July 4: America The Beautiful

21 days ago 12 runners set off on a magnificent journey here.  They came from countries scattered around the world, from a total of 8 different nations.  None of them are American, and yet like the millions who have made their way to the great welcoming shores of this land for nearly 4 centuries, they are seeking an opportunity which their own countries cannot provide.


What these explorers seek is of course what we all seek, an opportunity to transcend.  Yet this golden opportunity of running 3100 miles, is one that precious few on earth are ready or willing to take up the challenge.

Still all of us have this beacon inside us, that wants to awaken and illumine us.  One, that some of us are conscious of, and who for others, their earthly slumber does not allow them to awaken yet and strive for their own certain perfection.

On this July 4th holiday Americans awake from shore to shore with the great promise of what America could and should be safe within their hearts.  Yes there will be fireworks and music and a time for silly things true.  But within each person, on this day, and in this country America, a bright promise still burns.

Some may have lost hope that the dream has long vanished, obscured by events and actions that seem so contrary to the vision laid down on parchment in Philadelphia 239 years ago.  But what the founding fathers dreamed for this country the 12 runners pursue in both a tangible way, and in their divine pure journey.

So far they all have completed 20 days of the Self Transcendence 3100 mile race.

Photo by Bhashwar 1976
Photo by Bhashwar 1976

Tomorrow is a very significant day for the American soul, American heart, American consciousness and American life. Let us all try to be in a very, very high consciousness the entire day.

Those who sing very, very well “America the Beautiful” will sing the song tomorrow. That is my most favourite American song. That song is very, very significant.

July 3, 2002

In every way it is simply a regular quiet Saturday morning.  One that is perfect for running.


Stutisheel who is Ukrainian has a special fondness for America. Each year on the 4th of July he wears an American flag styled running gear.


Ananda-Lahari takes a moment to shave.


Yuri arrives.


Start Day 21


It will be mostly overcast and mild throughout the day.


Ashprihanal ran 71 miles yesterday and now has the best 20 day record of running in history.  His total of 1538 surpasses the Madhupran record by 27 miles.


Ashprihanal and Grahak perform a joke this morning.

Ashprihanal: Grahak why did you stop your race.

Grahak: Because of my hip.

Ashprihanal: You are a long haired hippy?

Grahak: I am not a long haired hippy.   My hip.

Ashprihanal: You are not hip.  You are not cool at all.

Grahak: No it is my hip.  Any way now I can help you.

Ashprihanal: Well, hip, hip, hooray!”


In just a couple of hours this morning Ashprihanal will be half way.


Galya is in 2nd place but he is 87 miles behind.  His total is 1451 miles.


Galya is also pursuing his own unique record.  To break the previous record of 24 straight days running over 70 miles a day.  He has completed 20 days so far.


Yesterday Vasu moved into 3rd place with  a day of 69 miles.


Vasu’s total is 1376 miles.


Yuri ran 65 miles yesterday and has 1375 miles.


Yuri is very consistent.


Across the street.


Atmavir still having some difficulties.


He ran 41 miles yesterday and has 1347 miles.


From down low.


Nirbhasa had 57 miles yesterday and has 1232 miles.


Stutisheel singing the America the Beautiful song.


Stutisheel and Galya also performed a skit.


Stutisheel ran 50 miles yesterday and has 1212 miles.


Surasa had a good day with 62 miles.  Her total is 1222 miles.


She is 33 miles ahead of Kaneenika


Kaneenika has entered a place she has never been before.


Kaneenika ra 53 miles yesterday and has 1189 miles.  Her problems come from bad blisters on her feet.  The conditions of running on a hard sidewalk are not what she is used to.


The big turn


Kaneenika is working it out the best she can.


Some dignitaries arrive early.


Kodanda playing his flute.


Playing the America the Beautiful Song:

kodanda america

Ananda-Lahari had 53 miles yesterday.


He has 1117 miles.


Near and far.


Baladev had 50 miles yesterday and now has 1091 miles.


The soft light all day.


Mahasatya reads the Prayer of the Day


Click to Play:

mahasatya prayer

A little more than 2 hours into the morning an historic moment comes when Ashprihanal completes the first half of the race.


Click to Play the 1550 mile celebration:

ashprihanal half

“I always say that at the half way point I should have half a cup of water.”

Sahishnu comes not too long after the record has been broken and records the time.  20 days, 2 hours, 33 minutes.  He says it is about  6 hours better than Madhupran’s record time in 2006.  “It is the gold standard of this race. He still has a few weeks to go.  If he were to finish on the 42 day that would be 3 weeks from today, a Saturday.”

“Ashprihanal is taking and pushing the endurance envelop up another notch.  If he is able to do it.”  Sahishnu than describes the great physiological differences between the 2 runners.  Madhupran was a much faster runner.  Ashprihanal’ best mileage for 5 days was 505 miles, Madhupran ran 628.


He suggests that Ashprihanal’s strengths are more in how quickly he recovers.  “He can clean the slate and go onto the next day and the next challenge is extraordinary.  He is a different kind of athlete from Madhupran.”

“He has to have this internal motivation.  Obviously a big part of it is his spirituality.”  Sahishnu also talks specifics about Ashprihanal’s running style, which if it looks unorthodox does allow him to remain loose.  He doesn’t allow the miles to get above his head.  He keeps the problems at bay.  He has this lightness and this inspiration to keep going.”

Sahishnu also talks at length about how well he ran in the 10 day race last year.  “He passed Madhupran who had the 2nd best total for the 10 day race.  That was 829, Ashprihanal got 833 miles.  He was spectacular in the last 2 days.”

Sahishnu mentions that his late spiritual teacher had regularly encouraged Ashprihanal. “He always wanted him to excel.  He called him my champion.”


As for what happens in the next 1550 miles.  “I pray that he stays healthy.  That is the only thing that can take him down.  He rarely gets blisters.  If he stays healthy he will break the record.  It is up to him how far he will break it.  I think he has enough determination and this may be his swan song.  His last time doing the race.  He told us a few years ago that he did not want to go past 13 because he has so much respect for Suprabha’s record of 13 3100 mile races.”

“He may come back again, who knows.  This one is for all the marbles.  He is in position now.  The weather has been so cooperative.  He has got a chance.  He has got a great chance.”

Click to Play Interview:


Enthusiasm Awakeners


Click to Play:


I dearly love my India
And its age-old silence-peace.
I dearly love my America
And its child-heart’s beauty-increase.


4 thoughts on “July 4: America The Beautiful”

  1. Beautiful video Utpal, thank you. To Ashprihanal The Great a million times BRAVO!

    His matchless goal
    Is to set
    A new aspiration-record
    Every day.

    Sri Chinmoy, Twenty-Seven Thousand Aspiration-Plants, Part 55, Agni Press, 1984

  2. Very moving comments from different people there at the race! May I also say how much I like the picture of our Master praying and meditating in front of the Statue of Liberty.

    May we all pray for Ashprihanal’s health, so nothing may interfere or stop him from reaching his goal. For my mind, his performance every day, is somewhat frightening. But every day I am happy, when I see his high mileage.

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