Stories by Sri Chinmoy's students and friends
Bishwas Polissar • Seattle, United States

'Will I be able to lift it?'

Bishwas played an instrumental role in designing and building many of the apparatus that Sri Chinmoy used for his weightlifting feats.

Audio Interview

Guru periodically performed weightlifting exhibitions in which he would perform one enormous and creative lifting feat after another. He announced in the fall of 2004 that he would like to have another such exhibition. He wanted ideas for new lifting machines. That was when we built his “shrugging” machine and one or two other new ones like the leg press machine.

I had the idea that Guru could lift his own cute little blue smart car, but from overhead rather than from underneath. I told Guru that this was definitely a more difficult way of lifting the car, but that as long as the car wasn’t over 2,000 pounds, I thought he would be able to lift it. Guru liked the idea, and immediately called Prataya to ask what the weight was because she had bought the car for him. It turned out that the weight was 1,971 pounds.

So Guru asked us to start building a machine to lift the car right away. But he also kept asking, “Will I be able to lift it?”

I said, “Oh, Guru, definitely it will be difficult, but you will be able to lift it.”

Guru was really into the whole project. When Guru was really into something, even if you told him it would take a week (which is what I believe I told him at the time), the next day Guru would call up asking, “Is it ready yet?” Guru called me at Agni Press every day that week asking how the machine was progressing. How was it going? Was it ready yet? And the conversation would always finish with, “Will I definitely be able to lift it?”

I kept saying, “Oh, definitely, Guru, no problem, you will be able to lift it. It will be hard, but you will definitely be able to lift it.” But the thing was, by the end of the week I was definitely getting inwardly insecure about whether or not Guru would be able to lift the car. We had three or four people working on the lifting machine, Guru was talking about it, and there was a lot of anticipation in the air. I had promised Guru that he would be able to perform the lift, but would he really?

As with many of the larger weightlifting machines we built for Guru, there was no room to assemble them in the basement of Agni Press, which is where we build most of these things. In those cases, we never knew if they would fit together until we set them up in their entirety at the site of the actual lift. So there was always that kind of nervousness. Would everything work out all right?

Finally the machine was as ready as we could make it. We went to Aspiration-Ground, the tennis court where the disciples usually met with Guru, and started setting it up. Fortunately most things fit—we had a few problems, but we managed to solve them during the setup process. Dhanu drove Guru over to the tennis court, adding to my nervousness. No one else was there at the time—just me and the other workers. We were setting everything up in the area inside the disciple gate, which was the only area big enough to hold this big structure, and Guru pulled up outside the gate and just sat in the car with Dhanu, watching us work for about an hour. I was really getting anxious about the whole thing at that point.

We finally got the lifting machine completely assembled, and at that point Guru said that other disciples could come watch. Quite a few showed up. Guru first warmed up by lifting people on the apparatus, and this went pretty well. Finally, it was time to get the car onto the machine. We got everything adjusted and Guru went up and tried, but he couldn’t lift it.

At this point I was ready to head for the hills. I was really mortified, but I composed myself and we made some adjustments. It was a very intricate machine—there were tension rods and some complexities in the way the car was suspended. We made a lot of adjustments, and on his second attempt, Guru was able to lift the car. I was so happy and relieved! Guru called for a special prasad (an offering of blessed food), and he called me up first, handing me my prasad and smiling at me.

This lift would become the finale of Guru’s weightlifting exhibition in 2004.

Guru performed it at Aspiration-Ground that first time, and he also practiced it again once or twice in the months leading up to the exhibition. But whenever he practiced it was just that lift—just his car. At the weightlifting exhibition itself, by the time he reached the finale, Guru had already lifted something like 195,000 pounds on all these other machines before he lifted the car.

The other thing about this lift was that in order to make it really look impressive, Guru had to hold it for five or ten seconds so that people could see what was happening—that the car was completely free from the ground and swinging. Of course Guru managed it, but in the video you can see an expression of pain on his face. I think that might have been one of the toughest lifts for Guru because it came at the end, after thousands and thousands of pounds. This was one of my favorite lifting machines to build and to see Guru use. I think it was a really impressive lift!

My faith in my Master
Shall definitely conquer
All my doubts
In any context.

Sri Chinmoy 1

  • 1. My Christmas-New Year-Vacation Aspiration-Prayers, part 15, #49, Agni Press, 2003
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