Ananda Marga Yoga Society
Ananda Marga Yoga Society
Controversial Hindu religious group with branches in many Western countries. It was founded in January 1955 in Railway Quarters No. 339, Jamalpur, India, by Probhat Ranjam Sarkar (b. 1921), a former railway accounts clerk and journalist known by his religious name, Shrii Shrii Anandamurti. Above and beyond his yoga teachings, Sarkar also taught a political philosophy known as "Prout" (progressive utilization theory), claiming that capitalism makes men slaves and communism makes them beasts; Prout offered a middle way of socialist autocracy. The meditation and yoga materials are generally released under Sarkar's religious name, and his political writings under his birth name, Phabhat Rainjan Sarkar. The two movements are officially independent of each other, though informally they are closely associated.
Initiates to Ananda Marga are instructed in the "path of bliss" by a teacher (guru). Included in the instructions are the traditional yogic disciplines of yama and niyama, the do's and don'ts of yoga. The disciple is admonished to abstain from violence, falsehood, theft, incontinence, and acquisitiveness, and to follow a path of purity, contentment, austerities, study, and dedicated activity. They are told to meditate twice daily and work toward bringing all to the path of perfection. Social service is also emphasized.
Both Ananda Marga and the Proutist party developed through the 1960s. In 1967 and 1969 the Proutists ran candidates for office in India. Then in 1971 Sarkar was accused by a former follower of conspiracy to murder, and he was arrested and left in jail awaiting trail. In the meantime, Prime Minister Indira Ghandi proclaimed a national emergency in 1975 and banned Ananda Marga. Members of the organization were involved in several violent incidents, some growing out of their public protests of their leader's imprisonment without a trial. Brought to trial under the emergency, he was not allowed to bring any witnesses in his behalf and was convicted. In 1978 he was retried and found not guilty, and there was general agreement that Sarkar was the victim of political persecution. Since that time the movement has spread worldwide, and the era of social conflict seems to have ended.
Ananda Marga was brought to the United States in September 1969 by Acharya Vimalananda. By 1973 there were more than one hundred centers, three thousand members, and a monthly periodical, Sadvipra. Ananda Marga was established in Great Britain under the leadership of an American disciple known as Acharya Bharadwaja. Branches teach meditation and yoga allied with a program of popular social activities such as food cooperatives, prison work, disaster relief, and projects with migrant farm workers. The address of the main headquarters is at Eastern Metropolitan By-Pass, V.I.P. Nagar, Tiljala, Calcutta 700039, India. The U.S. headquarters are found at 97-38 42nd Ave., 1-F, Corona, New York 11368. There are also British centers at 14 Hendrick Ave., London SW12 and 8 Ullet Rd., Liverpool 8.
Anandamurti, Shrii Shrii. The Great Universe: Discourses on Society. Los Altos, Calif.: Ananda Marga Publishers, 1971.
Sarkar, P. R. Ideas and Ideology. Calcutta: Acarya Pranavananda Avadhuta, 1978.
The Spiritual Philosophy of Shrii Shrii Anandamurti. Denver: Ananda Marga Publications, 1981.