Sports & Self-Transcendence
For Sri Chinmoy, sports and spirituality go hand in hand. He was particularly fond of running, and he often compared the inner journey of self-discovery to a running race. He felt that sports kept the body fit and healthy, which is important in order to meditate effectively, and that they also offer people the possibility of getting joy by transcending their own capacities:
"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." 1
Sri Chinmoy and his students strive every day to better their previous capacities, in the hope that they will in turn inspire those who hear about them to persevere in pursuing their own dreams in life. "Inspiration is of paramount importance", writes Sri Chinmoy. "If I can inspire someone, and if that person also can inspire me, then we can do many good things for the betterment of this world."
Sporting feats by Sri Chinmoy's Students
To quote 'EnlightenNext' magazine, "Sri Chinmoy's most extraordinary feat of all may be his near miraculous ability to inspire in many of his students the same kind of limitation shattering abilities that have marked his own spiritual odyssey." 2. Inspired by Sri Chinmoy's philosophy of "never give up" and transcending human limitations, a good number of Sri Chinmoy's students have participated in endurance disciplines such as ultradistance running, Channel swimming and triathlons.
Some of the more notable feats achieved by Sri Chinmoy's students include:
Guiness World Records.
In 1979, Ashrita from New York, broke his first Guinness World record for the most jumping jacks continuously performed. He went on to achieve the record for the most Guinness World records - with records in disciplines as varied as juggling, pogo sticking, hula hooping and balancing. In 2009, he became the first person to hold 100 records simultaneously. The video on the right shows one of his more recent records, where he led a team from the Sri Chinmoy Centre in making the world's longest flower garland.3.
English Channel Swimmer. Vasanti Niemz was the first member of the Sri Chinmoy Marathon Team to swim the English channel, in 1985. In 2010, 25 years later, she again swam the channel, and also completed a unique triathlon from Dover to Aachen in Germany. Since 1985, there have been over forty five crossings of the English channel by members of the Sri Chinmoy Marathon Team. View: Swimming at Sri Chinmoy Races
Completed 3100 Mile Race 13 times.
Suprabha from Washington DC, is one of the most travelled ultra distance runners in the world. She is a former women's world record holder over 1000 miles, also holds the participation record for the 3100 Mile Self Transcendence Races with 13 completed races between 1997 and 2009.
World Record holder for six day ultra race.
Dipali from Australia has consistently been one of the best women ultradistance runners in the world for the past fifteen years, and currently has held the women's world road record over 6 days for the past 11 years. In 2009 she broke her own record with a mark of 513 miles, at the age of 53.
Samunnati Nataliya Lehonkova
Samunnati from Ternopilska, Ukraine is a leading female marathon runner, with a personal best of 2.31 set in the 2015 Dublin marathon. She has won a string of European marathons, including Toulouse, Edinburgh and Belfast. She also frequently participates in the Sri Chinmoy Oneness-Home Peace Run.
UK National Hill Climb Champion 2013.
Tejvan from Oxford, UK races for Sri Chinmoy Cycling Team and is a prolific winner of domestic cycle races in the UK. He has won the 2013 National Hill Climb and placed 3rd in the National 100 mile TT in 2014.
Tejvan's homepage at Sri Chinmoy Centre
Ten times English Channel Swimmer
Karteek from Scotland, is a prolific English Channel Swimmer, completing ten crossings in ten attempts.
Stories about Self-Transcendence by members of the Sri Chinmoy Centre.
Sri Chinmoy Marathon Team
Inspired by the philosophy of self-transcendence, The Sri Chinmoy Marathon Team was founded in 1977 as a service to the running community. It started by organising races in the local New York area, but it has since grown into the largest organiser of endurance events in the world, holding running, swimming triathlon and other events in over 20 countries world wide.
Some of the events the Marathon Team organise: (the links go to the events pages on the Marathon Team site):
- Self Transcendence Six and Ten Day Race Two multi day races run side by side in Flushing Meadow Corona Park, New York. It is one of the premier multiday events on the American ultrarunning calendar. See video below for a taste of the race experience! 4
- Zurichsee Lake Swim An extremely popular 26km swim along the length of Lake Zurich. Many English Channel swimmers use it as part of their preparation.
- Sri Chinmoy Triple-Triathlon: Three off-road triathlons back-to-back, which takes the intrepid athlete all over Canberra, Australia.
In 1996 the Sri Chinmoy Marathon Team launched the first edition of the 3100 Mile Self-Transcendence Race, which is the longest certified road race in the world. It takes place every year from June to August in Queens, New York. The 3100 Mile race homepage contains up to date race information, as well as Spirit of a Runner, the most complete documentary produced about the race so far. Visit 3100 homepage »
In the early years, Sri Chinmoy was a frequent participant in the early races staged by the team, and his prolific marathon and ultramarathon output inspired his fellow team-members to reach higher and loftier sporting goals themselves. In his later years he entered into the field of weightlifting, and accomplished remarkable feats of inner and outer strength well into his seventies. More on Sri Chinmoy's sporting achievements »
Sports for Peace
Sri Chinmoy also saw the potential of sports as a means to bring people of all different walks of life together in pursuit of a shared goal. For example, he loved the Olympics for their capacity to rise above all that the differences that cause disharmony in mankind:
The Olympics tower above all man-made differences. They are infinitely bigger than race. They are eternally brighter than colour. They are supremely better than religion. They are not only constantly one with the evolution-hunger of aspiring mankind but are also humanity's satisfaction-meal and perfection-nourishment. 5
In 1987, Sri Chinmoy founded the Oneness-Home Peace Run, the world's largest relay event for peace. The run aims to build bridges of friendship and understanding between people of different countries and cultural backgrounds, and show that the most important things in life are things that we all have in common.
Sri Chinmoy Marathon Team Links
- SCMT home: The global homepage of the Sri Chinmoy Marathon Team, with upcoming races, results, news and videos from around the world
- The 3100 Mile Self Transcendence Race - latest news and updates from the race held from June to August each year
- SCMT English Channel Swimming - lists of all previous swims, as well
- SCMT Mountaineering - galleries, climb reports and inspiration