রী চিন্ময় シュリ·チンモイ
From the poor Ashram boy to the Indian Ambassy junior clerk
This is a warmy evening at P.S. 86 , Parsons Blvd, Jamaica , a New York city borough of Queeens, and I am attending a function of the late self proclaimed greatest God’s Avatar , namely Chinmoy Kumar Ghose ( aka Sri Chinmoy , CKG ). PS 86 stands for Public School 86 , a school rent during August for gathering Chinmoy’s disciples that would each year in august come from all around the world for meeting with him for meditations and other activities. The climax was august 27th , CKG’s birthday, held outside Queens in a remote campus . The year is 1997 and I had been in that path for 11 years . I left that very same year and never heard from Chinmoy until the year 2002 when the first accounts of sexual misconducts began to show up on the web and in the news .
An archived version the accounts can be viewed here :
Long story short I decided to leave when I first heard from the “Manifestation Team” – a group of disciples whose goal was to promote Chinmoy’s name – of the project of erecting statues to honour him while he was still alive … I found this idea absolutely ludicrous. In the same realm of madness He had also started to claim that he was an Avatar of God, greater than Jesus and that there won’t be someone of his stature before several thoudands years …I still have very good memories of disciples. I remember puting the few books I had to the recycling bin . I don’t have any hard feelings towards Chinmoy; I only think that there is much more to be said than the official narative you may find on wikipedia or other disciple’s run web sites and as Daniel Patrick Moynihan said “Everyone is entitled to his own opinion, but not to his own facts”, so in the following we shall take into account facts and only facts about Chinmoy and try to see if there was anything that could have warned us of his downfall .
In order to know someone well you need to investigate his background and in Chinmoy’s case wee need to go to India, more precisely pondicherry , a former french colonial trading center . Chinmoy was born in East Bengal in 1931 in Chittagong, the youngest of seven children ( Hriday, Chitta, Mantu, Ahana, Arpita, Lily). In 1944 he was orphaned and moved to join an Ashram , Sri Aurobindo’s Ashram , located in Pondicherry, where his elder brothers Hriday and Chitta had already established a presence. and stayed there until 1964 when he moved to the USA, to Queens, New York.
Sri Aurobindo was an Indian independence movement leader that settled in Pondicherry to turn his attention to study, writing and yoga . He and Mirra Alfassa , a Frenchwoman of Sephardic Jewish descent and Aurobindo’s spiritual female counterpart, founded in 1914 something that would grow from an informal gathering of followers to a more structured and organized entity known as the Sri Aurobindo Ashram .
The very first “Sri Aurobindo Center” was established at Chittagong (officially known as Chattogram of Bangladesh ). And its influence was considerable. In the late thirties, early forties and even later on many were inspired by Sri Aurobindo’s life and came to have darshan of the Mother & The Master. They didn’t return.
So this were CKG spent his life between 1940 and 1964, during 24 years he lived in this ashram with the other members of his family. According to chinmoy he spent his ashram years working in the ashram’s cottage industries, and he also claimed that he was Nolini Kanta Gupta ‘s secretary during 8 years; Nolini Gupta was Sri Aurobindo’s secretary. Though he seemed to be somewhat connected to Nolini Gupta , according to the Sri Aurobindo Ashram Central Office, he was not Nolini’s secretary in any way.
Interestingly in her book , His Miracle-Breath, Vidagdha Bennett writes that CKG , when applying for a job at the Indian Consulate, had failed the initial typing test … if ] , who had worked at the United Nations in the 50s and knew the manager of the passport and visas section of the Consulate , had not sponsored him CKG would have been back to square one- he was not the only one to apply for this junior clerk job and the other candidates had a better professional background .
Chinmoy had strictly forbidden to all his discples to have any contact with the Sri Aurobindo Ashram , and anyone that would do so would be expelled from his path.We shall see later one dark family secret that maybe was behind this quite suspect threat .
The Nolini Kanta Gupta connection
Nolini Kanta Gupta (1889 – 1983) was the most senior of Sri Aurobindo’sdisciples .
He was taught Greek, Latin, French and Italian by Sri Aurobindo himself and was among the four disciples who were with Aurobindo in 1910 at Pondicherry. When the Sri Aurobindo Ashram was founded in 1926, he settled permanently in Pondicherry serving the Mother and Sri Aurobindo as secretary of the ashram and later as one of its trustees. A prolific writer on a wide range of topics, he has about 60 books to his credit of which about 16 are in English and 44 in Bengali, as well as many articles and poems in English, Bengali and French.
The Amrita connection
Amrita ( 1895—1969 ) was the name given by Sri Aurobindo to Karlapakam Aravamudachari Iyengar , a Tamil Brahmin who became a close disciple of Sri Aurobindo whom he met in 1912. He was the Manager of Sri Aurobindo Ashram and later became one of the first Trustees of Sri Aurobindo Ashram Trust.
The following picture shows Chinmoy in the back ( left ) and Nolini in the front left and Amrita in the front right. When this picture was taken Chinmoy was 31 and Nolini 73 .Kalipada was the Ashram accountant. This picture is quite often used on Chinmoy’s devotees websites , this picture would have been taken at Chinmoy’s request for his birthday; Chinmoy first attempt in hobnobing with the bigwigs of the Ashram …
The only text that exists where Nolini speaks of Chinmoy is My Athletics, in this passage Nolini writes the following :
I have to mention another name in this connection. For much of what I have now achieved in the field of athletics I owe a deep debt to our Chinmoy. He has been my coach. What have I learnt from him? Itis enthusiasm.
Chinmoy was an accomplished athlete at the Ashram where physical activities where highly considered.
As we can see here is no much evidence in the archives to support Chinmoy’s claims that he was
Nolini’s secretary and that the ashram denied it is quite troublesome.
Using the Sri Aurobindo Ashram Web site ‘s search engine we can find the following comments
from amrita regarding Chinmoy :
slowly and secretly, but more secretly than slowly. Every day Chinmoy fetched water for Amrita at four o’clock. One day Chinmoy was late. Amrita: Chinmoy, I am dying of thirst. You know my name is Amrita, which means nectar. Since I am not fortunate enough to drink amrita, I have to depend on your water. Chinmoy: I am sure, Amrita-da, you have drunk amrita quite a few times durin
This passage is the only one that can be found in the archives where Amrita speaks of Chinmoy. It looks like Chinmoy was working as a gofer for the old disciples
The Sam spanier connection
Samuel Luis Spanier ( 1925–2008) , aka Sam Spanier, was an American painter from New York City that met with the Ashram’s Mother on two occasions in 1962 and 1964, he and Eric Hughes then took part in creating Matagiri, a spiritual center dedicated to Sri Aurobindo, in Woodstock, New York . We will see later on why this connection is important when we shall dive a little further and deeper in the Mother’s Agenda …
Sam and Eric became aware of the work of the Mother and Sri Aurobindo by attending a study group held by Eleanor Montgomery ( she had a meditation group in NYC between 1955 and 1963 ). In “Collaboration – Summer 1995” he writes:
In 1960 Eric and I went to the apartment of Eleanor Montgomery [who had a Sri Aurobindo center in New York City] for the evening. Part of the evening was a tape, and it was the first time I ever heard the Mother’s voice; I was taken in an incredible way. First of all, I said, “My God, I know that voice very well,” and I couldn’t understand how. I was determined from then on to go and see this woman. Two years later, I had the opportunity.
The following photograph that was taken from the on-line Sri Aurobindo Ashram’s archives shows Sam Spanier at the very left , Chinmoy is dressed in white . Kailas Jhaveri who helped Chinmoy find a job at the Indian Consulate in New York is at the front dressed with a blue-red Sari . Chinmoy had arrived in the US on April 13th 1964. Chinmoy lived in the same appartment building 43 Greenwich Avenue Greenwich Village Manhattan NYC. The caption on the left site read “May 1964”. Chinmoy has been in NewYork for less than two months.
Dr. Marie Karelitz-Karry was member of the board of the Sri Aurobindo International Center Foundation, Inc , later renamed Foundation for World Education ( aka FWE ) , an entity of the Sri Aurindo Ashram , incorporated in NYC , the Mother herself was president of the board. John Kelly and Polly Holmes were also part of the board. The Foundation provided encyclopedias, educational books and materials, office equipment and supplies, and sports equipment for the Ashram school.
Doctor Karelitz-Karry was specialized in Dermatology. She worked at Columbia University .
The Sri Aurobindo International Center Foundation, Inc was created by Mrs. Eleanor Montgomery that would later when passing away leave her entire estate to the FWE.
Richard Eggenberger, was born in 1938 at New Jersey, U.S.A. . He arrived in Pondicherry on November 23rd 1961. He received his spiritual name, Narad, “The Heavenly Singer” from the Mother of the Sri Aurobindo Ashram, in 1970.
Anie Nunnally came to Pondicherry in 1963(1) with her husband, Richard Eggenberger, and had Mother’s Darshan. She spent four years in India and subsequently led a life of service to the Ashram and Auroville back in the U.S. She passed away in 2017 at the Ashram nursery.
An interesting person in this photograph is John Kelly , a disciple who during WW2 in 1944 had visions of Sri Aurobindon and the Mother , his accounts are narrated in “Great Sir and the Heaven Lady” by Maggi Lidchi-Grassi . He was 18 in 1944. He was working as a fireman in New York when the picture was taken .
Sam Spanier In “Collaboration Summer 1995, Vol. 21, No. 1” gave the circumstances of his meeting with chinmoy , I quote:
The first person I met at the Ashram when I got there was Chinmoy — some of you may knowhim now as Sri Chinmoy. Well, Sri Chinmoy was at that time a disciple…
Sam spanier toghether with Ann Harrison would become Chinmoy’s main sponsors and helped him going to the US and find a job to stay there.
The Ann Harrison connection
Fred Garel , in his book Light Beyond Darkness, speaks of a wealthy Sri Aurobindo disciple , Ann Harrison , who lived in Woodstock, New York and had purchased a large property ( 49 acres) located on the top of Mount Tremper , outside of Woodstock, had a trailer installed and a road cut to drive to it ; and sent it as a gift to the Ashram’s Mother ; Fred Garel was then asked by her to setup electricity and water.
Chinmoy wrote a book called “My Consulate years” and three chapters in this book are quite interesting:
chapter – ‘Learning to drive in Woodstock’
...In 1965 Ann Harrison showed him the ABC’s of driving. He would drive 200 metres and brake. Then she would drive them back to the starting point because he did not know how to go in reverse.”
chapter – My beloved Woodstock
Since 1964 He had the greatest fondness for Woodstock. He started going there in May 1964 and every time he went there…On Friday evenings, after finishing work at the Consulate, he used to catch the Greyhound bus to Woodstock from Grand Central Station. He said he had many spiritual experiences in Woodstock. He used to meditate on the top of a particular hill. He had a special spot…Then one of his sponsors, Mrs. Ann Harrison, would come and ask him a volley of questions about spirituality. He answered endless questions of hers…
Grand Central Terminal to Woodstock takes 5 hours so it was highly likey that he would stay for the weekend .Fred Garel in his book describes Ann as a very attractive women.
chapter – Applying for a position at the Indian Consulate
When He first came to America on 13 April 1964, He was quite bewildered and to some extent helpless. He was staying with his main sponsor, Sam Spanier, and his friend, Eric Hughes, at 43 Greenwich Avenue, Greenwich Village.
He had another sponsor named Mrs. Ann Harrison.
The Sam Spanier and Ann Harrison connection
Sam Spanier , in “Collaboration Summer 1995, Vol. 21, No. 1” writes:
Ann Harrison–she was a dear friend, the woman who actually introduced me to Sri Aurobindo and the Mother.”
The Eric Hughes and Agenda/ Satprem Connection
Eric Hughes , one of Chinmoy sponsors, read deeply in Sri Aurobindo and Mother’s published works and translated the 13 Volumes of Mother’s Agenda from the original French which contributed to the official translation.
Dr Sanyal ( an individual whose name appears in the Agenda )
Dr. Prabhat Sanyal, was A devotee and prominent surgeon in Calcutta, (18.10.1903—30.7.1978), Fellowship of the Royal Colleges of Surgeons. He had treated Sri Aurobindo during His last illness. He was the second President of Sri Aurobindo Pathamandir, Kolkata. The second Chief Minister of West Bengal, Dr. Bidhan Chandra Roy, wanted to make him the Chief Pediatric Surgeon but he declined the offer. He settled in the Ashram in the mid1950s and was the Mother’s physician.
In 1965 he went to the US for a brain operation. The doctor has Parkinson’s disease and New York is
a hub for this kind of disease, you have amongst other institutions the Parkinson’s disease clinical research.
M o t h e r’s A g e n d a
Between 1957 and 1973 The Mother discussed her yogic experience of the Supermind with a French disciple, Satprem ; As their relationship developed, he asked more questions, and eventually decided to record their conversations, taking a tape-recorder to her room He published the transcripts and personal letters as L’Agenda de Mère ( Mother’s Agenda). Satprem relates that on 19 May 1973, six months before The Mother’s death he was barred admission to her room, the beginning of a serious falling out between the Ashram leadership and himself.After numerous unsuccessful attempts to get the 13 volumes of the Agenda published by the Ashram, Auroville, and Sri Aurobindo Society presses, Satprem founded the Institut de Recherches Évolutives (Institute for Evolutionary Research) in Paris in July 1977 as a non-profit organisation to do so.”In 1982 all thirteen volumes of the Agenda were published in French, and Satprem felt he had completed all his external work.
In the Agenda there were also considerable discussions about disciples and visitors Mother interacted with. In Volume 6 – 1965 – August 18th , we can read ( no audio unfortunately ) the following :
(Two Americans have brought Mother photos of a former disciple who left for the United States:)
Do you remember C.? He has become a great guru there, with a group, and it seems he hypnotizes people…. And two Americans have come here (very nice people, one is a painter, the other is a sculptor); one was in C.’s clutches and it’s the other who saved him by keeping him, almost brutally, materially far from C. for three days – the third day, he was free (which does seem to prove that he has a hypnotic influence) – and by telling him, “We’re leaving for Pondicherry, you don’t need an intermediary between the Mother and you.” Because C. plays the great “intermediary” between Sri Aurobindo and the poor public.
(Mother looks at the photos)
Well, well, that’s just it! Oh, just look at this….
(Then she reads the letter that accompanies the photos)
“… Z and I met with him a few times. Since I saw in him a devilish evil, we have broken contact. I leave this now in your hands.”
Z lives in the forest with his friend S., in a house built with logs. I saw the photos some time ago. The forest is a marvel.
But as for me, of course, I knew….
He asked for a visa as “preacher” (!) and it seems that in that case you are allowed to stay indefinitely; he no longer has to leave – that’s very good, I am very glad he is there! Because when people are caught, it was their destiny and they needed to be caught. And you can even reach the Goal through a devil as well as through an angel – better, sometimes! (Mother laughs)
But it was visible when he was here: a fantastic pride and ambition that were to end up like this. He has a nasty face, very nasty.
But still, the fact that he declares himself to be the Ashram’s “envoy” is troublesome.
Ah, but I immediately wrote to Dr. Sanyal, who passed on my answer to all the people he knew.
But this S. [an American], C.’s friend, is quite in a beatific adoration – that’s very good, it had to happen to him.
The Americans have so little discernment. They rush headlong at anything.
Absolutely no discernment.
He [C.] must have something, but I don’t feel anything! (Mother makes a gesture as thin as cigarette paper.) It’s something without force. But K., too, when she was in America, was quite under his thumb. And she said she had marvelous meditations with him! … But I wrote to K., because he gave her advice on her life and on what she should and should not do; so she wrote to ask me, “How much am I to believe?” I answered, “Nothing! “… He had forbidden her to come to the Ashram; he had told her that it wasn’t the place for her, that she was much too grown-up to come here! The Ashram is good for those who have nothing in them, who need to be kept well in hand, while someone with a capacity must live independently.
That’s how he catches them.
Doctor Sanyal was in the US for brain surgery .
And the person who took the picture: Ann Harrison, the very attractive divorced lady who was Chinmoy’s third sponsor …
I will let the reader decide what to think but I must admit this entry in the Agenda is very disturbing to say the least. Satprem was in contact with Howard Hughes who had started an english translation of the Agenda . He was very likely asked by him to remove the full names of the main characters , all members of the Sri Aurobindo Study Circle of New York City . Oddly enough the audio is not available …
One important thing we discovered is that there is a direct link , on the Ashram website , via the Agenda Quick Index compiled by a devotee, between this part of the Agenda and Chinmoy .
Chinmoy writes in “My Consulate years” that in 1965 he moved to New Utrecht Avenue in Brooklyn in a very noisy appartment, It seems that the letter that the Mother had sent to Dr. Sanyal had been heard!
Chinmoy had been asked not to interfere any more with the presence of the Mother in the US; thing which has been confirmed to me by Peter Heehs in 2007.
He speaks also in that same “My Consulate years” that in the vicinity there was a Printing Company that he used to have his first leaflets printed , the first edition of AUM – Vol 1No 1 will be published on August 27, 1965 and printed by Boro Park Printers – Brooklyn, N. Y.
Chinmoy would start his trade has a Guru this same year , he started his first center in 1966 , called Aum Centre, in San Juan, Puerto Rico.
Richard Eggenberger ( a.k.a Narad) in his diary , “June 9, 1965 Richard Ireland”, that can found on the Sri Aurobindo Ashram website wrote that Chinmoy was building a large group of disciples in Puerto Rico with the help of Sadana Devi whom he had renamed Alo Devi. ( link to this material is at the bottom )
that corroborates what the Mother said in the Agenda :
the fact that he declares himself to be the Ashram’s “envoy” is troublesome.
It took Chinmoy three years to obtain a Green Card. One requirement was that he provide a reference from the Sri Aurobindo Ashram concerning his suitability as a teacher. Chinmoy stated that it was not possible for him to obtain a reference. He would not request one as he left the ashram without asking permission. In 1967, the problem was overcome when one of Chinmoy’s disciples introduced him to her brother who was an assistant in the New York Immigration Office. Chinmoy’s new contact not only waived the reference requirement but also gave Chinmoy’s application special help and attention, such as helping Chinmoy to fill out the forms. In the summer of 1967, Chinmoy received his Green Card.
I put in the above section some links as references :
Mother’s Agenda – Several sources exist
Year 1965 from www.aurobindo.ru the day of interest is August 18th
Sri Aurobindo Ashram Archives