Ananda Marga – A Revolution (Part 1)
Ananda Marga is a revolution. It is not only a spiritual revolution, but also an economic, social and mental revolution. The economic system, the social structure, the trend of thinking and the spiritual practices prescribed in Ananda Marga are not only new, but something quite different from the established ideas and practices in these spheres of life.
Ananda Marga is not a change merely due to the cycle of time, but a revolution – a radical change – in the true sense. Never before in the entire history of this world, or the universe, if that could be known to mortals, has a system of life embracing the economic, social, mental and spiritual spheres been correlated in a closely-knit society, as it has in Ananda Marga. In Ananda Marga a [sannyásii, a renunciant] is as good a member of society as an ordinary family person earning his or her own living and maintaining his or her family.
If we take each one of these important spheres of life separately as depicted in Ananda Marga, we will see how they are radically different from all existing ideas on the subjects.
Ever since the beginning of this world, the power to rule has been in the hands of one class or another.
In the beginning of the world, when it was inhabited by animals only, mere brute force determined the capacity of a class to rule. For example, we find in the natural history of the world a period when enormous reptiles, the dinosaurs, ruled the world with the help of sheer weight and brute force.
The rule of brute force did not end with the animals, but continued even in the age of earlier human beings. Even after the advent of civilization, in the early stages the knights, rajas, kings and maharajas depended on and ruled with the help of their physical strength. Every other faculty on the earth was subordinate to physical strength.
With the passage of time, as mental faculties developed, physical force was replaced by the mental capacities of planning, forethought, etc., as the essential requirements of ruling over others.
With further economic development, money became important. The possession of money could even secure the use of the knowledge of the learned, and the courage and strength of the brave. Hence the authority to rule passed on to the moneyed class, the capitalists. The capitalists could not retain the authority to rule for very long as their income depended on the workers.
The toilers, who had neither courage and strength, nor highly-developed mental faculties, nor money, had to depend on one of the above three classes for their maintenance. The classes with physical strength or mental faculties could do without the help of the toilers, and as long as their rule lasted the toilers did not realize their importance. The capitalists could not produce wealth without the help of the workers; the worker thus became an essential requirement of the ruler.
The workers did not fail to realize this, and consequently we find their attempts to rule manifest in the shape of the communist movement of the present age. A close study of this movement will show that it is not backed by individual physical strength, mental development, that is, reasoning or statesmanship, or capital, but by a unity of workers who have only one quality, that is, to work. This quality of work can be directed towards violence for snatching away the capital and the other attainments of the other classes. But whatever their drawbacks, the cycle of events shows that power is passing into their hands.
Similarly, if Ananda Marga were only a development due to the cycle of events, the power to rule, according to it, should be vested in one of the classes. If the workers or communists have outlived their utility, power, according to the ordinary cycle, should pass to the brave or to the statesmen, and Ananda Marga should have also aimed at this. In Ananda Marga this is not so. Ananda Marga does not follow any of the old patterns of economic life. The power to rule is not bestowed on any one class. In fact, in the Marga there are no separate classes. The Marga has done away with the age-old system of classifying human beings according to their trade or even their capacity.
The four classes which have ruled the world at one time or another are not of recent origin, but have been known ever since the beginning of humanity as bráhmańas [or vipras], kśatriyas, vaeshyas and shúdras. These trade-wise classifications developed due to individuals being more suited for a certain type of work. The classes so formed started the fight for power and for their own comforts, and thus came the existence of one class ruling the rest. It would thus appear that the formation of trade-wise classes was a natural and logical development.
If that were so, how, then, would Ananda Marga be able to establish a classless society? Ananda Marga does not claim any achievement which is illogical, and hence a classless society, which would be illogical, cannot be achieved by Ananda Marga. The natural and obvious conclusion of those who do not know Ananda Marga will be that Ananda Marga is like many other societies of idealists and moralists who aim to establish a classless society. The attempt to establish a classless society by Ananda Marga is not confined only to those who are preachers of the Marga, or to those who understand the philosophy of the Marga and appreciate the necessity of a classless society; rather, every member of Ananda Marga practises a system of living which leads to a classless society.
The revolutionary character of the Marga is seen from the very approach it takes to tackle one of the oldest vices of human beings: the vice of dividing themselves into classes for their own benefit. These artificial classes get logical backing from the fact that they have sprung up from the grouping together of persons of similar aptitude for the better utilization of their capacities. For instance, the learned and the statesmen combined together and formed the class of vipras. Similarly, the strong and the brave formed what is called the kśatriyas. The vaeshyas and the shúdras were formed in a similar way. Ananda Marga breaks all these classes, not by calling them bad, but by making all the members of Ananda Marga practise and develop the qualities of all these classes. For instance, the developed mind required by vipras is necessary for every member of Ananda Marga. Even if one is a shúdra or a vaeshya, or a member of any other class, every person, after joining the Marga, has to work to have a developed and strong mind. Every person has to work to build a strong and healthy body. Every person has to work for a living. This has been given so much importance in the Marga that it is laid down that the work of a sweeper – the lowest form of work – is far more respectable than depending upon others for one’s daily needs. Not only has earning money and having a balanced and dependable economic life been given importance, but even the lowest of all these classes, in whom people usually do not see any good, has been given equal importance. Every member of the Marga has to serve others physically. This is the work of the shúdras, or the workers. Followers of the Marga cannot develop themselves completely unless they can also perform this work efficiently. In short, all the requirements of the four classes have to be mastered by each individual in Ananda Marga.
It is not only the mastery of these trades which is necessary, the regular practice of these trades is an essential duty of every member of Ananda Marga. Every individual thus becomes universally fit. One makes as good a vipra as a shúdra. Thus, no scope is left for an individual to leave others behind and form a special group.
A classless society is not aimed at in the Marga, but is evolved by practice. This approach, to break a society full of classes and sects, was never thought of before. The very classes which appeared as a logical development and evolution can be broken up by an even more logical method to form only one classless society.
Ananda Marga is, therefore, not an organization of idealists or moralists who preach a classless society, but a method – a system or a dharma – which leads to a classless society. It has not been formed as a result of cyclic changes in the economic sphere of the world like the evolution of communism, rather it is a radical departure from all existing economic practices or theories conceived so far. It is a revolution in the economic sphere of the world’s life.
(1) Here capital punishment means both social ostracism and punishment by death. –Eds.
A Few Problems Solved Part 7
Ananda Marga Philosophy in a Nutshell Part 3 [a compilation]
Prout in a Nutshell Volume 1 Part 2 [a compilation]