Thursday, July 27, 2006


Mr. ACKERMAN. Mr. Speaker, I consider it an honor and a distinct privilege today to rise and offer birthday congratulations to a man many in this country and the world have come to respect and admire, Sri Chinmoy, who on August 27, will be celebrating his 75th birthday in New York City. He is a selfless individual who has dedicated himself to nurturing world harmony and to the creative expression of the limitless potential of the human spirit.

Sri Chinmoy’s many contributions to American life and culture have been expressed through teaching, athletics, art, music, poetry and literature. He combines the contemplative traditions of his native India with the dynamism of his adopted America to serve humanity through programs such as the World Harmony Run torch relay, The Oneness-Heart Tears and Smiles worldwide humanitarian service, and the Lifting Up the World with a Oneness-Heart awards program. Through these initiatives for world harmony, he has touched countless lives and offered hope to thousands of individuals worldwide.

Mr. Speaker, Sri Chinmoy Kumar Ghose was born on August 27,1931, in India in East Bengal, the present day Bangladesh. On April 13, 1964, he arrived in this country from Southern India, where he had received his education and training in the ancient methods of yoga at the Sri Aurobindo Ashram.

When he came to this country, he founded the Sri Chinmoy Centre, headquartered in Jamaica, Queens. The first Centres were established in 1966 in Puerto Rico and New York, and have since grown to include branches all over the United States and 73 other countries worldwide. The Centres are dedicated to the twin goals of public service and personal spiritual growth through the use of meditation. The students of Sri Chinmoy include individuals from all faiths and walks of life who seek to cultivate harmony and goodwill both in themselves and in their communities. They also compose the community of volunteers who carry out, at the grass-roots level, Sri Chinmoy’s vision of loving service through such varied projects as humanitarian aid and the sponsorship of musical concerts and athletic events.

Considered one of the world's foremost authorities on Eastern philosophy, which is a systematic method of expanding consciousness through meditation, prayer and selfless service, Sri Chinmoy has lectured on this topic at many of the major universities in the United States. His first lecture tour began at Yale on December 4, 1968 and included talks at all 8 Ivy League Universities. In the early 1970s he lectured at 20 universities on topics of Indian wisdom and philosophy. In 1974, he spoke at universities in all 50 states.

He continues to lecture here and around the world. In his writings and speeches, he endeavors to share eastern light for the western mind. A prolific writer and poet, Sri Chinmoy has written over 1,550 books of essays, poems and short stories. The largest university library collection of his works is at Harvard Divinity School.

Meditation classes under Sri Chinmoy’s guidance are always provided free of charge. He offered his first public meditation at Columbia University on April 23, 1971, and his first meditation in Congress at the Rayburn House Office Building on May 23, 1979, under the sponsorship of my former colleague, the distinguished late New York Congressman Joseph P. Addabbo.

Mr. Speaker, Sri Chinmoy believes that sport is a powerful instrument for promoting global harmony. He has long found that athletics can be an invaluable source of motivation and enrichment for thousands of people, young and old alike. In 1976 he was recognized with a commendation from the President’s Council on Physical Fitness for his role in inspiring young Americans to run the 50-State, 9,000-mile “Liberty Torch” relay held in honor of the U.S. Bicentennial. He founded the Sri Chinmoy Marathon Team in 1977. In 1982, several of his students organized “America's Freedom-Ride,” a 50-State public participation bicycle relay that celebrated the 200th anniversary of the U.S. Constitution.

The lessons of these early 50-State American relays became the foundation for the Sri Chinmoy Marathon Team to organize a global torch relay. Now known as the World Harmony Run, it was held from April to August on a biennial basis from 1987 to 2001 and resumed as a yearly event in 2005. The World Harmony Run seeks to promote international friendship and understanding. This year, an international team of runners will carry a flaming torch, symbolizing the human aspiration for oneness, through more than 80 countries around the globe together with a 10,500-mile, fifty State U.S.A. route. The event serves to connect thousands of grassroots efforts for world harmony taking place in communities across the globe. It does not seek to raise money or promote any political cause, but rather to create good will among peoples and nations.

The Sri Chinmoy Marathon Team has made a city block in my district world famous. It’s where the longest running race in the world takes place around the shortest course--a half-mile certified loop on paved sidewalks adjacent to the Grand Central Parkway. To complete the Self-Transcendence 3,100 Mile Race, participants run 5,648.688 laps around the block, a distance equivalent to more than 118 marathons. The Tenth Annual edition began on June 11 and continues into August with the largest field yet of 15 ultra-distance runners. As in all his endeavors, Sri Chinmoy sets the highest standards of organization, logistics and support to help ultra-marathon runners achieve their greatest potential. We can expect of this race to see new world records and personal bests.

A decathlon and 100-meter sprinting champion in his youth, Sri Chinmoy believes in the necessity of a sound mind and a sound body. He began his own long-distance running career in Golden Gate Park in San Francisco on June 1, 1978. In March 1979, he ran his first marathon in Chico, California, and, later that month, his fastest marathon in 3:55:07 at the Heart-Watchers Marathon in Toledo, Ohio. He has completed 22 marathons and 5 ultra marathons and now, at age 75, still regularly exercises.

Mr. Speaker, Sri Chinmoy first began weightlifting on June 26, 1986, and embarked on a new dimension in his weightlifting career 2 years later when he inaugurated “Lifting Up the World with a Oneness-Heart.” This is his way of recognizing individuals from all walks of life who inspire humanity and excel in their respective fields. At these programs, Sri Chinmoy lifts each honoree overhead on a special platform, symbolically reflecting their own uplifting contributions to the world.

Bill Pearl of Oregon, a Five-time Mr. Universe, was the first person lifted in this fashion. Sri Chinmoy has lifted Members of the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives, heads of state, ambassadors, Nobel laureates, university professors, spiritual leaders from all faiths, Olympic athletes, citizens serving their communities, and school children whose dreams are so important to our future. In Hawaii, on December 23, 1990, he lifted Senator Hiram L. Fong, who was Hawaii’s first Senator at the time of statehood.

On July 10, 2001, in the Rayburn Gold Room, Sri Chinmoy simultaneously lifted my esteemed New York colleague Benjamin Gilman and me on a two-platform lifting apparatus, one of us with each arm. If I had not experienced it, I could not imagine this to be possible. In a day-long lifting program at Boeing Field Auditorium in Washington State on July 13, 2003, held to celebrate the centenary of the Wright brothers first flight, Sri Chinmoy lifted 123 airplane pilots in appreciation of their dedicated services in carrying humanity into the skies. From 1988 to 2006, Sri Chinmoy has honored more than 8,000 individuals from many countries with this award.

Mr. Speaker, The Oneness-Heart Tears and Smiles is the voluntary humanitarian service program of the Sri Chinmoy Centre. Since 1991, centre members worldwide have collected and shipped tons of humanitarian supplies to countries in need including South Africa, Angola, Mozambique, India, and, after the tsunami, Sri Lanka. It responds to disaster relief requests, health and education needs, and regional development projects. The program obtains and distributes medical, domestic and educational supplies and toys, working closely with other aid agencies, local NGOs, community groups and corporations.

One would think that this busy schedule and numerous interests would be enough for one man, but not so for Sri Chinmoy. An accomplished composer of music for choir and instruments with 13,000 songs composed in his native Bengali and 7,000 in English, Sri Chinmoy has performed his music free of charge at over 750 concerts worldwide since 1984. Last year, to celebrate his 74th birthday, he played his original compositions on 74 different pianos at an outdoor concert in Queens.

Senators Daniel Patrick Moynihan of New York and Claiborne Pell of Rhode Island sponsored an art exhibit of Sri Chinmoy’s soul-bird drawings in the Russell Rotunda of the U.S. Senate in 1995.

All told, Sri Chinmoy has written 20,000 songs, taught 300 university lectures, authored 1,550 books, including 112,000 poems, penned 15 million bird drawings, and completed 200,000 “Jharna-Kala” paintings (“Fountain of Art” in his native Bengali).

He has dedicated his life to inspiring and serving all those trying to make the world a better place, whether ordinary citizens or those entrusted with the stewardship of a nation.

Mr. Speaker, on this, the celebration of Sri Chinmoy’s upcoming Diamond Jubilee 75th birthday, I ask all my colleagues in the House of Representatives to please join me as I wish Sri Chinmoy success in the years ahead and best wishes for a long and continuingly fruitful life.

Pages E1568-E1569, CONGRESSIONAL RECORD – Extensions of Remarks July 27, 2006