Santana's Ex Guru Dies In Secrecy

Fox News/October 13, 2007

Chinmoy Kumar Ghose, aka Sri Chinmoy, a longtime cult leader and favorite of music celebrities, has died. According to sources, a service will be held tomorrow afternoon at the Sri Chinmoy Center in Jamaica, Queens, New York for the fabled self appointed guru and weight lifter. He was 76 years old.

Sri Chinmoy's followers included at one point Carlos Santana and his wife Deborah; Olympic athlete Carl Lewis; and record producer Narada Michael Walden, who derived his Indian name from Chimnoy; and E Street Band member Clarence Clemons. John McLaughlin's Mahavishnu Orchestra was spawned by the musician's interest in Chinmoy.

Music fans with long memories will recall that during the 1970s, Santana also took an Indian name—Devadip—from Chinmoy. But in the 1980s, Santana renounced his membership in the cult. He told one reporter that everything to do with Chinmoy had "turned to vinegar."

In the end, probably record executive Clive Davis—who helped revive the legendary musician's career— was more of a guru for Santana.

Interestingly, the pre-eminent Indian musician in the world, Ravi Shankar, also a Bengali, never had much to do with Sri Chinmoy. He once accepted an award from him but otherwise, notably, kept his distance.

Chinmoy came to the US from Bangladesh in 1964 and rode a wave of popularity for new age religions and meditation that was in vogue during the 1960s hippie movement. Eventually, attaching himself to celebrities and politicians he set up the Chinmoy compound in Queens, and various Chinmoy centers around the world. In 1985 he became a weight lifter, although his claims of being able to hoist hundreds of pounds –much like his religious beliefs—were questioned for their veracity. His group also sponsored running marathons. Running was a big part of the Chinmoy philosophy.

Yesterday the New York Daily News reported Chinmoy's death online and suggested that he might win the Nobel Peace Prize after talking to one of his followers at the compound. That, of course, did not happen, nor was it likely. Chinmoy, according to cult specialist Rick Ross, had been mired in controversy for years over his treatment of disciples and methods used in his cult.

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