Nelson Mandela — Father of the South African Nation — passed from this world on December 5th, at the age of 95, at his home in Johannesburg. Not only was he a towering inspiration to the people of South Africa, but he was also universally admired for his courageous struggle against apartheid, his unbreakable will in the face of 27 years of imprisonment, and his compassion and forgiveness of his oppressors.
His legacy to the world at large is beautifully described by his close spiritual friend and fellow peace-lover Sri Chinmoy in the following poems and reflections:
Builds a hope-cathedral
In the heart of despair-flooded humanity.”
Sri Chinmoy’s Writings about Nelson Mandela
Sri Chinmoy praised and honoured Nelson Mandela in writing, in song, and in deed. His book, Nelson Mandela, The Pinnacle-Pillar of Mother Earth, contains poems for the President and the First Lady; tributes and commentaries on the President's life and writings; photographs from their meetings; as well as original songs some based on the immortal words of Nelson Mandela himself.
The following poems by Sri Chinmoy exemplify his heartfelt love and esteem for Nelson Mandela:
Of Mother Earth.
“Whoever genuinely desires
To redress humanity's suffering
Feels behind him one hundred per cent
The living presence of Mandela's heart.
“From his supremely extraordinary life,
We learn how to become
And not how to acquire.
“South Africans have now become
The blooming colours
Of his faith-heart-garden.
Published in Sri Chinmoy’s book Nelson Mandela: the Pinnacle-Pillar of Mother Earth
Immortal Words of Nelson Mandela with Comments by Sri Chinmoy
“Any man that tries to rob me of my dignity will lose.” — Nelson Mandela, Long Walk To Freedom
Many tried to rob you of your dignity. Many tried to rob you of your humanity. Many tried to rob you of your beliefs. They all became sad failures. Why? Because these peerless jewels you kept safely locked inside your heart-casket. — Sri Chinmoy
“The victory of democracy in South Africa is the common achievement of all humanity.” — Nelson Mandela, Long Walk To Freedom
Not only South Africa, but all of humanity was enchained by apartheid.
Not only South Africa, but all of humanity awoke to fight for freedom.
Not only South Africa, but all of humanity won the freedom-struggle. — Sri Chinmoy
“I always knew that someday I would once again feel the grass under my feet and walk in the sunshine as a free man.” — Nelson Mandela, Long Walk To Freedom
Beloved President, as the flame of hope inside you could never be extinguished, even so, our love for you can never be extinguished. — Sri Chinmoy
“I stand here before you not as a prophet but as a humble servant of you, the people. Your tireless and heroic sacrifices have made it possible for me to be here today. I therefore place the remaining years of my life in your hands.” — From Nelson Mandela’s Speech to the Crowds on the Day of his Release, in Cape Town, 11 February 1990
And we place President Mandela’s life in the Hands of our Lord Supreme. May he continue to shower His Blessings upon our President, who is so beloved by the entire world. — Sri Chinmoy
“We have triumphed in the effort to implant hope in the breasts of the millions of our people. We enter into a covenant that we shall build the society in which all South Africans, both black and white, will be able to walk tall, without any fear in their hearts, assured of their inalienable rights to human dignity—a rainbow nation at peace with itself and the world.” — From Nelson Mandela’s 1994 Inaugural Address
Beloved President Mandela, O Founding Father of a free and democratic South Africa, your sacred covenant with your people shall forever and forever last. The rainbow nation shall shine for all Eternity with its many brilliant and glorious colours. None can dim its light. None can dull its splendour. — Sri Chinmoy
“We understand it still that there is no easy road to freedom . . . We know it well that none of us acting alone can achieve success. We must therefore act together as a united people, for national reconciliation, for nation building, for the birth of a new world.” — From Nelson Mandela’s 1994 Inaugural Address
There can never be an easy road for the pioneer-climbers of freedom-heights, for unless and until they have guided each and every person to the summit, they shall not rest.
Beloved Brother, President Mandela, an entire nation follows in your footsteps—and behind it I see the vast caravan of humanity. — Sri Chinmoy
Meetings with the President
Sri Chinmoy and Nelson Mandela greatly admired each other’s work for peace. These two kindred souls met on four separate occasions.
United Nations – 22 June 1990
Nelson Mandela and Sri Chinmoy met for the first time at the United Nations in New York where mutual friend, New York City Mayor David Dinkins, provided the introduction. Sri Chinmoy had been conducting twice-weekly Peace Meditations for the United Nations staff and delegates for the past 20 years, and Nelson Mandela was there to speak on Apartheid.
“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,” Sri Chinmoy told Mr. Mandela.
Sri Chinmoy presented Nelson Mandela with a song he had composed in his honour:
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.
U Thant Peace Award – 29 January 1996
President Nelson Mandela received Sri Chinmoy in Johannesburg at the headquarters of the African National Congress. There, Sri Chinmoy presented the President with the prestigious ‘U Thant Peace Award’. The Award, named after the third Secretary-General of the United Nations U Thant, has been presented to other inspiring world figures such as President Mikhail Gorbachev and Mother Teresa.
“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.” — from Sri Chinmoy’s Introduction
“This is a wonderful honour. I do not have the words to express it.… 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.” — President Nelson Mandela
The Award was inscribed with Sri Chinmoy’s words:
“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.
Holding the Peace Torch – 20 September 1998
President Nelson Mandela and his wife Graça Machel, Mozambique Minister of Education and Global Advocate for Women and Children, met with Sri Chinmoy at Astoria Towers in New York where all three held the Peace Torch together in support of the international global relay, the Sri Chinmoy Oneness-Home Peace Run.er the third Secretary-General of the United Nations U Thant, has been presented to other inspiring world figures such as President Mikhail Gorbachev and Mother Teresa.
“That is so important. We are with you in upholding peace, which brings solace to many people throughout the world. It doesn't matter what language they speak. I think peace is one of the things that is going to save the world.” – President Nelson Mandela
Lifting Up the World – 9 March 1999
Sri Chinmoy’s greatest joy was realised in 1999 when he was able to offer the President the ‘Lifting Up the World with a Oneness-Heart Award’ by physically lifting him on a specially constructed lifting platform. Sri Chinmoy made the trip to South Africa to symbolically honour the President by lifting him overhead, in much the same the way as a rugby player who scores a goal is carried off the ground on the shoulders of his teammates.
“I am very happy you are here. I am happy we are now together.... Thank you very much. I am really honoured to have taken part and I am happy this moment has come.” – President Nelson Mandela
“My Beloved President, my heart's infinite, infinite gratitude and gratitude to you.” – Sri Chinmoy
South African Pilgrimage
Robben Island – 26 December 1995
During a visit to Cape Town in 1995, Sri Chinmoy made a special pilgrimage to Robben Island, the place where Nelson Mandela was held for 18 of his 27 years of imprisonment. Sri Chinmoy spent some time meditating in the tiny 2x2½-metre room where prisoner no. 46664 had once lived. From the very cell in which the great South African patriot had been incarcerated, Sri Chinmoy offered this soulful prayer:
“Our beloved President Mandela,
O Supreme Pilot of South Africa-Boat,
it is here in this tinier than the tiniest room
that you embodied your beloved country’s
streaming tears and bleeding heart.”
— Sri Chinmoy