|Formation||1 January 1955|
|Founder||Prabhat Ranjan Sarkar|
|Purpose||Educational, philanthropic, philosophic studies, spirituality|
|Headquarters||Ánandanagar, Purulia, West Bengal, India|
|English, Sanskrit, Bengali, Hindi|
|Central Purodhā Board|
Ānanda Mārga (lit. 'The Path of Bliss', also spelled Anand Marg and Ananda Marg), or officially Ānanda Mārga Pracāraka Saṃgha (organization for the propagation of the path of bliss), is a world-wide socio-spiritual organisation founded in Jamalpur, Munger, Bihar, India, in 1955 by Prabhat Ranjan Sarkar, known as Shrii Shrii Anandamurti. It is also the name of the philosophy and life-style propounded by Sarkar, described as a practical means of personal development and the transformation of society. It is established in more than 180 countries across the world. Its motto is Ātmamokśārthaṃ jagaddhitāya ca (Self-Realisation and Service to the Universe).
Tantra yoga, as interpreted by Sarkar, serves as the foundation of Ananda Marga. According to his teachings, Tantra means liberation from darkness through the expansion of mind. Meditation is the main spiritual practice of this tantric tradition, which assists the practitioner to overcome weaknesses and imperfections. The path to liberation in Ananda Marga is free of religious dogmas, superstitions, artificial social barriers and ritualism. Ananda Marga recognizes spirituality and liberation as the birth right of every individual irrespective of one's race, caste, creed, nationality, gender, socio-economic status or belief system.
The basis of Ananda Marga practice is covered by a set of rules called the 'Sixteen Points' that guide the practitioner on both spiritual and social aspects. It consist of yoga asanas, mudras, bandhas, pranayama, self-massage and two specific dances, kaos'ikii and tandava. Lacto-vegetarian diet and fasting are also included as a fundamental part of yogic practice. The goal of Ananda Marga is "self-realization and the welfare of all".
Prabhat Ranjan Sarkar, known as Sri Sri Anandamurti, founded the Ananda Marga on 1 January 1955 in the state of Bihar, India. Its stated aims are "liberation of self and service to humanity"..
Prabhat Ranjan Sarkar developed a discipline of Tantra yoga and meditation. Tantra yoga, as interpreted by him, is the practical philosophy which serves as foundation of Ananda Marga. According to Sarkar's teachings Tantra means liberation from darkness. Meditation is the main spiritual practice of this tradition, and through it the practitioner struggles to overcome weaknesses and imperfections. The basis of Ananda Marga practice is covered by a set of rules called the 'Sixteen Points' that guide the practitioner on both spiritual and social aspects. Sarkar expounded these principles in his 1961 Ānanda Sūtram, in Sanskrit.
In the Tantric tradition of Ananda Marga, the spiritual aspirant or sadhaka practices sadhana. This signifies the effort through which a person becomes completely realized. In Tantra the spiritual master, the guru, plays a special role, guiding students on the spiritual path. The aspirant learns meditation from a qualified acarya. An acarya is most commonly a monk or nun, but in the Ananda Marga tradition there are also "family acaryas". In the initiation the aspirant makes a commitment to practice meditation and to live in harmony with the universal balance, and is then taught the technique itself. The aspirant is then required to keep the individual lessons personal. In addition, he also taught Kapalika meditation to many sanyásins. His system of yoga can be termed as Rájadhirája Yoga, Tantra Yoga, or simply Ánanda Márga Yoga. The basic Ananda Marga meditation system is called Sahaja Yoga. The system consists of six meditation techniques or lessons taught one by one, on a personal basis. The six lessons are: 1)Iishvara Pranidhana (Personal mantra and Ishta Cakra), 2) Guru Mantra (Personal Guru Mantra), 3) Tattva Dharana (Concentration on Cakras' Tattvas), 4) Sadharana Pranayama (Basic Pranayama. A special breathing technique), 5) Cakra Shodhana (Purification of Cakras. A special type of Dharana), 6) Guru Dhyana (Special type of ideation for Dhyana). A set of higher meditation lessons is taught to advanced practitioners committed to dedicate more time for spiritual practices and universal service.
According to the Ananda Marga system, the Lalita Marmika dance is performed particularly during the collective meditation. It was supposedly invented by Parvati, the wife of the god Shiva. This yogic dance with swaying movements, combined with a kirtan (the chanting of the universal mantra), is regarded as useful in freeing the mind and preparing it for meditation. Ananda Marga members are recommended to practice collective meditation at least once a week. These meetings, Dharma Chakras (held weekly in the Dhyan Mandir), are preceded by the singing of Prabhat Samgiita ("Songs of the New Dawn" composed by Sarkar) followed by the spiritual dance of Lalita Marmika. Before meditation the Samgacchadvam (help·info) mantra is chanted. At the end of meditation the Nityam Shuddham (help·info) and the Guru Puja (help·info) mantras are recited. Baba Nam Kevalam is a universal kirtan mantra given by Sarkar.
The basic practices of Ananda Marga are yoga asanas, mudras, bandhas, pranayama, self-massage and two specific dances, kaos'ikii and tandava. These are accompanied by Lacto-vegetarian diet and fasting.
During the 1960s, the organisation expanded rapidly in India, sending Acharyas as missionaries to other continents. Ananda Marga's popularity in India put it in direct confrontation with the Communist Party in West Bengal. In 1967, Ananda Marga headquarters came under attack by locals who were allegedly incited by Communist leaders. Criticism of corruption in the Indian government by acharyas of Ananda Marga also put it in confrontation with Prime Minister Indira Gandhi.
In 1971, Sarkar was imprisoned in India for the alleged murder of five former Ananda Marga members, on what were later proved false charges. The Ananda Marga organisation was banned and a number its leaders arrested. In February 1973, Sarkar was poisoned in prison, allegedly by the jail doctor on orders from the higher echelons of government. On 1 April, after recovering his health, Sarkar began fasting in support of a demand for an investigation into his poisoning. That demand was never met. So he continued his fast for the next five years, four months, and two days, until 2 August 1978 when he was released from jail after having been proved innocent of all charges.
Main article: Bijon Setu massacre
The Bijon Setu massacre (Bengali: বিজন সেতু হত্যাকাণ্ড) was the killing and burning of 16 sadhus and a sadhvi of Ananda Marga, at Bijon Setu, West Bengal, India, on 30 April 1982. Although the attacks were carried out in broad daylight, no arrests were ever made. After repeated calls for a formal judicial investigation, a single-member judicial commission was set up in 2012 to investigate the killings.