Where is the light coming from?

I first came to know about Sri Chinmoy through a meditation workshop I took in France. As a newcomer, I did not know anything about meditation, but I had quite a nice and powerful experience during the first session.

On this unforgettable Sunday morning, as we were all meditating in silence with closed eyes, I inwardly saw a streak of light coming from my right side. I had never meditated before, at least not consciously, and I was not expecting anything in particular. But this experience puzzled me.

At the end of the meditation I looked to my right, searching for something that could have been the cause of this light. I saw nothing except a picture frame placed on the floor and leaning against the wall with its back to us. During the intermission, I decided to go and look at this frame from which the light seemed to have come. As I turned it around, I was surprised to discover the picture of an extraordinary face.

I did not know what it meant, but I felt that the light I saw during my meditation had emanated from it. At the end of the session, I could not help telling this story to the leader of the class. To my amazement, she said that it was a photograph of her spiritual Master Sri Chinmoy in what she called his transcendental consciousness ⎯ streaming light even from the back of the frame!

No more darkness, only light

If it were not for Sri Chinmoy, I would most definitely not be alive today. Many years ago I was in Trinidad and Tobago with Sri Chinmoy and our group on our annual Christmas trip. On New Year’s eve I became extremely ill with a very high fever.  A few days later, when I was waiting at the airport with Sri Chinmoy and our spiritual group to fly home, I was so sick that I could not stand up.   jackfruit was brought to the airport for Sri Chinmoy, which he shared with everyone. Knowing that it is his favourite fruit, I had helped to arrange this long before I got sick, so Sri Chinmoy compassionately said, “Long live Agraha!” Then I knew for sure that I would be okay!

Immediately upon returning to New York, I was hospitalized. I grew sicker and sicker, my lungs began to fill with more and more fluid, and it became very hard to breathe. I remember crying one night because I was so scared and in such pain. By the next night I was totally exhausted. I said to myself, “I just want to give up. I just want to stop.” Immediately and extremely powerfully, I felt Sri Chinmoy say to me inwardly, “No! No! You must not give up! You must fight!”

The next morning Sri Chinmoy came to the hospital in person. No one was allowed into the Intensive Care Unit except the doctors and nurses, but somehow he entered my room.  As soon as I saw him, I sat up and folded my hands in prayer. I started crying and crying like a little baby. I will never forget the love and blessings that he showered on me in purest silence. Then he motioned towards the morning light outside and said, “Dear boy, from now on, no more darkness, no more darkness. Only light, only light.”

As soon as Sri Chinmoy left, I started perspiring profusely. My fever had broken. From that instant on, I began improving. The doctors never found out what caused the infection. They later told me that they basically had no idea how to help me, and they strongly felt I might not live. They saw my recovery as miraculous, and indeed it was!

All I needed was the Supreme, and I would always win

For three years, starting in 1977, some 200 New York area students of Sri Chinmoy trained as a group for the Pepsi 24-Hour Bicycle Marathon in Central Park, as he encouraged us to challenge our limitations and thus discover our deeper capacities.

Starting a month before the race, which was held on Memorial Day Weekend, Sri Chinmoy would lead us on daily training rides in Flushing Meadow Park. The Pepsi Bike Marathon drew thousands of amateur participants, but also a core group of professional riders who competed seriously for the prizes. None of our team members had experience in racing, though a few of us did cycle regularly and take road trips. The first year we entered as a team was a bit of an experiment, though I think we won a prize or two for the size of our team and for our uniforms. But the second year, 1978, we trained more seriously, and I felt that Sri Chinmoy was determined to show us the limits of what was possible.

A week before the race, Sri Chinmoy chose who would be on the two small teams that would compete for the team prizes. I felt honoured that I was the only woman on the first-string team of ten, but I was quite alarmed when Sri Chinmoy solemnly called us up in front of the whole group and told us he envisioned each of us doing 300 miles in 24 hours!

Don't expect

One day I was having a really difficult time. It had something to do with some other disciples. When I was driving Guru somewhere, I told him about the problem. Guru just pointed to my dashboard, which had his New Year's Message taped on it:

Don't expect, don't expect.
Just give, give and give
If you want to really survive.

Sri Chinmoy 1

That was Guru's answer to my problems that day.

I did my job

A bad fall, a broken ankle, a cast on my leg, a sudden sharp pain in my chest . . . events cascading with increasing speed left me unable to breathe, as each time I tried to take a breath my chest muscles snapped back from the pain.

I was staying with my parents in my family’s home while recuperating from my fall. Now here it was, 5:30 a.m., and I was in agony from the pain in my chest. I knew enough from nursing school to suspect the worst: a pulmonary embolism, a blood clot in my lungs. Unable to take more than the shallowest of breaths, I could not call for help. So I had to use my cell phone to wake my father in the next room.

The look on his face when he entered my room confirmed my worst fears⎯a blood clot had formed in the leg under the cast and had now entered my lungs. My father the surgeon quickly called 911, then in his best professor-of-medicine style, explained that I was at immediate risk of a stroke (if the clot traveled to my brain) or a heart attack (if it went to my heart). Thanks, Dad!

While Dad went to greet the ambulance, I called Ashrita in New York, who fortunately answered despite the early hour. I later learned that he had immediately called our restaurant Annam Brahma, as the workers there would have had the quickest access to Guru at that time.

I ended up spending a week in the hospital on life-saving drugs⎯but I know it was really Guru who saved my life. A few hours later I would have been on the train back to Boston, and if the clot had showed up then, I would have been unable to call for help, explain my predicament, or ask Amtrak to arrange for an ambulance at the next station. Plus, the stops between Delaware and Boston can be almost an hour apart⎯I might not have survived until I got to a hospital.

A few weeks later, arriving in New York for August Celebrations, I ran into Dipali, who looked like she was seeing a ghost, she was so startled to see me alive. She told me the “inside story”: Guru had told the restaurant staff at Annam Brahma that my soul was leaving the body and he had to bring it back.

“I did my job,” Guru told them.

I am your highest consciousness

Sri Chinmoy invokes the Supreme during a high meditation, 1973

The second time, the second day I met Guru, Guru was talking about drugs and the importance of taking a shower and being clean.

About drugs, he said something that to me was not only significant but epic. The words that he said stay etched inside me, scripted forever inside me: “The reason why you are taking drugs is because you are looking for an experience outside of yourself and higher than yourself.”

I see infinitely more than I say

On another occasion, Sri Chinmoy gives football advice to his students in Brazil, 2000

One time Guru said to me, “I see infinitely more than I say, and I say infinitely less than I see.”

As an example of that, one time in South Africa and another time in Venezuela, the disciples were playing soccer with the local boys. Guru was there for about 20 minutes at the end of the game. He seemed very informal and casual. After the game, the local boys went away and just the disciples came around Guru. I also came close because I was there.

I was astounded because Guru proceeded to talk for about 15 or 20 minutes about how the disciples should play. He spoke about every single boy on the team. To one boy he said, “You need to go more quickly. Don’t hesitate!”

In great detail, Guru was describing what had happened in the game. To each disciple on the team, he gave specific advice on how they could improve. In general, he said that we need to play from our hearts, dynamically, but not aggressively. At the end I was so amazed because he seemed so casual as if he wasn’t watching so carefully, but he had seen every single move. He was so conscious of everything. It was a beautiful thing to watch.

Introducing a Peace Concert for 19,000 people

Sri Chinmoy meditates at the beginning of the 2000 Peace Concert in Montreal , in front of 19,000 people.

Guru asked me to be Master of Ceremonies (MC) for the concert in Montreal, which turned out to be the largest Peace Concert in the world. By that time in my years on the Path, I knew that at least I should bring a necktie and a suit because you never know what Guru might ask you to do.

On the morning of the concert, someone calls me and says, “Guru wants you to be MC tonight.” Oh, wow! MC for a concert of 19,000 people in Montreal! And so, during the morning I try to prepare. What I want to say is: “Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to the Concert of a Lifetime!”

All I need to say is Sri Chinmoy will now offer the Concert of a Lifetime. That is what our ads said, and that was one of the things that have made it successful. But I want to deliver my welcome in my best consciousness, so I try to prepare a little speech with the proper intonation and smile and everything else. And then some of my friends are saying, “Oh, you should do this, Utsahi; you should do that. Oh, it's too long; it should be shorter.”

Anyway, so I have all these tensions, but basically I just want to be calm and happy while presenting my Guru to this huge crowd of people. So I am showered and dressed in white and just about ready to go when Prabhakar says, “Utsahi, Guru wants to see you.”

These are the real impossibility-challengers

Sri Chinmoy taught that spiritual growth means self-transcendence, constant expansion, always going beyond the boundaries set by our minds. To make that a concrete reality for us, he advocated long-distance running. The Sri Chinmoy Marathon Team was a pioneer in the field of ultramarathons, specially in multi-day races, such as the triple ultra (700, 1,000 and 1,300 miles) and the six and ten-day races. In 1996, the team directed an unprecedented distance: 2,700 miles. The next year, Sri Chinmoy asked the team to put on an even more astounding race of 3,100 miles! Here was a race that defied all reason; only those willing to dive deep within and draw upon on the strength of their hearts and souls could even attempt the race. Since then, every year, (with the exception of the 2020 Covid hiatus, when the race was run in Austria), a small field of warrior-runners has braved the heat and humidity of summertime New York to circle a small sidewalk loop in Queens from 6 a.m. to midnight. for a maximum of 52 days. With the crucial support of many dedicated volunteers to set up and maintain the race site, to prepare food for runners and helpers, and to provide medical assistance, the race has led to many ultra records, has won the admiration and astonishment of the world, and has demonstrated the power of soulful determination and dedication.


My Jharna-Kala Surprise

Sri Chinmoy painted over 140,000 mystical paintings that he referred to as 'Jharna-Kala', which means 'fountain-art' in his native Bengali. This painting is the one selected by Aruna that Sri Chinmoy refers to as his favourite.

This was in 1984, I think. I was about 8 or 9 years old.

Guru was at Progress-Promise having a Jharna-Kala painting session. It was those big Jharna-Kalas, not the huge ones, but maybe 2 feet by 3 feet or something, not the little ones but the bigger ones, and quite a few of them.


Normally Guru had Ranjana or Sanatan or a few Jharna-Kala girls assist him by taking the finished Jharna-Kalas from him. But on that day, I assume Ranjana was not there and Sanatan was not there. Guru called me to come up on stage and assist him with his paintings.