Well known as a consummate diplomat and visionary, Vladimir Petrovsky served as United Nations Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs (1992) and the Director-General of the UN Office at Geneva (1993-2002), as well as First Deputy Foreign Minister of the Soviet Union (1986-1991). Sri Chinmoy first met Vladimir Petrovsky in 1991, and a special friendship developed between the two.
In 1992, Mr. Petrovsky was appointed to the position of UN Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs. In early April of that year, Sri Chinmoy heard that Mr. Petrovsky and his wife had recently moved to New York. Sri Chinmoy requested me to pay them a welcome visit. The Petrovskys had not yet properly moved into their apartment, which was still full of unpacked boxes, but even in the midst of all this chaos, they were extremely hospitable.
Mr. Petrovsky said to me, “I find this a very auspicious sign. We have just come to New York, and Sri Chinmoy wishes to offer me a message. In fact, I am about to leave for Libya tonight to meet with Colonel Gaddafi (who was then the leader of Libya). I have a very important mission to achieve when I meet with him. To tell you the truth, I do not have any fear, but I definitely have trepidation. I know these negotiations are very, very serious. I would like to succeed for the UN, and I am not sure I can. Again, with your having come to find me and to tell me about Sri Chinmoy’s very special encouragement and prayers, I am certain everything will be fine.”
Mr. Petrovsky was travelling to Libya as Special Representative of United Nations Secretary-General Boutros Boutros-Ghali. One week earlier, on March 31st, 1992, the UN Security Council had adopted Resolution 748, which imposed air and arms sanctions on Libya. The resolution gave Libya fourteen days to surrender the suspects of the deadly 1988 bomb attack on Pan Am Flight 103, which had exploded over Lockerbie in southern Scotland. The blast had killed all 259 people on board and eleven people on the ground.
There was unimaginable anger and even rage within Libya against the United Nations because the UN was taking action against the entire country. Mr. Petrovsky was on a mission to seek Libya’s cooperation in surrendering the suspects, which would enable the country to avoid the UN sanctions. For such a high-level United Nations official to travel directly into the centre of a very angry nation was extremely dangerous and extremely courageous.
Mr. Petrovsky landed overnight in the desert on April 7th. He was concealed inside a car and driven to Tripoli. Even with all the secrecy, Libyan protesters blocked his motorcade after he arrived. Riot police had to use tear gas when the crowds tried to force their way into Mr. Petrovsky’s hotel. Later, when he was being driven to the building where he was to meet with Colonel Gaddafi, there were many, many people pounding on the trunk and hood of his car.
Finally Mr. Petrovsky reached the building and his meeting with the Libyan leader began. Tensions ran high and the discussion was not going well at all. At the most intense moment, Mr. Petrovsky looked down for a moment and then he looked up at Colonel Gaddafi. Suddenly, he vividly saw Sri Chinmoy standing just in front of him, offering him tremendous confidence. Mr. Petrovsky was talking with Colonel Gaddafi, but he was only seeing Sri Chinmoy directly in front of him! Mr. Petrovsky said that at that moment, everything shifted in the conversation and great progress was made.
When the meeting was over, he phoned his wife and told her the entire story. Then, a few days later, Mr. Petrovsky telephoned Sri Chinmoy to say that he had clearly seen him standing right in front of him. Mr. Petrovsky was profoundly grateful to Sri Chinmoy for being with him and for protecting him in the midst of a dangerously hostile environment. Because Mr. Petrovsky was so successful in his negotiations, the Secretary-General sent him back to Libya on several other occasions.
Later Sri Chinmoy commented, “In Chittagong, as a child, I had never heard of Libya. In Pondicherry also, I doubt very much if I knew of Libya. Now, where is Libya and where is New York? Mr. Petrovsky and I have developed such friendship. Even friendship is not the right word — we have such sincere brotherly feelings for each other.”
Mr. Petrovsky often mentioned to Sri Chinmoy that his regular walks through the streets and parks of Manhattan were like a meditation for him. During his walks, Mr. Petrovsky would derive tremendous inspiration, and the answers to many of his questions would come to him, and many of his problems would be solved.
One day Sri Chinmoy was playing tennis at his outdoor meditation garden and sports area in Queens, New York. After playing thirty or forty games, he stopped to rest, when the inspiration came to see what his brother-friend Vladimir Petrovsky was doing.It was around 11:30 in the morning, and Sri Chinmoy saw Mr. Petrovsky vividly with his inner vision, his third eye. Mr. Petrovsky was in a very small park in Manhattan sitting on a bench.
A little later, Sri Chinmoy phoned him and asked, “What were you doing around 11:30 this morning? Were you sitting on a bench in a very small park?”
Mr. Petrovsky replied, “No, no, no, no! I was not in a park. I am so sorry to say you are wrong.”
Sri Chinmoy said, “I am very sorry that I was wrong.”
Then Sri Chinmoy used his third eye again. His third eye said, “Definitely! He was in the small park.”
Sri Chinmoy said to himself, “How can my third eye fail me? My brother Vladimir is telling me what happened on the outer practical plane. How can I clearly see something else?”
Three or four days later, Sri Chinmoy went to the Dag Hammarskjöld Auditorium inside the United Nations to lead his regular Peace Meditation there. About two hundred people were already in the room, and Sri Chinmoy was walking down the steps inside the auditorium towards the stage.
Suddenly Mrs. Mira Petrovsky, Vladimir’s wife, stood up and called out, “Sri Chinmoy, you are right! You are always right! On that particular day when you called Vladimir, he did not follow his usual walking course and sat down on a bench in a small park. Only later did Vladimir remember where he had actually gone. Sri Chinmoy, you are always right!” A few days later, on his return to New York from out of town, Mr. Petrovsky called Sri Chinmoy to personally confirm the story.
Once Mr. Petrovsky had to see a doctor because of a serious health problem. He told Sri Chinmoy about his medical condition and his upcoming doctor’s visit. Sri Chinmoy said, “Do not worry, do not worry. It will be all right.”
The doctor informed Mr. Petrovsky that he had to have an MRI scan. During this test, the patient must lie down and remain very still while passing through the narrow imaging tube. When Mr. Petrovsky had had this procedure done previously, it was very difficult for him to remain still. The entire experience was extremely unsettling for him.As the test began this time, Mr. Petrovsky was once again very uneasy. Suddenly, while he was inside the MRI tube, he saw Sri Chinmoy’s face. Sri Chinmoy was smiling at him most beautifully. Mr. Petrovsky felt totally at peace and became completely calm and still. The test lasted for thirty or forty minutes, and Sri Chinmoy stayed with him, smiling, during the entire time.
After the doctor had completed his examination, Mr. Petrovsky had a most serene smile on his face. The doctor said to him, “I have never seen a patient so peaceful! There is so much peace inside you.”
Mr. Petrovsky said, “That is because I am so happy. I saw my dear friend here with me the entire time.”
There is only one thing
That satisfies me,
And that is the smile
From inner circle friends.
Sri Chinmoy 1