Sri Chinmoy was an avid sportsman since his youth. He spent much of his childhood and early adulthood in a spiritual community in which athletics and sports was an integral part of daily life; for almost 20 years, he was the fastest sprinter in the ashram, and some of the sporting records he set there still stand to this day.
Sri Chinmoy's sporting philosophy
Sri Chinmoy believes that a balanced lifestyle fosters harmony and inner peace. His integral approach to life encourages physical fitness and sports as a vehicle for personal transformation. Sri Chinmoy practises sports not only for the joy of it, and to keep the body fit, but also because he sees sports as a natural vehicle for expressing his philosophy of self-transcendence.
In the late 1970s and 1980s, he was an active long-distance runner, completing 22 marathons and 5 ultra-marathons and many shorter races. He frequently competed in track-and-field events in Masters Games, including the World Masters Games in Puerto Rico in 1983, and the World Veterans Games in Miyazaki, Japan in 1993. For many years he played tennis almost every day. Sri Chinmoy took up weight-lifting in the mid-1980s and over the years set several records in the calf-raise and one-arm lift.
"There are countless people on earth who do not believe in the inner strength or inner life. They feel that the outer life is everything. I do not agree with them. There is an inner life; there is spirit, and my ability to lift heavy weights proves that it can work in matter as well. I am doing these lifts with the physical body, but the power is coming from an inner source, from my prayer and meditation."1
Inspiration by example
Inspired by his example, several of his students have attempted to stretch their own personal limits - setting new world records in various fields, running multi-day races, swimming the English channel and climbing some of the world's highest mountains. Read more on sporting activities in the Sri Chinmoy Centre »
9-time Olympic legend Carl Lewis would often train and give advice to Sri Chinmoy on his running:
Sri Chinmoy always inspired me. He used to call me his outer coach in running but say he was my inner coach. I may have lost my student, but, though he has passed on physically, I know I have not lost my coach spiritually...His life was all about challenging yourself and being the best you can be. He told his disciples to go out and meet a challenge you don’t think you can do. He’s the reason I plan on running the New York marathon when I’m 50.2
Sri Chinmoy has written extensively and has answered hundreds of questions on sports as an avenue for spiritual growth. Many of these questions have been recorded in the book The Inner Running and the Outer Running.
Sri Chinmoy's weightlifting career
Sri Chinmoy began weightlifting in 1985 at the age of 54. His made rapid progress in this field, gaining the admiration and respect of great athletes in the strongman and bodybuilding world such as Bill Pearl, Hugo Girard, Frank Zane, and Zydrunas Savickas.
He dedicated his weightlifting feats in particular to older people, to remind them that age is in the mind and not in the heart.
The video on the right comes from a weightlifting celebration in 2004, where Sri Chinmoy ended the evening by lifting his own car – a blue Smart car weighing 2,200 pounds – from an overhead platform such that it could clearly be seen dangling off the ground.4 Muscle and Fitness magazine would rank the total weight lifted by Sri Chinmoy during the evening among the greatest feats of strength performed in 2004. 5 This evening of lifting was the focal point of the documentary Challenging Impossibility, which explores Sri Chinmoys lifting and the inspirational effect it has had on people. The site Inspiration-lifts.org contains a more detailed chronological account of Sri Chinmoy's weightlifting. View inspiration-lifts.org »
When we pray and meditate, we go far beyond the domain of the mind, the physical mind that doubts our capacities. When we pray and meditate, we identify ourselves with something vast and infinite. So there is no age limit, but we have to go far beyond the domain of the physical mind which binds us and at every moment discourages us. It says, "You cannot do this, you cannot do that, it is not possible for you." But when we pray and meditate, when we live in the heart, there is no such thing as impossibility. 3
Related Articles on Sport
- Sri Chinmoy Marathon Team website of SCMT which organises many event and races around the world including the world's longest footrace the 3100
- Mind Body Spirit - collection of writings by Sri Chinmoy on the relationship between physical fitness and sport
- Breaking Limits with Sri Chinmoy - Article about Ashrita and the inspiration he has received from Sri Chinmoy in breaking world records. Article at "What is Enlightenment?"
- The 3100 Mile Race article on the latest edition of the race at Sri Chinmoy Centre
- Article on Sri Chinmoy's long distance Running
- About the World Harmony Run
photo by Kedar