Nelson Mandela: Spirituality And Interfaith
Memorial for Nelson Mandela by Sri Chinmoy Singers
"Nelson Mandela: The Pinnacle Pillar of Mother-Earth"
Hundreds of people from many nations attended a memorial ceremony for Nelson Mandela presented by members of the Sri Chinmoy Centre in New York City with writings and songs written by spiritual luminary and peace leader Sri Chinmoy with whom President Mandela had a lasting friendship. One of the musical groups, the Sri Chinmoy Bhajan Singers led by Ms. Ranjana Ghose, performed "Nelson Mandela" from a song composed by their teacher.
As the world mourns the loss of one of its beloved leaders, Nelson Mandela’s friendship and tireless encouragement of Sri Chinmoy—who led the twice-weekly Peace Meditation at the United Nations until his own passing in 2007—is deeply inspiring. During their first meeting at the UN in June 1990, soon after Nelson Mandela’s release from prison, Sri Chinmoy presented him with a song he had composed called "A Perfect Justice-Voice". The words begin, "Nelson Mandela, torture-sufferer supreme, High Heaven’s Smile and earth’s solace-dream."
The two met once again at the ANC Headquarters in Johannesburg on January 29th, 1996 where Sri Chinmoy presented President Mandela with the U Thant Peace Award on behalf of the Peace Meditation at the United Nations. At the end of the meeting President Mandela exclaimed, "This encourages me in the difficult work that we are doing. You have given me a real shot in the arm! I cannot express in words my joy! What you are doing is in the interest of the entire humanity and the world."
For many years, every July 18th on the President’s birthday, members of Sri Chinmoy’s humanitarian service project, The Oneness-Heart Tears and Smiles, supplied thousands of blankets and toys for underprivileged South African children who came to celebrate at his Children’s Foundation with their beloved leader.
Sri Chinmoy regularly offered heartfelt appreciation to the President, as on Madiba’s 78th birthday in 1996 when he wrote in a personal letter, "You have conquered the whole world, even those who tortured you, by virtue of your heart’s love, your soul’s nobility and your life’s forgiveness."
During one meeting with Mr. Mandela and his wife Mrs. Graça Machel in New York in September 1998, the three of them held aloft the Peace Torch from the worldwide Sri Chinmoy Oneness-Home Peace Run—a photo which has inspired countless young people to participate in the global relay run for peace.
President Mandela and Sri Chinmoy met in Pretoria at the Presidential Residence on March 9th, 1999, when Sri Chinmoy lifted and honoured the President as part of the spiritual leader’s "Lifting Up the World With a Oneness-Heart" programme. At that time, President Mandela exclaimed, "I am happy this moment has come. Your powerful group carries an equally powerful message for the world."
During their meeting, Sri Chinmoy presented a book to the President which he had recently composed, Nelson Mandela: The Pinnacle-Pillar of Mother Earth. Poems, songs and touching anecdotes combine to offer their powerful praise for the President’s tireless service to uplift people from all walks of life. Two of the poems run:
"President Mandela’s very name
Builds a hope-cathedral
In the heart of despair-flooded humanity."
"He is a magician supreme!
Our very long-standing bitterness
Into our abiding sweetness
In the twinkling of an eye."
A few weeks later Madiba wrote to Sri Chinmoy, "The Peace Centres that you have established in various parts of the world are critical for the survival of humanity." The two continued their correspondence for many years.
Just after Sri Chinmoy’s passing in October 2007, he wrote a profoundly moving letter: "It is with great sadness that I learnt of the passing of my dear friend, Sri Chinmoy…May his messages of love, peace and understanding continue to resound throughout the world for many years to come."
Again, the following year, when an art exhibit of Sri Chinmoy’s paintings was shown inside the United Nations, Madiba sent a soul-stirring message: "We are a single humanity. We must work together, united as one, to build a world of justice and harmony for all…This is the great cause of world peace to which my dear friend Sri Chinmoy devoted his life and to which his Paintings for World Harmony at the United Nations are dedicated.