Ashrita Furman (born 16 September, 1954, Brooklyn, New York) is a member of Sri Chinmoy Marathon Team and holder of the most Guinness World Records. He has broken over 600 Guinness World Records, of which over 200 are current records. (October, 2016). When not setting Guinness records he manages a health food store in Queens, New York.
Ashrita grew up in New York, and in 1970 aged 16, he became a meditation student of Sri Chinmoy. Several years later, in 1979, Sri Chinmoy encouraged him to take part in a 24 hour cycle race and go further than he thought possible. Before the race Sri Chinmoy asked those participating to state how many miles they planned to do. Ashrita was going to say “200”. But, before he could say anything, Sri Chinmoy said: “Ashrita, what do you think, four hundred miles?” Furman just nodded feeling perhaps his Teacher saw something in him, that he didn’t see.
Crediting the power of meditation and spiritual techniques, on little training, Ashrita managed to cycle 405 miles in a 24 hour period - which was good enough for third place. This experience of self-transcendence encouraged Ashrita to have a go at breaking Guinness World Records - something that had fascinated him since he was young. In his own words:
“As a kid I had a huge fascination with the exotic places and people listed in the Guinness Book of Records, but being a non-athlete, I never imagined ever actually getting a world record myself. Years later, as a teenager, I became interested in Eastern spirituality and began studying meditation with Sri Chinmoy. Suddenly, I was filled with an inner joy and a seemingly inexhaustible energy. Sri Chinmoy also taught me about his philosophy of self-transcendence, that when you have access to the divine power we all have within us, nothing is impossible. In 1979 I set my first record by doing 27,000 jumping jacks, and it was such a thrill that I immediately began training for the next record and I haven’t stopped since!”
- Ashrita Furman.
Ashrita went on to break some very physically challenging Guinness World Records such as:
- Milk Bottle Balancing on Head - Longest continuous distance - 80.95 miles Apr 1998
- Brick Carrying with One Hand (9 pounds) - Longest continuous distance - 85.05 miles Oct 1999
- Somersaulting - Longest continuous distance - 12 miles 390 yards Apr 1986
- Mountain Climbing on Stilts - Highest peak climbed - 9,398 feet August 2011
During these great physical challenges, Ashrita says that it is often meditation and an inner grace which helps give extra energy and determination.
"I soon realised that limits are all in the mind. Using the practices taught by Sri Chinmoy I decided to start training for world records. I had always loved the Guinness Book and my new approach to life got me thinking that anyone was capable of taking the body to new limits." (Daily Telegraph article - Record for most Guinness World Records)
When asked about the attraction of breaking Guinness World Records, Ashrita replies:
"I get this tremendous fulfillment. The process. The training. Overcoming the obstacle. Finding creative ways around a problem." "You're in the moment, nothing else exists except for you and whatever you're doing and I love that experience. It's what I live for basically." (Ashrita at ABC News)
As well as overcoming strenuous physical challenges, Ashrita has broken a huge range of different records from different categories showing remarkable diversity. In fact Guinness have often referred to Ashrita as "Mr Versatility. These quirky records have included
- Grape Catching in Mouth - Most in one minute 86 August 2012 US
- Catching Ping Pong Balls with Chopsticks - Most in one minute 32 May 2013 US
- Slicing Potatoes While Hopping on a Shovel - Most in one minute 38 Oct 2013 US
- Underwater Unicycling - Longest distance 1.3 miles Dec 2013 Portugal
To gain an insight into how these kind of records occur in different locations around the world. See Ashrita's: blog post on Fastest mile hula-hooping whilst balancing a bottle of milk on your head.
Some records require tremendous concentration and skill, and Ashrita will train specifically for the new record.
- Apple Cutting with Samurai Sword - Most apples cut midair in one minute - 29. Nov 2012 US
- Balancing a Pool Cue on Finger - Furthest continuous distance - 8.95 miles. Feb 2010 Puerto Rico
In recent years, Ashrita with a team of volunteers have also created Guinness World Records to mark the birthday anniversary of Sri Chinmoy. These giant records have included the worlds largest pencil 76 feet 2.75 inches in August 2007. (See: Giant pencil Blog).
Ashrita.com - Ashrita's own site
External articles on Ashrita
- Higher, Faster, Madder at the New Yorker
- A typical day at New York Times.
- What is Enlightenment? - Ashrita interview
- Photographic documentary of Ashrita's records at Sri Chinmoy TV