Sri Chinmoy took up weightlifting when he was 54 years old, on June 26th, 1985, when he lifted a 40-lb. dumbbell from the floor to overhead in a strict military bench press.
Bhadra Klienman reports on the Weightlifting Jubilee. As many sports enthusiasts around the world know, this was the beginning of an astounding weightlifting career, that continued up until his passing in 2007, and included the lifting of over 8,000 persons from a specially constructed platform in his Lifting Up the World with a Oneness-Heart Programme. The Silver Jubilee Anniversary of Sri Chinmoy’s first weightlifting effort was celebrated in a glorious series of events in Queens on June 26 and 27, 2010, by over 200 of Sri Chinmoy’s students, admirers, friends and well-wishers. Several of the actual machines that Sri Chinmoy used for his different lifts; the Smart car that he lifted more than once; large posters, each picturing a different type of Sri Chinmoy’s lifts; and several repeating videos of different weightlifting events; were on display in, and just outside of, an outdoor ampitheatre.
These items were brought together thanks to the noteworthy teamwork of the students who participated most closely in Sri Chinmoy’s lifting career (one of them had flown to New York from Australia just for this event!).
The formal program began on Saturday afternoon with performances by different local Sri Chinmoy Centre music groups. Then a delicious Indian dinner was served buffet-style in a nearby park. The evening program began with the singing of some of Sri Chinmoy’s weightlifting songs. “The body’s fitness gong, the soul’s fullness-song,” is one of the most haunting and sung by the very singers who typically sang at Sri Chinmoy’s weightlifting events, so the evening began to take on a very familiar feeling.
The attendance of some of the world’s great body builders and strong men added to this effect. Those in attendance were Sri Chinmoy’s great friend, weightlifting adviser, and five-time Mr. Universe, Mahasamrat Bill Pearl; winner of nine Olympic gold medals, Sudhahota Carl Lewis; Canadian strongman, Hugo Girard and his wife, Nadine; bodybuilder Dan Lurie; Cathy Oerter, widow of four-time Olympic discus champion, Al Oerter; radio and television personality and long-time friend of Sri Chinmoy, Joe Franklin; and our local Councilman, Jimmy Gennaro. There were speeches honoring those in attendance, followed by plays on the theme of Sri Chinmoy’s weightlifting.
We saw also the premiere of a brilliant, new, feature-length video about Sri Chinmoy’s weightlifting career. This depicted not only some of the highlights of his activities, but also media coverage of them; and showed some of the people who were lifted by Sri Chinmoy, from some of the greats, like Nelson Mandela, to some local residents, like one of the employees in the nearby deli. The evening ended with speeches in honor of, and presentation of bouquets to, the notables, and the serving to all in attendance of an honorary cake.
The week-end celebration concluded on Sunday morning, with an event in honor of Mahasamrat Bill Pearl, and his wife, Bhavatarini Judy Pearl. Bill Pearl concluded that event by extemporaneously answering questions that were posed to him by Sri Chinmoy’s students. The next several days saw the renewed physical exertions of many students, who said they had been inspired by his comments on the importance of keeping the body fit.
“When we live in the heart, there is no such thing as impossibility.” --Sri Chinmoy