A Brief Biography of Shri Shri Anandamurtiji
22 minutes • 4544 words
Table of contents
Shri Shri Anandamurtiji was bom in Jamalpur, Bihar, India, at dawn on the full-moon day in May 1921, the same day that Buddha was born about 2500 years earlier.
Because the sun was rising at the moment of His birth, the baby was named Arun, which means “crimson dawn”. Later His name was changed to Prabhat Ranjan, meaning “that which colors the dawn.” His full name was Prabhat Rainjan Sarkar.
Some days after the baby’s birth, a ceremony was performed at which many of the family members were present. A cotton wick was dipped into a silver pot of milk and then held over the baby’s mouth so that the milk could drip in. At that moment, however, Arun lurched forward, grabbed the wick and started to drink from it directly.
Everyone was shocked, especially the grandmother who exclaimed, “He is not a baby, rather he is a grown-up boy! He is Burho!” From that moment, Burho, which means “the ancient one,” became His nickname. Later on it was shortened to Bubu. Many years later, when Baba was asked about this incident, He said it was at that time that He realized it would be better for Him to act like a normal child.
When He was only an infant, He narrated strange experiences to His mother, telling her how all the animals of the universe would enter in one of His ears, and go out the other. Many of the descriptions lit animals which He had never seen or which were extinct. He also narrated how all the planets and galaxies were floating through Him.
His family members all remember seeing Prabhat Ranjan, even from a very young age, frequently sitting on His bed in the middle of the night performing meditation.
When He was five years old, Prabhat Ranjan accompanied His parents to a Shiva temple. In the presence of the temple priest, the child gracefully recited a lengthy Sanskrit hymn to Shiva with perfect accent and intonation. The priest was shocked. How could a small, uneducated boy without any prior exposure to Sanskrit perform such a feat? His parents were also awe-stmck by their own child.
When admitted to the Jamalpur primary school, Prabhat Ranjan caught everyone’s interest by His astonishing memory and grasp of countless scientific phenomena and geographic facts that were obviously beyond the capacity of a human mind, what to speak of a child’s mind. He also surprised many people by His daily habit of visiting the old unkempt Kali Hill Temple, a thoroughly frightening place which everyone else avoided. When asked why He went there, the child replied, “I go there to think.” One day while walking home from school, He came upon a group of other students standing on the road.
A large bull was blocking the path of the children, and they were afraid to push it aside. Prabhat Ranjan stepped forward and held His palm in front of the bull’s forehead; immediately the bull sat down.
During every vacation period Prabhat Ranjan was sent to the family’s peaceful ancestral home at Bamunpara in Burdwan, West Bengal. Because He spent much of His time lying in bed, His sister one day complained that He was a lazy boy, neither studying nor playing like other children.
She said she believed He did not even know how to write His name. He asked her to bring a pen and paper. Then He wrote His name in five scripts: Bengali, Arabic, Roman, Devanagrii and Tamil. From that moment she stopped pestering Him. Many years later Baba mentioned that at the age of seven, while spending long hours lying in His bed in Bamunpara, He chalked out His blueprint for the future Ananda Marga.
This habit of remaining lengthy periods in His bed changed apparently when He finished His plan. From that point on, Prabhat Ranjan became a student leader. During classes He sat very still, listening carefully, and absorbing every detail. But once out of class he would change completely. He loved gymnastics, swimming, wrestling, football, track and field events and other sports. He also enjoyed playing the flute, and writing poetry and short-stories.
Eventually He composed articles concerned with public welfare which he published in commercial magazines.
His father died at the age of 45, and the family was beset by financial hardship.
Nevertheless, His mother made the necessary sacrifices so that Prabhat Ranjan could attend college. In 1939 her son was admitted to the faculty of science in Vidyasagar College in Calcutta where He developed a reputation for assisting students troubled by poverty.
He took private tutoring jobs in order to help others. Students also flocked to Him for help in their studies—even senior students. He also began attracting many people with His unusual talents—palm reading, fortune-telling, and manifesting various supra-psychic phenomena.
Every evening He used to walk along the bank of the Ganges River, where He would also sit for meditation. Throughout His life. He never had any spiritual teacher or guru. One night, however, He began His own work as a guru.
It was a full-moon night, and He was meditating in a cremation ground on the bank of the Ganges. Suddenly He heard a rough voice demanding, “Give me your money, or I’ll kill you immediately!” He turned and found Himself facing a tall robust criminal.
Unafraid, He said, “Kalicharan, I promise to give you all the money I have. But first tell me whether you rob people out of necessity or out of habit.”
The dreaded thief was electrified by the composure of the slight lad, and amazed that he had been addressed by name. In a flash he understood the youth was a saint. Kalicharan said, “All my life I wanted to be a good person, but was never given the chance.” Moments later he entered the river to purify himself of his sins, then sat before Prabhat Ranjan and said. “Khoka, teach me as you want.” Khoka means little boy. Prabhat Ranjan corrected him. “Call me Baba.” Then He initiated Kalicharan, who, while doing meditation, entered the super¬ consciousness state. Afterward, Baba compelled a weeping Kalicharan to accept the few coins He had in His pocket. From that day, the rectified thief became a great spiritualist and his name was changed to Kalikananda.
During His time in Calcutta, Baba stayed at the house of His maternal uncle, Sarat Chandra Basu. Sarat Chandra’s cousin was the famous social activist Subhash Chandra Bose. Though the name of Subhash Chandra Bose is not so familiar throughout the non-Indian world, in India his memory is commonly given equal or greater respect than that of Mahatma Gandhi.
These two figures were the greatest leaders of the movement to gain independence from England. Another renowned personality with whom Baba had a close relationship was the revolutionary sociologist M.N. Roy. Over a period of several years, both Subhash Chandra Bose and M.N. Roy frequently visited Baba to imbibe sociological concepts and solutions from Him. Subhash Chandra also benefited from Baba’s knowledge of Tantra.
After completing His intermediate studies in science in 1941. the dire financial condition of the family forced Baba to give up His further studies. He returned home and joined the accounts department of the railway workshop in lamalpur.
At that time lamalpur was home to the biggest such workshop in all of Asia, with thousands of employees. Two years later, during the second World War, He entered the Territorial Army. After completing His military service.
Baba returned to the railway workshop, and continued working there for more than twenty years. He was esteemed by the staff for His perfect efficiency and loving nature. Moreover, He became renowned as a palmist and fortune-teller.
Many people came to Him to find out the whereabouts of their lost children and articles, and also to be healed from chronic or incurable ailments.
One day, while India was still a British colony, Prabhat Ranjan was approached by an English gentleman who told Him that his wife was suffering in a London hospital. She had sent a telegram saying that the doctors found it difficult to diagnose the disease, but had decided to remove one of her kidneys.
The man was depressed because he could not go to England to comfort his wife due to the war. Baba closed His eyes, then told him to send a cable requesting the doctors to make another medical check-up. Baba said, “Do not worry.
A simple operation will suffice. Your wife will be cured and soon return to you.”
After a few days, news came that his wife was healed and on her way to India.
When she arrived. Baba was invited to their house. When He entered, the wife was astonished. She took her husband into the side room and asked, “Who is this gentleman?” The husband said, “It is Shri Prabhat Ranjan Sarkar, my sole friend when I was in distress about your illness.”
She became panicky and replied, “It is impossible, because he is the same Indian doctor who prevailed on the other doctors not to remove my kidney but to prefer a minor operation! When the operation was performed, he remained all the time next to me, keeping his hand on my head. It made me feel completely calm.” The husband was stunned. Baba, however, evaded their questions, and quickly left the house.
In those days. Baba kept a special mirror in His bedroom. Occasionally when people expressed anxiety to Him about their far-away relatives. He would allow them to look into the mirror and see their relative. From this experience they derived great relief. Each time that He did this, however, He became sick for some time.
A woman was once desperately weeping about the fact that she had been unable to meet her mother just before the old lady’s death. Baba showed her the mirror in which she saw her mother calmly sitting in a rowboat on a lake.
The woman was very satisfied. After this He became very sick and remained so for one month. During that time, Baba’s mother came in the room and broke the mirror.
Until 1954, Baba led a life of spiritual camouflage. He initiated a large number of people without letting one another know that they were the disciples of one and the same guru. Most of His co-workers and even His family did not know about His spiritual work.
On November 7, 1954, He called His disciples together for the first time and delivered His first spiritual address. On January 9th, 1955, Ananda Marga Pracaraka Samgha was formally founded. He explained that the organization aimed at a two-fold ideal: liberation of self, and service to the world. Then, for the first time in a collective meeting, Baba gave His now-famous special gesture of blessing. Everyone in the congregation entered into various states of spiritual awakening.
In the late 1950’s Baba married, and a few years later, a baby boy was born.
Thus Baba demonstrated that a family was no impediment to a life of supreme dedication.
From 1955 Baba began training spiritual teaches or acharyas and empowering them to teach the meditation lessons. In the first years, all of these men and women were well-educated, respected family people. They eventually numbered several hundred. In these first years of Ananda Marga, Baba also wrote much of the basic spiritual and social philosophy. He saturated His disciples in blissful experiences and gave almost no guidance regarding any social work except for the propagation of spiritual and yoga practices.
Baba frequently demonstrated extraordinary psycho-spiritual phenomena. He induced different states of superconsciousness in His disciples, caused individuals to die and then brought them back to life, and created special circumstances in which they would hear the divine sounds.
This purely spiritual phase ended in 1962 when Baba began the order of monks and nuns. The speed of Ananda Marga’s growth accelerated greatly, and began to spread throughout India. Though His demonstrations continued, Baba now began organizing massive social service programs. In 1963, the Education, Relief and Welfare Section was started.
Workers and Margis (members of Ananda Marga) threw themselves into opening schools and welfare homes, and into catastrophe relief work. Yet it was only at the end of 1966, when the organization had grown to immense proportions, that Baba agreed to give up His job at the railway office. By maintaining His employment throughout the foundation years of the organization, he demonstrated that busy family people are capable of both spiritual achievement and service to society. He accepted His workers’ request to give up His job only when they promised to keep up with His speed. He told them their activities would increase ten times. Baba moved to Ananda Nagar, our global master unit, located in an impoverished tribal area. The organization’s speed became something unimaginable.
Throughout the same period, the public was exposed to Baba’s socio¬ economic concept called Progressive Utilization Theory (or Prout), which He had first given in 1959. Because of Prout’s intrinsic threat to vested interests, opposition to Ananda Marga developed among corrupt politicians and other shady public figures. That opposition began expressing itself in a sinister way in 1967 when an attack was organized against Ananda Nagar by members of the Communist Party (Marxist). Five monks were murdered. Several politicians and hoodlums were eventually arrested and convicted for the murders.
Other serious incidents occurred over the following years, including one more murder by the Communists in 1969. 2
2 It should be understood that the Communists were, even then, a major political force in India. Today they hold the power in West Bengal, the state in which Ananda Nagar and Calcutta are both located. Our central office is in Calcutta.
By that time, Ananda Marga’s influence had grown considerably. Half the police commissioners of Bihar state were Margis as well as many other public officials. Margis gained a reputation as scrupulously honest people who refused to accept bribes or in any way compromise their morality. Baba had always spoken out against all forms of corruption, and Margis in public positions began exposing the corruption rampant in the administration at that time. In 1969, in light of these developments, the federal government passed a ban order, forbidding civil servants and other government employees from joining Ananda Marga. The order claimed that Ananda Marga was actually a political organization. Ananda Marga then filed a challenge in the Supreme Court and won the case, causing the ban to be withdrawn.
Desperate to stop Ananda Marga. the government, in complicity with the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI), resorted to drastic measures. They concocted murder conspiracy charges against Baba, and He was arrested in December 1971. The victims’ bodies were mutilated and unidentifiable. Though there was no solid evidence, the case dragged on for nearly seven years, while Baba tolerated difficult jail conditions. In 1973, when it appeared we might soon win the case, Baba suffered an attempt to kill Him by poison. He lost His eyesight and underwent intense pain for many days. When the government refused to investigate the poisoning. Baba began a protest fast consuming liquids only — which He continued for more than five years. He stopped the fast when He was proven innocent, honorably acquitted and released from jail in August 1978.
During the time of His fasting, several Members of Parliament came to visit Baba. This was one of the few known times when He permitted non- Margis to meet and talk to Him. Normally it was always His policy to remain inaccessible to the general public. The visiting officials begged Baba to break His fast, arguing that His life was vital for the success of His mission. But Baba replied, “My ideas are more precious than my life.” On the other hand, when He was later asked how it was possible that He sustained His body despite prolonged fasting. He answered, “There is nothing unnatural about it. The only difference is that while other people take energy assimilated in their edibles, I have to derive energy directly from sunlight.”
Before Baba was imprisoned, Ananda Marga was active in only five countries. By the time He came out, it had spread to eighty, and had become the world’s largest traditional yoga movement. As Tantric principles would suggest, the struggles undergone by the workers and Margis had only helped in strengthening them.
Such difficulties, however, were far from finished. On May 1st, 1982, seventeen Dadas and Didis were killed in a barbarous manner by the Communists in Calcutta. Later, Dada Ajitananda was beaten to death in Siliguri jail because he refused to support a false case filed by the Communists.
In 1981 Baba conducted an extraordinary three-month program in which He used His subtle perception to analyze the conduct and health of thousands of Margis, one by one. It was a unique activity never before done by any spiritual master. This was the only time in Baba’s life that He clearly exposed His occult power to such a large number of people over many days continuously.
From 1985 a massive development program of Ananda Nagar was undertaken. More than one hundred small and large buildings were constructed, farms were started, various development training programs for the neighboring villagers were begun, ecological energy systems were established, women’s welfare activities were undertaken, agricultural research stations were created, and the network of roads and rivers was greatly expanded. A hospital was built, which now serves hundreds of people every week. The kindergarten, primary school, high school and university have a total enrollment of over one thousand students, many of whom live in hostels and children’s homes. There is a bakery and several different kinds of small industries.
The Communists, intimidated by such progressive activities in the center of a belt of poor, illiterate tribal people, began striking directly at Ananda Nagar. Almost every day thugs attempted to destroy buildings or crops, or to attack our workers. Ananda Marga’s leading agricultural scientist, Dada Asiimananda, was murdered along with four other workers. Later, one worker was killed and four Margis severely injured when they were trying to protest police mistreatment of a number of overseas Margis. All of these disturbances continued until October 21st, 1990, the day that Baba left His physical body. After that the attacks greatly diminished.
Baba left behind a vast legacy. He wrote over 200 books on diverse subjects. An incomplete list of those subjects follows:
spiritual philosophy and practice, yoga and Tantra
the cycle of creation and reincarnation
social philosophy, norms, ceremonies and systems
Bengali dictionary of over 6000 difficult words, with derivations
Bengali encyclopedia of over 6000 pages
English, Sanskrit and Bengali grammar books
language, script and philology
microvita (most minuscule and mysterious life form)
Neo-humanism (overcoming dogma, creating universalism by devotion) agriculture
health habits and medical treatment
justice and women’s rights the judicial system and criminality culture, literature and fine arts industrial policy, cooperatives and commerce ecology, population growth and decentralization
politics, government, democracy, communism and progressive socialism history and civilization: socially, economically, culturally and spiritually analysis of spiritual scriptures and mythological writings analysis of major religious schools and historically-related figures morality
bio-psychology, glands and anatomy
the social roles of the major professions
In addition to these writings, Baba composed 5018 songs in eight languages, collectively called Prabhat Sangiit. The songs were written during the last eight years of His life.
I see that until now that my purpose in being on the spiritual path—to realize Truth or God—has really been for the sake of myself.
- It has been selfish.
Kiirtan is a way out of that selfishness.
It’s a dance of surrender to God, a dance of giving Him myself. Singing of Him, dancing for Him— nothing for me.
During my first kiirtans, I was sometimes self-conscious. I thought: “Am I doing it right? What will others think of me doing this dance?”
But soon I overcame that, and, after I sat for meditation, the flow continued: for Him, not for me.
A big burden is being released, a burden I didn’t even know I carried.
Whenever I do kiirtan nicely, selfish thinking stops or almost stops. But not by suppression. Where “He” is, automatically my “I” is not.
Who or what is He? I don’t know. Occasionally during kiirtan or meditation I get scared I’m losing myself to something unknown and I draw back.
How silly! There’s nothing to lose except my selfishness.
Last night I went to sleep at 11:00 in a second-story room of the yoga house. The other bed next to mine was empty.
About midnight I was awakened by a voice. By the moonlight coming through the window, I could see a man lying in the other bed wearing white pajamas. He told me to get up and tell everyone that no one was to go to sleep until they’d done their second meditation.
Though surprised, I stood up unquestioningly and walked out of the room to the stairway. Looking down, I saw only one brother, Brian, sitting on the sofa.
8 Kiirtan is the practice of singing God’s name while dancing. In Ananda M arga, the chant is “Baba Nam K evalam.” Here Baba means" dearest one, God, most Beloved, or divine Father", Nam means" name’ 1 , K evalam means " only". While dancing, one holds the arms high, and steps from side to side, touching the big toe of one foot next to the heel of the other foot. K iirtan is a purely devotional practice for the purpose of bringing one’s mind into a concentrated spiritual state before beginning silent meditation. Because it enhances the practice of meditation, it is best to dance kiirtan before every meditation whenever practical, whether alone or in a group. It is the single practice which provides the greatest assurance against developing superiority complex, inferiority complex, or other harmful complexes of ego.
“I don’t know quite what’s happening,” I mumbled down to Brian, “but, ah, there was a man on the other bed in my room, and, oh, pardon me, it’s all so strange, maybe it doesn’t make sense, but well, anyway. I’ll repeat what he said: ‘No one is to go to sleep until they’ve done their second meditation.’ That’s what he said. So excuse me, and good night.”
As I was talking. Brian was looking around, unable to find the speaker. In the end, as I turned toward my room, he glanced up and saw me.
When I entered my room, I looked at the second bed. Nobody. But a powerful oscillating energy pervaded the air, walls, floor, furniture, everything, and made me feel dizzy. It was as if the room had been mystically transported onto an ocean-going ship, which bobbed up and down as it moved over powerful waves. I lay down, bewildered, and merged into that vibration. Within seconds I fell asleep.
In the morning, Brian came up to me and said, “That was incredible last night.”
“Last night? What?” I said. My mind was blank.
“You don’t remember? Really strange! I was sitting alone late last night, feeling exhausted and a bit sick, thinking, T just can’t do my meditation tonight. Baba, don’t mind. I’ll go to sleep.’” As he said this, my memory clicked and it all flashed back.
“Yeah, I remember now!”
“Well, anyway, as I started to get up I heard your voice, but couldn’t understand where it was coming from. In fact, I thought it was Baba’s voice! And what He said through you made my whole body shake until I mentally threw myself at His feet. After that, when I looked up and finally saw you, well, I was shocked again. Of course I went to my room after that and did long meditation.” 9
Today for the first time I saw a photo of Baba. I was stunned. It was the same man who was in my room three nights ago. I had always imagined that Baba would have a great beard and powerful eyes. But
9 In order to receive Ananda M arga initiation, two disciplines are required: meditation at least twice daily, and participation in the weekly group meditation. The student isfree to experiment with many other practices and exercises, but the most crucial one is regular meditation.
the man who had been in my room, and who I now realized was Baba Himself, was clean-shaven, wore glasses, and appeared more like a gentleman than a yoga master. Yet He is a yoga master, I have no more doubt, and more powerful, I see, than I could have ever imagined. 10
Oklahoma. About 600 Margis from all over America are attending the retreat here. I participated in a meeting with 70 persons who wanted to work as full-time volunteers. I volunteered to go to Mississippi, which is one of the few states yet unstaffed. Mississippi is infamous for being the state having great racial hatred between blacks and whites. It will be an interesting challenge to introduce universalism to such people.
Jackson, Mississippi. I arrived yesterday with one other new volunteer. Last night we slept peacefully under a bush.
We haven’t a single friend, reference or contact.
Because there is a shortage of houses, the real estate companies all say that it takes from three months to one year on the waiting list before one can rent a place. Nevertheless, we found an agency today that made an exception for us. It’s a small house, but it’ll keep the rain out better than a bush.
What did I say?
I gave my first lecture on yoga today at the university. Since nothing was planned, I completely depended on Baba to guide me.
There were forty students plus a few teachers—all from the Department of Psychology. After they introduced me, I stood dumb before them. Ten seconds, twenty seconds passed. I began to swear and mentally screamed at Baba, “Why aren’t you giving me any ideas?”
Baffled at His unexpected non-cooperation, I started speaking something, anything. As a few awkward words emerged in a slow nervous stutter, I thought, “Baba, help me!” Suddenly an intangible wave rolled over me.
The fear evaporated, and words began to flow. I spoke for one hour. At the end everyone applauded enthusiastically.
“Though Baba recommended that men should keep at least two-inch beards so that the normal temperature of the related glands is maintained, He nevertheless shaved. Under the demand of social conditions a man may have to shave. Baba’s appearance demonstrated that there is no spiritual difference between renunciatesand family people. The same potential enlightenment is everyone’s birthright, even for those who are compelled to moderately compromise their lifestyles.
While we were walking back to our flat, David (the other volunteer) said, “Wow, that was perfect! They all seemed totally absorbed in your words. And so amazed, they couldn’t ask a single question after your speech! Afterward I heard several people saying they felt you spoke straight to their inner needs. Where did you get such ideas?”
Still excited from the experience, I said, “Before I try to answer your question, can you answer one of mine? What did I talk about? 1 don’t remember a single sentence.”