Yoga and Sarama were definitely a combination fit for purpose!
A while back I got a very nice e-mail from someone interested in the late great Sarama Minoli, memorialized on my blog in “Sarama – The Hound of Intuition.” So here’s more about Sarama:
She had her own Hatha Yoga studio, and according to her web site:
On July 13, 1977 we received our new name, Yoga-Life Perfection of New York, from Sri Chinmoy in a beautiful and unforgettable evening of meditation, song and recitation at our Manhattan centre. It was especially unforgettable because that was the night that the lights went out all over the city! Of course, with our Guru present we were not left in the dark! Candles were also burning for our evening of meditation and we had plenty of extra ones on hand. We thought the function would keep going until the lights went on, and Sri Chinmoy took advantage of the extra time to compose a few beautiful pieces, which later appeared in Everest-Aspiration, one of the well-over-a-thousand inspiring books he has written.
Here is Sri Chinmoy’s quote on Hatha Yoga, which is the branch of Yoga concerned primarily with the physical:
O Hatha Yoga, you are preparing me for a strong body, a sound vital, an illumining mind and a pure heart. From your valuable gifts I shall receive inspiration to take three long strides toward my life’s integral perfection and my Lord’s complete satisfaction: concentration, meditation and contemplation.
Concentration will penetrate the ignorance-world. Meditation will sit on the snow-capped mountain peak. Contemplation will join the divine lover and the Supreme Beloved in their oneness-dance.
Note: The “lights going out all over the city” part is a reference to the great New York City blackout of 1977.
Sarama was an expert bio-nutritionist, having gotten her Master’s in nutrition from the University of Bridgeport in 1984. She was also an outstanding photographer who took countless photos of her teacher, Sri Chinmoy, especially during the 1970s:
Sarama was a tremendously strong-minded and strong-willed person, famous for doing anything she put her mind and heart to. Because of her active interest in Yoga and nutrition, she remained extremely fit, often participating in sports events sponsored by Sri Chinmoy Centre or Sri Chinmoy Races. Here she is in 1997 with a group of eighteen women, doing a sports-dance workout routine for the semiannual Madal Circus held at a local public school in Jamaica, Queens:
Also dancing is Sarama’a daughter Lavanya Muller. Sarama was born in December 1926, and passed away in July 2013 at the age of 86; so she was 70 when this video was recorded. July 2020 will mark the seven-year anniversary of her passing. Her faith-experience-journey with Sri Chinmoy Centre spanned 46 years.
Comments about the video
This is just some home movie style footage with Sarama. I do think it’s a kind of stereotype buster. After all, spiritual renunciates supposedly spend all their time praying, meditating, fasting, or walking over hot coals, don’t they? I remember a friend of mine joking that such stereotypes fail to consider all the time spent deciding where to have coffee… And I remember that after meditations with Sri Chinmoy at Columbia University back in the 70s, some of the guys would go to Amir’s Falafel — a place about the size of a phone booth, but it had good, cheap eats.
The women in the video are dancing to driving, rhythmic music, are wearing pants (not saris), and seem to be having a blast! At the end of their routine they get a rousing ovation.
Madal Circus is a colourful tradition which began in 1972 and continues to this day. “Madal” means “kettledrum” in Bengali, and was Sri Chinmoy’s childhood nickname. Here, Sudhira Hay performs at a 2014 edition of the Circus. She has studied different forms of movement for over 20 years, including Yoga, northern and southern Kungfu styles, ballet, modern dance and (shown here) aerial rope:
Regular readers know my concerns, so I hope they’ll forgive me if I philosophize a bit and say that those who follow an Eastern spiritual path are often individuals who march (or dance!) to the beat of a different drummer, and find joy in a community which values them as individuals for what they achieve and express as individuals. Sarama Minoli was such an individual possessing strength of character and conviction. If one reads her own account of coming to Sri Chinmoy’s path, it becomes evident that for some people this choice is natural and right.Michael Howard
The views expressed are my own, and do not represent any other person or organization.
Of Further Interest
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