I was just so transported by the atmosphere

This is one of the stories in our Story-Gems project, a collection of our experiences with our Guru, Sri Chinmoy. Project homepage »

Pulak was introduced to Sri Chinmoy through Sarama, who gave yoga and meditation classes near where Pulak lived.

So the thing about Sarama is, she didn't just bring people to Guru if she didn't feel they were quite ready. With me, she realised that I needed a little work before I would be ready.  I was a little maybe – I don't know what you would say – bohemian or so.

She said I had to stop smoking to see Guru. So I think I was working at the Bronx Zoo and I just said, OK, well, I'm going to quit smoking today. And I was able to do it like in just one day. And it was an interesting process. Every time I felt I needed a cigarette, I just sort of like said, well, no, you don't need it.  

Sri Chinmoy meditates at the beginning of Celebrations, April 1972

I managed to clean up my act enough for Sarama to get me invited to April 13th Celebrations. The Celebrations that year was held at the Victoria Congregational Church right on 148th Street and 87th Avenue.

I remember when I was walking through the hall, I saw that Mahavishnu (John McLaughlin) was a disciple. While I was in Europe, I had become an admirer of his music. At Celebrations, he played acoustic guitar very beautifully. All the performances were so soulful and heartfelt. I'd never experienced anything like that before.

The first time I saw Guru, he was meditating to open the function on April the 13th, and then during the function he would sit there watching everything. Guru would be sitting there, in such a majestic way, watching.

Sri Chinmoy in the audience while his students perform

Guru was just magnificent. Just seeing him, I mean, seeing him in person — I'm sure many have felt this — you see Guru in person and it's just like you're ready to do anything he asks you to do. In 1972 he was only 41 years old—a young person, a very beautiful presence.

Guru played the harmonium and sang. Then, I think it was one of the first performances of Tanima's group. The whole function, the whole feeling—I was just so transported by the atmosphere. Afterwards, there was a meal downstairs.

So, I went down and then Sarama introduced me to Guru. I forget what she actually said to Guru. Guru was kind of was looking above my head. He wasn't looking right at me, he was looking a little above my head. I don't know what he saw there, but he was concentrating there. Then he asked me what I did. I said, “I just do a lot of temporary jobs.” He looked at me for a moment and said, “Very good.” Then he walked off.  

Well, that was my first personal encounter with Guru. The next day I got the message that Guru had accepted me and that I was in the Connecticut Centre.

A performance by Sri Chinmoy's students during that April Celebrations, 1972

The outer teacher shows us the way
To reach the destination.
The inner teacher carries us
Compassionately, self-givingly,
Smilingly and proudly
To the destination itself.

Sri Chinmoy 1

Cross-posted from pulak.srichinmoycentre.org