In 1955, Shrii Prabhat Rainjan Sarkar founded Ananda Marga, a spiritual and social service organization which spread world-wide in the 1970's. Based on a blending of the spiritual practices of Tantra Yoga and social welfare ideals, Ananda Marga teaches meditation and various yoga practices, as well as running schools, homes and a wide range of social welfare projects.
In 1959, Sarkar, who is also known as Shrii Shrii Anandamurti, extended the scope of Ananda Marga philosophy to encompass certain socio-economic principles, which have become known as Prout – an acronym for Progressive Utilization Theory. This theory blends spiritual with socialistic idealism – a formula familiar in Eastern India, where prominent nationalists such as Vivekananda and Subhas Chandra Bose also made use of the present Ananda Marga slogan – “Liberation of Self and Service to Humanity”. Prout is the social side of a total philosophy that blends concepts of spiritual and social liberation.
The adoption of social activism by a spiritual organization created controversy in India, and attempts were made to suppress both Ananda Marga and Prout. The Central Indian Government made several unsuccessful attempts to ban members of Ananda Marga from employment in the public service, and Sarkar himself was falsely accused of various crimes and gaoled for nearly seven years. The courts finally rejected the charges against him and released him in 1978.
– From "Introduction", Universal Humanism, Ananda Marga Publications