Sri Chinmoy with four African peace-immortals

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Meeting with Archbishop Desmond Tutu

Head of the Anglican Church in South Africa
Archbishop of Cape Town
Awarded the Nobel Prize for Peace in 1984

On 20 December 1995 Archbishop Desmond Tutu welcomed Sri Chinmoy to his residence at Bishopscourt, Cape Town. The two first met privately.

Sri Chinmoy: I am so grateful to you for allowing me to be in your blessingful presence.

Archbishop Desmond Tutu: We are the ones that need your blessings.

Sri Chinmoy: I would like to convey to you President Mikhail Gorbachev's best wishes and special regards.

[The Archbishop and Sri Chinmoy then spoke about the international Trust for Children's Health Care, of which President Gorbachev is the honorary President, and Archbishop Tutu, Mother Teresa and Sri Chinmoy are honorary members. Archbishop Tutu spoke of President Gorbachev with happiness and enthusiasm, and Sri Chinmoy mentioned that he had read the Archbishop's writings about Gorbachev.]

[Afterwards, they both joined a choir of Sri Chinmoy's students in the beautiful courtyard, where the singers performed a song written by Sri Chinmoy in Archbishop Tutu's honour, as well as several quotations by the Archbishop that Sri Chinmoy had set to music.]

Archbishop Desmond Tutu: a soul-diamond, a heart-diamond

Archbishop Desmond Tutu, Desmond!
A soul-diamond, a heart-diamond.
Archbishop Peace-Dreamer, Archbishop!
Your code of life: stop violence, stop!
O wisdom-fountain, justice-mountain,
In you, with you no ignorance-chain.
Africa's life-story, heart-song
The whole world hears from your vision-gong.

[Sri Chinmoy introduced the presentation of the U Thant Peace Award to Archbishop Tutu with the following remarks:]

It is a great privilege for me and for the members of Sri Chinmoy: The Peace Meditation at the United Nations to be in the presence of a revered messenger of peace such as you, Archbishop Desmond Tutu. Father Tutu, your life of unswerving faith represents the enduring love of the Divine for your cherished country — a land richly blessed by the Creator yet, for so long, torn by the strife of separation. Throughout long decades of struggle, yours was the eloquent voice of unity, of reconciliation, of tolerance, of patience, of forgiveness, of conviction. At the same time, it was a compelling call to action. Finally, your voice proclaimed the destined victory of justice, peace and oneness.

Father Tutu, according to me, you are a soul-diamond, a heart-diamond. We know that diamonds are formed by intense pressure. During the years of your ministry, you experienced and expressed all the excruciating sufferings of the black people of South Africa. At the same time, as a chosen instrument of God, you courageously, devotedly and tirelessly fought against the appalling ignorance of apartheid, while praying for the transformation of its perpetrators. Placed by the Hand of God between the unstoppable freedom-surge of the oppressed and the fearful aggression-retaliation of the oppressor, you emerged as the brilliant diamond of unity, reflecting the Oneness-Light of the Creator. In you, all the rainbow-colours of God's children find their true home.

Father Tutu, you perfectly embody both contemplation and action, and thus you serve as a radiant example for God-lovers and peace-seekers everywhere in today's world. In your compelling words: "The most important, the most cardinal fact about our life is the spiritual — that encounter with God in prayer, in worship, in meditation." Far from providing an escape, religion for you sounds a clarion call to the service of truth. Once again, in your words: "There is nothing the government can do to me that will stop me from being involved in what I believe is what God wants me to do."

Father Tutu, your illumined wisdom proclaims that separation is the greatest suffering and the root of conflict, whereas oneness is the greatest joy and the wellspring of peace. Your heart of faith, your life of humility toward God and man-which is nothing but oneness itself, your towering intellect surrendered to the service of God, and your eloquent voice of all-embracing love make you a shining harbinger of tomorrow's peace-flooded oneness-world. Today, therefore, we wish to present to you our U Thant Peace Award.

[Sri Chinmoy then read the inscription on the Award:]

The U Thant Peace Award is presented to Archbishop Desmond Tutu:

- devoted messenger of the divine unity of the Creator's rainbow-children; - eloquent voice of humanity's suffering and Divinity's Compassion; - harbinger of the spirituality of transformation; sowing the seeds of Heaven's oneness-love in earth's division-mind; - offering the flower-victory at the Feet of the Supreme Father.

With our deepest appreciation,
admiration and gratitude,

Sri Chinmoy The Peace Meditation
at the United Nations

[Archbishop Tutu graciously accepted the award and then invited Sri Chinmoy and the choir inside for a reception, shaking the singers' hands as he greeted them. During the reception, a video was shown of the late Secretary-General U Thant offering remarks as guest of honour at the staging of Sri Chinmoy's play about the life of the Buddha. At the end of the reception, the Archbishop thanked Sri Chinmoy with the following remarks.]

Archbishop Tutu: Thank you very, very much. On behalf of all of us, we are enormously grateful that you have taken the time to come here to spread this message of love and harmony and peace.Thank you for honouring me and honouring us here. You have come with wonderful timing, because I have just recently been appointed to chair the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, which we all hope is going to assist our country in the process of healing all the trauma that has been caused by apartheid's injustice in the past. We hope that you and your disciples and followers will uphold us in your prayers as we set out on this momentous journey in our country. Thank you very much for all your work.

Sri Chinmoy (presenting two of his books, A Garland of Nation-Souls and My Meditation-Service at the United Nations): May I offer you these books? These are the talks that I have given at the United Nations over the years, and these are the questions I have answered that have been asked by United Nations delegates and staff.

May we now congratulate you with our prayers. We have a special song, and we sing this prayerful song while congratulating somebody.

[The choir performed the "Congratulation" song.]

Archbishop Tutu: Thank you very, very much. God bless you, God bless you.

Archbishop Tutu then asked Sri Chinmoy to sign his official guest book. Sri Chinmoy wrote the following inscription:

"Father Tutu, to you I am offering my heart's prayerful joy, love and gratitude.
Sri Chinmoy
Dec. 20th, 1995"

[The Archbishop walked Sri Chinmoy to his car with great kindness and affection.]

Later Sri Chinmoy made the following comment about Archbishop Tutu: He has many, many divine qualities, but the most important one is his justice. With justice-light he starts. Then comes his compassion-height aspect, and finally his forgiveness-delight.

Meeting with King Goodwill Zwelithini

On 23 January 1996, King Goodwill Kabhekuzulu Zwelithini attended Sri Chinmoy's Peace Concert in City Hall, Durban, South Africa. He gave the following welcome address.

King Zwelithini: When the world turns against itself, as it does, human life becomes trivial and cheap. The death statistics of the USSR, Burundi, Algeria, Israel and Palestine, India, Sri Lanka and KwaZulu-Natal back home, highlight the lack of peace and unity within the human population. There is hardly a single day that passes without TV and press media showing human destruction by humans. Here in South Africa, KwaZulu-Natal is a classic example of anarchy, disunity, lack of understanding, lack of political tolerance, faction fighting, rampant violence and political killings.

In other words, the world should unite in pursuit of peace. I take relief from the fact that there are men and women like Sri Chinmoy and his peace group who have dedicated their lives to promoting peace. I have carefully studied the qualifications of this man, who is an international peace philosopher, an author, a poet, an artist, an athlete, a spiritual leader, because it is rare to find a man of this age who is a combination of all these noble qualities. His life supports the observation that a man who is at peace with himself can effectively promote peace amongst other people.

He is propelled by the spiritual desire to see peace reigning among people. He is also an inspiration to us here in KwaZulu/Natal and South Africa in general. We have to shed hatred, we have to shed destructive competition, we have to shed jealousy, we have to shed ethnic and racial biases, we have to shed feelings of self-centredness, we have to replace narrow self-interest with broad, common interest.

The visit of Sri Chinmoy and his peace group is a fountain of inspiration to us. We hope the message will get across that human life is more important than political power. We hope to internalise the message that we ultimately return to our Source, God. We have to revive our noble Ubuntu practices.

With these few words I want to welcome Sri Chinmoy and his peace group in KwaZulu/Natal. Your visit and this Peace Concert are a blessing to me and my people. Incidentally, I am also a lover of peace. I will gladly sacrifice my sleep if and when there is an opportunity to meet for the promotion of peace. May your visit and Peace Concert spread a new wave of love, peace and unity in this troubled province of ours. Thank you.

Sri Chinmoy: Your Majesty King Goodwill Zwelithini, I wish to offer you gratitude from the inmost recesses of my heart for the signal and momentous blessings that you have bestowed upon my heart of aspiration and my life of dedication. This morning I was inspired from deep within to compose a song about you, your Majesty. This prayerful song I now wish my students to sing for you. Most humbly I am offering this song to your Majesty.

[Sri Chinmoy read out the words to the song:]

O King Goodwill, O King Goodwill, Goodwill!
You are your heart's world-oneness-peace-dream-thrill.
You tell the world: "No stark ignorance-fight.
Dive deep within to swim in the sea of Light."
O Pilot-Zenith of your fond Zulu tribe,
In your heart's rainbow-sky, peace-promise shall thrive.

The choir performed the song before the entire Peace Concert audience of about one thousand people. The King and Queen thanked the singers graciously, shaking hands with each one individually.

Remarks were then offered by the Acting Mayor, Councillor Panday, and the Chairperson of the Metropolitan Executive Council, Mr. Obed Mlaba.

Mr. Obed Mlaba, Chairperson of the Executive Council, Durban Metropolitan Area: Good evening, ladies and gentlemen, and welcome again, to all of you. On behalf of the Executive Council of the Durban Metropolitan Area, I am extremely honoured to welcome Sri Chinmoy here tonight. For all of us in Durban, nothing is more important than to establish a lasting and true peace. So it is extremely significant and important to us that you, Sri Chinmoy, have chosen to come to our land at this turning point in our lives, in Durban and KwaZulu/Natal and in our country. For us, you represent the power of the heart and of the spirit of God within each human being as we strive to bring goodness and peace into our lives.

I am extremely pleased and happy to announce that our Executive Council has today voted to become part of the Sri Chinmoy Peace-Blossoms programme which links together nearly 1000 natural wonders and important locations worldwide for the cause of peace. On behalf of all Durbanites, may I say that we feel truly honoured to be a part of this global initiative to foster peace. We need your innovative and heart to heart, person to person peace programmes very badly, and we assure you that we shall work closely with your organisation to play our role in our common quest for a world of peace.

I would now like to read the text of the plaque which is here on stage, and to present you, Sri Chinmoy, with this signed declaration. The plaque will be installed soon at a very prominent place here in City Hall so that all of our citizens may receive the inspiration to lead more peaceful and fulfilling lives.

King Zwelithini then unveiled the plaque declaring Durban a "Sri Chinmoy Peace Metropolitan Area".

Later, at a reception held in the City Hall, the King remarked to Sri Chinmoy "Brother, brother, you cannot imagine what you have done for me and for our country! We need only a few-not many-men of peace like you to bring peace to our country."

Meeting with President Nelson Mandela

President of South Africa (since 1994)
Awarded the Nobel Prize for Peace in 1993

On 29 January 1996, President Nelson Mandela received Sri Chinmoy in Johannesburg at the headquarters of the African National Congress.

The two had met previously, on 22 June 1990, immediately prior to Mr. Mandela's address to the United Nations General Assembly in New York.

This time, the President came to join Sri Chinmoy and sixteen of his students in the Conference Room at ANC Headquarters.

President Mandela (greeting Sri Chinmoy): My dear friend, how are you?

Sri Chinmoy: Beloved President, I am so grateful to you for so kindly allowing me to be in your blessingful presence.

President Mandela entered the conference room, where he was greeted by applause and shook each person's hand with great kindness. President Mandela (greeting the singers): It is a real pleasure to see all of you. You all look very impressive. I am so happy to see you.

Sri Chinmoy (asking the President to sit down): As your time is very limited, we would like to sing some songs which I have composed in your honour, and then I would like to offer you our U Thant Peace Award.

President Mandela: It is so difficult to sit down when you are all standing!

Sri Chinmoy (showing the President the sheets of music): These are the two songs that they are going to sing right now. (The choir performed "A Perfect Justice-Voice" and "Long Walk to Freedom.")

A perfect justice-voice

Nelson Mandela, torture-sufferer supreme,
High Heaven's Smile and earth's solace-dream.
Your heart has won the world's admiration-choice.
Within, without, a perfect justice-voice.

Long walk to freedom

Long walk to freedom, long walk to freedom
To be a child of oneness-kingdom.
Long walk to freedom, long, long, long:
Our proudest victory's sweetest song.

President Mandela (applauding): Well! Thank you very much! This is a great honour.

Sri Chinmoy: Now the singers will sing four of your momentous utterances that I have set to music. (Showing the President the words and music of the four songs) They will be singing these, and then we shall offer you our U Thant Peace Award.

President Mandela: This is absolutely wonderful!

The choir performed the four songs.

Sri Chinmoy introduced the U Thant Peace Award presentation with the following words:

Highly esteemed and beloved President Mandela, it is the greatest honour for me and my students to offer you our most profound and soulful appreciation in the form of our U Thant Peace Award.

Dear President, yours is the life of a supremely chosen instrument, embodying both the excruciating bondage-pangs and the soaring freedom-dreams of your nation. The sweet hopes of your innocent childhood you unhesitatingly surrendered to Destiny's challenging call. The loftiest goal of universal liberation you wholeheartedly embraced. Impossibility, defeat and bitterness are words never to be found in your oneness-heart-dictionary; unfathomable courage, unparalleled determination and indomitable strength radiate on every page.

Dear President Mandela, your life of unconditional sacrifice and your beloved country's miracle-transformation are inseparable. Sleeplessly your lifeboat is plying between Africa's bleeding heart-shore and Africa's smiling soul-shore. Your triumphant peace-loving and oneness-building spirit the entire aspiring world shall forever love, cherish and adore.

Sri Chinmoy then read the inscription on the award.

"The U Thant Peace Award is presented to President Nelson Mandela:
- South Africa's visionary oneness-leader;
- epitome of humanity's nobility-aspiration-height;
- heroic justice-champion;
- radiant patience-embodiment;
- illumining forgiveness-ocean;
- glowing humility-servant of your suffering and striving people;
- towering majesty-king of their blossoming unity-victory-destiny.
With our deepest appreciation,
admiration and gratitude,
Sri Chinmoy: The Peace Meditation
at the United Nations. "

President Mandela: This is a wonderful honour. I do not have the words to express it. It is such a pity that I am seeing you at the last moment because I must proceed to Pretoria and fly to Cape Town today. But when my Comrade Zuma phoned me and told me about you, I said I would be honoured to meet you, and I hope you will not mind the fact that I can only spare just a few minutes because of the tight programme which I have.

This gift, this award from you is one that I am going to respect a great deal, and which encourages me in the difficult work that we are doing. It is not easy to preach the message of peace and reconciliation in a country which for more than three centuries has been divided by racial conflict and tensions, and where many people have lost their lives because of torture and persecution. It is not very easy, but we are trying.

This gesture makes it possible for us to be able to do this work. To be appreciated by an organisation like yours is a real shot in the arm, and I am very grateful to you.

Sri Chinmoy: Thank you. (Showing a newspaper article about his visit to the President's cell on Robben Island) This is about my prayerful visit to Robben Island. In the cell I was praying, and this is the message that I offered there: "There was a time when this cave-room played the role of punishment. Now this room plays the role of humanity's sacred, illumining and fulfilling shrine."

President Mandela (reading the message): That is very good! I am really honoured.

Sri Chinmoy (presenting his book "The Garland of Nation-Souls"): These are the talks that I have given at the United Nations over the years.

Sri Chinmoy points to the caption under the picture of his meeting with the President at the United Nations in 1990: This is the message I gave you at that time: "South Africa sleeplessly needs the fragrance of your heart for its liberation and peace, and the whole world soulfully needs the garden of your life for its inspiration and bliss."

President Mandela: I will read this with great interest.

Sri Chinmoy: Now we will end with a short song I have composed in honour of Africa.

The choir performed "Africa."

President Mandela: Thank you very much. Thank you. I cannot express in words my joy, but I wish you good luck and success in what you are doing. It is in the interest of the entire humanity and the world. I am really honoured. Thank you.

Sri Chinmoy: We are so grateful to you.

The President again shook hands with everyone present, thanking them as he left.

Editor's note

From 12 December 1995 to 30 January 1996, Sri Chinmoy visited South Africa and Zimbabwe. During this time, he met with four African Peace-Immortals. Following is an account of his meetings with them in chronological order.