Welcome to Inspiration Sun, a monthly magazine with contributions from students of Sri Chinmoy all over the world. Within its pages you can find the latest news and events from the Sri Chinmoy Centre, as well as interviews with Sri Chinmoy's students and personal recollections of some of the major events in Sri Chinmoy's life.
You can browse through the articles by clicking on the left/right buttons. You can view 10 articles at a time in this way; to view more, click on the pager at the bottom. Happy reading!
On the last weekend of July, the California disciples from San
Francisco and Los Angeles traveled to San Diego to put on the 24th
annual Self-Transcendence Swim&Run. The event first started back in
1984, and has become a popular yearly standard among local
triathletes, biathletes, and fitness freaks alike, of which there are
many to be found in San Diego.
Viddyut and I drove down from San Francisco on Saturday morning,
weaving our way through the nightmarish freeways of LA and the
quasi-desert landscape of southern California, and arrived 10 hours
later, just in time for the lavish dinner at Jyoti-Bihanga Restaurant.
Everyone was in a jovial mood, and we finished the evening off
playing the World Harmony Run Board Game in which the idea is to work
together, harmoniously, to navigate around the United States. This is
a game that no one can win (what kind of game is that!), but the
competition was still thick and fast. Everyone retired afterwards, to
get some much needed sleep before the early rise for the race set-up
the following morning.
The crew arrived on the beach at about 4:30 a.m. to start preparing
the course and set up the race. The race starts at La Jolla Cove with
a 1-mile swim to the adjacent La Jolla Shores, where the competitors
start the 10K run along the beach which is based around a 1-mile loop.
The conditions for race day were ideal. The sea was very still and it
was lightly overcast.
The set-up went smoothly under the watchful eye of Race Director
Vasudha. According to some of the San Diego boys this hasn't always
been the case. Manorath, who manages the run course set-up, said, "In
the beginning there always seemed to be a problem but we have not had
a problem in a dozen years. Over the years it seems to get easier".
When Vasudha was asked what she has learnt over the years of putting
on the Swim&Run, she said "I have learned to see through the eyes of
the athlete. At every moment, I try to be aware of what the athlete
might need or want; and then, of course, we all endeavor to meet that
need. Also, I have really come to appreciate how important it is for
us to manifest in this way. I really believe that at the Sri Chinmoy
Marathon Team races, athletes--and selfless servers too--get an
experience that they do not get anywhere else. I have really come to
value that opportunity."
Not all the disciples just came to help; some came to race! Venu, from
the San Francisco Centre, has participated, amazingly, in 21 out of
the 24 years of the race's history. Over time he has developed a good
natured rivalry with Sujantra from San Diego. Venu wasn't feeling well
leading up to the race, but managed to be ahead at the end of the
swim. However Sujantra passed him on the run. In recent times Sujantra
seems to have have the upper hand in the rivalry, but Venu is not
deterred and will no doubt be back next year ready to take it to
This year there were approximately 100 competitors in the race, which
is significantly down from previous years. Other local triathlons and
biathlons have experienced similar drops in participation this year,
but nobody is quite sure of the reason. Some say that in a tough
economy people curtail their hobbies and recreation events. Others
speculate that a recent shark attack off the San Diego coast has kept
some potential participants out of the water.
The awards for the Swim&Run have their own unique character. It's not
bike pumps and speedos! The winner gets a giant pie, made by Pie
Master Mahiyan, as well as a large basket of assorted food and gifts,
courtesy of Jyoti-Bihanga. Other top finishers receive similar but
smaller pies and gifts.
When Pie Master Mahiyan was asked about his sumptuous pies and their
traditional place in Self-Transcendence Swim&Run, he revealed, "My
mother taught me how to make apple pie when I was a kid. Many years
ago we had an 18-mile race up in Portland, Oregon. There were many
disciples there. They gave pies for the prize and I thought that was
so great! We have made pies for our races ever since."
After the race was finished and the prizes were given and the
equipment put away, the disciples had a picnic lunch where we played
games, swam, hung out and enjoyed the sun and water. The race was, as
usual, a success with many happy faces. Even though the turnout this
year was lower than usual, everybody seemed to have a great time.
By James Doran
Inspiration Sun Edition 6
It became a running joke on the Harmony Run Australia that each day and each turn would present us with some new twist, some new magic. Prachar and I would look at each other at times in utter amazement that we had this opportunity to be a witness to such an incredible beauty and wondrous experience, stretching a whole continent wide. I feel so blessed to have been a part of such an exceptional team full of character and color and humor. Mostly of course I am so full of gratitude for the possibility of the run itself and for the many many ways we all have to experience Guru's philosophy in action, in manifestation, in the challenge of the moment. For us on the run we had such a constant source of inspiration in the children: visiting the schools and seeing the spark in their eyes. And in the beauty we were surrounded by, day after day, always new and fresh. Also on an inner level we had the challenge to live together in harmony so that we could carry Guru's message with sincerity and dignity.
I looked at this run for myself as a renaissance, to throw myself into a new experience, to find my lost fitness, to feel that joy and happiness I felt when I first went on the run across Canada when I was new to the path. Little did I know how much more I would do and be stretched by: the daily reports became the focus of my energy and each day it was like searching for a hidden treasure with my cameras. Perhaps it would be as simple as a subtle bend in the usually flat, straight highway or some lone flower in a harsh and brutal environment, more often it was the look of wonder in a child's face or the way they expressed pure joy when they ran around the schoolyard.
I was constantly looking for the beauty of Australia during the day and then uploading whatever I found to the website at night. It was a labor of love and joy and fullness that I will cherish my whole life. Now as I sift through all the photos, finally getting a chance to organize them, I think of the team members that are more like family now and as I fill each of their folders with pictures I took of them throughout the journey, I am flooded with such a feeling of gratitude for this chance, this opportunity I had and we all have to feel and express and share the love we learned from Guru and the oneness we can walk together with in so many ways, whether it is the Harmony Run or any other way Guru demonstrated to us. I feel surcharged with the sense of oneness we have as an international family - that sometimes comes only when you have to rely on it each day for your lunch, or any aspect that each member of a team has to perform for each other that keeps everything running smoothly. If the Australian Harmony Run was a test laid out before us dozen or so runners from all over the world, I feel Guru would be extremely proud of the results and because of that, when I think of the run, there is no room inside my heart to be more full.
by Prabhakar From: Inspiration Sun, edition 6 http://srichinmoyinspiration.com/inspiration-sun
Just One Example of Prabhakar's photos: http://www.worldharmonyrun.org/au/news/2008/week11/0706
Yip, 2 miles is a long way, 10k is a
long way, a half marathon is a long way, a marathon is a long way.
Guru's 47-mile race is all those races run one after the other, and is
therefore a long, long, long, long way. What makes it special is that
it marks the first hours of Guru's birthday, from midnight `til the
cut-off of 10 hours. The 47, for me, is a Gurukshetra - his home in
Queens, the first hours of his birthday; and warriors of a sort,
runners, battering through the night, challenging themselves.
As most people who have affection for the 47-mile race know, the
course record of 5:09 is held by Virendra. Virendra's record has stood
for over 20 years, and has withstood besting by the centre's finest
long-distance runners. Last year Virendra was brought into
conversation by Guru, and the key sentence of the conversation was
something like "Oh, he is going to run the 47 next year, and he's
going to beat his record." You can't help but love that interaction
between master and disciple. When I heard it, I could imagine
Virendra's face, and I wanted to help him. Because I knew he would go
As Virendra knows, and as my very good friend Tarit always says,
there's nothing to beat a bit of training. Virendra took himself off
to Peru for months of high altitude training, massive hill runs and
mountain climbs. Lost over 20 lbs, broke a collarbone and wrist, and
came to New York ready to take on the record. During the race, I also
helped Tristan and Stefan. Tristan, who had won the marathon a few
days earlier, works a 6-day week in Melbourne and fits his training in
round that. Stefan - I saw run on the Harmony Run in Scotland, we
would just let him go - he went long and fast. I figure he trained a
There's no great hardship helping these runners. They run, you give
them a gel or a banana every now and again, and watch them go. That's
it really. I also had time to give the occasional banana to Adelino,
and the occasional bottle to Chistopher, and the fabulous Arpan.
In the magic of Guru's race, the record prevailed, Virendra gave his
all but had to pull out about halfway, Stefan won the race in 6:09:00,
Tristan came second, Arpan placed in the first 7, as he has in every
race he has run. I know Virendra will be back for the record next
year. Runners, I salute you all. Gurukshetra. Dharmakshetra. I don't
doubt it. And God bless Canada. And by the way Dipali won the girls'
race in an incredible 6:35:07.
By: Uranta, From Inspiration Sun, edition 6
Purushottama is a remarkable person. He is innately spiritual. It is a
natural existence for him to be contemplating the spiritual, the
divine and figuring out how to manifest light through his music. It
seems that it consumes most of his waking hours. It is as if he is on
a train that never stops. He just keeps moving forward with new ideas,
new goals, new dreams. Our Guru has fuelled the fire, loaded the
engine with coal and set the train apace with new speed and urgency.
Here is a powerful instrument with his heart-door wide open to Guru's
love and compassion. Wow! I was so inspired, Purushottama was so
inspired and India was the perfect place to set in motion the designs
for this concert.
Before we went back to Bangalore I had a chance to meet so many people
in the surrounding villages. One village had no water. You could see
the women with buckets in their hands or on their heads walking to and
fro to a village 6km away to get water. Everyone worked from the early
hours until late at night - for survival. The women looked so
beautiful in their saris. It was amazing. The place could be so dirty
but the saris somehow remained so colourful and clean. As I arrived at
a village I would be taken around and introduced to everyone. All
would come out and shake my hand or wave or have their photo taken.
This was a big thing. Some had never had their photo taken. It was a
big deal. My driver told me that they could not take photos of each
other. It would cause a huge argument and fight if someone took a
photo of someone else but for a tourist it was ok, more than ok. The
huts and houses were painted all kinds of bright colours. Bright
greens, strong blues and oranges, purple and yellows. It was so
beautiful. At times the nature reminded me of Tuscany, in a strange
kind of way. I was in true heaven. Italy and India. The perfect
One day we decided to visit a temple far away, about six hours on
bumpy roads. The temple had some special history that I have now
forgotten, the curse of age. We drove through endless wilderness and
stumbled on villages from time to time. As the hours flew past our
driver would slow down to walking speed, wind down the window and
yell, in an unnecessarily loud voice, to anybody who would listen,
asking for directions. As the villagers stared in amazement at us,
arms pointed in all different directions. Here we go, I thought. We'll
be back here in two hours asking for directions again. After a few
prayers with crossed fingers, legs and anything else that can be
crossed we somehow made it. The village was centred around this
temple. All the beggars were there. It seemed the word had got out
that we were coming. It was rather intense. Bhuvaneshwari looked a
little worried as the local girls started surrounding her. They can be
very pushy and demanding. Then some man would arrive with a large
stick and threaten them, shout at them. They would all disperse,
scatter but soon reassemble and follow at a close distance. We reached
the temple and were given the royal treatment. We went straight to
front of the line. You buy a coconut and flowers on a banana leaf and
these are your offerings to the Gods. The priest smashes the coconut
and sprays the water over the shrines. The shell is left at the bottom
of the shrine as food for the gods and the flowers are put on the
statues. The whole ritual scene is all around as lines of people queue
to make their offering. Then another priest arrives and tells us to go
up some steps to another shrine. This is a special ceremony for the
rich. A few Indian visitors joined us. There was another shrine, and
another priest started chanting slokas. The next moment he beckoned
our group and handed to each of us an ornate rod of bronze. The rod
was about two and half feet long with carved reliefs and sanskrit
writing. We descended the steps to join the crowds below and were
joined by three musicians. We were told to follow them as they played
on ancient looking instruments and we circled the inside of the temple
3 times. As we passed the crowds of onlookers, they would stretch out
their hands to caress the bronze rods while chanting prayers, all in
wonderstruck awe and amazement. They would look at us as if we were
some divine beings. We had only been in the village for about 15
minutes. I told myself I had to keep it together. Ever since childhood
I've had this problem of laughing at the most inappropriate times. I
bit my lip and focused hard. But in front of me I heard Bhuvaneshwari
starting to laugh. It was just that the whole thing seemed so surreal.
I put my head down as I lost control and then when the moment passed I
would look up again with a serious gaze. Then it was suddenly over. We
gave back the rods, headed for the car and we were on are way back
home. One of the more bizarre experiences of my life.
Sadly we had to say goodbye after a few days. We all headed back to
the big city and in huge contrast we stayed at a big hotel, not unlike
the Christmas trip. We met up with the band. A great bunch of guys. I
had got to know them all quite well in London at last year's concert.
It was great to see them again and I think they were happy to see me
too. Purushottama performed that night as part of an Indo-Russian arts
exchange programme. The 200-person audience had all been invited and
loved the concert. At one point a middle-aged man got up and started
dancing in the aisles. Inhibitions here are lower than what I'm used
to. He was on display and did not let the audience down with his
Bhangra-style dance. More of the audience followed, leapt out of their
seats, and displayed an unusual amount of courage, considering dance
was clearly not their forte. But joy and innocence abounded and I
loved the whole evening. Some travelling Russians had slipped by the
guards and it was a reminder of what Purushottama means to his Russia.
They adore him, look up at him with amazement in their eyes. After the
concert they hung around backstage, desperately hoping to get a
glimpse of their hero, or even an autograph.
For a few hours we could enjoy the luxuries of the 5-star hotel, but
we had to be in the lobby at about 3:30am the next morning to leave
for the airport. Hmmmm. Remind you of anything? There was a ton of
luggage, all the instruments etc, and vans arrived, which needed to be
loaded with the gear. It was deja vu. I laughed to myself. As we
arrived at the airport, all of us bleary-eyed travellers searched out
the coffee dealers desperate for a caffeine injection. I've been here
so many times, I thought to myself.
We flew to Delhi. We had another successful concert there. I preferred
Bangalore. Delhi was a bit too crowded and dirty. Then we had to say
our farewells. Mine was not only to Purushottama and Bhuvaneshwari but
also to India. I see now why people go and stay and stay and stay. I
am so grateful to Purushottama and Bhuvaneshwari. They so generously
looked after me the whole time. Such big hearts reside in both of
them. But I know who really made this trip possible. It was my beloved
Guru. I could feel him with me every step of the way. This trip was
the foundation for the concert we just had. Here Purushottama made his
plans. Thank you Guru. It is all your Grace.
>From Inspiration Sun edition 6
I owe my start in long-distance running to Guru, like most of us. It
was in San Francisco in 1978, when he spontaneously began running in
Golden Gate park, and we all jumped in behind him. So began many
Several years later I came across Tales of an Ancient Marathoner, a
small book on running by Jack Foster that told a fascinating story.
As a boy in England, his first love was cycling. When he was 24, he
moved to New Zealand and stopped exercising. Then occurred an episode
that transformed his life. When he was 32, he saw some people running.
Feeling inspired, he went for a jog and came back breathless, thinking
that he had run a few miles. His wife said, "Jack, you've only run a
few hundred yards" (and only seven minutes!)
He resolved to get in shape and a marvellous transformation occurred.
even without a running base, coach or any plan. Within four years, he
became a world class distance runner and marathoner! In 1969, at 37,
he entered his first international competition and placed third in
2:19. He returned to this event in Toronto in 1970, and proceeded to
win the race (in a time of 2:16). He became the New Zealand marathon
champion, and held national records for 15 miles, 25k and 30k; in the
process, he set a world record for 20 miles! Representing his country
in the Commonwealth Games in Edinburgh in 1970, he ran 2:14 for fourth
place. Then in 1974, at 41, he ran 2:11:18, good for 2nd place! This
time he set an age record for the marathon that he would hold for
Overall, Jack went on to win eight marathons. He competed in two
Olympic games, earning an 8th place finish (2:16) in the 1972 games in
Munich at age 40. He held many marathon records between the ages of 40
and 60 - one of the more remarkable was running 2:20 at the age of 50.
A few years ago, I wanted to give the book as a gift, and was unable
to locate my original copy. Soon after, I began the Christmas trip in
New Zealand and found that Guru had lifted Jack and his wife in
Rotorua, where they lived - I had just missed the event and my chance
to meet him. Naturally, I was quite disappointed, and mentioned this
to Jogyata. He told me not to worry, as he could arrange a meeting
anytime I was there. He had the warmest regard for Jack, and suggested
that I write him a letter and ask for a copy of his book.
Jogyata related a conversation he had with Jack, who said that a few
years before, he went out of his house one day and immediately
realised that he had lost his passion for running! At that point, he
simply returned to his first love of cycling.
Upon my return to San Francisco, I decided to write him. Such is the
power of the internet, that I was able to locate addresses for
Rotorua - with no less than six J. Fosters listed!
I had just one $20 New Zealand bill that I intended to enclose (having
nothing else to offer) and I didn't want to send it to the wrong
person! Finally, I just used my intuition and picked one name out. I
mentioned missing his being lifted by Sri Chinmoy, that I was a fan,
and had followed his career for years, and asked if he could send me a
copy of his book (hoping he would sign it!).
I didn't hear anything back from New Zealand. Another Christmas trip
came and went. From time-to-time I would mention the lack of response
to Jogyata - we both felt it was unusual.
In April 2004 our New Zealand family prepared an amazing film of many
of their famous runners offering salutations to Guru for his 40 years
in the West, each giving heartfelt and uplifting messages. It included
so many greats, such as Alison Roe, John Walker, Art Lydiard, and
others, including a segment with Jack Foster, who was humorous and
charming, saying something like, "Sri Chinmoy, I hear you play the
piano. I'd like to play music with you sometime". He looked spry and
A few months later, I was at Aspiration-Ground when Jogyata approached
me with the sad news that Jack Foster had been killed in a cycling
accident that June. After just having seen him appear so vibrant in
the recent film, it seemed a cosmic mistake had occurred, and I felt
Later in 2004, Guru made some trips to California, and in order to be
able to go, I had to catch up with my work. Part of that ritual
involves clearing out my desk (usually a big mess).
While doing this, a thick pile of correspondence held together with a
rubber band emerged from the chaos. I could see one envelope was
correspondence from New Zealand. Saying to myself, "this couldn't be",
I carefully opened it and discovered a handwritten letter from Jack
Foster, dated 21 January (of 2004), thanking me for my letter of July
2003, adding that someone had borrowed the last copy of his book, and
so he could not send me one.
He mentioned that he no longer ran, and that he had been cycling,
"200-300km most weeks" (he was then 72), but "strictly
non-competitive", adding "Enjoy your running." What made the letter
most poignant were his last sentences; he wrote that cycling was "Much
more fun than running, and no injuries, unless one crashes!
Fortunately very infrequently" (the postscript reads, "Returned
herewith - $20NZ")! Knowing how things turned out, it was a bit hard
to read this without tearing up.
It is easy to see why this letter, so happily received, created a
number of conflicting emotions! I felt tremendous energy and called up
Jogyata the same day. By chance he was with Shardul, who mentioned
doing a musical concert in New Zealand after the accident, dedicated
I researched his passing, as I was surprised to have missed it. I got
more perspective from the remarks of his son, who noted that his
father died while doing something that he loved. He said that his
father had liked to think of himself as a "white Kenyan", or a
"heart-lung machine with legs"! It is clear that he had a loving
family, and that his memory will exist with them, and with many of us,
for whom he is an "eternally inspiring runner".
I have thought about writing a letter to his wife and family, it's
been on the list of one of the things to do for a while, hoping they
might enjoy this story. So, although I never got to meet him, I was
overjoyed to have a letter from one of my running heroes.
From: Inspiration Sun Edition 6
On May 24th, our Enthusiasm-Awakeners song group celebrated a
bitter-sweet achievement: we sang the remaining eight songs which
completed a set of 1,528 English songs.
This set of 1,528 songs were all the English songs excluding those
for individuals, enterprises and a few others that Guru composed
since forming our group on 19 December 1999.
1,528 songs in eight years and five months. That averages to nearly
one song every two days. That amounts to a stunning amount of pure
These short songs never cease to amaze me. Guru can say so much in 30
words or less. He can illumine, inspire, educate, sympathize, cause
laughter, cause tears all within a melodic minute.
I can not adequately express how these songs have affected my life, I
can only simply and honestly say that they have saved me.
I am not a singer and I can't read a note of music, so to learn these
songs took a tremendous amount of practice on my part. I would listen
to a recording of the song and sing along with it over and over until
slowly I would be singing roughly the same notes as the recording. I
would say that I would have to sing each song 100 times before I could
sing it confidently. Funny enough, in this way, I think that my lack
of singing capacity actually aided my spiritual progress!
I remember that at the time our group formed Guru was often having
people come forward and recite aphorisms. Some people would
practically whisper their poem, and Guru kept begging people to speak
up, reminding them that `quiet' does not necessarily mean `soulful'. I
decided that this could be our niche we may not be able to do what
other groups did (i.e. sing well) but we could sing loud!
Guru seemed to not only tolerate, but to enjoy our childlike approach.
While he could be very strict with other groups in regards to specific
notes and proper pronunciation, with our group he seemed to recognize
our capacity and thus, was very accommodating and compassionate.
1,528 songs. At first, I was worried that this might be the end of the
book for our group, but I guess it really is just an end of a chapter.
Guru has written well over 7,200 English songs so even if we
continued learning the remaining 5,672+ songs at the same pace of one
song every two days, we've got 31 more years worth of material! And,
who knows, in my next life I might even have the capacity to learn
Bengali songs and with more than 13,600 Bengali songs that would
keep me busy for more than 74 years!
In honour of our style of singing, here are some actual postings on
church bulletin boards:
-- Miss Charlene Mason sang, "I will not pass this way again," giving
obvious pleasure to the congregation.
-- Next Thursday there will be tryouts for the choir. They need all
the help they can get.
-- At the evening service tonight, the sermon topic will be "What Is
Hell?" Come early and listen to our choir practice.
-- Eight new choir robes are currently needed due to the addition of
several new members and to the deterioration of some older ones.
From: Inspiration Sun part 5
Picture this: it is a beautiful summer morning, and you are awakened
by the sound of Bach being played on the violin as the sun splashes
through the windows of your room in a lovely tree-lined city with
almost fairytale architecture-idyllic, perhaps.
Add a few details; you are crazy cold, hugging your blanket, because
this is Edinburgh, a city which has no decent respect for the seasons,
and your flatmate, in addition to churning out hundreds of difficult
notes at 7:30 am has already a) gotten up b) gone to the Commonwealth
Pool (in the early morning!) and c) swum laps for hours.
Thus, you do what any sane person would do: roll over, curse him, and
try to catch more sleep. So begins another day in Scotland (which
actually can be a kind of Paradise) in the flat of Karteek, swimmer
Pretty much all of you know something about Karteek's Channel swimming
efforts, and I refer those interested to his own account of swimming
across Lake Windemere, as well as the often funny and excellent
article by Devashishu, loyal helper par excellence, chronicling his
experiences during one successful Channel crossing in 2003 (both
gut-wrenching and gut-retching, if you will forgive the joke!).
But there were some things about which I wanted to know more. So with
only a little difficulty, I was able to have my ever-modest, if not
self-effacing friend, talk about some aspects of his swimming not
I began by asking how he got the initial inspiration to take up
long-distance swimming. It seems that in 1994, after reading some of
the thrilling adventures of our earlier Channel swimmers, Karteek had
the idea that he might like to try doing this.
However, unlike most people (such as 99.99% of us), he went down to
Dover shortly after and spent only a few weeks swimming in the harbor,
perhaps doing one six-hour swim, his longest swim ever up to that
time! (to put this in perspective, he routinely does two back-to-back
days of six hours each for his crossings these days)
Three weeks later he attempted his first Channel swim, and achieved an
incredible twelve hours in his first experience of swimming in open
water, before his inexperience and relative lack of training led to an
end of that try.
The following year, after having had more time to prepare, he was
fully trained and ready to go, but one hour prior to the scheduled
departure of his boat, the weather turned and he lost his spot. Due
to other commitments, he was unable to stick around and try again.
In 1996 the Edinburgh Center hosted a memorable concert for Guru, and
for obvious reasons there was not enough time to prepare that year.
Finally, in 1997 he had his breakthrough first successful Channel
crossing, which he describes as a "long hard swim" that took 11 hours
and 57 minutes, which he describes in his own words on our website.
A few months later, at August Celebrations he was called over to see
Guru. He was ushered in and was told to meditate in front of Guru,
who then gave him an envelope. Being somewhat in a daze, Karteek was
still unaware what was happening, despite the fact that Guru told him
to "repeat 100 times" the contents of the envelope.
It was not until he was leaving the court that he realized that he had
been given his spiritual name, of course 100% appropriate, the basic
significance being that of the "Divine warrior", who "places his
teeming victories at the feet of the Lord Supreme".
In 1999 Karteek successfully entered and completed the Lake Zurich
26-km race put on by the disciples. He had an excellent experience,
and this reenergized his swimming. Thus inspired, he wondered if he
could repeat his earlier crossing and decided to give it another go in
What followed was one of his most difficult races, in windy conditions
and with the development of sea sickness, which took him over fifteen
hours to complete!
At this point begins one of the most charming sequences which
perfectly characterizes the divine play between master and disciple.
CKG called the Edinburgh Centre and asked him how many times he had
swum the Channel. When he was told that he had done it twice, Guru
then asked Karteek to swim the Channel two more times. Ever
obedient, Karteek agreed readily and proceeded to do just that,
undergoing adverse conditions and having difficult crossings on each
After four successful crossings, Guru again called the Edinburgh
Centre and this time told Karteek that he needed to swim the Channel
three more times because, "Seven is our number"!
In reminiscing about these phone calls, Karteek remembers that while
outwardly at times he might wonder what the point would be in
repeating the swim, in each case Guru acted as the "perfect
psychologist" as he puts it. To quote Karteek, he "picked up on my
wish" to keep challenging himself, and his request came at just the
right moment each time.
On every occasion that CKG asked him to swim the Channel, he had the
feeling of intense joy, adding that he "never felt forced" to do this
event, recognizing that Guru was confirming what he already felt
(despite the fact that the fifth, sixth, seventh (and even the eighth)
crossings were all accomplished under difficult conditions and took
over sixteen hours!
Even better, he got specific advice from Guru, who told him that while
patience was needed to do long distance swimming, "you also need to
develop speed," as "speed is determination," and Karteek retains the
command of "conquering the waves."
At present, with no one pushing him outwardly (alas), Karteek feels an
inner urge to continue his Channel swimming; even if the training has
become somewhat longer and more difficult, it is "actually joyful" in
So, he is looking towards a ninth crossing of the Channel; he remains
in about the eleventh place for the most crossings of all time
(although he is quick to point out that some have swum the Channel
over 30 times, and one even over 40 times!)
The message he has been given is the same one we have been fed so
lovingly, that of self-transcendence, and his story is especially
sweet because of the gentle but perfect way he was nurtured and gently
prodded. Many of us will recall the Master's way of doing this so
perfectly, and his hand behind our greatest achievements.
Oh, by the way, in Karteek's case, this urge towards
self-transcendence doesn't end with his swimming: he is still hoping
to better his 3:28 marathon, 11:20 two-mile, and 5:20 mile times! (I
should also mention that he is pretty much fluent in German, Italian
and Spanish)-it's no wonder one can't get any rest at his abode!
Karteek and Mate v The English Channel
From: Inspiration Sun edition 5
The Fourth of July weekend was truly memorable as disciples in the
local area celebrated America's Independence Day with enthusiasm and
joy. Pragati, with lots of help from Bahula and many other self-giving
souls graciously hosted nearly one hundred disciples in her driveway
for a traditional Fourth of July barbeque. The disciples gathered at
Aspiration-Ground for a meditation as we soulfully listened to a
recording of Guru singing "America the Beautiful". We then moved to
the adjacent driveway by Pragati's house where we sang Guru's songs
for America and read out some of Guru's most inspiring writings
regarding our beloved country.
All this soulfulness was followed by an afternoon of feasting and
games including our new favorite: "hot potato"! We were thrilled that
our guest of honor, Gopee, joined us for a veggie hot dog! We all
enjoyed our mini-Joy Day tremendously and managed to finish our last
game just before a big rainstorm! (Thank you, Guru!)
The Fourth of July theme continued into the next day for our Saturday
Night Function. Paree's group performed many songs that Guru wrote
about America. A larger group of girls performed Paree's magical
arrangement that she created for Guru's "The Fourth of July" song that
Guru composed on July 5, 1996. The words are: "The Fourth Of July, The
Fourth Of July, My heart, my life, together fly. No more stark
bondage-night, no more! Arrived at freedom's ecstasy-shore". There
were also two excellent performances of scenes from Guru's play about
America, The Sacred Fire, by Databir's group and by Preeyati and
The highlight of the weekend was on Sunday when we were deeply blessed
with a walk past by Guru's house and each received a beautiful golden
mango as prasad. The stunning image of Guru that was placed on the
top step to his house was truly alive. We then proceeded to Aspiration
Ground for our Sunday afternoon meditation and offering of incense and
flowers at Guru's Samadhi.
The disciples' collective gratitude was tangible as we shared a
perfect weekend, celebrating Guru's most sacred Fourth of July,
together with him, as one family.
From: Inspiration Sun edition 5
A few months ago the phone rang and Purushottama, with his usual warm
elongated "Hello", started a conversation that would end up with
unexpected and surprising results for me. We started to talk about
this year's concert at the Albert Hall. A date had just been finalised
and the concert wheels were now ready to be set in motion. He
mentioned that he was just about to go to India with Aquarium, his
first trip with the band, to give two concerts. While he talked my
mind was picturing an imaginary India of my own I was thinking to
myself that one day, who knows when, I would venture the long journey
to my Guru's homeland. As I drifted from Pondicherry to the Taj Mahal
then to Sri Ramakrishna in the Kali temple in Dakshineshwar I was
sharply snapped out of my dreams and sat bolt upright upon hearing the
words, "You should come with us. Sahadeva, you must come to India with
us!" I think my response was "um um er er um". "It's so simple. Just
get on a plane and you'll be in India in a few hours. It's that
simple. There's nothing to think about". I so desperately wanted to
say "Yes. I would love to", but what would Guru have wanted me to do,
at that moment, I didn't know. Praying for any intuitive capacity that
I might have, I searched inwardly for an answer but there was none. I
was suddenly in the situation for the first time in my life when I had
to make a decision like this on my own. Normally I would be fine
knowing that Guru would make the decision for me and I knew whatever
happened was the right thing. So I decided to say that I was quite
busy in the next few weeks and to leave it with me and I'll get back
to him soon with an answer.
"Dad, what should I do?" "Go to India?....just like that? How much
will it cost?" "Dad. Forget about money! Should I go? Is it the right
thing?" "All the way to India well um er it will be expensive!"
"Dad!!! Right I'll ask bro. Devashishu, should I go to India?"
"Purushottama's inviting you to go with him to India? Of course you
should go!! What an incredible opportunity. How dear he is to Guru.
You must go." "Thank you, thank you, thank you."
He's my older brother. I have been trained for 37 years to listen to
him so why should I stop now. Purushottama really wanted Devashishu to
come too but he was due to go to Ireland to give classes.
All packed and ready I set off for an adventure. I would spend the
first five days with Purushottama, Bhuvaneshwari and her son Mark in a
small village 3 hours outside Bangalore. Then we would travel back to
Bangalore and meet up with the band. One concert there, and then all
aboard to Delhi for another concert, and then home. So many of us have
travelled all around the world with Guru but this felt totally new. I
was on a trip without Guru and without the disciples. New territory!!
I know I'm almost 40 but I felt like a little kid stepping into
India was more, so much more, than I hoped and wished for. Clearing
customs and stepping outside Bangalore airport at 6am I became one
with the mayhem, madness, confusion, shouting, jeering, warm,
affectionate, friendly, divinely intoxicated Mother India. Finding my
driver in the swarm we embarked on a 3-hour journey that led me away
from the big city and out into the vast lands. It was stop and start
all the way as the giant holes in the roads led to slow progress.
Passing small villages from time to time I would receive big cheers
from the children as they recognised I wasn't a local. It was all so
beautiful. The land, the people, the cows - and I could feel instantly
the spirituality there. So much more than any other place. Wow, I had
come home well, to one of my homes.
I arrived at the village of Puttaparthi and was welcomed by
Purushottama's outstretched arms, "Welcome Brother". Purushottama was
in his Indian attire. Kurta top and bottom, Mala beads, no trace of
western ways - he was lost in India's charms and magic. We stayed in a
nice and quiet hotel. I settled in and in the next few days I too
forgot the west, said goodbye to the jeans and t-shirt, kurta top and
bottom for me too. It was hot and dry. The perfect weather with warm
winds and beautiful scents. It was heaven. I really mean it. This was
There was no schedule. Each day was a law unto itself taking us any
direction it wished. In the early hours I would meet Purushottama on
the roof of the hotel for the sunrise. "In India you cannot miss the
sunrise. Not even one day." he would say. I challenged myself. You can
do this. As my friends will attest to, I'm not an early riser. But
here in India everything around is encouraging you. We would sit
together and see the sun shower its first rays over the hills.
Purushottama is a meditator. A natural. He would pull me along.
Inwardly I would thank Guru so earnestly for this experience. I felt
in the sun Guru's face smiling back at us.
To be honest, I think we both headed for the bed after the early
inspiration was over. Getting those extra few hours I'm sure was
necessary to keep us going during the day. In the mornings I was free
to have my own adventure. I would meet up with them for a late
breakfast. Jumping eagerly into a tuktuk I rode around the village and
out into the smaller villages around. I saw all around me the life
depicted in Guru's stories. I could see Guru as a little boy playing
marbles in the street, walking and talking to his cow, up to tricks
with his brothers and sisters. There was so much family warmth and
affection everywhere. There were also the characters, the village
idiot, the crazy man, the blind and maimed, the beggars, the market
women, the shopkeepers, the priests. But where was the Zamindar? I
never did get to see one. After years of playing them I felt sure I
would bump into one. Not to be.
In this simple life there was so much joy. I knew this as theory but
to actually see it and feel it is such a thing. Being mutual café
lovers we spent hours talking about all sorts over espressos (double
and triple). We discussed Guru, Life, Music, the Future, Masters,
Monty Python. He has a great sense of humour and loves nearly all
things British. We got talking about the concert and he said he wanted
the stage to be a temple garden. He wanted the audience to be brought
into another world, an inspiring and spiritually uplifting world. We
talked about the musicians or rather the instruments he would like to
have. His Russian band would not be accompanying him on this concert
so a whole new band had to be found. "We need sitar, harmonium, Irish
pipes, tablas, Irish drums" My mind boggled. I knew I was in for a
to be continued...
From: Inspiration Sun Edition 5
My Rainbow-Dreams Café formally opened its doors to the Canberra public on Thursday,
24 April, 2008. The very first customers were the drivers and co-pilots of the
Australian World Harmony Run vehicles, enroute to Brisbane for the
opening ceremony. All agreed that the food was quality, and that a
bright future lay ahead! Like the lush green wheatgrass that grows
exuberantly by the drinks display, My Rainbow-Dreams signifies newness
and freshness in the life of the Canberra Centre.
On the wall is a large photo of Guru taken in the back garden of the
original Canberra Centre. Guru is wearing a big maroon jacket,
testament to the chill of a Canberra morning. In front of Guru, small
blossoms can be seen budding on spidery fingers of tree branches.
Guru's eyes are directed skyward, a look of supreme bliss on his face.
Located in the busy shopping and dining precinct of Dickson, My
Rainbow-Dreams occupies a ground floor corner shopfront facing a paved
pedestrian mall. Quite a few other cafés are to be found in the area,
including Deeks, a specialist in grain-free bakery products, owned by
Robert de Castella, Australia's greatest marathon runner. Guru met de
Castella more than 20 years ago, when de Castella was at the height of
his running excellence. De Castella has also been a supporter of the
World Harmony Run.
With a serving/dining area of around 20 square metres, plus a tiny
kitchen out the back, My Rainbow-Dreams vies for the award of
"Smallest Food-Based Divine Enterprise That You Ever Saw." All it
takes is half-a-dozen customers to make the place look very busy
indeed. Happily, there is room to expand outside, with plans for an al
fresco dining area that will nearly equal the space inside the café.
Karina and Kate are the two mainstays of the enterprise, handling all
the menu creation and most of the cooking and serving duties, as well
as myriad other tasks. A recent review in Canberra's City News
declared that "the food is excellent, high on taste and the portions
generous," with a focus on "a healthy range of gluten-free meals, as
well as dishes for vegans... or who have other types of special
When asked what inspires her about My Rainbow-Dreams, Karina replied,
"It seems to create its own reality. I'm learning that Guru is totally
in control and that my little 'I' drop is fortunately caught up in the
ocean that is Guru. Our customers receive so much from the inner
reality of My Rainbow-Dreams...many just soak up the peace. One lady
was in tears over the purity she felt here. She told me she felt like
she had fallen in love with Guru. the most common feedback is that we
offer something they have never got anywhere else before. How cool is
Karina says she prefers preparing savoury dishes to sweets, as "there
is so much more opportunity to add colour and life to savoury food."
Karina is exploring baking for vegans, despite wondering, "how can
they live without ice cream and chocolate?"
"The customers are very grateful to find some 'real food' in Dickson,"
says Kate. "The vegetarians are over the moon!..I am so grateful to
Guru for the opportunity to be of service at My Rainbow-Dreams. The
opportunity for joy and progress is boundless."
Those with long memories may be aware that this is, in fact, the
second incarnation of My Rainbow-Dreams. Guru gave the name to
Amalendu for his health-food store on 27 July 1998. My Rainbow-Dreams
existed as a health-food store for five years before closing in 2003.
Amalendu admits it took a while to get over the closure of that
enterprise, and to consider opening another. "It took me five years
to get up the courage again. But I'm so happy now we've done it,
because this is a very important manifestation, and looks like being a
very good thing for the Centre, bringing the Centre together in a way
that only enterprises can.
What inspires me about My Rainbow-Dreams? It immediately brings smiles
to customers' faces. Every time I see customers come in and get
inspired by the menu, and they look happy, it just makes everyone
happy. And I think it's a very easy way to touch people, to have an
effect on the general public, more so with a food enterprise than you
can with a health food store. I know we'll make a lot of people
Recipes from many diverse sources have made their way into the
gastronomic repertoire of My Rainbow-Dreams, mostly from cooks and
chefs of established pedigree. But the latest, and most charming
recipe has been contributed by Jack, Karina's seven-year-old son, and
I hope space permits its inclusion! (In case you're wondering, it's a
recipe for lemonade.)
From: Inspiration Sun, edition 5