Sarkar, Probhat Ranjan (1923–1990)
Known primarily under his religious name, Shrii Anandamurti,
the founder of the Hindu religious community, the Ananda
Marga Yoga Society. Sarkar was born in 1923 in Jamalpur,
India. His father died when he was still a youth, and he
went to work for the railroad in order to provide for his family.
In 1955, however, he announced to his fellow employees that
he had attained enlightenment and was leaving his secular occupation
to found a spiritual movement that he termed the
path (marga) of bliss (ananda). The movement expanded rapidly.
Ananda Marga was envisioned as a fully integrated socialspiritual
movement and members were expected to practice
yoga (a form of tantric yoga) and to engage in social work. The
group founded over 400 schools and 250 children’s homes.
In 1958, under his given name, Sarkar launched Renaissance
Universal, an organization designed to propagate his social
ideals, which he presented as the Progressive Utilization
Theory (Prout). Prout was offered as a political alternative to
both the communists and the philosophy of the then Indian
government. The Indian government became a particular target
because of its perceived corruption, and in 1967 and 1969,
Anandamurti’s followers ran candidates. Indira Ghandi retaliated
by issuing orders against any government employee joining
Ananda Marga. Then in 1971 Anandamurti was arrested,
ostensibly for giving orders to members to kill some former
members. He was still in jail when Ghandi issued the Emergency
Rule in 1975, and he was sentenced to life imprisonment in
November 1976. Ananda Marga was banned, many of its members
arrested, and its assets seized.
Finally, in August 1978, after the fall of the Ghandi government,
Anandamurti’s case was reviewed, the fictitious nature of
the charges against him ascertained, and he was released. In
the meantime his movement had spread around the world. He
died in October 1990.
Sources
Anandamurti, Shrii [P.R. Sarkar]. The Spiritual Philosophy of
Shrii Anandamurti. Denver, Colo. Ananda Marga Publications,
1981.
Sarkar, P. R. Idea and Ideology. Calcutta, India Ananda
Marga Pracaraka Research, 1967.
Tadblavananda, Avadhuta Archrya. Glimpses of Prout Philosophy.
Copenhagen, Denmark Central Proutish Publications,
1981.