TORONTO = Leaders of Toronto’s Vishnu Mandir dedicated a bronze statue of Dreamer of World-Peace Sri Chinmoy holding aloft the Peace Torch on Sunday afternoon in their Peace Park dedicated to interfaith harmony. The life-sized likeness of the peace leader recognises a lifetime of his devoted service to fostering peace through music, art, writings, sports and silent all-faith meditation.
Sri Chinmoy’s message is that each and every human being can be a peace-builder—and starting first within himself or herself. The spiritual leader led the interfaith silent Peace Meditation at the United Nations at the invitation of UN Secretary-General U Thant for 37 years. As well, he founded the global Sri Chinmoy Oneness-Home Peace Run which includes millions running for the cause of world peace.
Chinmoy may have been a religious figure to some, but allegations he ran a cult persist 10 years after his death, reported CBC News.
One of his former followers, musician Carlos Santana, had a public falling out with Chinmoy.
In an interview with Rolling Stone in 2000, Santana compared living under the leader’s rules to living at an American military college.
“There was always this competition in how much we could do to prove our devotion — who could sleep the least and still function, because you were working so hard, how many miles could you run,” he told the magazine.
Stephen Kent, a professor at the University of Alberta who specializes in alternative and controversial religions, has been following the controversy surrounding Chinmoy since the 1980s and has spoken to people who used to be followers.
“It’s just that, for people who are able to look at the group objectively, his contributions to world peace become highly problematic, in part because of how he ran his own group,” he said.
After showing a video on Sri Chinmoy’s life and contributions, the ceremony moved outdoors to the Peace Park where the statue is located, beginning with the ceremonial blowing of conches. Arriving Peace Runners passed the lighted Peace Torch to Dr. Budhendranauth Doobay, Chairman of the Board and Religious Advisor of the Vishnu Mandir.
“Sri Chinmoy was a great soul…Sri Chinmoy was a man of peace who has been recognized by so many people from around the world, stated Dr. Doobay. “It is a great honour for us to welcome Sri Chinmoy in the form of this statue which will be here for all times to come.”
Ranjana Ghose, President of the Sri Chinmoy Centres, spoke with deep insight about
Sri Chinmoy’s peace activities and offered heartfelt gratitude to the Vishnu Mandir for this 38th peace statue dedication saying, “Sri Chinmoy was greatly respected by many, many dignitaries around the world. They respected Sri Chinmoy for his compassionate manner of thinking and peaceful way of addressing a dynamic life, which was much imbued with the nobility of the Vedic Wisdom of ancient India.”
Dr. Doobay then received the Torch Bearer medallion for his tireless devotion in fostering living spirituality and oneness amongst the faiths. Salil Wilson, Executive Director of the global Sri Chinmoy Oneness-Home Peace Run, presented the award. In 1987, Sri Chinmoy founded the Peace Run and, for the first time ever, the run will be covering every country in the world in the coming two years.
Honorary Colonel Gerry Nudds then invited illustrious representatives of many faiths to each lead participants in a prayer from their own faith. Hindu, Muslim, Christian, Buddhist, Jain and Jewish prayers added greatly to the spirit of interfaith harmony. As Sri Chinmoy wrote, “Spirituality is not merely tolerance. It is not even acceptance. It is the feeling of universal oneness…Spirituality is not mere hospitality to others’ faith in God. It is the absolute recognition and acceptance of their faith in God as one’s own.”
A few other homes to Sri Chinmoy’s statues include Bali’s Ngurah Rai International Airport and the ARMA museum in Ubud; and at the Kala Academy in Goa, India.