Archbishop Desmond Tutu and Sri Chinmoy met on a number of occasions, developing a strong friendship.
Sri Chinmoy first met Archbishop Desmond Tutu on December 11th, 1995 at the Archbishop's official residence in Cape Town, South Africa.
At this meeting, Sri Chinmoy presented Archbishop Tutu with the U Thant Peace Award on behalf of the Peace Meditation at the United Nations. The inscription on the plaque read:
The U Thant Peace Award is presented to Archbishop Desmond Tutu: – devoted messenger of the divine unity of the Creator's rainbow-children; – eloquent voice of humanity's suffering and Divinity's Compassion; – harbinger of the spirituality of transformation; – sowing the seeds of Heaven's oneness-love in earth's division-mind; – offering the flower-victory at the Feet of the Supreme Father 1
Several songs composed for and about Desmond Tutu by Sri Chinmoy were sung, including the following:
“Archbishop Desmond Tutu, Desmond!
A soul-diamond, a heart-diamond.
Archbishop, Peace-Dreamer, Archbishop!
Your code of life: Stop violence, stop!
O wisdom-fountain, justice-mountain,
In you, with you no ignorance-chain.
Africa's life-story, heart-poem, soul-song
The whole world hears from your vision-gong.” 2
At the close of their visit, Archbishop Tutu said to Sri Chinmoy:
“Thank you for taking the time to come out here and spread your message of love and harmony and peace. It is just wonderful timing that you have come now, because I have just recently been appointed to chair the Truth and Reconciliation Commission which we all hope is going to assist our country in the process of healing all the trauma that was caused by apartheid and the injustices of the past. We hope that you will uphold us in your prayers as we set out on this momentous journey in our country.” 3
On many occasions, at Archbishop Tutu's request, Sri Chinmoy arranged for large shipments of humanitarian goods to be sent to various South African service groups – especially to the Philani Child Health and Nutrition Project. Father Tutu serves as Patron to this community-based NGO which offers nutrition and health care to children in many of South Africa's poorest townships.
After nearly ten years of ongoing written and verbal communications, Sri Chinmoy met Archbishop Tutu again on March 16th and 17th,2004 – this time in New York at the UN Plaza Hotel across from the United Nations.
During a special ceremony to honour Archbishop Tutu, Sri Chinmoy lifted Archbishop Tutu overhead as part of the Lifting Up the World with a Oneness-Heart award programme.
At this meeting, Archbishop Tutu spoke about Sri Chinmoy:
“Looking on all the spiritual work that you do for peace here in the United Nations and in other parts of the world, God smiles saying, ‘Thank you! You are vindicating me!' You are part of the spiritual force of Love that emanates from God and which will transform the evil of this world into its counterpart. Thank you for persisting and going on, going on. The world continues its existence only because of people like yourselves who help to hold it in being…Thank you so very much for all you mean for God's world and God's children. God bless you richly.” 4
See also: video of meeting at Sri Chinmoy TV.
Sri Chinmoy also presented the Archbishop with a book of poems, songs and inspirations he had written for him entitled Archbishop Desmond Tutu: The World-Compassion-Heart-Nest. Some of the poems written by Sri Chinmoy, dedicated to Archbishop Tutu include:
“What you sleeplessly and breathlessly
Try to do
For the betterment of the world
At times amazes even God's Eye!”
“Each drop of your body
Is made of courage –
“The whole world admires your heroism, grace.
Champion of the poor and oppressed
You were, you are and you forever shall be,
In the heart of mankind.”
“You bring to the world
The message of oneness.
You tell each and everyone
That we are members of one family –
Also, Sri Chinmoy set several of Archbishop Tutu's most significant utterances to music and these were performed during the ceremony:
“Until we are all free, none is going to be free.”
“Human life is impossible without faith.”
“God loves you not because you are lovable, but you are lovable precisely because God loves you.” 5
"I am happy to support your Peace Run for justice, peace and reconciliation. The world must know that God wants us to live amicably as brothers and sisters, members of one family, the human family, God's family." - Desmond Tutu
Sri Chinmoy and Archbishop Tutu regularly corresponded and greatly encouraged each other. For example, on August 5th, 2005, Archbishop Tutu gave a speech entitled 'A Tribute to Community' for the Kellogg Foundation's 75th anniversary. The speech spoke of South Africa's transformation from a pariah state to a vibrant democracy. When he heard this speech, Sri Chinmoy remarked:
“Archbishop Desmond Tutu's compassion, affection, concern and encouragement for humanity shall remain unparalleled in the heart of humanity. Usually it is very difficult to be spiritual and, at the same time, practical. But Archbishop Tutu has shown how spirituality can be practised in day-to-day life. How to solve humanity's problem in such a simple and effective way he has placed before the world.”
After Sri Chinmoy's passing on October 11th, 2007, Desmond Tutu sent this message:
“Sri Chinmoy was a great man. God is smiling to know the immense good he has accomplished and encouraged in others. In a world of suspicion, hostility and conflict he worked tirelessly to bring the different faiths together and inspired many to emulate.”
“I am a better person for having been touched by him. I give great thanks to God for his life, work and witness.” 6
Archbishop Desmond Tutu: The world-compassion-heart-nest by Sri Chinmoy, AUM Publications, 2004, p. 99.↩︎
Archbishop Desmond Tutu: The world-compassion-heart-nest by Sri Chinmoy, AUM Publications, 2004, p. 76.↩︎
Archbishop Desmond Tutu: The world-compassion-heart-nest/ at Sri Chinmoy Songs.↩︎
Private letter, August 9th, 2005.↩︎