Ananda Marga

 

Ananda Marga

1. What is Ananda Marga?

2. What are the Activities of Ananda Marga?

3. Is Ananda Marga a religion?

 

Ananda Marga

1. What is Ananda Marga?

Ananda Marga (lit. The Path of Bliss) describes a philosophy and way of life derived from on the ancient tradition of tantra yoga. The spiritual and social service organization, Ananda Marga Pracaraka Samgha, was founded in 1955 in India in 1955 by the great mystic and yogi, Shrii Shrii Anandamurti, also known as P. R. Sarkar. It has branches all over the world. Ananda Marga teachers offer free personal instruction in meditation.

More information can be found at www.anandamarga.org

2. What are the Activities of Ananda Marga?

Ananda Marga teaches meditation, yoga and yoga lifestyle and philosophy. It’s social service and cultural branches work in education, disaster relief, community health, publishing, developing model communities, co-operatives and music & the arts.

3. Is Ananda Marga a religion?

Although it is recognized as a religion in many countries simply because that is the only category it fits in, it is misleading to think of Ananda Marga as a religion. It is better described as a socio-spiritual movement.

It has often been said that the key difference between religion and spirituality is that religion is about what you believe, whereas spirituality is what you do. A follower of the path of Ananda Marga may belong to any religion, or none. But they practice meditation and yoga regularly, engage in social service, and endeavor to follow the ethical precepts of yoga, yama and niyama.

Religions are many, Dharma is one

Another key distinction between religion and spirituality, or ‘Dharma’ is that religions are many, but Dharma is one.

Dharma means our true spiritual nature. Someone once asked Anandamurti, “is it not true that there are many spiritual paths, all leading to the same goal?”

He replied, “no. There is only one path. The path of the kundalinii (the latent spiritual potential of every human being), which travels from the base of the spine to the crown of the head. (when the spiritual force of kundalinii reaches the crown of the head, the person attains enlightenment.)

The great religions of the world are theoretically based on the realisations and teachings of great spiritual personalities like Christ or Buddha. But in practice religions tend to be a poor reflection of the teachings of their founders. Many religious dogmas encourage intolerance (the doctrine of ‘my way is the only way’). Heartless cruelty (koranic punishments, the Inquisition), irrationality (creationism), injustice (the Hindu Caste system) superstition (deification of humans, false miracles) and exploitation (the priest ordained dowry system, denegration of women, and of nature herself, justified by scripture) have all been widely propagated and practiced in the name of religion.

The founder of Ananda Marga was keenly aware of this problem of spiritual teachings degenerating over time into materialistic or worldly religions. In forming Ananda Marga he took a number of precautions against this tendency. He warned us of this danger by clearly describing the difference between spirituality and religion. There are several factors that lead to the generation of spiritual teachings into dogmatic religion:

a. Loss, misinterpretation and mistranslation of the original teachings of the Guru. The highest Truth cannot be expressed in words – it has to be experienced directly. However, the words of a truly enlightened person serve as an invaluable guide on the spiritual path. So the preservation of the original philosophy are of primary importance. In our modern age this is far less of a problem than it was for Buddha or Christ. The exhaustive writings of P.R Sarkar – the basis of the philosophy of Ananda Marga, have been preserved and reproduced so that it is hardly conceivable that they will ever be lost. Many of the translations were personally checked by their author, who spoke many languages. He even wrote several volumes of a dictionary, where he recorded the precise meaning of thousands of words in his native Bengali, to assist in the future interpretation of his writings.

b. Loss of spiritual practices that the preceptor taught, and resulting loss of quality in the spiritual experience and awareness of followers.The meditation and other practices of Ananda Marga are likewise recorded in great detail. A school of more than 1000 teachers or Acaryas was established in the founders own lifetime to pass these practices on down through the generations.

c. Religion becoming a political institution. Ananda Marga monks and nuns are proscribed from holding any political office, and Ananda Marga is not a political organisation.

d. The development of superstition. It is a fundamental precept of Ananda Marga philosophy from the outset that spirituality should not contradict rationality, and that dogma and irrational superstition are the enemies of humankind.

e. Belief in a creed becomes more important than practice and personal realisation, and spiritual practice degenerates into empty ritual. The emphasis throughout Ananda Marga teachings is on practice, not on belief. Membership of Ananda Marga is defined not by what a person attests to but by what they do. Members of Ananda Marga (‘margiis’), practice meditation twice a day, follow the ethical principles of Yama & Niyama (see the appendix of my book) and engage in social service. Anyone who does not do these things is not considered a member of Ananda Marga and is not entitled to hold any position in the Ananda Marga organization. To merely attest to a philosophy does not make one a yogi. This is probably one of the reasons why Ananda Marga is not a much larger organization.