Ananda Marga was founded in 1955 by Shrii Shrii Anandamurti in India. Today Ananda Marga has developed in a Mission with presence in almost all countries of the world. Yet it is rather subjective to be able to answer to the question “What is Ananda Marga” and many may ask in reply: “What do you mean for Ananda Marga?” . And this is exactly the reason why I am asking the question! It seems that there can be as many correct answers as the people you ask. But is it really so? Is there such a universal identity about Ananda Marga which reflects the ideology given by the Founder?
Let’s begin with direct quotes from His discourses;
“No matter what circumstances you are in, never lose sight of the Infinite One. Degradation is impossible for those who have accepted the Supreme Being as the Ideal of their lives. Indulging in mean thoughts only engenders crude vibrations in the Citta, as the result of which you will have to take rebirth in lower species in order to suffer the lowly Saḿskáras created by those crude vibrations. Thus you must arouse higher vibrations in your Citta. Even a man of King Bharata’s calibre had to take rebirth as a deer because at the time of his death he was deeply anxious about a fawn. Thus regardless of what you are at present or what you may possibly become in the future, do not digress from the ideal of the Great in any circumstances: do not stray even a step away from the path of realization of Absolute Bliss. Ananda Marga or the path to eternal bliss is the only path for you.” (Shrii Shrii Anandamurti – Vibration, Form and Colour
Phálgunii Púrńimá 1956 DMC )
Ananda Marga is the most suitable path for every individual and it provides adequately appropriate philosophy of life for the individual mind to move along while in addition making one physically fit,mentally focused and spiritually connected. It promotes in every individual an urge for selfless service to the needy, humans as well as non-humans, in community and beyond. Ideologically it practices the dictum of transform yourself to transform society.
Ananda Marga is described as a practical philosophy for personal development, social service and the all-around transformation of society Its system of spiritual practice has also been explained as a practical synthesis of Vedic and Tantric philosophies. Through its meditation centres and service projects around the world, Ananda Marga offers instruction in meditation, yoga and other self-development leadership practices on a non-commercial basis. (Wikipedia)
“Due to our regular service activities over the past three years at the Elderly Care Center at Zao Ru, Taipei, Ananda Marga was invited to its 10th anniversary celebrations. Dada Kaladharananda attended the ceremony and had the opportunity to meet Taiwan’s Vice President, Wu Den Yih, who appreciated Ananda Marga’s efforts.” (from the Ananda Marga Worldnews published on anandamarga.org)
Below are a few quotations from the discourses of Shrii Shrii Anandamurti where in different contexts Aanda Marga is further presented or explained in its literatures:
“I have already said that Ananda Marga is the first movement aimed at liberating spirituality from the unwholesome influences from dogma. Hence you must not in any way encourage dogma. Rather, you should carry on an endless fight against dogma. And while fighting against dogma, you will realize the actual truth, and when you will come in contact with truth, you will be established in real spirituality. Remember, you have got to be established in real spirituality, because in spirituality alone lies the highest fulfillment and achievement of human life. Otherwise, there is hardly any difference between human beings and animals. That human beings are not animals is the supreme veracity and the supreme actuality. So human beings have got to be established in human excellence and carry on a ceaseless struggle against dogma.” (Shrii Prabhat Rainjan Sarkar – Various Forms of Exploitation – 19 August 1980, Calcutta)
“Living beings may be divided into two main groups based on intellect: those who want to share their wisdom, and those who do not. Those who favor the exchange of wisdom have a greater social awareness. But those who oppose it cannot develop a collective social mind due to a lack of mutual understanding. Human beings are basically beings of social inclination. They must always remember that those possessing little strength and ability, and those not provided with the means to survive the struggle for life by Nature, must be led along in companionship. Those who take great pains to assist the helpless are more civilized and endowed with greater awareness. They are the socially-minded beings who readily embrace the underprivileged, the downtrodden and the rejected people of society.
Ananda Marga keeps its gates open so that each and every man and woman may enter. Anybody may join, anybody may sing in chorus with the rest. The united march of the people is a march of victory. Ananda Marga states this in unequivocal language.” (Shrii Shrii Anandamurti – The Spirit of Society – 1956 DMC )
“But Ananda Marga is for one and all: I wish to disseminate dharma among all. The dedicated monks and nuns of Ananda Marga have accepted their life of renunciation not out of any escapist mentality, but to further the cause of human welfare; and through their service, they seek to lead human beings along the path of righteousness to the abode of Supreme Bliss.”
(Shrii Shrii Anandamurti – Verse, Mythology, History and Itihása – 25 March 1979, Midnapur)
From these quotations it becomes clear that Ananda Marga is the reflection of a universal ideology. It manifests in different forms according to time, place and persons. It mirrors society as we know it bringing a change within the mind and heart of the people which ultimately manifests in further external changes and transformations. It is more mental and spiritual than physical. One last quotation which clearly projects Ananda Marga from the philosophical and spiritual context into the practical and social context:
“Today human beings are becoming increasingly engaged in psychic and spiritual occupations, and this trend will increase more rapidly in the future. Ánanda Márgiis should never compel people to follow Ánanda Márga philosophy. Rather, they should always inspire people along the path of spirituality by encouraging selfless service, sacrifice, good conduct, spiritual practices, the development of all-round knowledge, etc.Ananda Marga is a comprehensive mode of living based on spirituality, and in Ananda Marga sádhaná, dhyana and japa are Atmic or Dharmic jiivika.” (Three Types of Occupation – 11 November 1988, Calcutta)
[the image at the beginning is taken from the Newsletter Gurukula Network – Issue 31 – Page 37 which portrays the children of an Ananda Marga Kindergarten at Gopal – Ananda Nagar, West Bengal, India)