12 & 24 Hour Race Rockland State Park June 12 -13 2021

Start of the 2nd 12 hour race at 8pm



Arpan DeAngelo

Barbara Graf


Bob Oberkher and Emmy Stoker


Cam Chamberlain


Daniel Wiszniewski

Dietmar Stork


Dylan Maher

Emmy Stocker and Kathryn Stoker

Eric Friedland and Peter Shiue

Francisco Balagtas


Grzegorz Klepadio

James Gawie

Jason Silva

Jeffry Spera

Jennifer Case

John  McCleary

JP Milot

Kathryn Stoker

Kelly Gilleni

Kim Hooper-Stanley



Grzegorz and Magdalena

Marc Vengrove

Sahishnu interview



Mark Dorion

Newton Baker

Palash Bosgang

Peter Shiue


Rob Leder

Robert Spilotras

Ryan Pelletier

Sean Babcock

Steve Bracero

Trishul Cherns

Troy Krum

Upasana Young

Vasudha Deming

Vikram Singh

William Brod

Jun Lin

We get boundless joy
When we try to journey
Towards the Unknowable.

Tribute to Sundar

The gates to Perfection in the Head World have been shuttered now for some weeks. The proprietor, Sundar Dalton who managed the business for many years was unable to keep his barbershop open recently due to a long struggle with illness. Last night he succumbed to his ever mounting burden and slipped free of his earthly suffering.

For those of us who were aware of just how much he was increasingly forced to endure there is now a clear sense of relief, that his pain is at last no more

What is also certain is that he is now embarking on just the next phase of his life’s journey. One that he, like us all, started lifetimes ago and with each new challenge we hopefully move and progress ever forward.

Sundar, who was a devoted student of Indian Spiritual Master Sri Chinmoy was confident that his journey was being shaped and guided by his teacher. A way, that recently was certainly not easy, but now most certainly free of any and all earthly woes.

My description of Sundar cannot come close to describing the dimensions of his intellect or the warmth he cheerfully provided as the hangout spot for his many friends who relished in his companionship and tea more often than they needed a trim. The door was always open and the tea steeping in the pot.

In later years the neighborhood also used the store to receive their packages, that at times by sheer volume interfered with the cutting of hair and the drinking of tea.

Among other things Sundar did was spend most mornings helping at the lunch counter next door when they opened up each morning. As well he was responsible for selling Sri Chinmoy’s books, helping out at the weekly 2 mile race and at most other marathon team events.

One could add in here as well his dedication to his personal fitness through swimming and running but more importantly was the devotional routine he followed on a rigorous daily basis right up until the end.

When the sign was designed for the shop many years ago he was asked what decoration he wanted. I remember that the use of the wise owl was a given. It fit perfectly with a barber who knew so much about so many things and was always so willing to share the wisdom of his knowledge. Though to be clear, along with tea, and unambiguous facts, there could also be conversation that drifted into the realm of gossip and opinion. He was a true barber at heart after all.

His absence from behind these now shuttered gates will be sorely missed by many. His extraordinary capacities and tireless generosity will create a vacuum on the strip of little blue stores that cannot be filled. His presence and personality slipped effortlessly into the gaps and crevasses of so many people who like him hungered for truth and yearned for fulfillment.

His name, Sundar was given to him many years ago by Sri Chinmoy. In Bengali it means beautiful. There is no more fitting description of him both inwardly and outwardly than that.

The following is a quote from a story written by Sri Chinmoy after a half marathon race was held in June of 1983

“At the finish line I was sitting in the car. Sundar came up and told me of his deplorable performance with such sincerity and soulfulness. There was no false modesty — only sincerity and soulfulness. I was so proud of him. How I wish all the disciples, when they don’t do well, would maintain this kind of cheerful and soulful consciousness!”

Sri Chinmoy, Run and become, become and run, part 14, Agni Press, 1985

Sundare Basi BhaloSundare basi bhalo
Sundaratama antare mamo sundare dip jwalo
Sundar aj akash batas sundar mana pran
Jibane marane mileche amar sundar sandhan


O beautiful One,
Do kindle beauty’s lamp
In this aspiration-heart of mine.
Today everything is beautiful.
The sky, the air, my body, vital and mind,
All are beautiful.
The birth and death of my life
Have discovered Eternity’s Beauty today.


A Soulful Offering….Susan & Dipali 47 Mile Race 2019

“I feel it was a soulful offering to my Guru.”

Susan Interview:

Susan had a terrific performance in this years 47 mile race.  Her time of 6:54:06 placed her first in the girls category and was fast enough for 2nd overall. She won the race as well last year with a time 7:09:45 which means she transcended herself by almost 15 minutes.

I spoke with her moments after she had finished the race and she expressed how she was looking forward to being receptive for the rest of Sri Chinmoy’s birthday celebration. “What I love about Sri Chinmoy’s birthday is that I feel that I have done something to honor him.  Now I can really enjoy the day without my mind getting in the way.”

Looking back over the previous hours she says her experience was a bit of a blur.  “I try as much as possible not to have any mind.  I had hard laps and I had good laps.  I try not to have any mind and that for me is the best way to do these races.  So that I can be most receptive to our inner capacity, and most importantly why we are doing this.  Which is to offer something to God.  Our mind is not our friend here.”

Susan has done a personal best and so has transcended herself at this years 47 mile race.  She feels it will take a day or so for it all to become clearer to her.  “I know things happen on the spiritual level so I am happy with that.”

“I have lost count.”  You can’t really blame Dipali for not remembering just how many times she has run the 47 miles race.   Scanning back over the records one thing is clear and that is she has won the race 26 times since 1986 and her time this year of 7:44 (3rd place )is only 34 minutes slower than her winning time that year which was 7:09.

Dipali Interview:

“I came out here with no training.  I just wanted to finish.”

Dipali as fate would have it shares the same birthday, August 27th as Sri Chinmoy.  So the 47 mile race has always played a unique role in her running calendar and more importantly in her spiritual life.  Turning 61 it can be expected that she might run slower but she has a tremendous running base and her motivation to do her best is unparalleled.

“I have had some health issues.  I wanted to come back and run it just for the fun.  But during the night I felt so strong.  At the halfway point there was so much power.  I wasn’t training for it but it was just there.”

“From 20 to 30 laps I had a nice experience.  I got really tired and my stomach was bothering me.”  Dipali says that in order to conquer the fatigue she imagined herself instead in a multi day race.  One in which she was on the verge of completing.  “With that little bit to go.  Like I had already done hundreds of miles.  With that in my mind and in my heart.  It made it so much easier.”

“It was a beautiful night.  It was so cool, and I reminisced about multi day running, because I had been taken away from it for a while.  I had tears near the end because I felt like I had done it.”

“I didn’t care about the place on the board.  It just came.  I just wanted to finish.  I have missed running for the past 4 years.  I get emotional because I haven’t been able to run the way I once did.”

“Just sharing the same birthday with Sri Chinmoy…..what a blessing. I feel so honored that this race exists.  It is such a beautiful atmosphere.  No matter what the board says we are all family.  We encourage each other and we support each other.”

“If I don’t run this race on my birthday then it just doesn’t set the day right for me.  I am going to be wobbling and sore all day but it makes me feel good.  I know I gave my all on my birthday.  Sri Chinmoy once told me that I don’t run with my feet, that I run with my soul.”

“So I feel that my soul is to the fore on this day.  I feel that I am running with my soul all night and that is what I experienced last night.”

When my body runs,
My soul jumps,
And my Lord Supreme sings and dances
With enormous Delight.

A Race Unlike Any Other…Abhinabha Wins 47 Mile Race 2019

Even before completing the first loop of the track Abhinabha had taken a commanding lead in this years 47 mile race.


Susan who was in 2nd place overall would eventually finish more than an hour behind his time of 5:35:49

“This is the 3rd time I have run the 47 mile race, and it is a race unlike any other.  It celebrates Sri Chinmoy’s birthday, and it is on a night which is a very special for us.”

“There is something in the air the moment you take off.  There is a consciousness, a peacefulness, a joyfulness, that I do not find in any other race.  That accompanies you the whole way.  At first I approached this as a race.  I didn’t have any expectations.  I didn’t know if my form was good.  I did train for it.  So I didn’t have any expectations but I did want to do my best, and do a good time.”

“But when I reached the marathon distance, I saw the banner and it said 47 mile run and it didn’t say 47 mile race.  I thought that is the way to approach it.  This is a run.  It is not a race.  I have to enjoy myself and just run, and be happy, and not push myself.”

“I know that if I had pushed myself I wouldn’t have gone any faster and I probably would have burned out.  Maybe I would have been frustrated by the time.  So I totally took that all out of the window.  I didn’t care for time.  I didn’t care for anything else.  I was just trying to be in a really happy consciousness, while I was running.”

“My first time running this race was my fastest.  (5:19)  The second time I did it was 2 years ago and I had done the marathon 2 days earlier so that was 5:55 and this one is in the middle.”

Abhinabha of course inspired everyone who was part of the race this year with his powerful performance.  “That is always great.  I am really grateful that I can play that part, and inspire people.”

“I get tremendous inspiration from all the people cheering me.  Every time you come through the finishing shoot there are so many people cheering, and it just lifts you up.  And if I can inspire other people with my running then I am just so grateful for that.”

“I had a mantra.  We saw a video a couple of nights ago where Sri Chinmoy said, you need to know only one thing.  I love my Guru and my Guru loves me.  I was chanting that almost the whole way.  That was my mantra, my meditation.  I felt Sri Chinmoy very strongly.”

“It is great if you can do your very best.  I do believe that is also nice.  But what it really comes down to is that it is a run.  It is not about your time.  It is not about being the fastest.  There is something higher than that in this race.”

“It is about being in the right consciousness and doing it as a tribute to our Guru.”

Sri Chinmoy Day in New York City

On the morning of 27 August 1978, Sri Chinmoy’s 47th birthday, Queens Councilman Morton Povman came to the track at Jamaica High School to read the proclamation of Sri Chinmoy Day in Queens. Several of the 58 runners who were running 47 miles in honour of Guru’s birthday were still circling the 1 1/4 mile loop as the ceremony took place.

Proclamations were made in all 5 boroughs of New York City this year, making Sri Chinmoy’s 47th birthday the first city-wide Sri Chinmoy Day.

Innocent Joy… (World’s Longest Seesaw 2019)

There is only one time
To be happy,
And that time
Is now!

Sri Chinmoy, Seventy-Seven Thousand Service-Trees, part 22, Agni Press, 2001


Having innocent joy is something that most of us never grow tired of.   We can for a time be caught up and distracted by our own problems but something within us seems to inevitably draw us back to a place where happiness can be our selfless and tireless companion as long as we don’t allow ourselves to get in the way.


For Ashrita, who has spent much of his life achieving and setting hundreds of Guinness world records the anniversary of his Spiritual teacher, Sri Chinmoy’s birthday has for decades been an occasion when the dimensions and scale of his record breaking has shattered the conventions of size in incredible and mind boggling ways.

This year with the help of a team led by Yuyudhan and Papaha the world’s longest seesaw was constructed.  It was 88 foot long to mark what would have been Sri Chinmoy’s 88th birthday.

Ashrita speech:



Yuyudhan interview:

“This is an 88 foot 2 inch seesaw or the beginnings of it.”  Like all big projects there is always a lot of work going on behind the scenes to make the construction of the world’s longest seesaw possible.

I first spoke with Yuyudhan after he had already spent 5 days working on its construction.  He says that 9 years earlier he had been part of a group constructing a 79 foot seesaw so approached Ashrita this year with the possibility of scaling up the original project by an additional 9 feet.  “I already know how to build that.  So it was not going to be a huge design issue.”

When asked just how long he had been part of constructing projects for August 27th there is some understandable head scratching.  “I think 20 years or so.”  He believes his first was taking part in assembling a 27,000 flower bouquet.


The point of doing them is simple.  He says that the projects built to celebrate August 27th are all about joy. Yuyudhan says that he was happy from the moment the lumber was delivered by a large forklift for this one.  “I have been working here for 5 days now and it is just fun.”


“With Sri Chinmoy’s birthday you get to see a gigantic thing being made.  It is just part of you transcending your own self.  When you are building something bigger than the last thing you made…. this is just so cool.  I enjoyed making it last time, this time is giving me even more joy.  I know that it is going to work.”


Yuyudhan vividly recalls that when people of all ages rode the seesaw 9 years earlier they all got joy and could feel themselves reviving their childlike enthusiasm. “You could see them as kids.  They enjoyed it, it was fun.  We had a waiting line of people trying to get on it.  I foresee the same thing here.  People really wanting to get on it.”


“This is one of the few records that Ashrita has done that everybody gets to participate in, because they get to ride it.”


Papaha interview:

Papaha tells me that he has had previous experience on Mega teeter tooter work.  He was part of the team that worked on the 79 foot seesaw 9 years earlier.  “Everyone loved working on it.”

“I think when you got on it you went up 12 feet into the sky.”  As we are talking most of the main body of the seesaw have been constructed.  “I get the easy job.  I get to pick out the fun colors.  We always go with bright birthday cake type colors.  So we will prime this up and paint this up and tomorrow, once it is all dry.  We will put the vinyl lettering on it.”

“We celebrate Sri Chinmoy’s birthday.  Ashrita, who has the most Guinness records likes to get a bunch of us together and work as a team.”  It is by working collectively Papaha says that they are able to achieve so much more.  The result is that many many more are able to receive innocent joy from their efforts to celebrate Sri Chinmoy’s birthday.

“We are going to do a bluish green along the side, blue along the top.  The fulcrum will be a bright yellow.  The lettering will be a magenta.”

“For me it is fun.”  He then points towards Yuyudhan and says it may be just a little less fun as he has to take care of most of the construction.  Papaha says that there are difficult times but overall, “it is always a joy.”


“I do look forward to my maiden voyage.”


The crew


We must accept life’s
Up and down waves
Smilingly and bravely.


Continue To Move On

A few months ago while visiting Cambodia I spoke with career UN diplomat, His Excellency Davidson L Hepburn. Having absolutely zero political experience I was curious and hopeful that he might shed some light on what is currently happening in the world and whether or not he was still optimistic.

“There are many answers to this question but I feel strongly that we spend a lot of time in talking about the bad things that are happening in our lives instead of talking about the good things.”

Ambassador Hepburn doesn’t suggest that we push negative thoughts into the background. “You need to have them in the foreground so that people will know that there are good things and evil things in the world.”

“But I feel that if we make up our minds to what we are doing here. This meditation group is the answer to all the problems that we have. I am impressed that you all are so dedicated to this. You can’t concentrate a great deal on the evil that is happening in the world. It is not going to stop. You have to continue what you are doing. It is very good. In that way you counteract the evil that is happening.”

When asked if he can detect progress in the world. “I don’t think it is possible for us to determine the degree of progress that we have made in achieving peace.   I feel we have to look at this step by step.”

Ambassador Hepburn told a cute story. “I asked a little girl, what was peace, and she said, peace is when I am fighting with my sister. That to me made a great deal of sense. Because once you have got this thing out of you, you have communicated it in a way. You are then able to go on to the next step.”

“You can’t concentrate on the bad things. If you are going to concentrate on anything then you should concentrate on the good things. That will then pacify your concerns about the evil that is in the world.”

“When I walk around here, (Siem Reap Cambodia) when I see what is going on. I don’t understand the people. I don’t understand the culture, but I do see, what I consider to be a great deal of suffering and pain. But these people don’t seem to be dwelling on that.”

“They go along with their lives. They try to make it work, as effectively as they possibly can. The moment you slink off into a corner, and concentrate on the negative things that are happening. The worse it is going to be.”

“No matter how bad it gets you should be concentrating on what’s good. When I leave here, what I do is concentrate on this mediation group. You can’t imagine what help, what kind of assistance, what kind of joy I get from being a part of this.”

He recalls Sri Chinmoy once saying, “you must continue to go on. Success is ahead of you, and if you give up before you reach the end than you are going to be losing out on what might have happened.”

Ambassador Hepburn then gave reference to his long friendship with Adhiratha. How he never gave up on him. “I think that says a lot for the kind of thing that I think we should be doing in our lives.   To continue to press on with what we have in ourselves.”

He speaks about the very close and brotherly relationship that he maintained with Sri Chinmoy over the years. “He was able to do so many different things with his life and that emanated from him.”

“He made you feel as though you were part of this. My concern always is that when I leave being with the meditation group (Return to the Bahamas). Whether or not I will be able to have this experience continue with me.”

Ambassador Hepburn is 85 years old and is still maintaining a busy schedule. I asked whether he agreed with Sri Chinmoy’s philosophy about no retirement. “Of course there isn’t. That is the whole point.”

“I think if you are talking about peace continuing, if you give up by believing that you have accomplished just what you have worked for. Then that is the wrong way to look at it.”

“I think you should continue to build on whatever you have done. Once you have stopped then you have defeated the purpose.”

As for the future, “I try and not set a benchmark. My goal is to continue to do what I am doing and to see what benefit I can get out of it for others. Not for me.”

“But it is very difficult when you look what is happening around you and see that you are faced with so many trials and tribulations. You can easily wonder, what in the world am I doing this for. But that is when you fight.   That is when you continue to move on.”

Currently Ambassador Hepburn is trying to set up an institute for International Relations. “All I want to do is bring people together. And this is what I think the meditation group is doing.”

“This mediation group consists of over 100 countries who get together to try and bring about a kind of love that is lasting. That is never going to fade away. Some of us may fall by the wayside but you can rest assured that the foundation has been laid. That is what I think is so very important. “

Click to Play Interview:


There is a saying in the Sanskrit scriptures: Charai veti, ‘Move on, move on!’ This was the realisation of our Vedic seers. If you don’t move on, you will be caught by ignorance. So always be alert, cautious and careful, and move on, move on, move on. If you move on, one day you will reach the Goal, where ignorance will not dare to touch you.”

30 July 1974

Sri Chinmoy, The ambition-deer, Agni Press, 1974

*Dr. Davidson Hepburn was the President of the United Nations Education, Scientific and Cultural  Organization (UNESCO) 35th Governing Council (2009 -2011).  During that time he encouraged many to visit World Heritage sites around world.  He explained why in messages he sent to the Sri Chinmoy Oneness- Home World Harmony and Peace Runs which he has experienced in his native Bahamas, Kazakhstan, Malta and other locations

*”I was delighted to see the Run visit a number of UNESCO World Heritage Sites… drawing attention to the efforts of the international community to protect so many cultures around the world.  Initiatives such as the …Run contribute significantly to the realisation of one of UNESCO’s principal mandates: mutual understanding and our shared determination to build and strengthen a culture of peace and harmony”  See the full video message from UNESCO with sub titles in 25 languages for the 25th anniversary of the runs at http://www.worldharmonyrun.org/25.html

* Dr. Hepburn showed his continued commitment in 2018 as he personally visited the Angkor World Heritage sites in Siem Reap Cambodia with many members of the Sri Chinmoy Oneness-Home international torch relay teams from around the world. Also part of the tour were many longtime friends from the Peace Meditation at the UN from when Davidson Hepburn was Ambassador and Permanent Representative of his country during the 1970s and 80s (a decade) at the UN in NY. It was where he first became friends with Sri Chinmoy.


Visiting at Angkor Wat temple
Visiting with Monks in Cambodia

I Have To Do Something

“You have to be careful how you use the word ‘me.’ If you start using the word me you have already lost the game,”says Chandika

I have always found being around Chandika a refreshing and energizing experience. I recently heard that she had a significant disciple anniversary approaching, and was curious about how she planned to celebrate it. I also wanted to learn more about the long path she has taken in order to get to this place.

What I hadn’t expected was that she was not going to take any credit for it. “It is not always about the ‘me’, it is always about the ‘NOT-ME’.”

“So when my 50th anniversary comes along it is going to be Guru jumping up and down saying, 50 years what shall we do? We shall do great things.”

“God gave me a particular place to be on earth, including a Mother who reached to be a 100 years old, and till the end in perfect health.”   Chandika says her Mom was proud to reach that milestone, and that Guru was also very enthusiastic about it. He also considered her to be one of his disciples. “She was on Guru’s team,” says Chandika. Her Mom felt it was her soul’s promise to the Supreme to live to be 100.

Chandika’s own first steps on the path she says were largely influenced by her two older brothers. “They were sincerely seeking, so there was much to learn there.” She felt her own aspiration very early on was gradually gaining strength and that her brothers were a positive influence on that.

For Chandika, a critical turning point came for her when it was time for her to decide where to go to college. She had been awarded a scholarship at a large, far-off university, but when she returned home after visiting there, she had doubts. In order to make the right choice, she cast the I Ching to determine whether going to that school was the right choice. She was surprised when it told her not to go.

Instead it advised her, “You don’t need to go far away to find what you need in life. Stay close and you will be fine.”

In the end she went to the smaller, nearby college where her brothers had gone. “I felt very protected,” she says about her life at that time.  Then when her brothers, who had become disciples, showed her Guru’s picture, she felt completely ready to make the same move herself. “Everyone knew this had to be the next step for me.”

As she recalls this historic moment, she doesn’t hesitate to suggest that this outer connection could have taken place much earlier;  she feels she should have been with her brothers right from the beginning, when they had first met Guru and became his disciples.

Even though she hadn’t been there from the start physically, when her brothers had the opportunity to show Guru her picture, Guru said, “I have already seen her many times in the inner world.” Chandika says that Guru knew that eventually her entire family would become his disciples.

Chandika remembers that one of her brother once cast her astrological chart, and it indicated hat she would most likely move forward towards her goal in a very direct and singular way, fast as a flying arrow. More importantly, the goal would be absolutely fulfilling. “That way was going to be filled with joy.”

She feels that in a way Guru had already started preparing and guiding her, long before their first actual meeting.

All the same, “I was desperate to go forward and take the next outer steps.  I couldn’t get to Guru fast enough,” Chandika says.  Then, finally, she took a spring-break trip east to New York.  She traveled in a car with a bunch of strangers.   She was able to see Guru for the first time. when she went with other disciples to JFK, to meet Guru when he landed in New York after a trip to India.  The next day she meditated with Guru and disciples at Guru’s home in Queens. “That was very very life-changing.”

On the return trip back home,the others in the car told her they noticed that she had changed. She, herself, felt as if a switch had been turned on, and that her life now glowed with a more powerful inner light.

At the end of her school year, she moved to New York as quickly as she could. She feels that those years–the late 60’s and early 70’s– particularly in America, were special. At that time Guru was attracting the many, many young seekers whose destiny it was to become his disciples.

This was a rapidly growing young community of young disciples, all of whom had come to the spiritual life in their own unique ways, and all were experiencing spirituality and accepting guidance from a Spiritual Master in ways that earlier they could never have dreamed possible.

Chandika says, “that after a year or two on the path you are then in it for the real thing. You are rooted in your growing. The Supreme doesn’t want you just to play games and do tricks.”

“I have always taken seriously what Guru has given me to do,” Chandika says.  Over the years, what that is has continually become more clear to her, and that has been particularly so since his passing in 2007.

Chandika says the short version of the meaning of her name is: “the Goddess of light, power, grace, and luminosity. It is not what I do, it is what I am. There is much more that I need to learn, and this is the time when we are getting closer to our more mature ages. I have to see how I am going to manage the rest of this incarnation. I think the most important thing is to do so with grace.” Ultimately, of course, my purpose is trying to please the Supreme in his own way.

Chandika says that, even though she was fortunate to be able to spend quite a lot of time with Guru, some her most powerful spiritual experiences have taken place when she wast not in Guru’s physical presence,  but Guru inspired and instructed her from a distance.  These were significant lessons completely learned from within.

She tells the story of how, one day, she felt as if someone had hurt her, and she was feeling sorry for herself. Then she imagined herself as a fragile baby duck, and the other person as also being a vulnerable cute tiny animal. “In this way Guru tricked me out of my difficulty. The affection between me and the other person was always there, it was simply another reality. All I had to do was find it.”

Chandika speaks confidently about the years that have transpired since Sri Chinmoy’s passing. She feels that the changes that have happened in her life, and continue to happen, have all been placed before her by Guru.

“Guru wanted everything to expand. I just try to see where he wants me to go next.  I feel Guru everywhere and in everything. He is so huge.   You can see him smiling in the sky. You can feel him all around me.”

“One of my main activities now is working with the brand-new disciples.” She describes a project that she did for the 10th anniversary of Sri Chinmoy’s Samadhi, which involved writing about the 10 most significant memories of Guru in her life.

“At first I began writing dutifully and then ended up just loving it.   There is a part of me that always wanted to be a writer.” She is now working on entire book about Guru in her life, and she feels as though she is in constant inner communication with Guru as she writes. “I am so happy because I feel we are spending time together.” The tentative title of  her book is: “Reminisces drawn from a lifetime with Guru.”

Chandika adds that her day includes writing for an hour, also well as hatha yoga, playing the tabla, and going to the pool to swim. “I feel completely free. There is no pressure.   Wherever my mind roams.”

The exact date of her upcoming 50th anniversary of her life as a disciple is January 13, 2019. She remembers that when her 13th anniversary was approaching, she was also powerfully inspired to undertake a self-transcendence project. “It is not enough just to be alive. I have to do something.” That year she set a goal of running 13 marathons and ended up completing 14!

She then refers back to her earlier comment about not being the doer. “It is not me deciding. It is like a force that comes and says – you can’t let this date go by without doing something.”

Something to do:
Something to love:
Something to look forward to:
Satisfaction in perfection.

Sri Chinmoy, Ten Thousand Flower-Flames, part 7, Agni Press, 1980

Click to Play Interview:


An Epic Journey….Performing the Sri Aurobindo Play…Installment 3

A great swath of time has passed since the project first began.  A lot of time.  Yet as Kaivalya and his sons and a troop of male actors prepared for the 3rd installment of the Sri Aurobindo play the goal was now almost in sight.  Though at best current estimates the final piece of the puzzle would not be in place place until August of 2018.

Sri Chinmoy standing before Sri Aurobindo samadhi in Pondicherry

Kaivalya was in the midst of some last minute costume preparation as he once again recounted the story of how it all began.   For certain episode 3 of the play was minutes from being performed.  He believes the whole great project was first was set in motion in 1998 when Sri Chinmoy called him and said, “I would like you to do my whole, Descent of the Blue. (his play dedicated to Sri Aurobindo).  Take as long as you like, use as many disciples as you like,  and spend as much money as you like and make it a big job.  So I said fine and started working on it.”

Unfortunately an unforeseen set of circumstances came up and the project was put on hold.  “As you know when something is intended to happen and then it doesn’t happen it never reoccurs for a long long time.”  It was only after many years when he was performing in a small scene from the play that the spark was once again reignited.  “Then it came back to me what Sri Chinmoy had first asked me many many years ago.”

The trajectory of the play from then until now has seen the project influenced by a number of inspirations.  Not the least of course were the crucial contributions of his 2 sons Devashishu and Sahadeva.  They felt that breaking the play into instalments would heighten the overall experience and tell the story better than in just one long 4 hour performance.  Devashishu volunteered to write the scripts and Sahadeva offered to provide musical accompaniment.

Ultimately the first section took place in August 2014 and was followed by part 2 the next year.  After a gap of of one year in 2016 part 3 followed this past August which will hopefully see the 4th and final installment performed in August of 2018.

“We felt the first 2 performances worked well, then last year didn’t happen and we were all quite happy to wait a year.”  Kaivalya then mentioned all the bits of the actual story that will have to be concluded in order for the story to at last be complete.

Kaivalya’s role during the play is to act as the narrator and performs in character as the elder Sri Aurobindo.  “I have a very strong feeling of the play.  I feel really strongly connected.  In the play what I do is recall my whole life through all the other actors.  It will be quite nice next year when the 2 Aurobindos meet in heaven. (younger played by Abhinabha)

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Speaking with Abhinabha as he gets into costume in the final minutes before the performance starts it seems almost incomprensible to imagine that earlier in the day he was running a very fast marathon up at Rockland State park.  He says his race plan didn’t work out but he is being incredibly modest about his time for the race.  He was 3rd in a time of 2:39. “I was hoping to do a couple of minutes faster.”

He says that he was not in the least distracted by his role in the play which would follow fast on the heels of his marathon.  “Totally separate chapter.  The marathon was just a marathon and then when I came back this thing started.”  Abhinabha confesses that he had to learn a long and complicated script but that the blocking of the play and in a sense the one and only rehearsal took place only in the afternoon.  “It was the first real rehearsal.” Interestingly he suggests that running a fast marathon is a harder challenge for him then performing in a play.

“The marathon is a good reality check.  You can’t cheat it.”

This is now the 3rd time he has taken on the challenge of performing as the young Aurobindo.  “Every time I play the part something special happens, especially the first time.  It is not so much a mental or learning experience it is a spiritual experience I feel.  You are embodying a spiritual master of a very high caliber.  That does something to your consciousness.  The first time I felt tremendous peace, both after and during the performance.  I always feel so comfortable in that role.   It is a very very special experience.”

“I have always had an affinity for Sri Aurobindo both for his writings and his poetry.  So it was a huge honor for me and so it was a dream come true that I could play the part.” He also appreciates greatly how Devashishu was able to mold the original play into 4 self contained and meaningful portions.  “He knows how to draw a story into it while at the same time doing justice to the original play.”

Despite there being a gap of one year between parts 2 and now part 3 Abhinabha says, “I always had confidence.  I knew Devashsishu was planning for this year.  I was confident that it was going to happen.  I am looking forward to the last part because that is where Sri Chinmoy moves to the ashram with his family.   That is going to be very sweet for us. ”

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“People need humor, especially after running 26 miles.”  Devashishu was speaking just after completing his own theatrical marathon.  One in which he had to overcome a different set of obstacles.   Namely writing a hour plus script and then having a minimal amount of time to rehearse.

A few days earlier he had at least expressed some doubts about the project all coming together but now after a flawless performance he can happily confirm, “yes it has worked.”

He confesses that one of the reasons there had been some doubts was that he had gotten sick shortly after arriving in New York for celebrations.  “I was just a little under the weather.” Having written and directed and performed in many plays over the years he describes the enormous amount of energy needed to make it all happen.  During celebrations in particular many are involved in many different activities.  “Some of these guys are in 2,3, or 4 singing groups.”

When I mention how his lead actor had run a very fast marathon just earlier he says, “I can’t imagine.  A 2:39 marathon, rehearsing for a concert that is tomorrow night, and he is in a singing group that is performing every day.  So to do this is something.  But part of the aspect that makes this all so fun is that people are so busy that they are in a mode that is just all giving.  You just have to give as much as you can when you can.”

“There is something about the dynamism that you pour into each of the events.  But you get on a role here during celebrations.  You are doing this and you are doing that. I think it makes you lighter, I think it makes you brighter.  It makes your mind clearer and it gives you tremendous joy.”

When the play is happening he says the most important thing for him to do is to maintain the feeling  “What I am really concerned about is that Sri Chinmoy’s play the Descent of the Blue has such depth and profundity in it, and how it captures Sri Aurobindo’s consciousness that you want to somehow bring that consciousness over.  That is the main thing.”  From both the audience’s point of view and his own he feels that play on this Warm August evening managed to do that.

“There were moments where you really felt who Sri Aurobindo is and what he gave to the world.  Sri Chinmoy captures that so beautifully in his play.” As for if the final installment will take place next August he is not yet certain.  “When I sit down to write the play sometimes it happens and sometimes it doesn’t  happen straight away.  It can take a while and usually at some point some fire pushes it through.  Some ideas come and it all starts coming together.

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