The Religion of Humanity

Practiced at the Sri Chinmoy Centre

by Mr. Momtazuddin Ahmed
Minister (Cultural), Permanent Mission of Bangladesh to the United Nations

(Translated from the original in Bengali1)

 

   
 
“I love the moon, not because it circles the earth but because the soft light of the moon can completely moisten our hearts and Souls.”

At the end of the night, I saw beyond the high walls the moon against a dark blue sky. A bright moon! The silver moonlight washed the sky, but it did not come rolling onto my bed. The roads and buildings of New York are full of light. I could not have imagined in Bengal that the glow of the neon bulbs could so ungraciously drown the light of the moon. I have on many occasions lay immersed in the moonlight of autumn nights. I love the moon, not because it circles the earth but because the soft light of the moon can completely moisten our hearts and Souls. This morning I had asked the moon in New York for a Light that would completely fill every part of my being. But the high rise buildings did not let this wish of mine come true. New York has given so much — so much wealth and glory, such flow of dynamism — but it has taken away my moonlight. This is my sadness. More than anything this is what makes me sad here.

In this country I have received so much, but I have not received the joy that creates a yearning in the heart, melting everything. Perhaps I shall never receive it. Amidst all the glitter and the sparkle the lack of heart is so notable. Wealth can buy us many things, but it cannot buy us happiness. Yet once in a while we have an experience that awakens our senses. Quietly, in silence, we see it at work and we are completely moved by it. The experience gives us a reason to live again, and fills us with a desire to love the world. It is such an experience that I had a few days ago. I had heard about this Centre quite a few times after coming to New York. I had even received an invitation to visit it. However, the opportunity had not arisen. I kept thinking I would go, but somehow it did not happen. So the other day I asked dear Fahim how I could visit the Centre. Fahim Rezanur is loved in his community. One of his special qualities is that he does not say no to anything. There are some people who try to make everyone happy. He is one of them. And so I hear that he presides over at least twenty organizations. I am not like that. And for that too I have to suffer. I do not believe that God has sent me to earth to fulfill all responsibilities. And so why should I take all these chores upon myself? But more on this later.

   
 
Mr. Momtazuddin Ahmed and his wife Mrs. Quamrunnessa Momtaz attend a function at Annam Brahma Restaurant.

The invitation soon came along. A gentleman, an engineer by profession, drove me there. Fahim had already arrived. He took me to a vegetarian restaurant. I listened to songs, both the words and music of which were composed by Sri Chinmoy. None of those who sang were from Bangladesh. They were all Westerners. But the songs expressed a love for Bangladesh. The beauty and glory of Bangladesh came through in every composition. It was beautiful to hear the songs before the meal. And what was even more impressive was the singers. They sang with such feeling — completely immersed in the music, within and without. Almost all the songs had God’s Compassion, Glory and Love as their theme. We hear such an expression in the songs of the Bauls and in Rabindra Sangeet. The lyrics expressed the limitless strength and sweetness of the incomparable One who abides in the entire universe. At the end of the musical presentation was lunch – all vegetarian, embellished with delicious chutney. Four of us had been invited. Besides us in the other tables were other guests. The Centre seekers served the food. I heard that they were well-educated and held responsible jobs. They volunteered at the restaurant and delighted in serving the guests, not seeking any compensation. It was a labor of love. I learned that there were other enterprises that functioned in a similar manner, under the direction of the Sri Chinmoy Centre.

 
“They sang with such feeling – completely immersed in the music, within and without.”   Guests view the sheet music during the performance of Bengali songs.

Sri Chinmoy is from Chittagong, Bangladesh and was born in the Boalkhali precinct. It is the same place where poet Ramesh Sheel was born. It is also where that the sun-child of Bangladesh, Surya Sen, was born. Sri Chinmoy’s family was rooted in the teachings of Sri Aurobindo. When Sri Chinmoy lost his parents at a very early age he went to live in the Sri Aurobindo Ashram, a thousand miles in the south, in Pondicherry. He lived there for many years. The seeds of idealism and spirituality that were sown in Chinmoy’s life and mind in these early years grew to become the great tree that we now know as Sri Chinmoy. Initiated and filled with this idealism, Sri Chinmoy eventually came to America. In Jamaica, New York, he built his Ashram. Practicing meditation and tapasya he grew even stronger. Sri Chinmoy offers many types of spiritual disciplines to discover one’s true nature and manifest God’s Glory within oneself. He composed songs and set them to music. He drew and painted. He regularly exercised and by doing so brought forth the strength that lies hidden within each of us. With his strength he could control a mad elephant and stop moving cars.

Sri Chinmoy had a deep love for religion. By birth he was a Hindu. But his true religion was love for humanity. In his Centre there is no division based on religion. Each person has their own religion. This consciousness has created in the Sri Chinmoy Centre a true love for all religions. I truly appreciated the tolerance of all faiths and beliefs expressed by those who were serving. To create a life-consciousness that is without animosity and division is not easy. It is only when one walks the road of a higher consciousness that the petty differences of the mundane life diminish. Not many can reach the deep state of meditation that this requires. Meditation is difficult and takes time. To truly manifest the full Glory of God-nature is not easy. One of Sri Chinmoy’s mantras was that it is necessary to have belief in oneself along with belief in God. This in itself is such a difficult task that one who achieves this state of belief has won half the battle.

Sri Chinmoy longed for Samadhi. Therefore, his disciples have laid him in eternal sleep of the Mahasamadhi. They feel that his Consciousness is ever-present. Death is only a change of location. An eternally awakened Sadhak’s Consciousness is after all immortal. He is now in a state of his deepest meditation, one with God.

Sri Chinmoy did not speak about miracles. He believed in the strength of the mind and body. If our bodies are not able, if our breathing is not normal or is laboured, then how can we meditate? Therefore, even in his advanced years, Sri Chinmoy followed a regular regimen of physical exercise. He expressed in all his heartfelt activities, a God-consciousness. It is He (God) that he drew in the abstract play of colors and lines. The movement in his art shimmers like a fountain. It is not easy to fathom the abstract quality of this movement.

Sri Chinmoy was skilled in playing many musical instruments. He walked in the world of varied melodies. But not with haste. The beauty of his melodies rise like a still-moving river. In songs, in melody, in art, in physical prowess, in the trance of his meditation – in all these, Sri Chinmoy manifested the myriad aspects of God. Sri Chinmoy said “My religion is Love. Those who love God are my brothers and sisters – and this is the way I express my God-Love.” For the short time that I was at the Sri Chinmoy Centre, not even for a moment did I feel that this extraordinary Sadhak was not beside me. In every facet of this event I felt his love. A world of division, jealousy, greed and individual assertion rules today. There is none who says to another – “Give me some of your sorrow and take some of my joy. Come let us together build a world full of love.” Sri Chinmoy said “Be happy. Be happy. Be happy. If you are not happy you will not make inner progress.”

Winter is not over yet. Every once in a while New York gets blanketed in white by a fresh flood of snow. And then roars in the wintry wind followed by bitter cold. I want to take all the warmth of the world at this time and wrap it around myself. We need warmth to live. In my Bengal now the winter and the shroud of mist is giving way to the south winds. Spring is coming. In green Bengal spring is coming! The solitary wind will blow everything and the leaves will leave their shelter in the trees and fall to the ground. The leafless trees will stand like renunciate Bauls. And then a fresh invitation to life will arrive. Fresh leaves, fresh beauty. Once again a new tide of life will flow through the trees. How beautiful is nature then! Hidden in the leaves, the nightingale will sing its song of love. Once again new life will awaken in all its simplicity. It is this beautiful Bengal that I have left behind soaring through the skies to a land thousands of miles away, across the Atlantic. Here the leaves fall even before the winter begins. The trees are bereft of their green garland. All the leaves have fallen down. The dry branches like orphans stand scattered here and there. Looking at the state of these trees I am filled with sadness. O silent trees, how long will you stand so helplessly in this heartless, indifferent world? In my life the time to create new dreams seems to be over. A leafless tree am I. Who will give me shelter in this affectionless world? Sri Chinmoy has said that if you want to make your life bright, then you have to expand your heart. So may it be. I will stand on the empty road with my Veena of love. If ever I see a traveler, I shall welcome him with the melody of love. All my songs will be songs of love, songs of friendship. Sri Chinmoy, with his unparalleled capacity to dive into the depths of meditation, has untiringly practiced the sadhana of God’s Compassion and Love. I am only a simple person. With all my heart and soul in this world of mortals, I shall beg for the alms of love. This alone will make my life meaningful and sweet. Let the world be awakened by proclaiming the victory of love. Sri Chinmoy received the closeness and affection of so many great souls. Even if I receive the love of ordinary men my life will be glorified.

 

– End –

 

The original article in Bengali (Bangla) was published in Ajkal,
a Bengali newsweekly from New York, on February 5, 2010.
 
 
 

Endnotes:
1 Translation by Dr. Mahatapa Palit.