A SPIRITUAL ODYSSEY THROUGH MONGOLIA
The Mongolian steppes stretch as far as the eye can see – right to the edge of the sky: hard-packed dirt and shale punctuated by small shrubs and feathergrass. Here and there, a lone ger – the round nomadic tent – with dung smoke rising through its roof hole toward a pale sun!
Just a few weeks earlier, frozen stallions galloped across the white plains and giant snowflakes, like pounding hooves, tumbled from the sky. But now it was early spring, just before the rains, when rivers still ran dry and half-starved animals wandered the dusty plains. Caught in the gap between seasons, lost between the emptiness of the land and the bright, unchanging stillness of the sky, life in the steppes seemed to hang suspended – trembling with readiness.
And then that fateful call was heard – carried by the fierce winds blowing in from the Gobi desert – that a high monk had come to their land, a great Buddha-like soul who had descended from Heaven to raise the ‘horse spirit’ of the nation. From the far-off mountains and distant valleys, they collected their white stallions and drove them to gathering points beneath the blue of the sky.
And for two days the great spiritual figure, who had crossed oceans and continents to reach these tiny spots, lifted the horses into the air – using a modified calf-raise machine to raise a wooden platform, on which the animals stood. When all was done, Indian spiritual Master Sri Chinmoy had lifted 58 white horses, symbolizing what the nomadic people believed was the “wind horse” of their country – its inner strength or spiritual essence.
One of the nomadic riders presented Sri Chinmoy with a white racing stallion – a most precious and sacred gift from a Mongolian nomad – as well as a white mare. Sri Chinmoy immediately composed a song about it, called “O King of the Horses,” which his students sang on the empty steppes, their voices lost in the wind.
The 75-year-old spiritual Master also lifted with one arm some of the youngest and oldest souls in the country – little children as well as centenarians over 100 years of age. Jargal Dolgor, wearing her finest rubber boots and del, the traditional robe-like dress, said afterwards, “Sri Chinmoy is not an ordinary man. He is a monk. I am feeling very good, very happy inside now.” The 104-year-old woman received the “Lifting up the World with a Oneness-Heart” medallion but was too frail to mount the stairs to the overhead lifting platform to be lifted. She said Sri Chinmoy’s students from America and Europe – who had accompanied their teacher to Mongolia – were the first Westerners she had ever seen in her lifetime.
Sri Chinmoy came to this central Asian country, he said, to serve the heart and the life of the Mongolian people, and their President, Nambaryn Enkhbayar, presented him with his nation’s ‘Medal of Friendship.’ Sri Chinmoy came as a brother and a friend, but he swept through the land like a warrior, a 21st century Chingiss Khaan. In 10 short days – from May 14-24 – he conquered the minds and hearts of an entire people.
Mongolians encountered on the street said they regarded him as their own teacher. The Director of the Choijin Lama Temple Museum, where the 75-year-old spiritual leader meditated before the statues of Mother Kali and Lord Buddha, called Sri Chinmoy “the teacher of my heart.” The host of Morning Guest, after interviewing him for national TV, asked Sri Chinmoy to consider himself and his crew “your followers and keep us in your heart.”
The people of Mongolia were like the wild ponies ranging over the steppes – ribs protruding, half-starved from the long winter. They were spiritually famished, and this Indian teacher was like the spring rain that sent sweet grass shooting up from the dusty plains and brought new hope and light to a people still recovering from the cold winter of Communism. Sri Chinmoy came to this country with nothing but his inner simplicity, his spiritual depth and his meditative grandeur. For this parched land, it was like a great rainstorm, and wherever the drops fell, the dry Mongolian desert blossomed with flowers and trees – with art, music and spirituality.
Great flocks of birds filled the meditation hall in his Ulaan Baatar hotel from the hundreds of bird drawings he completed each day. His luminous Jharna Kala paintings gave the city’s “Art” Gallery a subtle, ethereal beauty not previously seen in this rough land. The Vice Chairman of the Union of Mongolian Artists, which sponsored the Master’s art exhibit, presented him with the Union’s highest award – the first time ever to a foreigner. “Many artists have come up to me and thanked me for bring your art to Mongolia,” he told the spiritual leader. “This gallery will always be open for you.”
Music seemed to fill the air wherever Sri Chinmoy walked. He composed more than 50 Bengali and several English songs in Mongolia, and his World Harmony Concert at the Ulaan Bataar Palace brought a soaring musical consciousness to a country where music is as integral to life as the wind and sun. The famous Mongolian composer N. Jantsannorov introduced the Concert.
In the tradition of the great Buddha figures of the past, the spiritual leader delivered two major talks during his stay. His poetry lecture at the Government Palace was introduced by MP Gandhi Tugusjargal, who described the experience as “one of the most precious moments in my life.” Afterwards, Dr. G. Mend-Ooyo, President of the Mongolian Academy of Culture and Poetry, presented Sri Chinmoy with the Academy’s ‘Pegasus’ Award. “May your…genius soar like the legendary winged horse in the eternal sky covering the four corners of the globe,” the Award proclaimed. At a later meeting, the Mongolian poet presented the spiritual teacher with a copy of his newly published Nomadic Lyrics, “dedicated to my dear friend and brother Sri Chinmoy.”
Sri Chinmoy’s lecture on art at the State Academic Theatre of Drama was opened by the Rector of the Mongolian University of Culture and Arts, who presented the Master with his University’s cap and mantle, along with an Honorary Doctorate Degree “for his great contribution to the development of human peace and enlightenment.”
The spiritual leader also made several presentations of his own. He offered the U Thant Peace Award, plus an original painting, to President Enkhbayar when he came to visit the Master’s art exhibit. He also presented the “Lifting up the World with a Oneness-Heart” medallion to several cultural and political luminaries.
Even the brightest of times must come to an end, and Sri Chinmoy left Mongolia shortly after midnight on May 25. When his plane flew off into the cold night, vanishing among the stars, this Indian spiritual teacher left behind a special brilliance that shall forever light up the vast Mongolian steppes. “I shall never forget my visit to your country and the boundless love and compassion that you and your people have showered upon me,” he told President Enkhbayar just before leaving. Mongolia, too, will always remember this Indian Master whose love and simplicity found an eternal home in the Mongolian heart.
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