Flock inspired by power lifter's feat

Waikato Times/November 29, 2002
By Bruce Mercer

A 71-year-old Indian man, resident in New York city, lifting sheep over his head on a farm out the back of Whatawhata isn't something you see every day.

Throw in more than 150 devotees - beatific smiles on their faces, staring blankly at the portly man and singing "God of the world" with each lift - and the whole event takes on a slightly surreal quality.

The crowd, mostly American, had gathered to witness Sri Chinmoy slowly work his way up to 200 sheep, four at a time, over about two hours yesterday.

The spiritual leader hopes to lift 1000 sheep during his six week trip to New Zealand, which is his fourth time here.

One of his followers, Sutibra, from Auckland, said the appeal of the man was that he proved age was no barrier to achievement. "He is here to inspire people," she said. "He is an inspiration to others through what he does. He is selfless and so humble and helps people reach their potential."

Her dedication to Sri Chinmoy is matched by others at the mega-lifting show.

As Sri Chinmoy takes a break, at the 100 sheep mark, and wanders into the pens for a closer look at the animals he is lifting, the crowd swarms after him, photographing and video taping his every move. He is treated like a deity.

Then it is back to his seat where he will lift another 100 sheep before repeating the stunt at other New Zealand centres.

Slabs of sponge rubber in the cages prove no sheep were harmed in the writing of this story.

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