In this colorful, eye-opening memoir, Jayanti Tamm offers an unforgettable glimpse into the hidden world of growing up “cult” in mainstream America. Through Jayanti’s fascinating story–the first book to chronicle Sri Chinmoy–she unmasks a leader who convinces thousands of disciples to follow him, scores of nations to dedicate monuments to him, and throngs of celebrities (Sting, Pope John Paul II, Nelson Mandela) to extol him.
When the short, bald man in flowing robes prophesizes Jayanti to be the “Chosen One,” her life is forever entwined with the charismatic guru Sri Chinmoy, who declares himself a living god. A god who performs sit-ups and push-ups in front of thousands as holy ritual, protects himself with a platoon of bodyguards, and bans books, TV, and sex. Jayanti’s unusual and increasingly bizarre childhood is spent shuttling between the ashram in Queens, New York, and her family’s outpost as “Connecticut missionaries.” On the path to enlightenment decreed by Guru, Jayanti scrubs animal cages in his illegal basement zoo, cheerleads as he weight lifts an elephant in her front yard, and trails him around the world as he pursues celebrities such as Princess Diana and Mother Teresa.
But, when her need for enlightenment is derailed by her need for boys, Jayanti risks losing everything that she has ever known, including the person that she was ordained to be. With tenderness, insight, and humor, Jayanti explores the triumphs and trauma of an insider who longs to be an outsider, her hard-won decision to finally break free, and the unique challenges she confronts as she builds a new life.
From the Hardcover edition.
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|Title of History eBook: Cartwheels in a Sari|
|Release Date: 04-14-2009|
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|Publisher: Crown Publishing Group|
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|Parent title||Cartwheels in a Sari|
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Cartwheels in a Sari
The Myth Begins
My life story can be traced back to an address scrawled across a matchbook directing my mother to the place where she hoped her lifelong search would end. She didn't have a phone number or contact name. Although it was just after dusk, the New York neighborhood seemed empty. No one to ask, no clues. After crisscrossing the street four times, she stood before the only building on the block without a number. Wrought-iron bars covered the cracked glass of the front door. Instead of a panel of backlit doorbells, five chewed wires jutted from the brick. The door was unlocked and sighed open at her touch.
The dank stairwell had one bare lightbulb. Cigarette butts littered the floor like flattened cockroaches. She rechecked the address clutched in her left hand. This was suddenly absurd. All of it--her exhausting journey, hitchhiking from San Francisco with her two-year-old son, leaving behind her straying husband and all of the contents of her former life, bringing nothing other than one small satchel and a matchbook with the address of Sri Chinmoy, a guru recently arrived from Pondicherry, India. A drip of rusty water fell onto her shoulder from a brown-stained ring on the ceiling. This was not the place to find a holy man. They reside by the gardenia-soaked banks of the Ganges, or inside cavernous mountain dwellings, or shaded by boughs of the bodhi tree, not in dilapidated East Village tenements.
As she turned to leave, an ancient voice, gentle and lulling, drifted down to her.
"At last, at last. You have come, good girl. Bah."
She looked up. Dressed in traditional Indian garb, a pale blue dhoti, and matching kurta, Guru's gold-hued skin glowed, and he seemed to flood ...