By Dr. Susmit Kumar
From Dr. Susmit Kumar’s book Ananda Marga - Victim of Communist Conspiracy During 1969-77.
Ananda Marga is a worldwide socio-spiritual organization with centers and various social service operations in every region on all continents. At present it is active in more than 130 countries, running 1200 schools only in India (2013) and renders disaster relief around the world.
It was founded in 1955 by Shrii Prabhat Ranjan Sarkar, also known by his spiritual name Shrii Shrii Anandamurti, in Jamalpur, a small town in Bihar state of India. Sarkar was a remarkable self-taught spiritual master. Between 1955 and 1990, he authored more than 250 books in English, Bengali and Hindi on various philosophical and practical topics, the majority of which were compiled from his discourses. Sarkar also composed numerous devotional songs, wrote children’s literature and encyclopedic works, all besides evolving his movement from being a local upstart to becoming a well-diversified, highly structured global organization known for the discipline and self-sacrificing spirit of its cadre running educational and other social service projects.
Due to its significant educational movement and efficient relief operations, such as during the 1967 famine in Bihar and Bengal, Ananda Marga gained popularity in large areas particularly in North India where the Communist parties, mainly the CPI (Communist Party of India) and the CPI(M) (Communist Party of India-Marxist, also called CPM) had established itself as the dominating force. The radically progressive-minded force of Ananda Marga may have upset the Communists who may have preferred to maintain their monopoly on the concept of revolution and struggle against exploitation on behalf of the deprived. Yet, Ananda Marga emerged as an uncompromising force with its ideological struggle against the orthodox caste-based institutions and traditions of India as well as against capitalism and Communism.
In June 1975, Prime Minister Indira Gandhi imposed one-party dictatorial rule, the Emergency Rule, and imprisoned leaders and members of all the opposition parties. Mr. Sarkar and some of his disciples, who had already been jailed years before, were convicted by the Sessions Court in the following year on charges of alleged complicity in the murders of six former members of Ananda Marga. In March 1977, the Emergency Rule was lifted after the 1977 elections where Mrs. Gandhi suffered a humiliating defeat largely due to the atrocities committed during the Emergency Rule. When Mr. Sarkar’s attorney filed an appeal against the lower court verdict the Patna High Court overturned the conviction. The case against Mr. Sarkar was so weak that the central investigation agency, the CBI (Central Bureau of Investigation), which had filed the case against Mr. Sarkar and his four disciples, did not even file an appeal against the High Court verdict in the Supreme Court of India.
On the request of the International Committee to Obtain Justice for Shrii Shrii Anandamurti, an organization formed by Ananda Margiis living outside of India, William T. Wells, a British attorney, went to India several times during 1974-76 to oversee Mr. Sarkar´s case. Mr. Wells also attended the Sessions Court trial for several weeks in 1976. Mr. Wells summed up the reason behind the troubles faced by the Ananda Marga organization in the following words:
“The Ananda Marga movement is of a character, it must be admitted, to arise a measure of suspicion and antagonism, especially in India. Its condemnation of the caste system conflicts with the beliefs and traditions of orthodox Hindus; its emphasis on spirituality makes it anathema to the secularists, and particularly to the Marxists, its call for a Government of moralists and its attacks on corruption renders it suspect to the practical politician and the administrator who are trying to make the best of the situation as it is and human nature as that is. It would not have been unnatural to expect a measure of caution, circumspection, and even finesse in the public utterances of the leaders of a movement in so exposed a situation, and making its appeal primarily to the educated classes. On the contrary, Mr. Sarkar, in my view, seems often to have gone out of his way to give powder and shot to his opponents; and it is, to say the least, highly unfortunate that a movement which emphasizes its spiritual as against its political character should have had a political party, even though an extremely unsuccessful one, as one of its offshoots, however involuntarily. In the United States or the United Kingdom it would probably cause nothing more than amused tolerance were candidates to stand for elections under the banner of the Salvation Army or the Oxford Group. It would be unrealistic to look for the same reaction in a country in so difficult a situation as India.”
In order to analyze the controversies surrounding Mr. Sarkar and his Ananda Marga organization, one has to study it from a broader perspective, i.e. one has to consider factors like time, i.e. when the controversies arose, the political situation in India, political leaders involved, widespread corruption; and place, i.e. in which region of India it took place.
In the book we shall see that the then Indira Gandhi-led Congress Party Government persecuted Ananda Marga by claiming it to be Fascist, only during 1969-1977 when the CPI was an ally of Congress Party. It can be said that the Emergency rule was very much an effort to root out Ananda Marga in particular. After the declaration of Emergency, twenty-six domestic organizations were banned and their civil liberties suspended. Out of these twenty-six organizations, fourteen were directly associated with Ananda Marga and Prout, the socio-economic theory given by Mr. Sarkar.  When the same Indira Gandhi-led Congress Party again formed government in 1980, it did not persecute Ananda Marga and never again said a single word against Ananda Marga.
Mr. Sarkar travelled extensively all over India from 1955 to 1990 (barring the nearly seven years he was jailed) but only in Communist-infested West Bengal did he and the organization face problems. Since 1967, more than 40 Ananda Marga workers, nearly all in the CPM-ruled West Bengal state, were brutally murdered in the state-sponsored terrors by Communist parties-led governments. On the other hand, not a single Communist worker was ever killed by Ananda Margis.
In 1974, The Telegraph Agency of the Soviet Union (TASS), the official media agency of the Soviet State, described Ananda Marga as one of the four main reactionary forces in India. TASS was the central agency for collection and distribution of internal and international news for all Soviet newspapers, radio and television stations. In November 1974, one of numerous such TASS dispatches syndicated by the mainstream Indian press offered:
“The reactionary forces in India are trying to intensify their subversion against the democratic gains of the Indian people. This is evident from the decisions of the recent conference of the right-wing opposition parties at which Mr. Jayaprakash Narayan, advocate of reactionaries, and the motley conglomeration of right-wing forces, including representatives from the communal party, the Jana Sangh, the opposition parties, the Bharatiya Lok Dal and the Congress (O), and semi-fascist organizations of Ananda Marga type were included. The conference wanted the deposition of the Central government and the dissolution of the elected bodies of the Indian states. The pressing need now is for united action by the CPI and other left and democratic forces including progressive elements of the Indian National Congress.”
It may be noted here that in 1990, Amnesty International, Poland’s Solidarity party leader Lech Walesa, and the Czechoslovakian President Havel sent letters of support to Ananda Marga regarding the persecution Ananda Marga had suffered by the CPM. 
The charges and instances of violent persecution of Ananda Marga and its founder are very many. It is probably typical of a great visionary to suffer such persecution. It has been called a great paradox that those, who history later places on the pinnacle of eternal, glorification are generally put to ordeal of endurance by their contemporaries. Jesus Christ, the embodiment of love and peace, was put to trial on baseless charges and was mocked, beaten and in the end sentenced to crucifixion. Gautama Buddha, the founder of Buddhism, had to face false charges like having illicit relationship with women, and there were murderous attacks on him. There were numerous murderous attacks on Krishna. In the Mahabharata war, Krishna guided the righteous Pandavas to victory only after they had gone through severe unjust treatment and thirteen hellish years of most troublesome exile at the hand of their wily cousins the Kauravas. Once he declared idolatry a sin, Prophet Muhammed had to suffer at the hands of Koresh who threw excreta of camel on him and attacked him by grey hounds. His life became so miserable in Mecca that he had to send all his disciples to Medina and flee Mecca at night. Socrates, the celebrated Greek scholar and most pious person, had to drink poison at the hands of his adversaries.
 Stock, Jonathan, “Death-dance group rejoices in arms ruling,” South China Morning Post, February 7, 2000.
 “Mr. P.R. Sarkar and the Ananda Marga: A Report on Ananda Marga Society in India and the plight of their leader Mr. P.R. Sarkar, prepared for the International Committee to obtain justice for Shrii Shrii Anandamurti,” British lawyer and Queen’s Counsel, Mr. William T. Wells, 1974, p 12. http://proutglobe.org/prsarkarlegal/Wells-Memo-1974.pdf
 “RSS, Marg, Jamaat among 26 banned,” The Times of India, July 5, 1995.
 “Tass terms JP a reactionary,” The Times of India, November 28, 1974.
 “Amnesty, Walesa with us: Margis,” The Times of India, July 4, 1990.
 Acarya Jagadhiswarananda Avadhut, The Flame That Burns Upward, Ananda Nagar, West Bengal, India, 1974, p 1.
Copyright The author 2015