Sri Chinmoy was the inspirational force behind the Gandharva Loka project, so we have created this page to honour of his vision.
Sri Chinmoy: A Glimpse
Sri Chinmoy (1931—2007) is an Indian born spiritual Master, poet, writer, musician, composer, athlete and Dreamer of World-Peace.
Born in Sakpura, a small village near Chittagong in Bengal, north eastern India, Sri Chinmoy lived at the Sri Aurobindo ashram (spiritual community) in Pondicherry, southern India, for two decades from the age of 12. He migrated to America in 1964 and was based in Queens, New York until his passing in 2007.
During his time in the West Sri Chinmoy offered twice weekly meditations for the delegates and staff at the United Nations Headquaters in New York and travelled the world extensively offering talks and meeting with people from all walks of life including numerous world leaders. He composed over 20,000 devotional songs and offered 800 free Peace Concerts all over the world. Sri Chinmoy was also a poet, author, artist, runner and weightlifter. His life and activities powerfully expressed the unlimited potential of the human spirit.
Great hearts steadily send forth the secret forces that incessantly draw great events.
Spiritual teachers exist to love, serve and inspire humanity, and Sri Chinmoy's life was certainly a fast flowing torrent of creativity and action dedicated to these goals. Despite being recognised and honoured for his many achievements and selfless offerings to humanity by many of the world's governments, universities, institutions and eminent individuals throughout his life, Sri Chinmoy remained perpetually humble. Once asked how he viewed himself and his role in the world, Sri Chinmoy had the following to say.
People say that I am an ambassador of peace, but that is not true; I am a student of peace. Only a student can always go on learning. Every day, every hour, every minute and every second I am learning to see, feel and become one with the new light and delight that the message of universal peace is offering to me and to humanity. I am a student of peace and I wish to remain so forever and forever, for peace is a reality that is constantly transcending its own high, higher, highest heights.
A more detailed account of Sri Chinmoy's life and activities can be viewed here: Biography of Sri Chinmoy »
Sri Chinmoy: Music and Musical Instruments
From an early age, music played a very significant role in Sri Chinmoy's life. He was known for his sweet, rich and powerful singing voice in his youth and would chant and sing devotional songs whenever he had the time. Later in life Sri Chinmoy sometimes performed, accompanying himself on the harmonium, at special functions held by the Indian Consulate in New York City where he worked for two years after arriving from India in 1964.
Gradually, Sri Chinmoy began adding new instruments to his repertoire – Indian esraj, cello, concert flute, piano, harp, and synthesiser. His meditation students, who hail from a very broad range of cultures and backgrounds, took great delight in offering or crafting new instruments for Sri Chinmoy to try. As the years passed, he accumulated a wide variety of classical western, hybrid and traditional instruments representing many of the world's cultures.
Sri Chinmoy's love of variety had tremendous spiritual relevance. He taught that ultimately, and despite outer differences, humanity emanates from the one divine source that is striving to manifest itself as unity in multiplicity. He also often commented that it is through music that mankind finds its common language and experiences universal oneness. Sri Chinmoy's life was in many ways the synthesis of all cultures and he strongly felt that at the heart of all art, music and human endeavour existed the message of oneness, happiness, satisfaction and peace.
Question: "What role will music play in bringing about world oneness?"
Sri Chinmoy: "Music will play a most important role in bringing about world oneness, for music embodies the Universal Heart, the Oneness-Heart. Music transcends the barriers of nations, nationalities and religions. Music embodies universal Light and universal Truth, and music also embodies the oneness-reality which we see in universal Love, universal Light, universal Awareness and universal Wakefulness. Universal Wakefulness we see inside all music. Music has to play a most important role in bringing about world oneness, for music is the connecting link between the One and the many and between the many and the One."
Throughout his life Sri Chinmoy was the embodiment of self-transcendence – the art of constantly challenging oneself, setting new goals and going beyond ones limitations and previous accomplishments. Approaching everything he did with a tireless, childlike enthusiasm, Sri Chinmoy composed over 20,000 devotional songs in his native Bengali and in English, and offered nearly 800 free public concerts. In private concerts for his students Sri Chinmoy occasionally played a very large number of different instruments. In 2005, at Interlaken in Switzerland, he performed on 170 instruments, while in August 2005, to celebrate his 74th birthday, Sri Chinmoy played 74 flutes and performed on 74 pianos.
Self-transcendence gives us joy in boundless measure. When we transcend ourselves, we do not compete with others. We do not compete with the rest of the world, but at every moment we compete with ourselves. We compete only with our previous achievements. And each time we surpass our previous achievements, we get joy.
Sri Chinmoy Peace Concert
In this video Sri Chinmoy performs one of his memorable Peace Concerts before an audience of 15,000 in Prague. Sri Chinmoy begins with a short silent meditation and then proceeds to play on a variety of instruments before a rousing finale on the grand piano and then a closing meditation. This concert took place during the autumn of 2004 when Sri Chinmoy visited Eastern Europe and offered five concerts that attracted a total of 27,000 people.
Sri Chinmoy and Gandharva Loka
It was Sri Chinmoy's love of music coupled to his view of humanity as a global family that inspired him to encourage his students to open world music stores. For a number of years two of his students had a small music store in New York. In the late 1980s Sri Chinmoy suggested to one of his European students that he open a music store offering unique musical instruments from all over the world. An enthusiastic and accomplished musician himself, Sri Chinmoy's student embraced the concept and Sri Chinmoy offered the name Gandharva Loka to the enterprise – a Bengali phrase meaning 'Abode of the Celestial Musicians' (Gandharvas are celestial musicians and Loka means abode). There are now Gandharva Loka stores in Austria, Germany, Switzerland, New Zealand Canada and Ireland. Sri Chinmoy's students in Iceland also have a similar store called Sangitamiya.
Sri Chinmoy at Gandharva Loka in Zurich
When Sri Chinmoy was in Switzerland in September of 2002, he visited the Gandharva Loka music shop in the heart of Zurich that was established by some of his Swiss students. He was delighted by the variety of different instruments from around the world and enjoyed sampling a few.
Question: "What is the spiritual significance of music, which is something that every culture on earth has and cherishes?"
Sri Chinmoy: "There is an outer existence and an inner existence. Music touches immediately the inner existence, the existence that aspires to become happy and, at the same time, tries to share its happiness with the rest of the world. Music touches the depths of our being and brings to the fore what it discovers there. The melody and the harmony of music are not only giving joy to mankind but are also helping mankind to reach the highest state of consciousness, which is filled with peace, love, joy and fulfilment."
Sri Chinmoy Links
Sri Chinmoy's Music
- Sri Chinmoy Songs – thousands of Sri Chinmoy's songs online.
- Radio Sri Chinmoy – meditative and spiritual music.
- Sri Chinmoy’s Music – video clips on Sri Chinmoy TV.
- Sri Chinmoy Concert – a history of Sri Chinmoy's Peace Concerts.
- Music of Sri Chinmoy – Sri Chinmoy writings on music.
Books About Music By Sri Chinmoy
Articles About Sri Chinmoy's Music
- Music and Meditation – by Jogyata Dallas.
- Sri Chinmoy's Piano Improvisation – by Jogyata Dallas.
- The Esraj Revived – by Vidagdha Bennett.
- The Courage to Improvise – by Vidagdha Bennett.
- Music – articles featured on Sri Chinmoy Reflections