Sri Chinmoy is a spiritual teacher who served in many different capacities – he was a musician, artist, writer, and student of peace. During the last 20 years of his life on earth, he offered 770 concerts, in 62 countries and on six continents. His concerts ranged from famous venues, such as New York’s Carnegie Hall, the Sydney Opera House and the Carrousel du Louvre, Paris. He also gave smaller intimate concerts at venues of spiritual and cultural significance.
Sri Chinmoy sees music as a universal language of the heart, a potent force that dissolves barriers of race and religion and unites humanity into one world-family.
“Music is the universal language. We do not have to learn any particular language to communicate with others if we can play soulful music. Soulful music carries the beauty and fragrance of silence. When we aspire through music, at that time we do not need any earthly language. The heart itself becomes the universal language. The heart is receiving the beauty and light of the higher world of silence.”
– Sri Chinmoy
Through his music and global Peace Concerts, Sri Chinmoy drew tens of thousands of people together in an experience of inner and outer harmony.
Music of the Heart and Soul
In an odyssey that has spanned four decades, Sri Chinmoy has composed a monumental total of 20,000 songs in both his native Bengali (13,000) and English (over 7,000) — many hauntingly prayerful, others powerfully dynamic. Both simple and subtle, his compositions invoke an atmosphere of serenity. The essence of ancient Indian ragas is conveyed in a single melody line easily accessible to the modern ear. The lyrical charm and melodic resonance of his music leave a lingering resonance in the listener’s heart long after the music ends.
Sri Chinmoy performs his compositions typically on over 20 instruments, specializing in the cello, Western echo flute, esraj, Indian harmonium, piano and violin. Sri Chinmoy’s voice is strikingly stirring. He sings extemporaneously or with keyboard accompaniment, usually on the harmonium or a bellowed keyboard.
Sri Chinmoy felt that concerts of soulful music had the capacity to touch the heart of the audience and give a sense of inner peace and joy. Sri Chinmoy remarked:
“With my concerts I try to be of devoted service to mankind and to be a good citizen of the world. It is my wish that we all cultivate the inner hunger to become good citizens to inspire the whole world and to work together for the betterment of the world.”
– Sri Chinmoy
In his hope for a one-world-family, Sri Chinmoy offered over 770 concerts at a variety of venues: from Britain’s prestigious Royal Albert Hall to an auditorium on the tiny island of Raratonga in the South Pacific; from symbols of democracy — the Jefferson Memorial in Washington, D.C. and Athens, Greece — to nations where the monarch still plays a pivotal role — Thailand and Nepal.
The concerts have ranged in attendance from the largest of 19,000 in Montreal, Canada, to intimate private concerts for Heads of State and Royalty. Ninety university concert tours have also been held at both public and private institutions, including Harvard, Yale and Princeton in America, Oxford and Cambridge in Great Britain, The Sorbonne in France and Tokyo University in Japan. Sri Chinmoy has performed his prayerful music at some of the world’s great cathedrals and churches — Notre Dame and The Vatican — at the feet of Japan’s Great Buddha Statue at Kotoku-in Temple in Kamakura, and at the fabled Buddhist Architectural wonder, Borobudur. He has also performed at some of the world’s most moving memorials: including the Nagasaki and Hiroshima Memorials in Japan. See: Details on Sri Chinmoy’s concerts
Sri Chinmoy favoured instruments, such as the flute, esraj, cello, and harmonium. He later added to these soulful instruments with the grandeur and dynamic power of his piano and pipe organ improvisations. At the beginning of the 2000s he added virtuoso violin, esraj, Chinese erhu and other improvisations to his concert programme.
In the 1990’s, Sri Chinmoy began dedicating concerts to world luminaries and significant anniversaries. In 1993, he dedicated 39 concerts to the great Indian spiritual teacher, Swami Vivekananda. 1993 was the centenary of the World Parliament of Religions (held in Chicago 1893, where Vivekananda was a star speaker). See: Vivekananda Peace Concert dedication
In 1995, Sri Chinmoy dedicated an entire series of 50 concerts to the United Nations’ 50th anniversary, and two years later another series of 50 to the 50th anniversary of India’s independence in 1997.
Sri Chinmoy has also performed at some of the world’s most time-honoured and sacred venues, including Notre Dame Cathedral, Westminster Abbey, St. John the Divine, Borobudur (Indonesia) and the Great Buddha of Kamakura (Japan). Sri Chinmoy sought to promote inter-faith harmony and believed that different religions could mutually co-exist.
True religion has a universal quality. It does not find fault with other religions. False religions will find fault with other religions; they will say that theirs is the only valid religion and their prophet is the only saviour. But a true religion will feel that all the prophets are saviours of mankind. Forgiveness, compassion, tolerance, brotherhood and the feeling of oneness are the signs of a true religion.
– Sri Chinmoy 5
Published by Simon & Schuster, Harper & Row and others, Sri Chinmoy’s poetry, essays, plays and short stories — translated into twenty-seven languages — explore the length and breadth of the human quest for self-understanding. He has also lectured at universities worldwide, including Harvard, Yale, Cambridge, Oxford, the Sorbonne and Tokyo.
In 1974, Sri Chinmoy began painting, and in a short space of time, became a prolific artist – painting thousands of spontaneous and abstract artworks – art he termed ‘Jharna Kala’ – meaning ‘Fountain Art’
Learn more about Sri Chinmoy