? Is it Bhakti Yoga?
Sri Chinmoy: You have asked a very interesting question. As you know, there are three principal paths: Bhakti, Jnana and Karma Yoga. Again, in Jnana Yoga, the branch that deals with mysticism is called Raja Yoga. Now if people say that my path is all Bhakti Yoga, then it is a mistake, because my path includes all other paths. It includes Karma Yoga, selfless service. All my disciples are doing selfless service. It includes Jnana Yoga: while my disciples are studying my writings, they are doing Jnana Yoga. What is meant by Jnana Yoga? Wisdom. What is more valuable for a man to know than the Highest? The Highest, I say, is love. If one knows this very fact that God is all Love, is this not the supreme knowledge? The supreme knowledge is that God is all Love. The deeper we go, the clearer it becomes. Through love we can know the supreme secret, which is God.
Bhakti Yoga – Sri Chinmoy
Sri Chinmoy teaches that love is the most direct way to approach God. Sri Chinmoy often says that his path is in essence the path of the heart. If we cry from the depths of our heart the Supreme will respond. If on the other hand, we try to meditate using the mind, we will achieve only very limited peace. An important element of Bhakti yoga is the use of devotional music. Soulful singing is a powerful way for a seeker to approach the divine. Great Bhakti yogi’s such as Sri Chaitanya and Mirabaispent many hours singing Bhajans (devotional songs), through this singing they were able to enter into the Divine Consciousness. Sri Chinmoy is one of the most prolific composers of devotional music. Since coming to the West he has composed over 12,000 songs in his native Bengali and over 5,000 in English. Most of these songs are devotional in nature; appealing to different aspects of the Supreme or identifying with different stages of a seekers spiritual journey.
Sri Chinmoy writes on Bhakti Yoga
‘Ask a man to speak about God and he will speak endlessly. Ask a Bhakta to speak about God and he will say only two things: God is all Affection, God is all Sweetness. The Bhakta even goes one step further. He says, “I can try to live without bread, but never can I live without my Lord’s Grace.
A Bhakta’s prayer is very simple: “O my Lord God, do enter into my life with Thine Eye of Protection and with Thy Heart of Compassion.” This prayer is the quickest way to knock at God’s Door and also the easiest way to see God open the Door.’
From: Sri Chinmoy Library
As well as composing many songs Sri Chinmoy is also noted as a prolific writer and poet. He has published over 1,400 books which nearly all relate to some aspect of the spiritual life. Some books take the form of Question and Answer sessions. Sri Chinmoy is able to offer advice from the deepest spiritual perspective. Often these writings expound on common themes essential to genuine spirituality. These include disciplining the mind so that the seeker does not become beholden to negative ideas the mind can become attached to. This is a short extract from a talk entitled.
‘What is Yoga’
‘What is Yoga? Yoga is the language of God. If we wish to speak to God, we have to learn His language.
What is Yoga? Yoga is that which discloses God’s secret. If we wish to know God’s secret, we have to launch into the path of Yoga.
What is Yoga? Yoga is the Breath of God. If we wish to see through God’s Eye and feel through His Heart, if we wish to live in God’s Dream and know God’s Reality, if we wish to possess the Breath of God, and finally if we wish to become God Himself, Yoga will beckon us.’
From: Yoga and the Spiritual Life
Sri Chinmoy leads an active life showing that an inner life of prayer and meditation can offer inspiration and help to increase our own capacities. Sri Chinmoy says that spirituality does not involve retreating from the world. Instead he advocates acceptance of the world and the inner fruits of meditation he says can be used to guide and illumine outer activities. At the age of 74 Sri Chinmoy is still very active demonstrating that age is not a barrier to continuing achievements. Sri Chinmoy is a noted weightlifter and continues to lift heavy weights saying that he does so to offer inspiration to others. Sri Chinmoy also travels extensively offering concerts of meditative music in different locations.
Sri Chinmoy says this of Karma Yoga
‘Karma Yoga is desireless action undertaken for the sake of the Supreme. Karma Yoga is man’s genuine acceptance of his earthly existence. Karma Yoga is man’s dauntless march across the battlefield of life.
Karma Yoga does not see eye to eye with those who hold that the activities of human life are of no importance. Karma Yoga claims that life is a divine opportunity for serving God. This particular Yoga is not only the Yoga of physical action; it includes the aspirant’s moral and inner life as well.’
Sri Chinmoy Library