- Anandamurti, Sri
- (1921–1990)founder Ananda Marga Yoga SocietySri Sri Anandamurti, the founder of the Ananda MARGA YOGA SOCIETY, was born Prabhat Ranjan Sarkar. His father died while Prabhat was still a youth, putting an end to his formal educa-tion. As his father had, he took a job with the railroad. However, he gradually developed a discipline of YOGA and MEDITATION, and in 1955 he announced to his acquaintances that he had achieved enlightenment. He resigned from his job and founded the ANANDA MARGA (Path of Bliss) YOGA SOCIETY. It was at this time that he assumed his religious name, Anandamurti. In 1962, he initiated the first monks and four years later the first nuns.The new organization taught a form of tan-tric yoga but also became socially active. As it expanded, it founded and supported several hun-dred elementary schools and homes for children. The social activism was underlain by Anandamur-ti’s developing theories about the reorganization of society. He had begun to feel that both capital-ism and communism, the two main economic and political options being debated in India, were lacking the elements necessary to build the good society. In 1958 he formally introduced his new plan, which he termed Progressive Universal The-ory (PROUT), and founded Renaissance Universal as an organization to propagate his perspective.PROUT was introduced in the context of wide-spread criticism of government corruption. As Ananda Marga grew, it became involved in a num-ber of violent clashes and was charged with illegal political activities and terrorism. In 1967, five members of the group were murdered. The new government of Prime Minister Indira Gandhi (r. 1966–77) restricted the organization by issuing a ban on government employees joining it. In 1971, Anandamurti was arrested on what some say were fabricated charges that he had ordered the murder of some former adherents. In 1975, under severe political pressure Gandhi declared emergency rule. Ananda Marga was one of a number of orga-nizations that were banned. The organization was suppressed, its assets seized, and a number of its leaders arrested. Gandhi was voted out of office in 1977 and Anandamurti and his followers were released when emergency rule ended.After the drama of the Gandhi era, Ananda Marga was reorganized in India and resumed its program of propagating the spiritual and social teachings of its founder. Controversy has sur-rounded Anandamurti and his movement since its inception. In this period Anandamurti developed his concept of Neo-Humanism, in reaction to the neglect of the spiritual dimension of human life that he saw in communism and capitalism. He suggested that human beings were an expression of the Supreme Consciousness. If this concept were accepted, he believed, humanity would enter a state of love toward all sentient beings. He died in 1990.Further reading: Didi Anandamitra, The Philosophy of Shrii Shrii Anandamurti: A Commentary on Ananda Sutram (Calcutta: Ananda Marga, n.d.); Shrii Shrii Anandamurti, Baba’s Grace: Discourses of Shrii Shrii Anandamurti (Los Altos Hills, Calif.: Ananda Marga, 1973); Ácárya Vijayánanda Avahuta, The Life and Teachings of Shrii Shrii Ánandamúrti (Calcutta: Ananda Marga, 1994); ———, Shrii P. R. Sakar and His Mission (Calcutta: Ananda Marga, 1993); ———, The Spiritual Philosophy of Shrii Shrii Anandamurti (Denver, Colo.: Ananda Marga, 1981).
Encyclopedia of Hinduism. A. Jones and James D. Ryan. 2007.