The U Thant Peace Award was established by Sri Chinmoy: The Peace Meditation at the United Nations in honour of the third Secretary-General of the United Nations, who was a deeply contemplative world-server. At the invitation of U Thant, in 1970 Sri Chinmoy began conducting at United Nations Headquarters the twice-weekly Peace Meditations, which continue to this day. To perpetuate U Thant’s sacred memory, the Award is presented to individuals or organisations who exemplify the lofty spiritual ideals of the Secretary-General in their distinguished service to the cause of world peace.
Among the luminaries who have kindly accepted the U Thant Peace Award from Sri Chinmoy are His Holiness Pope John Paul II and five Nobel Laureates – President Mikhail Gorbachev, President Nelson Mandela, Mother Teresa, Archbishop Desmond Tutu and the Dalai Lama, as well as former UN Secretary-General Javier Pérez de Cuéllar, Indian Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee, UNICEF Executive Director James Grant and Daw Aye Aye Thant, U Thant’s daughter and President of the U Thant Institute.
Pope John Paul II meets with Sri Chinmoy at the Vatican on 30 November 1988, when the Pontiff said, “I am very grateful for your visit. God bless you and all your contemplative activities.”
President Mikhail Gorbachev and Raisa Maximovna meet with Sri Chinmoy on 16 October 1994 in New York. On 15 August 2001, President Gorbachev wrote to Sri Chinmoy: “Your enormous and significant activities are helping people to live better lives in peace, friendship and love… Everyone knows and highly appreciates your work at the United Nations. Indeed, you are connected with the whole world, and your work is to foster peace-making efforts and the spiritual development of humanity… Whatever you dedicate yourself to – art, music, poetry, drawing – all this is connected with peace, peace amongst people and peace amongst nations.”
President Nelson Mandela and First Lady Graça Machel meet with Sri Chinmoy on 20 September 1998 in New York. On 10 July 2000, President Mandela wrote to Sri Chinmoy: “During the past 30 years, countless numbers of United Nations ambassadors and staff have experienced your Peace Meditation at the United Nations. Your spiritual activities have contributed to raising the standard of humanity to new heights.”
Mother Teresa meets with Sri Chinmoy on 1 October 1994 at the Missionaries of Charity House in Rome, when Mother Teresa told Sri Chinmoy, “I am so pleased with all the good work you are doing for world peace and for people in so many countries. May we continue to work together and to share together all for the glory of God and for the good of man.”
Sri Chinmoy presents an award to Archbishop Desmond Tutu at a meeting in New York on 16 March 2004, when the Archbishop said, “You are part of the spiritual force of love that emanates from God and which will transform the evil of this world into its counterpart. Thank you for persisting and going on, going on. Perhaps the world continues in existence only because of people like your- selves who help to hold it in being.”
Sri Chinmoy presents an award to UN Secretary-General Javier Pérez de Cuéllar in Paris on 26 May 2005, when the Secretary- General said, “I am deeply honoured to receive this Award from Sri Chinmoy, a very distinguished and loved friend for many, many years. What is happening to me now is that I am receiving the inspiration of Sri Chinmoy, who is actually, I would say, the heart of the United Nations – because in all the years I was Secretary- General, and even before I was Secretary-General, he was always with us. Even if he was not present, his message was with us, and we were, as I said before, being inspired by him.”
Sri Chinmoy presents the U Thant Peace Award to Indian Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee on 13 January 1999 at a meeting in Bali, Indonesia.
James P. Grant, Executive Director of UNICEF, receives the U Thant Peace Award from Sri Chinmoy at an Interfaith Prayer Breakfast at UNICEF House on 20 September 1994.