Ananda Marga

Doctrines Ananda Marga is a contemporary form of Tantric Yoga based on a synthesis of traditional tantric and yogic practices. It also comprises a programme of social service and social reform, such as schools, orphanages and programmes for the rural poor. It sometimes describes itself as a philosophy, way of life or socio-spiritual organization rather than a religion. Members follow a regime of daily practice of meditation and yoga, with a particular focus on chanting. In addition, there is a system of rules derived from Hindu society regarding conduct, posture, hygiene, food and fasting, service, and sexuality. The aim is progress towards peace and understanding, although force and even violence may be justified under certain circumstances, such as for the purpose of preserving human life and liberty.

History This NRM was founded in 1955 in Bihar, India, by Shrii Anandamurti (b. 1921 with the name of Prabhat Rainjan Sarkar). During the 1970s it spread from India all over the world, including the USA and Western Europe. Its Western membership is strongest in Germany. It is a highly controversial NRM on account of its use and justification of force, and has received allegations of violent terrorism, particularly in India. The organization was banned in India during the 1970s Emergency, when many of its schools were closed down and several members imprisoned. During this period Anandamurti was also imprisoned on charges of conspiracy to murder, though finally acquitted. There were many protests of persecution from the members, some of whom set fire to themselves to make their point more strongly.
The movement has become one of the best known Hindu-based NRMs in the West, with a number of affiliated organizations such as Ananda Marga Pracaraka Samgha, Renaissance Universal (RU), the Ananda Marga Universal Relief Team (AMURT), and a Women's Welfare Department. There are three categories of members: 1) Acharyas, who are full-time, fully committed; 2) Local Full Time Members (LFTs) 3) Margiis, initiated but part-time members with outside jobs. [200]

Symbols Ananda Marga has adopted much traditional Hindu symbolism, particularly for the Didis and Dadas (female and male Acharyas) who wear special, traditional Hindu dress. Chanting is central, and the main chant is BA'BA NA'M KEVALAM, which is intended to focus the mind on Supreme Consciousness. They have a strong focus on purity, emphasized by strict hygiene and dietary practices, including a Vegan diet from which garlic and onions are excluded. Acharyas practise celibacy, and Margiis are restricted to sexual relationships within marriage, although there have been allegations of sexual relationships between Acharyas and other members.

Adherents There are estimated to be several thousand members worldwide, with particularly strong memberships in India and Germany (Barker 1989, 167).

Main Centre
 854 Pearl St, Denver, CO 80203, USA
1 Cazenove Rd, London N16 6PA, UK