- (est. 1959)PROUT is an acronym for PROgressive Utilization Theory, a socioeconomic philosophy developed by Prabhat Ranjan Sarkar (1923–90), better known to the world as Sri Sri ANANDAMURTI, the founder of the ANANDA MARGA YOGA SOCIETY. Sarkar saw PROUT as an alternative to both capitalism and communism, the major economic systems of the 20th century. Sarkar suggested that both capitalism and communism had failed to address the mental and spiritual needs of humankind. He called for a balance between more abstract concerns, such as economic growth, social development, and environmental sustainability, and individual and collective human interests.Sarkar assumed that humanity is heading toward the experience of a higher consciousness as part of the essence of the race’s evolution. Mate-rial and intellectual gains lose their significance unless accompanied by spiritual progress. He advocated a decentralized economy with decision making in the hands of local people. The democ-ratization of economic power implied that there would be strict limits on the individual accumula-tion of wealth.Alongside the decentralization of economic life, Sarkar saw the need for a world governance system, including a global bill of rights, consti-tution, and common penal code. Such a world government would institute many of the values he advocated, such as guaranteed necessities of life for all people, moral and principled leaders dedicated to the service of society, individual freedom, cultural diversity, and equal rights for women.The PROUT system has gained some support from a few intellectuals, but has yet to find imple-mentation on a large scale.Further reading: Ravi Batra, The Downfall of Capi-talism and Communism: Can Capitalism Be Saved? (Richardson, Tex.: Liberty Press, 1990); ———, Great American Deception: What Politicians Won’t Tell You about Our Economy and Your Future (New York: John Wiley & Sons, 1996); Dada Maheshvarananda, After Capitalism: PROUT’s Vision for a New World (Wash-ington, D.C.: Proutist Universal Publications, 2003); Prabhat Ranjan Sarkar, Universal Humanism: Selected Social Writings of P. R. Sarkar. Edited by Timothy G. Anderson (Washington, D.C.: Proutist Universal Pub-lications, 1983).
Encyclopedia of Hinduism. A. Jones and James D. Ryan. 2007.