Coming to the West

Sri Chinmoy’s original passport photograph taken in March 1964

On April 13, 1964, at the age of 32, Sri Chinmoy arrived in New York after a long, arduous flight from his homeland in India. What had brought him halfway around the globe to the centre of world materialism, a place so diametrically opposed the peaceful ashram life he had lived for the past 20 years, is a story in itself. Perhaps, all that needs saying is that he was following a powerful inner Command. He felt compelled to be of service to spiritual seekers in the West.

It was his faith in this inner voice, that sustained and guided him through his early years in America to the point today, where he is regarded as a truly global man of peace.

For the first few months in New York, Sri Chinmoy stayed in an apartment in Greenwich Village, Manhattan, with two of his close American friends, who he had known at the Sri Aurobindo Ashram in India. They helped him navigate the cultural nuances of modern western life, introduced him to their friends and acquaintances, and provided a safe platform for him to expand his spiritual horizons.

In June the same year, he was offered a job at the Indian Consulate, which in turn led to his first musical recitals. They were small affairs sponsored by the Asia Society. Accompanied by harmonium, Sri Chinmoy sang a few traditional Bengali and Sanskrit songs as well as some of his own compositions. In comparison, years later, in the year 2000, at his largest Peace Concert in Montreal, Canada, he played a multitude of instruments to an audience of 19,000 people.

By the 1970s, he was lecturing at universities around the world. Gradually his name as a true spiritual master and teacher of meditation spread. Outside of his New York base, he established meditation centres in Puerto Rico, Canada, in Europe and Australia. Currently, there are Sri Chinmoy Centres in over 40 countries.