A Monument to Strength as a Path to Enlightenment
April 25, 2011, 11:50 AM

An empty storefront at 18 Jay Street in TriBeCa became the temporary home of something called the Feats of Strength pop-up museum last week.

The exhibit just inside the entrance is a puzzling set of four squat, steel devices rigged with cables, pulleys and weights. They are custom-made weightlifting machines for Sri Chinmoy, who was your basic spiritual guru and powerlifter, and the subject of the museum…

Mr. Chinmoy advocated extreme physical achievements as a path to spiritual enlightenment, and he urged his disciples to nurture their spirituality by taking on seemingly impossible physical challenges. He performed his own strenuous feats to spread his message of world harmony and inner peace. He traveled the world lifting heavy objects — airplanes, schoolhouses, pickup trucks — and hoisted on a special lifting platform thousands of public figures, including Muhammad Ali, Sting and Nelson Mandela.

The museum was opened to coincide with the Tribeca Film Festival premiere last Friday of “Challenging Impossibility,” a short documentary about Mr. Chinmoy’s weightlifting made by two of his followers, Natabara Rollosson and Sanjay Rawal. In the film, a newscaster covering one of his bizarre lifting events describes him as “the Dalai Lama meets the Incredible Hulk.”

In it, the former Olympic sprinter Carl Lewis says that when Mr. Chinmoy lifts weights, “It’s like gravity stops.”

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Spiritual Guru’s Strength On Display In TriBeCa
By: Kafi Drexel
A special Tribeca Film Festival and pop-up museum is celebrating the legacy of Sri Chinmoy, the Indian-born and Queens-based spiritual leader who literally tried to teach everyone what it meant to carry the weight of the world on one’s shoulders. NY1’s Kafi Drexel filed the following report.

Doing a wrist curl with up to a 270 pound hand weight or lifting a baby elephant all on your own may seem impossible, but they are examples of the iron-pumping spiritual guru Sri Chinmoy carried in his efforts to inspire the world.

Weightlifting was a mechanism he used to spread messages about world peace and finding strength from within. You can find some of the custom-made equipment Chinmoy used in the “Feats of Strength” in a pop-up museum linked to a Tribeca film about his quest, “Challenging Impossibility.”

“We’re hoping the film and exhibit inspire people to find this unlimited possibility inside themselves,” said “Challenging Impossibility” Co-Director Natabara Rollosson. “Here was a man in his 50s, 60s, 70s doing all these incredible feats. There’s a common cliche ‘mind over matter.’ And in his case, he was saying something a little bit beyond that. It’s actually ‘heart over matter.’ He would say if we could silence our mind, something inside of our heart can then come forward, which is really beyond our normal capacities.”

One of the first things that you see when you come into the pop-up museum is the standing calf raise which Sri Chinmoy used to set a record of lifting 2,400 pounds. That’s almost the equivalent of lifting an elevator packed full of people.

To further prove his point, Chinmoy would also stage public demonstrations to lift not just weights but other inspirational individuals from world leaders to film stars. He also influenced major athletes like Olympic gold medalist Carl Lewis, and one of the world’s strongest men, Hugo Girard, who is featured in the film.

“My way of looking at the movie is not about lifting. It’s about trying to accomplish big things, even if you don’t physically have the body type to do it, maybe not even the genetic background to do it,” Girard said.

The exhibit and film will be running through the length of the festival.

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