- Raising Potential Ananda Marga Missionaries for Activities Abroad?
After the fall of Communism, in 1989, the media made known to the world the economic and social disaster the Romanians had experienced for the previous 15 years of the Communist totalitarian regime. Only then did the world (including most Romanians) realise what a terrible life the thousands of orphans and abandoned children had been living in the public orphanages and other institutions of that kind.
Beginning in December 1989 many foreign charity organizations offered their help to improve the lives of these poor children, and all such organizations, without discrimination, were officially accepted and registered as legal "Aid-for-the-Children" organizations.
Among these was "AMURT Schweiz" (Ananda Marga Universal Relief Team), who received approval to function as an humanitarian help organization for the Romanian abandoned children on 24th July, 1990, through the Bucharest Court decision No.1920 as "AMURT Romania". According to an official letter (dated 10th May, 1994) the Romanian Health Department declared that "AMURT Romania" was in charge of two schools (including dormitories) - one in the village of Domnesti, not far from Bucharest, and the other at Panatau (Buzau country) in a mountain area. They were also given responsibility for two kindergartens in Bucharest, one being called "The Dawn".l)
In December of 1993, The Romanian League for Defending the Rights of Children (LDCR) revealed that Iosif Mina, a chronically ill child with hepatitis, had been a victim of serious child abuse. He was the patient of a Public Health Care Hospital in Iasi and was transferred to "AMURT" orphanage in Panatau village. The transfer was unlawfully carried out by the Romanian members of "Ananda Marga" in the name of AMURT using counterfeited official papers and by bribing some officials.
LDCR sent complaints regarding this situation to those involved and began researching the case of Iosif Mina, and the activities of AMURT.2) Soon it was discovered that the normal medical treatment for Iosif Mina had been canceled by his new tutors and had been replaced by holistic medical treatment, mainly homeopathy and a strict vegetarian diet. Along with this "new medicine" he had to participate in Tantric Meditation Seances in " The Dawn" kindergarten in Bucharest.3)
More information about AMURT was requested from Zurich, Switzerland, where they were raising funds for the Romanian children. This information was obtained from the Regional Police in Zurich, the Theological Faculty in Zurich, and of course from "Dialog Centers" around the world. The information we received confirmed that AMURT is a branch of Ananda Marga, a dangerous cult accused of international terrorism.4) We especially thank the Dialog Center International (Aarhus) for information concerning this cult.
Amongst the main features of Ananda Marga relating to children there is a 'spiritual baptism" for newborn children, by sprinkling purifying water and invoking Brahman on the baby. At the age of five, the children have to start a meditation programme.5) This was confirmed by an unannounced visit of some members of LDCR to "The Dawn" kindergarten. We found about 25 children (under the age of seven) at a meditation lesson. They were sitting in a circle in a Yoga posture, staring at the flame of a candle and constantly repeating a specific Hindu mantra. When he was contacted in private, Iosif Mina admitted that he was forced to repeat "some verses in a strange language that he didn't understand". Unfortunately, now after 18 months, Iosif was completely integrated into Ananda Marga and made obedient to their cultic precepts. On the other hand, in an attempt to hide their real intentions, they pretend to bring up the children according to the Romanian Eastem Orthodox tradition by bringing them to the local church services on Sundays. Some of the children are even baptized by the Orthodox priest. In the local and national newspapers, a campaign was started to unmask the activities of Ananda Marga in Romania.6) As a result their development was hindered, but not without some problems for us. RODCOR informed some international organizations such as UNICEF; the Council of Europe; the United Nations Committee for Human Rights, Geneva; Defende des Enfants International, Geneva, etc. 7), about the abuse of Romanian children by Ananda Marga. In all cases we referred to Article 14, points 1 and 2, of the "United Nations Convention Concerning Children's Rights": " All States will respect the children' s right concerning freedom of thought, of conscience and religion, etc."
In many articles published in Romanian newspapers, many incidents of "swindling" by Ananda Marga were exposed. For example, some posters were discovered which were used in Switzerland and Germany to raise funds in a bank account of the Swiss branch of AMURT. These posters didn't mention that they belonged to AMURT, but to another association, "Leben für Alle", which, in fact, doesn't exist. The posters referred to the project of the AMURT's orphanage in Panatau and reproduced Iosif Mina's picture.8)
It was subsequently found that the land on which the Panatau orphanage was built was unlawfully obtained. There were also complaints about the proselytizing activities of AMURT among the school children of that village.9)
On the 11th March, 1995, the national television company made an interesting announcement on behalf of the police, showing the photograph of a Romanian member of AMURT who was accused of swindling many people. The commentator added: "AMURT is a branch of a dangerous cult accused of international terrorism".
Obviously irritated by the many disclosures in the press, and the damage being done to their work in Romania, Mr Bhola Sha, the leader of AMURT in Switzerland, held a press-conference in Romania. He tried to show that AMURT was not a cult but he was ridiculed by the reporters present.10) As a result the "charitable" AMURT changed it's tactics by sending slanderous letters to the newspapers, some organizations and to the police, concerning so-called abuses carried out by LDCR.11) In June, 1994, AMURT sued LDCR for libel claiming moral damages of about USD 3,000 (which is a huge sum, knowing that the average monthly salary in Romania is about USD 60-80). The lawsuit is still proceeding.
AMURT .are doing their best to prove that all their activities in Romania are legal, and there are a lot of concrete things done for the Romanian orphanages among which are alternative healing courses (included in universities). Etc.12) They showed some thank-you letters received for their charitable activities from officials in Somalia, South Africa, Croatia, Russia, Romania, etc. One such letter, received from South Africa, is signed by the president - Nelson Mandela.
In their defence, AMURT claims the children' s rights are not being infringed. In a strange and shrewd way they use the same arguments as LDCR to make their point. Knowing that they have big financial support, and are able to bribe almost anyone in a poor country like Romania, it is simple to figure out that it isn't at all easy to confront them, despite all the tactics described above. In Romania there is no "Dialog Center" who could give support to organizations such as LDCR in confronting the increasing activity of the NRMs, and no financial possibility to oppose them. There is no literature available and no experience in such a ministry .We sent a lot of letters asking help in our struggle with Ananda Marga to specialized institutions in the West which might help us (even by sending information) - but we got few replies). Their silence is inexplicable. The result is that, for the moment, cults like Ananda Marga are spreading rapidly in Romania. We desperately need the help of organizations from abroad who are experienced in this area. The dangers which the future holds cannot be ignored. One day the young missionaries trained by Ananda Marga in Romania will "visit" the western countries of the "United Europe" and do what they were taught to do in the Romanian training camps of Panatau and Domnesti. It is no wonder that Ananda Marga are searching especially for abandoned children, as they can be easily manipulated by their new tutors. This may sound too ominous, but remember Ananda Marga's former deeds in India, New Zealand, Australia, etc.
May God help us to "fight the good fight" as long as it is possible! Thank you for your concern.
1. Letter No. 207-80110.05.1994 of the Romanian Hea1th Department, "Mother and Child Assistance Committee", to LDCR Iasi - P.O. Box 184,6600 Romania.
2. "Evenimentul", Iasi, 11.04.1994, p.4.
3. "Monitorul", Iasi ,05.05. 1994, p.l; Ibid. 11.-12.06. 1994, p. 4; Ibid. 27.28.08. 1994, p. 1; "Romania libera", Bucharest, 31.08. 1994, p.9.
4. Lexikon der Sekten, Sondergruppen und Weltanschaungen, Herder Verlag, Freiburg im Breisgau, 1990, p.42; Handbuch der ReligiÃ¶sen Gemeinschaften Gutersloher Verlagshaus, 1993, p. 676-685; "The illustrated Weekly of India", 23.05. 1982, p. 12-13; Ibid. 27.10. 1985: "India Today", 31.05.1982, p. 108-111.
5. The founder of Ananda Marga, p .R. Sarkar, declares: " A branch of Ananda Marga is the Education Relief and Welfare Section (ERAWS) founded in April 1970. AMURT is created by Ananda Marga for administrating aids and holding them at the disposal of disaster victims in countries other than India. (Ananda Marga and Progressive Utilisation Theory, German edition, p.233). Also: "By its social service system Ananda Marga is recruiting new adherents..." (ibid., p.239)
6. "Opinia", Iasi, 23.09.1994, p.l; Ibid. 07. I I .1994, p. 1; "Romania libera", Bucharest, 07.09.1994, p.16: ,,24 ore", Iasi , 28.11.1994, p. I.; "Evenimentul zilei", Bucharest. 25.11.1994. p.3; Ibid. 27.11.1994, p. 16.
7. UNICEF Courier, Information Bulletin, Bucharest, No.2-3, 1994, p.10.
8. "Romania libera", Bucharest, 07.09.1994, p.16.
9. "Romania libera", Bucharest, 08.04.1995, p.9; "ziua", Bucharest, 16.12.1994, p.5.
10. "24 ore", Iasi ,31.10.1994, p.8.
11. "Jurnalul national", Bucharest, 15.11.1991.
12. The Education Department - International Seminar on Preventive Education for Children and Teenagers - Busteni, 188.8.131.522, p.64-66; "Realitatea banateana", Timisoara, 29.04.1995, p.5.
Facts about Ananda Marga:
The important principles of the sect Ananda Marga are taken from Hindu/Buddhist philosophy and religion. There are certain parallels between the AUM sect and Ananda Marga which in an international context is considered to be an extremist terror organisation which has a military division - as well. It is associated with Moon's "Holy Spirit Association for the Unification of World Christianity". In our country (Romania), the sect lives under cover of the "Association of charitable Help"; "AMURT", which means "Ananda Marga Universal Relief Team", which is residing at Bucharest. (Ostensibly taken from a Romanian police report to be used by the press.)
The main charge of the (Indian) government against Marga was, that being secret and extremist, it planned to murder political leaders in order to seize power. In the words of an observer: "The Indian government eventually came to the conclusion that Ananda Marga wanted to capture political power by violence and armed revolution and that it's so-called Voluntary Social Service (VSS) was really a paramilitary organisation set up for the purpose of overthrowing the government."(The leader of Ananda Marga was sentenced to life imprisonment in India. But ultimately, the government lost its case in the High Court.)