Question: Was Martin Luther King a saint?

Sri Chinmoy: He was very pure in mind and heart. He was a lover: a lover not only of his race but a lover of all mankind. One can be a lover of mankind from any height. One can be a lover of mankind from the illumined vital, the illumined mind or the illumined heart. Also, one can become a lover of mankind after becoming a great Yogi and spiritual Master. So, Martin Luther King was a lover of mankind. But he did not become a lover of mankind after reaching the highest height. No. He did reach a certain height. From the human point of view it is very, very high, and what he wanted to offer was most significant. But it was not the gift of a saint who has established his inner and outer oneness with God. In his case, realisation was still a far cry. But his heart was so broad, so great, so magnanimous, and this gave him a most sincere feeling of absolute oneness with everyone. This is what made him so divinely great.

Martin Luther King's achievement was really extraordinary. But if you have to judge it from the strict spiritual point of view, you cannot say it was equal to the achievement of a great saint. The life that a saint lives is unimaginable. Constantly he is communing with God, the Highest, the Absolute. The saint illumines mankind. He does it like a thief, inwardly. His very presence illumines the world. When he stands in front of a tiger or an undivine creature, it will get a kind of purity, a kind of divine feeling. The very presence of a saint is most powerful. If you ask me whether a boxer is as good as a singer, I will say, "A boxer is a boxer, a singer is a singer. Two different roles they play." When one plays the role of a saint, it is totally different from the role that Martin Luther King played. So Martin Luther King's achievement was a great achievement, but it was an achievement of the vital plane — not the lower vital, but the illumined vital, the higher vital. It was something great and unique.