May 7, 2009

Review: Cartwheels in a Sari ~ a memoir of growing up in a cult.

In her memoir Cartwheels in a Sari, Jayanti Tamm reveals her childhood as “the chosen one” in the spiritual cult of Sri Chinmoy. Chinmoy was an Indian guru known for spreading peace and lifting extremely heavy objects.  His sari-swathed followers have included Carlos Santana and John Lennon, among others. Chinmoy died in Oct. 2007.

Today Tamm is an English professor at Ocean County College in New Jersey. With a conversational tone, she writes about growing up under Chinmoy’s ridiculous rules, and exposes his heavy-lifting publicity stunts with a lighthearted but condemming honesty. Readers follow Tamm through the reconstruction of her parent’s arranged marriage and her disturbing first day of kindergarten, to her last days as a Chinmoy disciple before being ostracized from the cult. 

Jayanti Tamm gives an insider’s view of Sri Chinmoy, the evolution of his Queens, N.Y.–based church and the real lives of its ascetic adherents.

A fun, interesting and easy read. If you thought your family was weird, check this one out. 

Crown Publishing, $22.95.

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