Early life in India

An early photograph of Sri Chinmoy in India.

Born in 1931, Sri Chinmoy spent his early years in the small rural village of Shakpura, near Chittagong in what was then known as East Bengal. As a child, he was so full of energy and enthusiasm that his family gave him the nickname ‘Madal’, which means kettledrum. He had a loving upbringing in a deeply spiritual family environment and led a carefree life until the death of both his parents.

At just twelve years of age, life took a different turn for the young Chinmoy. Now an orphan, he travelled with his older brothers and sisters to take up residence at the Sri Aurobindo Ashram in Pondicherry in southern India. The Ashram’s founder, Sri Aurobindo, had studied at Cambridge University and was well versed in the classics, along with British and European literature and philosophy. Consequently, the ashram had a mix of traditional Indian and modern western influences. It was a place where educational, physical and spiritual development were concomitant ideals.

During these formative years, Sri Chinmoy immersed himself in the activities of this very progressive spiritual community. Besides meditating up to eight hours a day, he excelled in athletics, holding Ashram records for 100 and 200 metres as well as the decathlon. He was nurtured in the arts by mentors of the highest order — people who in their own right had achieved national notoriety saw in him a prodigious talent in literature, art and music that would one day fully blossom.

Sri Chinmoy spent twenty years at the Ashram before moving to New York in 1964. India had given him the perfect all-round education, inwardly and outwardly. It laid the foundation for Sri Chinmoy’s mission in the West.

Sprinting barefoot at the track

High jump with no landing cushions

Putting the shot

His trusty Ashram  bicycle

Sri Chinmoy speaks about his early life in India.