‘The First Estate’ – 1984 TV interview

Last modified November 30, 2015

This is an audio recording from a 1984 television interview that Sri Chinmoy gave to celebrate his 20th anniversary in the West. The show is presented by Dr Amritananda Russell Barber and is entitled “The First Estate: Religion in Review”.

The interview begins with Sri Chinmoy playing “Phire Chalo” on the flute. Then Dr. Russell Barber asks Sri Chinmoy to evaluate his first two decades in the West. Two questions from the interview include:

Question: Will you be remembered and if so what is your legacy?

Sri Chinmoy: Whether I am remembered or not is not at all of any value. Whether I can be of use to the Americans is of paramount importance. My service is my reward and not the results as such. If I can serve the Americans, soulfully and unconditionally, then I feel that is the best reward that I have achieved from here.”

Question: What is your greatest achievement?

Sri Chinmoy: The greatest achievement is here, I am given the golden opportunity to be of service at the United Nations – here the world’s hope and promise for a better world I see and feel. So here, twice a week I pray and meditate at the United Nations, and this is my inner way of serving the world.

(Quotes unofficial)

About Dr. Russell Barber

Dr. Russell Barber worked as the Religion and Ethics Editor at NBC-TV and contributed editor to the Today Show, NBC News and an Emmy award winning Television host. Dr. Barber earned three Emmys and a Gabriel Award among his many honours, and he served on the Board of Advisers for the Templeton Prize for Progress in Religion.

U Thant Award


Sri Chinmoy offered the U Thant Peace Award to Dr. Russell Barber on U Thant Island, at the United Nations in New York.

“I am especially blessed by this recognition [the U Thant Peace Award], for it is given by a great man of peace — Sri Chinmoy — in the name of another great man of peace — U Thant. It was the commitment to the universal spirit that connects all people to the light and love of the Supreme that made U Thant a great man of peace. It is that same commitment that makes Sri Chinmoy a tireless worker for peace, understanding and tolerance in a dangerous world.”

— Russell Barber, WNBC-TV religion editor, Emmy Award winner and producer and host of The First Estate: Religion in Review (November 6th, 1986)

Comment on Russell Barber

by Arpan DeAngelo

“Amritananda was a brilliant man who travelled the world learning about many cultures through his own personal experiences with each. He was particularly interested in and respectful of the various approaches to religions and God. He was a deeply spiritual man with a universal soul and a very self-giving heart. As religion editor for NBC-TV for 18
years, one of the biggest television broadcasting stations in the
U.S.A., he created a special program called `The First Estate:
Religion in Review’, back in the 70’s and 80’s.

This is where he interviewed Sri Chinmoy as well as many other well respected spiritual and religious leaders of the time. For the first time on national television Sri Chinmoy played the esraj, sang, had a display of his art called `Jharna Kala’, and had a choir of his students sing some of his devotional songs. What better way to learn about a spiritual organization than to hear them and see them perform live.”

“Amritananda never gave up hope for a better, more illumining world. Although he himself struggled with his own physical health in his last few years on earth, he always seemed optimistic in his attitude towards the future betterment and safety of our world. He would pray for the Supreme to change the hearts and minds of those who would do otherwise,

“so we could live on the Supreme’s good Earth in mutual harmony, peace and mutual respect. What more can you ask for?”, he said in an interview at the Port of Tacoma Ceremony in June, 2006.”


During the Lifting ceremony in New York in April 2004.

Artist: Sri Chinmoy / Dr Russell Barber
Name: The First Estate Interview 1984
Release year: 1984
Duration: 10:20
Acknowledgements: Sri Chinmoy
Uploaded and published: Ashish and Tejvan
Format: Advanced Audio Coding
Photo by Adarini

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