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Hriday Ranjan Ghose

My brother Hriday’s philosophy and wisdom
   I have inherited.
— from “I Have Inherited”
  from The Dance of Life

Tribute to Hriday Ranjan Ghose

This is my eldest brother, Hriday Ranjan Ghose. On the seventh of April his soul left the physical body. On the 27th of March I saw him for the last time. I wish to offer to you his last words to me. When I was about to leave for Madras, he came near me at the main door of the Ashram and placed his hands on my shoulders. With utmost love, affection and concern he said to me in English: “You have conquered America, but I want you to conquer the whole world. You have the capacity.” These were his blessingful words, his message, his prediction.

Right up to his departure he was in perfect health. He left the body at 6:30 in the afternoon. Until 4:00 he and my brother Chitta were together. Then Chitta left for the dining hall to work. At 4:15 my sister Lily came in, only to discover Hriday sitting in front of his shrine shivering. When they called in a doctor, the doctor took him to the hospital. At 6:30 they pronounced death from a brain haemorrhage.

According to his horoscope, he was destined to live for at least 78 years. He himself was a good astrologer and palmist, as well as a philosopher, a poet and a great, very great seeker. Last year when I was in Pondicherry, both of us discussed our past and our future. He was the eldest member of our family, head of our family. It was he who brought the entire family to the Sri Aurobindo Ashram. When he was a young man of 21 (I was then only a year and three months old), he left our parents and joined the Sri Aurobindo Ashram. It was simply impossible for my mother to live without him; therefore, she went to the Ashram to see him. She brought me, the youngest in the family, with her. My mother wanted to take her eldest son away. She was determined to take him home. She went to the Mother of the Sri Aurobindo Ashram with an adamant desire to take her eldest son home. But what she said to the Mother of the Ashram in Bengali was: “Mother, you are so kind to my entire family. You have already taken full responsibility of my eldest son. Now I wish to offer you all the other members of my family. Please promise to me that you will take full responsibility of all my children, as you have taken my eldest son under your protection and guidance.”

The Mother of the Ashram immediately said, “Yes, they are all mine.” The Mother kept her promise. Over the next eleven years, all of us went to the Sri Aurobindo Ashram and became permanent members.

This particular brother received from Sri Aurobindo hundreds and hundreds of letters. This brother also wrote considerably in Bengali and English. My brother Hriday wrote hundreds of poems. Poetry is in our family. Right from Hriday, all the members of my family have written poems. Philosophy is also in our family, and that philosophy comes from this brother of mine, who was an authority on the Vedas. He studied all the scriptures thoroughly and was a true authority on the Vedas, the Upanishads and the Bhagavad-Gita. He was fully conversant with all forms of Hindu mysticism, Hindu literature and the Hindu way of life.

He had many, many high experiences. Sri Aurobindo encouraged him, inspired him and illumined his aspiring heart to an unusual degree.

Hriday’s last blessingful message I interpret in my own way. He said to me, “You have conquered America ...” I wish to say that I have loved America. Then he said, “But I want you to conquer the whole world...” My own interpretation is that my love must spread throughout the length and breadth of the world. “You have the capacity.” My capacity is nothing other than the Supreme’s unconditional infinite Bounty. My capacity is the Supreme’s unconditional Compassion-Light.

My brother used to chant mantras from the Vedas, the Upanishads and the Gita every day, almost every hour, aloud or in silence. It is my wish that all those who know the Sanskrit verses that I have taught you will join me. Hriday’s soul is here with us now. I wish all of you to offer soulful love to him on the strength of your oneness with me.

[Sri Chinmoy led his disciples in singing four verses from the Upanishads and the Bhagavad-Gita. He then sang a song which he had composed for a favourite poem written by Hriday in Bengali, Tumije hao se hao. Following this, Sri Chinmoy read out a few passages on birth and death from his Commentary on the Bhagavad-Gita, and ended by distributing prasad (blessed food) with the blessing of his brother’s soul, to all the disciples.]

Current biography1

CHINMOY, SRI (chin-moi' shrē)

Aug. 27, 1931- Guru
Address: Sri Chinmoy Centre, Box 32433,
Jamaica, N.Y. 11431
Sri Chinmoy may not be the most publicized of the spiritual masters who have come out of India in recent years, but he is probably the most respected exponent in the West of Bhakti Yoga, which he describes as “a technique for establishing conscious oneness with God” through trance-like meditation. Since 1964 Sri Chinmoy has been living in New York City, where he conducts meditations twice weekly in the Chapel of the Church Center for the United Nations. He also leads regular meditations at the Sri Chinmoy Centre — he prefers British spellings — in Jamaica Hills, Queens, and in Norwalk, Connecticut, and on his annual tours he lectures widely and visits the fifty-odd Sri Chinmoy centers around the world. In addition to his live audiences, Chinmoy reaches thousands through the documentary film Sri Chinmoy, cable television programs, recordings, and his more than 200 books and pamphlets. Many of the publications are transcriptions of his talks.

“My philosophy is very simple,” Sri Chinmoy says. “It is love, devotion, and surrender to the Almighty.” Seeking only to “love God” and “bring people peace,” the guru has avoided the occupational hazards to which so many “holy men” have fallen victim: inordinate wealth (he charges no fees and drives a station wagon), a mass following (“I am not interested,” he says, “in collecting thousands”), personal scandal, and a Messianic complex. There has been publicity about prodigious literary and artistic accomplishments attributed to him through divine inspiration — Chinmoy writes poetry and paints pictures at breakneck speed — but a writer for Yoga and Health (June 1972) caught his main thrust: “He is not in the cash and muscle-building business of Yoga; his work is with the spirit and through the mind.”

Sri Chinmoy talks little about his thirty-three years in India, as if his early private life there were simply preparation tor his future public life, but from statements by him and others the general course of his youth can be traced. He was born on August 27, 1931, in Shakpura, a small village outside Chittagong in East Bengal, the youngest of the seven children of Shashi Kumar Ghose, a railroad inspector and banker, and Yoga Maya (Bishwas) Ghose. His full name is Sri Chinmoy Kumar Ghose. True to his given name, Chinmoy, which means “full of Divine consciousness” in Sanskrit, he early developed a religious aspiration, and at age twelve he entered the Aurobindo ashram, or spiritual community, in Pondicherry. Good at track and field when he was a teen-ager, he won the ashram decathlon two years in succession. But his major occupation during twenty years in the ashram was the mastery of spiritual discipline. Meditating for increasingly longer periods daily, he eventually reached the habitual meditation state called Nirvikalpa Samadhi, the highest mystical state compatible with functioning in the physical world. Revered in his native land, he might well have gone into a career as a visiting lecturer at Indian universities.

Obeying what he considered “an inner command,” Sri Chinmoy left India and travelled to the West in 1964. Settling in New York, he at first held an administrative post there with the Indian consulate. In July 1966 he established his first spiritual center, in Puerto Rico, and a year later, upon acquiring his American residence visa, he began the full-time pursuit of his mission. He established the headquarters of that mission at the Aum Centre, as the Sri Chinmoy establishment in Jamaica Hills, Queens was originally called.

In his first major lecture tour, in 1968, Sri Chinmoy spoke at Harvard, Yale, Brown, and other Ivy League universities. The following year he lectured at universities and held meditations in Japan, Hong Kong, India, and the Philippines, and in 1970 he made his first European tour. Three collections of his lectures and meditations were published in 1970: Meditations: Food for the Soul (Harper & Row), My Ivy League Leaves (Sri Chinmoy Lighthouse) and Yoga and the Spiritual Life (Tower Publications). In the last mentioned he said, “Honesty and frankness are the birthright of the West. Humility and devotion are the birthright of the East. The combination of these four powers should be the ideal of a human being.”

In April 1970 a group of United Nations delegates and staff members asked Chinmoy to lead them in weekly meditation sessions in the Chapel of the Church Center for the U.N. When the popularity of the meditations became established, the United Nations Meditation Group was formally organised, with Sri Chinmoy as its director, and the meditations were increased to two a week. Early in 1971 Sri Chinmoy began delivering a monthly lecture on yoga and spirituality, especially as they apply to daily life and world affairs, in the Dag Hammarskjold Auditorium at the United Nations. During 1971 the Sri Chinmoy Lighthouse published several books of lectures and writings by Sri Chinmoy, including Love Realised, Surrender Fulfilled, Oneness Manifested, which consisted of two volumes of parables, and My Rose Petals, containing talks he had given in Europe the year previous; Herder and Herder published My Lord’s Secrets Revealed.

Discussing Yoga and the Spiritual Life and My Lord’s Secrets Revealed in the Saturday Review (December 18, 1971), Linda Hess described them as “full of devotion, humour, childlike innocence and sweetness.” After quoting some typical passages, she asked, “Clichés? Too much like church tracts? No doubt. But as I read Chinmoy’s words I found much to learn and apply — psychological insights, remarks on discipline, descriptions of changing modes of consciousness.” Elsewhere his literary style has been described as “aphoristic,” “highly metaphorical,” “fragmentary,” and “worshipful.”

Tom McMorrow reported on one of Chinmoy’s meditation sessions at the U.N. in the New York Sunday News of September 12, 1971: “He ascends to the pulpit and chants three times: ‘There is nothing worth knowing but the soul; there is nothing worth becoming but God.’ . . . After the chant, there is silence, a silence which at last week’s session filled the U.N. chapel for forty minutes. The yogi, in a trance, looks out over the people, and as he gazes into one pair of eyes after the other, there would seem to be a sound in the air, though there is not. Certainly something is there. He comes down slowly... from the pulpit and approaches the people, who gaze upon him, transfixed.” A similar report was given the following year by Irene Backalenick of the Bridgeport Sunday Post (March 19, 1972) after a visit to the Sri Chinmoy Centre in Norwalk: “He was clearly in touch with a higher power and unaware of the world around him, with his eyes rolled back in his head and his lips moving rapidly.”

In a second tour of Europe, in 1972, Sri Chinmoy visited several spiritual centers that had sprung up as a result of his first visit, and he had a private audience with Pope Paul VI in Rome. During 1972 the Sri Chinmoy Lighthouse published The Garland of Nation-Souls, the first collection o£ the yogi’s Dag Hammarskjold lectures; My Flute, a collection of his poetry; The Upanishads: The Crown of India’s Soul; and The Vedas: Immortality’s First Call. In the same year Frederick Fell Inc. published Arise! Awake!; Thoughts of a Yogi, and Aum Publications issued Discoverers of the Light. The following year Rudolf Steiner Publications issued Sri Chinmoy’s Commentary on the Bhagavad Gita: The Song of the Transcendental Soul.

The pace of Sri Chinmoy’s activities became dizzying in 1974, when he lectured in each of the fifty United States, toured Eastern Canada, and wrote 1,000 poems — published as Europe Blossoms by Aum Publications within the year — during a visit to Europe. On that European trip he conferred with the late Erskine Childers, then President of Ireland, and President Kristjan Eldjarn of Iceland. Ninety-four publications by Sri Chinmoy, most of them transcriptions of oral material, were issued during 1974, all of them by Aum Publications except one, The Inner Promise, which Simon & Schuster issued. Among the Aum books was Beyond Within, an anthology brought together for use as a text in a course on Chinmoy’s teachings offered by the University of Connecticut.

“Just for the joy of it,” as he explained at the time, Sri Chinmoy used his yogic powers of concentration to write 360 poems in twenty-four hours in May 1974, and he surpassed his own record by writing 843 spiritual verses in a twenty-four hour period in November 1975. Meanwhile, in 100 days, between November 19, 1974 and February 26, 1975, he completed 10,000 works of art, representations, he said, of realities of the inner, spiritual world, executed “to inspire and feed” his “spiritual children.” Within a year the art works numbered 100,000, ranging from whimsical pen-and-ink drawings to dreamlike abstract acrylics and delicate watercolours.

Sri Chinmoy’s meditation services, wherever held, are generally structured alike: the playing of soothing Indian music before a flower-decorated altar in an incense-filled chapel; the appearance of the master, who, dressed in a coloured, diaphanous silk robe, sits cross-legged on a large chair, and who eventually begins the chant of Aum, the Sanskrit syllable for the divine sound that accompanied the creation; after silent meditation, a brief reading by Chinmoy from one of his works; perhaps a brief question and answer period, or the singing of a hymn; individual blessings; and, finally, a quiet filing out.

Unlike the disciples of some other yogis, those of Sri Chinmoy are not guaranteed instant “knowledge” or vision of divinity through the meditation sessions. “It takes time,” Chinmoy says, “one has to study seventeen or eighteen years.” Of his close disciples he demands meditation at least twice daily, conservative grooming, a vegetarian diet, freedom from drugs, a new name (an Indian one, selected by him), and chastity (to which the already married are allowed to move gradually). Disciples often run business establishments with names like the Blessing Light Supreme Bookstore and tire Divine Robe Supreme Boutique. The master has no financial connection with the businesses, and he does not demand that his disciples share their profits with him and the centers — but they often do so. Most of his more distant followers also make “love offerings.” The house organ of the Sri Chinmoy movement, distributed to and through the centers, is Aum Magazine.

The Bhakti Yoga taught by Sri Chinmoy transcends all religions, including his own Hinduism, as he often points out: “When we deal with God alone, this transcends all boundaries ... When I ask people for total commitment, the commitment is to their inner life with God, not me personally.” While he does not dismiss the value of Hatha Yoga (basically physical yoga), he sees it as “a kindergarten school of the spiritual life. ... If through the proper use of meditation and concentration you can come to that state [a quiet mind], what then is the use of Hatha Yoga? ... If I know how to meditate, I will automatically discipline my physical body.”

Sri Chinmoy is a broad-shouldered man of upright posture, five feet eight inches tall and weighing 140 pounds, with a complexion that has been variously described as “pale gold” and “mahogany,” close-cropped, diminishing hair, and a dulcet voice, in which he speaks clear, if halting, English. His magnetism is that of a father figure, at once benign and strong, who strikes an immediate affinity with those in his presence. According to the Yoga and Health article, “For those who are on his wave length, he ‘beams’ strength ... with such effect that even with their eyes closed, some people actually shake as his gaze passes over them.” Explaining the strange transformation that takes place in his dark, shining, deep-set eyes as he moves into his trancelike state, he says, “There are seven higher planes of consciousness. Like a bird I fly from one to another. My eyes move as I enter each one.”

References

Bridgeport Sunday Post D p3 Mr 19 72
N Y Times p33+ O 24 70 por
Yoga and Health 2:14+ Je '72 pors
Contemporary Authors vols 49-52 (1975)
Madhuri. The Life of Sri Chinmoy vol 1 (1969);
vol 2 (1972)

  1. The following article appeared in the April 1976 issue of the monthly magazine Current Biography.

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Question and answers

The following questions on perfection were asked of Sri Chinmoy by the disciples of his Saturday Connecticut Centre.

Question: When will perfection dawn here on earth?

Sri Chinmoy: It entirely depends on earth’s aspiration and earth’s receptivity. Earth’s aspiration and earth’s receptivity are entirely responsible for the dawn of perfection on earth.

Question: Guru, can perfection in our jobs or in our work help us in our spiritual life?

Sri Chinmoy: Certainly! Your perfection in your job and in your school life can and must help your spiritual life. You can take jobs and school studies as an extension of your physical life. We say the physical and the spiritual must go together. They are complementary. The physical is the body, and inside the body is the soul. You need the soul to realise the highest, and you need the body to manifest the highest. If you take your job and school studies as the body, naturally you will feel the necessity of the body-consciousness to manifest the divinity within you. Perfection in your job and school work will help you in your spiritual life.

Question: How can you develop perfect gratitude?

Sri Chinmoy: First of all, please try to feel that gratitude abides inside your heart. Then ask yourself whether you are the heart. The immediate answer will be, “One minute a day.” The rest of the time, you are the mind or you are the body or you are the vital. But if you can feel that you are the heart, not just for a fleeting second or a fleeting minute, but twenty-four hours a day, if you can feel the presence of your heart as your own existence, then easily you will have gratitude, since gratitude lives inside the heart.

Now, how can you increase your gratitude? If you have that capacity to feel that you are the heart, try to feel that your heart is constantly becoming large, larger, largest. It is like the father whose salary is constantly increasing. He used to get fifty dollars a week, now he is getting one hundred dollars, and soon he will be getting two hundred dollars. In the same way, the capacity of your heart is constantly increasing. Now, the child of the heart is gratitude. When the father becomes richer, the child also automatically becomes richer because he knows that his father’s property belongs to him as well. If his father becomes a multimillionaire, then in time his father’s wealth goes to him. So when the heart is all the time expanding, when its capacity is all the time increasing, gratitude .is also increasing and growing in capacity.

Question: Is joy a form of perfection?

Sri Chinmoy: Yes, joy is a form of perfection. Perfection and divine joy, inner joy, supreme joy, are inseparable. If you are really joyful, cheerful, soulful, then naturally you will be perfect. The spiritual term we use for joy is Delight. Since the ultimate Source is Delight, naturally Delight is perfection. So Delight and perfection are always inseparable.

Question: How can I attain a level of perfection in my relationship with my spiritual brothers and sisters?

Sri Chinmoy: You can attain a level of perfection by feeling that during every breath you take, your brothers and sisters are remaining inside your heart. With each breath you take, try to feel their presence within you. And also feel that during each breath they take, you are remaining inside their hearts. Feel your existence inside your brothers’ and sisters’ hearts with every breath they take, and feel their existence inside your heart with every breath you take. By doing this, you can establish a level of perfection between yourself and your spiritual brothers and sisters.

Question: Was God perfect before He created the universe?

Sri Chinmoy: Yes, God was perfect. But just as there is no end to our own perfection, even so there is no end to God’s perfection. We use the term ever-transcending Beyond. God is constantly transcending Himself. God’s perfection means the message of His own Self-transcendence. When you did not know how to play the piano, your goal, which was your idea of perfection, was just to strike the proper notes, and you were exceedingly glad when you knew how to strike the proper notes. After a few years, your perfection was knowing how to play a few pieces properly. Then your perfection was to be able to play some great masterpieces on the piano, and so on. In God’s case, also, He had the creation in His Vision, and now you see how His evolution is progressing slowly and steadily towards the Highest. Perfection is like that. When you have something that is your perfection. Then you see the deficiency of what you have achieved, and you go farther beyond.

A child, when he does not know how to crawl, feels miserable. The moment he learns to crawl, the mother feels. “Now my child is perfect.” But the same child has to learn to walk, how to march, how to run. Each time he is progressing, progressing, and the message of progress is perfection. Perfection is constant progress in God’s Light. God was definitely perfect before the creation, but now He has the message of manifestation. Naturally His sense of perfection grows, and He far transcends His own standard, His own achievement, His own Vision. Perfect He was, but now He wants to be perfect in another way, in a higher way, in a more convincing way.

Question: Guru, how can we make a perfect union between the inner and outer world?

Sri Chinmoy: You have to know what the inner world wants to offer you and what the outer world wants to offer you. The inner world will make you or shape you into a perfect instrument so that you can realise absolutely the Highest. The outer world will make you or mould you into a warrior who will fight for Truth and Light here in the battlefield of life, in ignorance. If you know what you are going to get from the inner world and what you are going to get from the outer world, then you try, on the strength of your aspiration, to become one with the outer world and become one with the inner world. When you think of the inner world, think of its height. And when you think of the outer world, think of its length and breadth. Whatever you have, you need height, you need length, you need breadth. If you have these always in your vision, then you can easily unite and amalgamate the inner and the outer world.

Question: Who is the perfect disciple?

Sri Chinmoy: The perfect disciple is he who has made constant, conscious, unconditional and eternal surrender to the Supreme in his Master.

Question: If the perfection of the soul is beyond the perfection of the mind, does that mean you are supposed to concentrate on perfecting the mind?

Sri Chinmoy: If you know what the perfection of the soul is, then you have to bring down the light of the soul into the mind. Light is perfection and perfection is light. You have to know that mental light, the light of the mind, is insignificant, absolutely meaningless in comparison with the light of the soul. The soul has light in boundless measure, whereas the mind has only an iota of light. But that doesn’t mean that the mind should be neglected or rejected. The mind desperately needs the light and perfection of the soul. When you see a drop and an ocean, what do you do? Either you transform the drop into the ocean, or you bring the ocean into the drop and make it the ocean.

Question: How can I become perfectly secure and fearless?

Sri Chinmoy: You can easily become perfectly secure and fearless if you constantly think of yourself as God’s chosen child, no matter what you do or how many deplorable mistakes you make in life. You have to feel that you are God’s chosen instrument, and that you are eternally of Him and eternally for Him. You don’t belong to anybody, you don’t belong even to yourself; you belong only to Him, to the Supreme, to the Absolute Supreme in yourself. If you can feel this, then you are bound to feel perfectly secure and fearless.