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Dada Maheshvarananda in 2011
|PROUT, economic democracy, meditation, yoga|
Since becoming a monk, in the socio-spiritual organisation and movement Ananda Marga, Dada Maheshvarananda has dedicated his life to traveling and living around the world teaching meditation, yoga and spreading the Progressive Utilization Theory (PROUT).
Maheshvarananda's first book is titled After Capitalism: Prout's Vision for a New World (2003); prefaced by Noam Chomsky, it has been translated into 10 languages. His second book, a follow-up, is After Capitalism: Economic Democracy in Action (2012). His most recent book is Cooperative Games for a Cooperative World: Facilitating Trust, Communication and Spiritual Connection (2017).
Maheshvarananda was born in 1953 in Philadelphia; he pursued "Peace Studies" for two years at Earlham College and participated in protests against the Vietnam War. He began practicing meditation in 1974, as taught by the Ananda Marga yogic sect, and studying the prolific writings and books of its founder Prabhat Ranjan Sarkar. In 1976 he assumed a monastic lifestyle with Ananda Marga and met Sarkar in India 2 years later. This first meeting, he writes "inspired me to become a monk, and to dedicate my life to the service of humanity." In 1983, Sarkar initiated him into the order of avadhuta, a monk or nun of an order close to the tradition of Shaeva Tantra.
From 1979 to 1991 Maheshvarananda taught meditation and yoga to hundreds of people and supervised various social service projects in Indonesia and the Philippines (also known as "Maharlika"). He also helped organize relief operations with the international service organization, AMURT (Ananda Marga Universal Relief Team).
From 1992 to 2003 Maheshvarananda worked in Brazil, where he participated in Eco-92 and the World Social Forum and formed relationships with leaders of Liberation Theology and other popular social movements, such as Leonardo Boff, Frei Betto, Herbert de Souza, Carlos Minc and Marcos Arruda. He taught weekly meditation classes in Carandiru Penitentiary and other prisons and also took part in the protests against the World Bank and IMF in 2000.
Maheshvarananda toured Europe extensively from 2003 to 2006, organizing and leading seminars and workshops about social issues, spiritual values, and Prout. He spoke at The Other Economic Summit (TOES), the protests against the G8 Summits in Georgia (2004), and Edinburgh (2005).
On June 1, 2003, Maheshvarananda was invited to meet Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez, on Chávez's weekly television show Aló Presidente, to present the Spanish edition of his first Prout book, After Capitalism: Economic Democracy in Action, which was published in Caracas.
Four years later Maheshvarananda and José Albarrán founded the Prout Research Institute of Venezuela in Caracas, an independent, not-for-profit foundation. Its stated mission is "to empower all people to improve their quality of life within a more just society by fostering and promoting worker cooperatives, self-reliant communities, environmental protection, universal ethics, and spiritual values." The institute accepts international visitors and volunteers at the “Quinta Prout” in El Marques, Caracas who learn, research and implement PROUT principles.
The institute supports Centro Madre (Mother's Center), founded in 2000 by Ananda Marga nun Didi Ananda Sadhana, which fosters self-sufficiency through education, co-op development, and sustainable agriculture on its 8.6 acres of agricultural land. The center has been repeatedly recognized by the rural development agency of the Bolivarian government of Venezuela as a national model.
Other examples of the institute's public engagement efforts include a documentary, Another Life is Possible: Cooperatives in Barlovento, Venezuela produced in 2007 and an international conference in 2010 titled Building a Solidarity Economy based on Ethics and Ecology. The 1st Prout Global Conference in Venezuela, titled Building an Economy Based on Ethics and Ecology took place in 2011, was attended by over 300 people and included panelists like Nora Castañeda, President of the Women's Development Bank of Venezuela.
After reading After Capitalism, President Michael D. Higgins of Ireland invited Dada Maheshvarananda to Áras an Uachtaráin, the president's official residence, in Dublin, on February 12, 2014, to discuss his work.
- “Go with the Flow” (1985)
- "A Personal Remembrance and Conversation with Paulo Freire, Educator of the Oppressed" in Neohumanist Educational Futures: Liberating the Pedagogical Intellect, edited by Sohail Inayatullah, Marcus Bussey and Ivana Milojević, Tapei, Tamkang University Press, 2006.
- “Revolutionary Consciousness: Development as transformation”(subscription required) in Development 46, (1 December 2003).
- “Will Organized Religions Survive in the New Millennium?” in New Renaissance, Vol. 9, Number 3.
- “Ideal Leadership”
- "Spirituality and Social Change"
- "The Human Costs of Economic Meltdown and its Alternative"
- "A New Social Paradigm Based On Spiritual Values" on Znet.
- Published with Mariah Branch, The Progressive Utilization Theory (Prout): Alternative Economic and Social Model for the Welfare of All” (2010) in WorkingUSA: The Journal of Labor and Society.
- After Capitalism: Prout's Vision for a New World (2003, Proutist Universal Publications) ISBN 1-877762-06-7 (paperback), published in 10 languages.
- After Capitalism: Economic Democracy in Action (2012, Innerworld Publications) ISBN 978-1-881717-14-0 (paperback)
- Cooperative Games for a Cooperative World: Facilitating Trust, Communication and Spiritual Connection (2017, InnerWorld Publications) ISBN 978-1-881717-59-1 (paperback), published in three languages.
- Prabhat Ranjan Sarkar
- Ananda Marga
- Ananda Sutram
- Progressive utilization theory
- Law of Social Cycle
- Ananda Marga College and Ananda-Marga-Gurukula University
- Ananda Marga missions
- Maheshvarananda is the spiritual name (meaning in Sanskrit "one who experiences the bliss of the Supreme") and Dada (or Dada-ji, when intended with more respect), means elder brother in several Indian languages.
- "Go with the Flow" (1985)
- "Another Life is Possible: Cooperatives in Barlovento, Venezuela"
- "The economy of solidarity bolsters popular power"