Dada Kaladharananda demonstrated yoga to us.
Ananda Marga is a global, spiritual and social organization which engages in Yoga and Tantra(密宗) founded in 1955 by Shrii Shrii Anandamurti (Prabhat Ranjan Sarkar). The mission of Ananda Marga is self-realization (individual emancipation) and service to humanity (collective welfare). Through its meditation centers and service projects around the world, Ananda Marga offers instruction in meditation, yoga and other self-development practices on a non-commercial basis, and responds to social emergencies (such as natural disaster relief) and long-term social needs. Dada Kaladharananda, who is in charge of the Ananda Marga Meditation Assoctiation in Taipei yoga house, told us they participate in lots of social activities in Taiwan, such as visiting more than 12 care centers for the elderly, schools for the mentally challenged, junior and senior high schools, Tucheng Juvenile detention home and also Taipei Prison.
In Taiwan, Ananda Marga claims that 100.000 people have participated in their activities, although the number of returning active members is around 1,000.
Pratiik – The Symbol of Ananda Marga
The pratiik is composed of two interconnected triangles where one points upwards signifying external action or service to society as a whole, and the other points downwards signifying inner development, knowledge, insight or meditation. In the center of the triangle there is a rising sun, and in the core of the rising sun a swastika that signifies the progress or devotional awakening which arises from the balance of inner development and external service. The swastika represents spiritual victory, the goal of life, which is all-round fulfillment and spiritual emancipation (the word svastika comes from the Sanskrit word sv (good) and asti (to be), literally meaning absolute positivity, goodness, or perfect life).
The Basketball Wave
Professor Shi Mingzong, of the NTNU Department of Athletic Performance, is also the head coach of the Shida basketball team. He believes that for sports people, cultivating their inner ability is harder than the physical side, so he has made plans with Ananda Marga for the following year. By doing so he hopes to give his players a chance to meditate, do yoga, and give back to society through service. Dada Kaladharananda explained this one year experimental program, which includes not only meditaion courses but also leading team members to engage in different social service activities in parts of Taiwan, including aborigine communities and other places.
Professor Shi had previously attended self-meditation camps organised by Ananda Marga. Later on, a near-death experience whilst climbing a mountain sparked an interest in religion and sports within him. His doctoral thesis was also focused on these topics. In 2002, during a trip to the States to interview scholars, he discovered that in basketball competitions, Taiwanese people didn’t have a physical superiority, and he began to believe that only by reaching an inner spiritual maturity did they have any chance of competing against the Americans. Therefore, he began to attach importance to the concept and practice of “Searching for one’s inner self”, hoping that meditation and yoga will allow the players to achieve maturity not only in training and matches, but also in their mind.
Team manager Stanley Sun said that at the beginning the players thought this system was very strange, they didn’t understand how it was supposed to help them. He told them Yoga was like a stretching exercise which added to the body’s flexibility and balance. Sun believes that for young people whose usual form of entertainment is drinking and nightlife, having the opportunity to improve oneself, having the opportunity to learn the value of serving the commuity, all through playing basketball, is a great experience.
Photos by Witold Chudy
Text by Zijie Yang
Translated by Daniel Pagan Murphy
Taipei Yoga House www.amps.org.tw
Address :No 99-1 Ding-jou Rd. Sec. 4, 116, Taipei (台北市汀洲路四段99-1號)
Phone : (02)29333035
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