This article first appeared in ‘Indianz Outlook’, June 2010
An Indian spiritual teacher who set about lifting up the world one person at a time has been applauded by stellar bodybuilders including five-time Mr. Universe Bill Pearl at a silver jubilee event in New York City. Sri Chinmoy moved an astounding array of objects including cars, planes, animals and people during his weightlifting career.
During trips to New Zealand Sri Chinmoy often showed the relevance of meditation and mind control to sport and inspired many fellow weightlifters. He counted Commonwealth Games champion Precious McKenzie among his friends. More than 8000 people were lifted by Sri Chinmoy on a special overhead apparatus as a symbolic lifting of those who have uplifted and inspired humanity in various ways. These included Prime Minister David Lange, All Blacks legend Colin Meads and world masters marathon champions John Campbell and Jack Foster. In December 2002 Sri Chinmoy lifted 1,000 lambs and 100 cows on farms in the central North Island, much to the delight of national media.
Sri Chinmoy began weightlifting on 26 June 1985 at age 54 with a modest 40 pound (18.14 kg) one-arm dumbbell lift. After intense training and incremental success, he was able to repeat the move with a dumbbell twice his own bodyweight by August the next year. His increasing efforts eventually culminated in his heaviest one-arm lift of 7,063 ¾ pounds (3,204 kg). He continued to set weightlifting records even into his 70’s, particularly for the wrist curl and calf raise.
Sri Chinmoy had a powerful message he wanted to promote through his weightlifting. This message was about the limitless potential of human beings, and the myth that age must always lead to reduced activity. Sri Chinmoy was eager to give all the credit for his achievements to God’s Grace, often stating that a higher power was using his physical body to perform these lifts.
“From my weightlifting, there will be many people who will be inspired to enter into the spiritual life” said Sri Chinmoy, indicating that his main purpose for lifting was to increase humanity’s faith in the Divine. He also spoke about matter and spirit as two realities that had to be united here in the material world.
On 26 June 2010 the Sri Chinmoy Centre held an event in New York to commemorate the 25th anniversary of Sri Chinmoy’s weightlifting journey which some New Zealand athletes attended. The guest list included Master of Ceremonies Bill Pearl, and Canadian Hugo Girard who was judged North America’s Strongest Man two years in a row. Both have met and been lifted by Sri Chinmoy. The celebrations included the premiere of Challenging Impossibility, which chronicles Sri Chinmoy’s gravity-defying feats of strength and includes candid interviews with weightlifting pros.