From 1985, at the age of 54, right up until a couple of months before his passing in October 2007, Sri Chinmoy embarked on a weightlifting journey which saw him capture the public imagination by lifting cars, planes, elephants, boats, trees and statues, and honour people for their inspiring service by lifting them up in body and in spirit. Sri Chinmoy sought in his weightlifting to give a demonstration that nothing is impossible when one puts aside the limitations of the mind:
“I am trying to be of some inner service to people who want to go one step forward. They don’t have to lift 2,000 pounds, but perhaps they will take the inspiration that I am offering and make the effort to do something in their own lives which they previously thought was too difficult or impossible. In any field they can get inspiration to do something better than what they have been doing.”
Many of his lifts were featured on TV and newspapers across the United States and the world. When asked by reporters, Sri Chinmoy accredited his weightlifting prowess to the inner strength generated through meditation and prayer.
“As an individual I am nothing and I can do nothing. For everything that I have achieved, I give one hundred percent credit to God’s Grace…when I pray and meditate I feel that somebody else is helping me, whereas an ordinary man feels that he can only rely on himself. When he is under the weight, he thinks that he is lifting it all by himself. He has practised for so many years and developed his strength and he feels that everything depends his physical strength. But in my case, I feel I am only an instrument. There is some other power that is coming to help me. That power I call God’s Grace.”
Sri Chinmoy’s weightlifting feats were witnessed by many professional weightlifters and bodybuilders, who remarked how much weight he was able to lift despite not being particularly muscular. Bill Pearl, five time winner of Mr Universe and voted the Best Built Man of the twentieth century, said of Sri Chinmoy’s lifting.
“I have learned from Sri Chinmoy that the size of the arm does not make the man; the size of the heart makes the man. Nobody on earth has done what Sri Chinmoy has done.”
Throughout the many years of his weightlifting career, Bill Pearl was Sri Chinmoy’s foremost supporter, his services ranging from invaluable advice to compeering Sri Chinmoy’s weightlifting ceremonies. Other greats in the powerlifting and bodybuilding world also recognised the extraordinary nature of Sri Chinmoy’s achievements and gave him tremendous support. Frank Zane, 3-time Mr Olympia and 3 time Mr Universe, gave the following tribute upon Sri Chinmoy’s passing:
"He gave his life to lifting up the world literally and metaphorically. His dedication and enthusiasm for his lifting was contagious—the last time we spoke, I was overwhelmed at his excitement about his lifting, always working to lift more and more over the years. It made me want to train harder."
3-time World heavyweight champion Muhammad Ali had this to say about Sri Chinmoy’s lifting:
"Sri Chinmoy is a very spiritual man. I feel the reason Sri Chinmoy lifted this weight is because of his love of God and belief that through God all things are possible. This man has done the impossible because of faith, wisdom and love of God. Through God we can do anything and He allows us to reach beyond human endeavours. We may feel we can’t go on, but because we find inner faith, we do. The body says “stop,” but the spirit cries “never.” In the warrior’s code there is no stopping."