The founding of the Peace Run
On April 27th, 1987 the first Peace Torch was lit in New York City by Sri Chinmoy, and so began the worldwide Oneness‐Home Peace Run. In a single moment, humanity’s age‐old yearning for peace, deeply rooted in the heart of Mother Earth, found a new avenue of expression.
Through the Peace Run, the message of peace could spread in a global way, yet every community could take part on a grassroots level and make the event their own. Since its inception the Run has traversed over 150 nations and touched the lives of millions of people. People from all walks of life hold the symbolic torch to wish for a better, brighter future.
World harmony, world peace: these are not mere dictionary words. These are realities, divine realities and supreme realities.
Sri Chinmoy was born in 1931 and spent his childhood and youth in India before arriving in New York in 1964.
Right from his early days in India, he felt a strong inner yearning to spread the message of peace and universal brotherhood. This led to him starting a series of talks and reflections at the United Nations in 1970, encouraged by then Secretary-General U Thant. For 37 years, Sri Chinmoy tirelessly carried out this twice-weekly program of events at the UN in New York until his passing in 2007.
Sri Chinmoy felt that peace was a dynamic reality. It did not mean escaping from the world or running away from all your problems. It meant using the talents and capabilities each one of us has been given, to build a bridge of oneness and connection with all of our brothers and sisters around the world.
In mid 1986 Sri Chinmoy appointed Shabmhu Neil Vineberg, seen here with, Big Man Mokshagun Clarence Clemons of the E Street Band (left) and Grammy Award winning producer Narada Michael Walden (right), to lead the effort in bringing this visionary idea into reality. Shambhu worked tirelessly with a team of pioneering colleagues to create the first Peace Run which visited 55 countries on six continents. Shambhu continued to serve as Executive Director until 2002. Narada and Mokshagun were also instrumental in establishing a very strong foundation for the Peace Run.
Narada wrote the official theme song of the 1987 inaugural run with the Big Man featured on saxophone. Together these three helped catapult the Peace Run to a global audience. Listen to Narada's Peace Run song here.
Sri Chinmoy also tried to spread peace through poetry and art; you can see one of his artworks here.
Another program he founded was called Sri Chinmoy Peace-Blossoms, which were inspiring places that were dedicated to peace - parks and natural wonders, and even whole cities and countries.
Video: USA Peace Run captain Harita Davies talks about Sri Chinmoy's vision for the Peace Run, and what he hoped to accomplish through the Run.
Kind words about Sri Chinmoy's work
I am extremely happy to hear about the very wonderful campaign for peace that you have undertaken...I have great regard for your work, my brother, and sincerely hope to see your labours crowned with success. President Nelson Mandela
I personally feel that you have been doing a most significant task for the United Nations. It has been a great privilege for me to see you. Please feel my sincere respect and sincere concern for what you are doing for mankind.
U Thant United Nations Secretary-General 1966-71
Your energetic efforts in the cause of peace have again been brought to my attention. The current Peace Run (1989) is a case in point. This is but a brief note to express appreciation for all your support of the United Nations and its work.
Javier Perez De Cuellar United Nations Secretary-General 1986-91
I had the joy of meeting with Sri Chinmoy and was moved by the love and kindness shown, not only to myself, but to everyone with whom he came in contact. He was a truly compassionate, loving and serving human being.
Mairead Maguire Nobel Peace Laureate, 1977
Twenty-five years ago, Sri Chinmoy, who was a very dear friend, breathed life and action into the simple idea that we are a oneness‐world‐family. The global run, known as the Sri Chinmoy Oneness‐Home Peace Run, powerfully demonstrates this blossoming truth.
I think Sri Chinmoy was searching for a way to bring the essential spirit of the United Nations, an organisation he dearly loved, to people all over the world. By carrying the torch from one city to the next, one country to the next, with joyful reception all along the route, the run highlights the fact that there is far more that unites us than divides us.
Dr. Davidson Hepburn President of the 35th General Conference of UNESCO
Whatever we do in life — whether we are praying, talking to our friends or participating in sports — we are trying to receive joy at every moment. But joy we can have only when we have a peaceful life. We are all longing for joy, and joy abides only in peace.
I remember as far back as in the mid‐eighties when I came to know Sri Chinmoy, and then we became closer and closer in many ways. But three things stand very importantly in his work which I admire from the bottom of my heart.
The first is that he brought out the essential core element of spirituality in all of us. He taught, and I believe equally strongly, that spirituality should be the essential core value of the United Nations. Because without that value, that sense of spirituality, none of our work for humanity will be worthwhile.
Secondly, I also find that he highlighted the core concept of the oneness of humanity, and that is very essential for the United Nations also. Unless we have that human solidarity, the purpose of our work will be lost.
And then of course, Sri Chinmoy used to speak about inner peace and outer peace. I think that is something that we should very much sincerely try to understand because that is the core basis of the culture of peace for which we had worked together.
I still continue to work with all of you to promote (the idea) that peace should become a part of our daily existence. It’s not something which is separate from us. Each one of us should know how to face the challenges of our lives and of the world through peaceful and non‐violent means. That is the essential message that Sri Chinmoy gave me, and we worked for that.
Ambassador Anwarul Chowdhury former Under-Secretary-General and High Representative of the United Nations, Founder of the Global Movement for the Culture of Peace (GMCoP)