NEW YORK — India’s departing Ambassador to the U.S., Siddhartha Shankar Ray, and his wife, Maya Devi, received a moving farewell Feb. 13 shortly before returning home.

Tributes from ambassadors and luminaries around the world were read out in a special function hosted by Sri Chinmoy.

“Physically tall, patriotically and culturally taller, politically infinitely taller, self-givingly taller than the tallest: This is our beloved Ambassador Siddhartha Shankar Ray.” This was part of Sri Chinmoy’s soulful appreciation of him.

The event included a performance by Sri Chinmoy's students of several Bengali songs, including special ones the spiritual leader had composed about Ambassador Ray and his wife.

“You have given us so much of your love,” Maya Devi remarked. “I am always very happy when I am amongst you.”

When she and the Ambassador return to India, she said, “I would not like to feel that spiritually we are not as close to you as we are today.”

For Ambassador Ray, “It was a tremendously moving, a tremendously emotional evening.”

“Every time I visit you,” he said, “it is a new kind of joy that comes into me. Maya and I leave refreshed, with new spiritual vigour....”

The Ambassador ended his remarks by teaching his mostly American audience the Bengali way of saying farewell — using a term that affectionately and charmingly expresses the feeling of arriving rather than departing.

“I am not saying goodbye,” he said. “I will tell you Ashi, which means ‘I am coming’, and you will respond, Esho, which means, ‘Yes, come!’”

That wintry February night, in a small hall in New York’s Hunter College, America cried out to India’s beloved elder statesman: “Esho, esho!” 


Sri Chinmoy with Ambassador and Mrs. Ray 

Published in Anahata Nada, Volume 25, Mid-December 1995 – March 1996