Indian philosopher Sri Chinmoy, whose teachings of inner peace and world harmony made him a spiritual guide to thousands of followers here and around the world, died Thursday. He was 76.
The end came in his modest home in the Jamaica Hills section of Queens at 7a.m. – just a day before the Nobel Committee was to announce if he had won this year’s Nobel Peace Prize.
Chinmoy was nominated for the honor in recognition of his “ceaseless work for the United Nations” for more than 30 years.
His Oneness-Heart-Tears and Smiles Worldwide Humanitarian Service sends food and medicine to the needy around the world.
A group of followers outside the Chinmoy compound last night – all clad in white saris of mourning – declined to give details of Chinmoy’s death.
But one young woman called her guru “a peace philosopher.”
“You can’t imagine the love he had for everyone,” she said. “That’s how he’ll be remembered.”
She said his followers “all were hoping he would win the prize tomorrow.”
Wiping tears from his eyes, City Councilman James Gennaro (D-Queens), who befriended Chinmoy 30 years ago, said, “He had a more profound influence over me than anyone I’ve every known.”
He said Chinmoy’s “spirit, his piety, his art and a lot of what he accomplished will live forever.”
The youngest of seven children born to a banker and his homemaker wife, Chinmoy came to the U.S. in 1964, took a job as an assistant to the Indian Consulate and began teaching and giving lectures.
Over the years he attracted disciples who established Sri Chinmoy Centers for meetings and meditation in more than 350 cities and towns in the U.S., Europe, Australia, South Africa and the Far East.
Members at the Queens center estimated there are 350 followers in New York.
Chinmoy was also a prolific author, poet and musician.
He has given more than 700 concerts over the years and in 1977 founded the Sri Chinmoy Marathon Team, which holds running, swimming and cycling events worldwide, from fun runs to ultramarathons.
Followers said disciples from around the world were expected to begin arriving at the Queens center soon for an eight-day vigil of silent meditation, song and poetry recitation in Chinmoy’s memory.