Jyoti Bihanga (San Diego Vegetarian Restaurant)
Sri Chimnoy is a 75 year old indian born/american bred religious leader/vegetarian restaurant entrepreneur who runs his rackets out of Baltimore, Maryland.
On occasion, he will give "Concerts for Peace" in various cities. These concerts are always free, and after the fact I'm always like "Dang, I missed it." I, personally, have been solicited about attending such concerts in cities like Washington DC (in the 90s) and San Francisco, CA(00's). As far as I can remember- the marketing is always exactly the same- Sri Chimnoy, beatific smile on his face, strumming a sitar or similar Indian (as in "from India") stringed instrument.
But the fact is- the man runs a damn fine chain of vegetarian restaurants- they are always located in fairly run down parts of town, but they always- ALWAYS bring the vegetarian eating thunder. Their "Neatloaf" as they call it- is far better then any Meatloaf I've ever tasted, and, as an added bonus it isn't filled with beef anus and whatnot (typical content of hamburger- yum!)
So I think the idea was "let's give Sri a chance to Wow us with his music!"
Probably the first warning I had that Sri might not as be as skilled a musician as restaurant entrepreneur would be the programs referral to his maginificent "synthesizer improvisation" and the repeated reference to his music as "Avant Garde". I read this section literally as the lights went down and the performance was about the begin. Inside, a small high pitched voice (in tremolo falsetto, no less), said "Uh oh!"
What the program significantly fails to mention about Sri Chinmoy is that it is far (FAR!) from clear that he actually knows how to play his instruments. Indeed, his lack of... um... skill in this department made his pre-concert video claim that he had "Played... 170 instruments at a concert in Switzerland" damn near terrifying.
The form of the concert was basically that he was sitting down on the stage, and there were twenty different instruments arrayed on tables in front of him, and he would pick one up play a "song" for five or six minutes, but that one down, pick up a new one and play that for a similar length of time. There was also some acapella singing.
Before the performance started he played a fifteen minute video that showed him meeting and greeting world leaders like Nelson Mandela, Gorbachev, all of the Secretary General's of the United Nations (cue eye rolling) AND! AND! demonstrating is unique feats of strength.
I don't understand why bragging about your incredible man strength is so de rigeur among hindi holy men? Obv, humbleness is not one of the traits- or maybe he's being incredibly humble by travelling the world and lifting Carl Lewis (yes- that Carl Lewis) half of an inch off a platform with one arm?
As far as the ubiquitous cult accusations surrounding Sri- hey- haters are going to hate, right? One man's cult is another man's Mormonism or Christian Scientist church or whatever. Those accusations don't even cause me to raise an eyebrow. People can be totally happy in a cult- to each his or her own, that's what I say.
"Sri Chinmoy is a Scary Cult Link Round Up"
Sri Chinmoy wiki- With the Wiki "This entry reads like an ad" Warning!!!"
Sri Chinmoy (Official Site)
Dedicated to classics and hits.
Friday, June 15, 2007
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