Ananda Marga


Ananda Marga

Ananda Marga, officially known as Ananda Marga Pracharaka Samgha (AMPS) meaning "the organization for the propagation of the path of bliss" is a social and spiritual movement [cite book |title=Social Constructionism and Theology |first=C. A. M. |last=Hermans, G. Immink |coauthors=A. De Jong, J. Van Der Lans |year=20012001 |publisher=BRILL |pages=p47|isbn=9004123180] founded in Jamalpur, Bihar, India in 1955 by Prabhat Ranjan Sarkar (1921-1990), known by his spiritual name of "Shrii Shrii Anandamurti". Ananda Marga followers describe their belief system as a practical philosophy for personal development and social service to the community.

The meaning of the Sanskrit term "Ananda Marga" is "path of bliss"; "ananda" or "bliss", and "marga" or "path". Through its meditation centers and service projects around the world, Ananda Marga offers instruction in meditation, yoga and other self-development practices on a non-commercial basis.

History

From the year 1941 until early the 1950s, P.R. Sarkar worked as an official in the Indian railways. He started to teach the techniques of tantrika meditation to a handful of his colleagues, and gradually more and more persons were drawn to the spiritual practices he taught. Followers affectionately started to call him Shrii Shrii Anandamurti, or Baba. Ananda Marga Pracharaka Samgha (the Organization to Propagate the Path of Bliss) was officially established on November 7, 1955 in Jamalpur, Bihar, India.

In 1959 the Progressive Utilization Theory (PROUT) was propounded. Some have claimed that this put Ananda Marga at odds with local communist authorities.

Prior to 1962 when the monastic order was formed, Mr. Sarkar himself ordained ministers to propagate the spiritual practices. The collective name used to describe any ordained minister of Ananda Marga is "Ácárya" ( [a CHAR ya] , or one who teaches by their example). Initially, there were only Grhi (householder) Ácáryas in Ananda Marga.

Once Mr. Sarkar began to create renunciate ministers in 1962, eventually training centers were established in Prashiksana Matha (Ydrefors, Sweden) [http://www.cns-se.org] , Davao (Philippines), and Varanasi (India)-for male minister trainees only and Bangalore (India) - for female minister trainees only. Junior-level male and female renunciate ministers (in common parlance referred to as "monks and nuns" but who in fact are fully ordained ministers, also referred to as Wholetime Workers, or WTs) were respectively known as brahmacharyas and brahmacariniis, while the seniors became known as avadhutas and avadhutikas. The former are dressed in a saffron-colored top and white bottom, while the seniors are dressed in full saffron attire.

In 1963 the Education, Relief, and Welfare Section (ERAWS) of Ananda Marga was formed. Schools, orphanages, and emergency relief work began and have subsequently been conducted under its name.

The first missionaries left the Indian subcontinent in 1967 to propagate Ananda Marga spiritual philosophy and practices worldwide throughout the nine "Sectors" in the world. The first Ananda Marga New York "Sectorial" office (whose jurisdiction is North and Central America and the Caribbean) was opened in Carbondale, Illinois, USA in 1969, and by 1973 had established approximately 100 local centers teaching yoga, meditation, spiritual and social philosophies, to thousands. cite book|title=The Asian American Encyclopedia |last= Ng |first= Franklin |year= 1995 | publisher=Marshall Cavendish|pages=p669 |isbn= 1854356771] cite book|title=The 60's Communes: Hippies and Beyond |last= Miller |first= Timothy |year= 1999 | publisher=Syracuse University Press|pages=p108 |isbn= 081560601X]

In 1971, P.R. Sarkar was imprisoned for allegedly conspiring to murder several former members of the organization. It is now generally considered that the charges were politically motivated and, though Mr. Sarkar received a life sentence (Barker 1989: 168), it was overturned in 1978.

From 1975-77 Ananda Marga was banned under the state of emergency imposed by the Indian government of Indira Gandhi. Over 400 of its schools in India were closed down, and numerous ministers and adherents were imprisoned.

P.R. Sarkar's imprisonment led to a global campaign of protests by followers, while Margiis maintained his innocent and said an attempt was made to poison him in prison that severely damaged his health and temporarily affected his sight. As a political protest against the imprisonment of their guru, several members of Ananda Marga committed self-immolation in the late 1970s cite book|title=Offenders, Deviants Or Patients?|last=Prins |first=Herschel A.|year=2005 |publisher=Psychology Press|pages=p251|isbn=1583918248] (Barker 1989: 168, see also 54-5).

On July 4, 1978, Mr. Sarkar's conviction was overturned on appeal and he was exonerated of all charges. He had been fasting for five years four months and one day on one glass of yoghurt water following the poisoning attempt.

Meanwhile, the Ananda Marga mission spread to all continents of the world. Followers established local Ananda Marga centers in more than one hundred countries.

P.R. Sarkar traveled to many countries in 1979, to meet disciples in various countries around the world. In April 1979 he was banned from entering the USA by the State Department, due to having spoken out against corruption in the government of India. Therefore, he instead went to Jamaica in September 1979 for a gathering of his North and Central American disciples.cite book|title=Superstition and the Press |last= MacDougall |first= Curtis Daniel |year= 1983 | publisher=Prometheus Books|pages=p446 |isbn= 0879752114]

In 1982 he introduced the philosophy of Neohumanism and several volumes on philology. He also began to compose what later would total 5,018 songs collectively called Prabhata Samgiita (Songs of the Dawn). His last song composition was on the establishment of Gurukul (University) which he had founded on September 7, 1990 in order to carry on his legacy through education and research.

In 1986 he began to propound the theory of microvita, small, subtle entities which he said are the foundation of all existence. Research on the field has begun by the [http://www.microvita.org Microvita Research Institute] , but their progress and findings are still in the developmental stage.

P.R. Sarkar died on 21 October 1990 at 3:10 pm.

Organization

Ananda Marga is a hierarchal organization led mainly by senior Wholetime ministers of AMPS. A well developed hierarchy is working in the AMPS organization where the Global Office is the main representative organ of AMPS, led by the General Secretary. Globally the organization is divided into 9 sectors, each named after a primary city in each of them, namely:

# Delhi Sector – the Indian sub-continent
# Hong Kong Sector – North-East Asia [http://www.hks.amps.org/]
# Manila Sector – South-East Asia [http://www.anandamarga.manilasector.org/]
# Suva Sector – Australia, Pacific region [http://www.amps.org/suv]
# New York Sector – North and Central America and the Caribbean [http://www.nysamps.org/]
# Georgetown Sector – South America [http://gts.amps.org/]
# Berlin Sector – Europe [http://ber.amps.org/]
# Qahira Sector – Balkans, West Asia, North Africa [http://qah.amps.org/]
# Nairobi Sector – Sub-Saharan Africa [http://nbi.amps.org/]

All activities are coordinated through the nine Sectorial Offices.

Each sector is further subdivided into regions, which again are further divided as per needs. Each of them is led by a senior official, namely the Sectorial Secretary, Regional Secretary, and so on.

A separate entity of AMPS is the Women's Welfare Department (WWD), established first in 1977. WWD was started to empower women to contribute and alleviate suffering of women in many parts of the world. WWD is designed to be led by women for the service and betterment of women, children and the community at large through education, social work, and local initiatives.

AMPS also strives for development of the human sphere in all other parts of life as well. Renaissance Artists and Writers Association (RAWA) is an organization for the development of the fine arts. RAWA regularly arranges cultural events in various countries, those being concerts, theatrical acts, etc.

The official social welfare and development organization under AMPS is Ananda Marga Universal Relief Team, or AMURT. The joint branch of AMURT run specifically by women is called AMURTEL, or AMURT Lady-Managed. AMURT arranges both emergency relief during disasters, and long term projects such as building of schools and orphanages and other community development.cite web|url=http://www.amurt.net/ |title=AMURT Global Network: Disaster Relief, Sustainable Development, Community Service |publisher=official website of AMURT U.S.A.]

The Ananda Marga Association of Yoga Educators (AMAYE) [http://www.amaye.org] was started in 2006 as a forum for research, discussion and sharing of knowledge about Ananda Marga Yoga & Spiritual practices.

Ananda Marga Gurukula [http://www.gurukul.edu] was founded by Shrii P.R. Sarkar on September 7, 1990 in order to build Ananda Marga University with its headquarters at Anandanagar (India) and to bring together the entire neohumanist education movement under its overall academic guidance and direction. The educational network of Gurukula now runs over 1000 schools in India and other continents.

Ananda Marga Gurukula

Ánanda Márga Gurukula (AMGK) is engaged in creating a worldwide network of Neohumanist Schools and Institutes to hasten the advent of a society in which there is love, peace, understanding, inspiration, justice and health for all. cite book|title=Exploring New Religions |last= Chryssides|first=George D.|year= 1999| publisher=Continuum International Publishing Group |pages=p370 |isbn= 0826459595] Reflecting the broadness of Sarkar’s universal vision, AMGK has become a multi-faceted organization, with different branches dedicated to the upliftment of humanity through education, relief, welfare, the arts, ecology, intellectual renaissance, women's emancipation, and humanistic economy. All these institutions are based on neo-humanist educational philosophy.

In 1990, the Ananda Marga "Education Relief and Welfare Section (ERAWS), which grew to an global network of about 1,000 neo-humanist schools and institutes, culminated in the founding of the Ananda Marga Gurukula University, with links to several hundred self-reliant eco-village projects ("Master Units") throughout the world. AMGK is actively engaged in the following projects:
* building an educational township at Ánanda Nagar, West Bengal, India, on a 525 square kilometre campus; and
* supporting the building of a global eco-village network (Master Units), ranging from convert|5|acre|m2 to convert|1000|acre|km2 each, in over 120 countries.

The headquarters of AMGK is in Ánanda Nagar, West Bengal, India. AMGK Inc., is its global liaison office, located in Ithaca, New York. The "Neo-Humanist Schools and Research Institutes", affiliated with AMGK, publishes a bi-annual newsletter, the [http://www.gurukul.edu/pubs_newsletters_previousissues.php?pubs_newsletters=freeze Gurukula Network] , in May and October.

AMGK is headed by a chancellor ("kulapati"), who is supported by a steering body ("cakradhuri"), and an academic council ("mahasamiti"). AMGK is an autonomous "Board of Education" for all AMGK schools and institutes run as per neohumanist philosophy.NHE-Forum of AMGK deals with K-12 education and CNS-Forum of AMGK concentrates on higher education.

Disciplines and Practices

Spiritual Teachings and Practice

Tantra tantra yoga, as interpreted by Shrii Shrii Anandamurti in the books "Discourses on Tantra Volume 1 and 2". [http://www.anandamarga.org/publications/tantra1.htm] , [http://www.anandamarga.org/publications/tantra2.htm] is the foundation of Ananda Marga, or the Path of Bliss. ("Tantra" means liberation from darkness, the root "tan" meaning darkness, and "tra" liberation.)

Tantra in the traditional Western sense meaning sexual practices is not a part of the Ananda Marga tantra tradition. Sarkar in his book on Shiva, "Namah Shiváya Shántáya", and"Discourses on Tantra Volume 1", he explains the difference between left hand tantra, and the right hand subtle path by giving an explanation of panchamakara, also known as the 5 Ms.

The practitioner of Ananda Marga tantra yoga sees the mind as a "trapped monkey" striving to escape from its cage. The tantra path is the path of the brave, because it requires the practitioner to follow strict rules as to their spiritual practice. Meditation is the main practice of this tantric tradition, and through the meditation the practitioner struggles to overcome weaknesses and imperfections. Through daily meditations the practitioner faces their minds deepest secrets, and to proceed in the practice s/he must manage to overcome whatever s/he faces in the deepness. Because the path is considered so difficult many people stray from the path and reject the teachings afterwards.

The base Ananda Marga practice is covered in a set of rules called the sixteen points. The sixteen points guides the practitioner of the tantric path on both spiritual and social aspects. One of the points for men is to use langota, an ancient yogic underwear

Meditation

In the tantric tradition of Ananda Marga the spiritual aspirant is called a sadhaka, and he practices sádhaná. Sádhaná comes from the Sanskrit root word sadh which means “to control”. Sádhaná signifies the effort through which a person becomes completely realized.

In the tantric tradition the spiritual master, the guru plays a special role. The guru, or dispeller of darkness, guides and leads students on the spiritual path that is likened to be razor sharp. It is also stated in the tantric tradition that the student doesn’t find the teacher, but the teacher finds the student.

When the student decides to aspire on the path of bliss s/he will be initiated by a qualified meditation teacher called acarya, Sanskrit for teacher. An acarya is most commonly a monk or nun, but there are also family acaryas in the Ananda Marga tradition.

In the initiation the aspirant makes a commitment to practice meditation, and is then taught the technique itself. The aspirant is then required to keep all his practices secret and not discuss them with others.

Anandamurtiiji taught many systems of meditation such as Pra'rambhika Yoga, Sa'dharana Yoga, Sahaja Yoga and Vishesha Yoga.Fact|date=January 2008 In addition, he also taught Kapalika meditation to many sanyasiins. His system of yoga can be termed as Rajadhira'ja Yoga or Tantra Yoga or just Ananda Marga Yoga.The base Ananda Marga meditation system is called Sahaja Yoga, meaning 'easy yoga', in the sense that everyone can do the practice. The sahaja yoga system consists of 6 meditation techniques called lessons. The lessons are taught one by one, on a personal basis. There is no specific system as to when one can learn a new technique, but is rather taught on a personal basis depending on the level of interest and dedication of the student. Thus some students learn all six lessons in a year or two, while some complete all lessons in over 20 years. There is also a higher set of meditation lessons taught by Ananda Marga and advanced practitioners are ever taught them.

Tantra

Tantra is established in the spiritual practices of Ananda Marga, the yogic path propounded by Shrii Shrii Anandamurti aka Shrii Prabhat Rainjan Sarkar. He has written extensively on the topic of Tantra.

According to Shrii Shrii Anandamurti tantra was first called like that by Lord Shiva who is also called Sadashiva, who was an enlightened yogi living in the Himalayas about 7500 years ago. Tantra had its origin in India and South Asia. Tantra in its Káshmiirii and Gaod'iiya Schools did exist before Shiva, but in a scattered and crude form. Shiva was born and brought up in an environment of tantra, although it was not classical tantra. He was the original propounder of tantra and collected and systematized all the branches of tantra.

According to Shrii Shrii Anandamurti the practitioners of the more-developed tantra would look upon things from a broad point of view, renouncing all narrow thinking. They would always strive hard to advance the welfare of the masses. Through such selfless service, they would overcome the fetters of the mind, such as hatred and shame. The practitioners of the less-developed Tantra would behave in just the opposite way. They would indulge in casteism; in expressions of untouchability; and in expressions of hatred and envy in relation to other groups.

Tantra in Ananda Marga

Today's practical philosophy and yogic practices of Ananda Marga are not only deeply rooted in the ancient original Tantra of Shiva but Tantra forms the main body of personal development attached with two wings of social transformation, Neohumanism and Prout.Thus Tantra is the central plank of Shrii Shrii Anandamurti's message. In projecting the future he weaves continuity, infusing the ancient philosophy of Tantra with new insights in human psychology, social theory and the individuals' roles as spiritual and political beings.

Ananda Marga Tantra has a broad metaphysical base which allows for ways of knowing, feeling and processing that go far beyond limited rationality. Priorities are in the spiritual as Shrii Shrii Anandamurti notes "spiritual life controls all other arenas of human life." [ Homo Tantricus: Tantra as an Episteme for Future Generations by Marcus Bussey,www.gurukul.edu ]

Ananda Marga Tantra is a principle, a science which if practiced will achieve the desired objective. The essence of Tantra is to awaken the latent spiritual force in the human personality and unify it with Cosmic Consciousness. It is not a religion or philosophy which can be confined to the realm of abstract speculation or theoretical debate. Tantra is a process of subjective transformation, which may be practiced by anybody irrespective of their education or intellectual evolution, as the fruits of spiritual endeavor are open to all.

Tantra does not recognize any racial, genealogical, political, national or economic differences in human beings, which might form the basis for one human group to assert their superiority over another. Tantra does, however, give recognition to individual vigor and the development of latent human potentialities, which make some people more outstanding than others. Consequently Tantra puts greater emphasis on human values than social values. [ From Progressive socialism by Gary Coyle, Proutist Universal Publications, Calcutta, 1985 ]

Guru and Disciple

For success on the path of Tantra, the proper preceptor and the proper disciple are both essential. So the first step in Tantra is the selection of a competent preceptor and a worthy disciple.According to Tantra, disciples are of three categories. The first category disciples acquire spiritual knowledge when they are in close contact with the preceptor, but as soon as they are apart from the preceptor they forget all his/her teachings.

The second category of disciples learn many things from the preceptor with great hardship, but do not take proper care to preserve those instructions. They lose their hard-earned knowledge out of negligence. The best category of disciples carefully preserve in the jewel caskets of their hearts whatever they learn from their preceptor.

Yoga and Physical Exercises

The physical practice of Ananda Marga comprises yoga asanas, mudras, bandhas, pranayama, self-massage and two specific dances, kaoshiki and tandava. Sentient diet and fasting are considered integral part of yogic-practises in Ananda Marga style of yoga. A sentient diet is a vegetarian diet which is also devoid of particular vegetables such as onion, garlic, leek, chives, mushroom, etc. Ananda Marga also advocates physical restraint, advising that sexual intercourse more often than once a week is detrimental to a person's well being. Women are also forbidden from touching an adult male during menstruation. (CaryaCarya Part 3 - Physical Restraint)

Yoga Asanas

The Ananda Marga system of yoga comprises 42 yoga asana postures, which were specifically selected by P.R. Sarkar for their benefits. In the Ananda Marga system yoga asanas should be performed at least once a day, preferable twice a day, once in the morning, and once in the evening. After the practice a full body massage and final relaxation is performed to complete the asana practice.

Kaoshiki

Kaoshiki is a dance performed by all students, and consists of 18 mudras, each with a specific meaning. The dance is both a spiritual and physical exercise. The spiritual ideation of the dance is done to establish a link to the divine, and the physical strengthens and softens the body. There is also a claim that the exercise strengthens the nervous and endocrine system to give full body balance.

Tandava

This is a vigorous dance associated with Shiva as the cosmic dancer Nataraja. The name tandava is derived from the Sanskrit word tandu, which means to jump. This dance is only performed by the male followers of Ananda Marga because of its testosterone producing effect. The dance is performed to strengthen the practitioner and dispel all fear, even fear of death itself, and therefore the dance also has an ideating factor. The dancer starts off with the two arms outstretched, the left arm with an open palm, and the right arm with a clenched fist. The dancer ideates holding a human skull in the left hand, symbolizing death, and ideates holding a knife in the right, symbolizing the fight against all fear. The actual objects (human skull and knife) are also used [from http://www.tribuneindia.com/2005/20050526/aplus.htm] ] [http://www.religlaw.org/template.php?id=2314 ] The dance starts with a vigorous jump and landing in a position of bent knees. Another jump follows, and the dance continues in a jumping manner lifting one leg then the other continuously. The dance is ended with a final jump.

Activities

Ananda Marga runs yoga and meditation centers, schools, orphanages, food distribution centers, disaster relief programs, medical centers, community development projects, and other projects through its service branch, the Ananda Marga Universal Relief Team, [http://www.amurt.net/ AMURT] & [http://www.amurtel.org/ AMURTEL] . The AMURT organization, founded in India in 1965, has projects in over 80 countries. Emphasis is placed on solving the problems of the local people, whatever they may be, and assisting them in managing all their personal and social resources for the prosperity of all.

piritual and social philosophy

The philosophy of Ananda Marga is one of universalism. It is a synthetic outlook, recognizing God as the one limitless supreme consciousness. This universe, having been created by God, is existing in God, and as such all created beings are God's children, part of the one universal Cosmic family. Thus we are all brothers and sisters, connected in love by the bonds of Cosmic fraternity. This universe of diversity has evolved out of unity (God), and we must continually strive to see that unity in all diversity. Thus the social outlook of Ananda Marga recognizes that the welfare of the individual is inextricably linked with the welfare of the collective, each relying on the other for its existence and dynamism. Everyone has the right to equal opportunity and as such there should be no discrimination on the basis of superficial barriers such as race, nationality and religion.

The Spiritual Philosophy of Ananda Marga covers a vast range of topics and can be learned from [http://shop.anandamarga.org/books/hardcopy.html P.R. Sarkar's publications] . A small list of the essential elements of Ananda Marga Spiritual Philosophy are: 1) [http://www.anandamarga.org/spiritual-philosophy/cosmology.htm Cosmology] 2) [http://www.anandamarga.org/spiritual-philosophy/kosas.htm Realms of the Mind] 3) [http://www.anandamarga.org/spiritual-philosophy/biopsychology.htm Biopsychology] 4) [http://www.anandamarga.org/spiritual-philosophy/life-death-reincarnation.htm Life Death and Reincarnation] .

Ananda Marga advocates a world of justice, security and peace for all. To this end Ananda Marga gives a practical, rational, and systematic way of life for the balanced development of all human potentialities: physical, psychic and spiritual. It is a system that incorporates practices that are beneficial for personal and social upliftment. These range from proper hygiene and diet, to yoga postures, to a scientific technique of meditation based on morality and leading to complete peace and inner fulfillment. It recognizes that a balance is needed between the spiritual and mundane aspects of existence, and that neither one should be neglected at the expense of the other. Hence, the goal of Ananda Marga is "Self-realization and the welfare of humanity."

The Social Philosophy of Ananda Marga can be categorized under the topics: 1) [http://www.anandamarga.org/social-philosophy/neohumanism.htm Neohumanism] 2) [http://www.anandamarga.org/social-philosophy/education.htm Education] 3) [http://www.anandamarga.org/social-philosophy/prout.htm Prout] .

ymbology

Pratik - The Symbol of Ananda Marga

Pratik practically means emblem, and summarizes the ideology of Ananda Marga in a visible form. The pratik is composed of two interconnected triangles where one points upwards and the other points downwards. In the center of the triangle a rising sun is placed, and in the core of the rising sun a swastika is seen.

Interpretation

#Upwards pointing triangle: signifies external action or service to humanity
#Downwards pointing triangle: signifies inner development, knowledge, insight or meditation. In one's life the two basic aspects, the inner and outer need to be balanced.
#The rising sun signifies progress that arises from the balance of inner development and of external service or work in the world.
#The swastika represents the goal of life which is spiritual fulfillment. (Swastika comes from the Sanskrit word "su" (good) and "asti" (to be) meaning absolute positivity or goodness)

Criticism

As a political protest against the imprisonment of their guru in the late 1970s, some members of Ananda Marga practiced self-immolation during the period when they faced repression in India.

An Indian court in 1997 determined that a member of Ananda Marga was the intended recipient of a large amount of guns and ammunition in the Purulia arms drop case [ [http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk/138009.stm BBC News | UK | Alleged gun runner's conspiracy claims ] ] and that based on the pilot's testimony, along with other evidence such as a photograph of the Ananda Marga headquarters on the aircraft, the weapons were targeted to be dropped at a building occupied by members of Ananda Marga. However, in the same case, the judge stated that there was "no sufficient evidence...to link up the Anandamarg organisation as a whole with regard to the present matter", and that " it will be too much to hold that all the members of Anandamarg were involved in the commission of the offence [sic] " [http://www.cbi.gov.in/judgements/padc.pdf] . Members of Ananda Marga were also suspected in the Sydney Hilton bombing. However, supporters [http://www.nisat.org/publications/armsfixers/Chapter2.html] , argue that allegations in both the Sydney Bombing and the Purulia arms drop are based on speculations or unproven or disputed facts.

See also

*1982 burning of monks and nuns in West Bengal

Footnotes

References

Barker, Eileen (1989) "New Religious Movements: A Practical Introduction" (London: HMSO). Third impression, with amendments, 1992.

Further reading

*Tarak. (1990). [http://worldcatlibraries.org/oclc/27387128&referer=brief_results Ananda Marga, social and spiritual practices] . Calcutta: Ananda Marga Publications.
*Ānandamūrti. (1988). [http://worldcatlibraries.org/oclc/25872096&referer=brief_results Ananda Marga ideology and way of life in a nutshell] . Calcutta: Ānanda Mārga Pracāraka Saṁgha.
*Nandita, & Devadatta. (1971). [http://worldcatlibraries.org/oclc/1954270&referer=brief_results Path of bliss: Ananda Marga yoga] . Wichita, Kan: Ananda Marga Publishers.

External links

* [http://www.anandamarga.org/ Ananda Marga Pracaraka Samgha] official website
* [http://www.amgk.org AMGK website]


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