Sri Chinmoy began weightlifting in 1985, aged 54. Sri Chinmoy saw weightlifting as a way of demonstrating to the world that matter and spirit are not separate, but inter-connected.
"From my concentration, prayer and meditation I am able to bring forward inner strength, inner power, and use that power to increase my outer strength."
Sri Chinmoy 1
Between 1986 and 2007, his weightlifting career saw a rapid progression in conventional lifts, such as standing calf-raises and bench press dumbbells. He also undertook a panorama of unconventional lifts, including people, objects and animals - which gave a new and unique direction to his weightlifting. One particular programme was entitled 'Lifting up the World with a Oneness-Heart'. This involved lifting people from all walks of life, in a symbolic gesture of oneness with their uplifting achievements. Over 8,000 individuals were lifted and honoured in this way, including President Nelson Mandela, Archbishop Desmond Tutu and Javier Pérez de Cuéllar.
Sri Chinmoy's journey into weightlifting was unusual for a Spiritual Master, but he said that he felt compelled from within to take this new direction.
"From the outer point of view, I have taken up weightlifting because my knee injury has kept me from running and compelled me to do something else. So the unconscious human in me thought of weightlifting. But the conscious being in me took up weightlifting at the express command of my Inner Pilot. The conscious being in me has listened to and has obeyed implicitly the dictates of my Inner Pilot."
Sri Chinmoy 2
Sri Chinmoy also said a motivation for his weightlifting was to inspire other people, showing that prayer and meditation could give both inner and outer strength.
“The reason I have entered into bodybuilding and weightlifting is to inspire everybody to pray and meditate so they can bring to the fore their own inner strength. If everybody brings to the fore his own inner strength, the world will eventually be inundated with peace.”
Sri Chinmoy 3
Even when Sri Chinmoy was in his 70s, he continued to lift heavy weights to try and transcend his previous achievements. For example in October 2005, at the age of 74, Sri Chinmoy broke his own record for curling a dumbbell with his right and left arm.
After this lift, when asked about his message to others, Sri Chinmoy replied:
“You may wonder why I do such stupid things at the ripe old age of 74! My Inner Pilot, God, is my Inspiration. He is my Aspiration. He is my protector. I give Him all the credit.”
“Never give up! Never give up! Physical fitness is of paramount importance. There is no age limit when we live in the heart and when we try to be of prayerful and soulful service to God in the heart of humanity.”
Some of Sri Chinmoy's most significant achievements in the weightlifting world:
Many weightlifters and bodybuilders, who witnessed Sri Chinmoy's lifting demonstrations expressed their admiration for these feats of strength.
“I have learned from Sri Chinmoy that the size of the arm does not make the man; the size of the heart makes the man. Nobody on earth has done what Sri Chinmoy has done.”
"Sri Chinmoy is a very spiritual man. I feel the reason Sri Chinmoy lifted this weight is because of his love of God and belief that through God all things are possible. This man has done the impossible because of faith, wisdom and love of God. Through God we can do anything and He allows us to reach beyond human endeavours."
He gave his life to lifting up the world literally and metaphorically. His dedication and enthusiasm for his lifting was contagious.
“Sri Chinmoy is a pioneer far, far ahead of his time. In centuries to come people will look at his lifts and begin to fathom how great his achievements are.”
British Amateur Weightlifters Association
“Sri Chinmoy and I have been friends for over 30 years. He was a man of great strength and character… Even as a world record-holder myself, I was constantly amazed by the strength of Sri Chinmoy… Over the years, I always was astounded at his accomplishments.”
p.75 Sri Chinmoy's Weightlifting Silver Jubilee, June 26th, 2010↩
Soul-Illumination-Shrine, Body-Preparation-Temple, Part 1, Agni Press, 1985↩