Sri Chinmoy, the genial Indian-born spiritual leader who used strenuous exercise and art to spread his message of world harmony and inner peace, died Thursday at his home in Jamaica, Queens, where he ran a meditation center. He was 76.
Drawing upon Hindu principles, Mr. Chinmoy advocated a spiritual path to God through prayer and meditation. He emphasized "love, devotion and surrender" and recommended that his disciples nurture their spirituality by taking on seemingly impossible physical challenges.
“His life was all about challenging yourself and being the best you can be,” said Carl Lewis
, the Olympic sprinter, a friend of Mr. Chinmoy’s. “He told his disciples to go out and meet a challenge you don’t think you can do.”
“He’s the reason I plan on running the New York marathon when I’m 50,” Mr. Lewis said in a telephone interview yesterday.
In the 1970’s, Mr. Chinmoy was a guru to several prominent musicians, including the guitarist John McLaughlin, who for a time ran the Mahavishnu Orchestra, a name given it by Mr. Chinmoy, as well as the bandleader Carlos Santana, the singer Roberta Flack and the saxophonist Clarence Clemons.
Mr. Chinmoy gathered with his disciples at a private clay tennis court off 164th Street that doubled as a verdant meditation site known as Aspiration Ground. He built a worldwide network of meditation centers and had more than 7,000 disciples.