Shri Ram Chandra Mission
Sri Ram Chandra Mission (also named SRCM or "Sahaj Marg") is a non-profit organization and a spiritual movement. It was registered in 1945 in India by Shri Ram Chandraji. It has its current headquarters at Manapakkam, Chennai, Tamil Nadu.
Beliefs and practices
The stated purpose of the Shri Ram Chandra Mission is to "awaken the divine consciousness and provide support on the path of human evolution". According to the movement, the form of Raja Yoga practiced, starts at step number 7 of Patanjali's Raja Yoga. It is based on simple and natural means suited to current living conditions and does not involve mechanical methods involving austerity and penance. It is universal, easily practicable and one can quickly get to find oneself from the inside out. The Sahaj Marg system uses the cleansing of the past impressions (also called samskaras), meditation on the heart and the support of a living spiritual master. The role of the spiritual teacher is said to be essential as he is well aware of all issues and all matters of spirituality and has walked the path of realization or enlightenment of the soul, being a Master of the path. He knows what to do for the traveler. He is regarded by the practitioners as a living example, a teacher by his writings and by his words, deeds and being. It is God who is the true Guru and Master and from God alone we receive the light", wrote Shri Ram Chandraji in his book Reality at Dawn.
The current president of Shri Ram Chandra Mission and spiritual Master of the Sahaj Marg system is Shri Kamlesh D. Patel (b. 1956). This includes SRCM USA, which was registered in California in 1997 (SRCM California-1997) and SRCM India, which was registered in Lucknow, India in 1945 (SRCM-Shahjahanpur-1945). SRCM was founded by Shri Ram Chandra of Shahjahanpur, affectionately known as Babuji (1899 - 1983). He was succeeded as president and spiritual Master of SRCM by Shri Parthasarathi Rajagopalachari, affectionately known as Chariji (1927 - 2014). Following the mahasamadhi of Chariji on 20 December 2014, Shri Kamlesh D. Patel has become the third president of SRCM and the fourth spiritual Master of the Sahaj Marg system.
Babuji was taught by Ram Chandra of Fatehgarh (aka ‘Lalaji’), the Adi Guru of the Sahaj Marg system. Babuji met him merely a few times. Lalalji rediscovered the ancient yogic method of spiritual training based on yogic transmission of divine energy called Pranahuti.
The Shri Ram Chandra Mission is now present in over 120 countries on all continents. Books published by SRCM have been translated to over twenty languages and read widely across the world.
The Shri Ram Chandra Mission registered in California in 1997 (SRCM California, 1997) and headquartered in Chennai, India, is an NGO recognized by the UNDPI (Department of Public Information) as a "non-profit organization" in Denmark, the United States and India.
In France, the SRCM is organized as a non-profit organization established in 1986, but has been classified as an orientalist cult with over 2,000 members in the 1995 report established by the Parliamentary Commission on Cults in France. Around 1995, it counted about 60 tutors for 600 abhyasis. The anti-cults association GEMPPI denounced the "indigent doctrinal and philosophical talks among followers, unrelated to the Eastern religious systems". The GEMPPI president stated that total obedience to the Master of SRCM is supposed to interrupt the cycle of reincarnation. "Critical reflection and autonomy of thought are stifled in this ideological movement which claims to be revolutionary in its ideas".
In Belgium, the 1997 parliamentary report established a list of 189 movements which contained the Shri Ram Chandra Mission.
The inclusion in the parliamentary report on cults has been criticized by lawyer Lawrence Hincker, who said that "this system of meditation, called Sahaj Marg, does not lead to a life away from the world. It integrates all aspects of man, whether physical, mental or spiritual, without charge or austerity or penance or self-negation". According to the sociologist Bruno Étienne, an expert on religious issues, the SRCM publishes books as any other group but does not proselytize, and has never been convicted: "To us, it is fully a NMR (new religious movement), modern religious group, although based on an ancient tradition, and subject to serious arguments advanced by others more knowledgeable, we do not understand why it is criticized on the list of the damned". Raphaël Liogier, Director of the Observatory of religious and university professor at the Institut d'Études Politiques in Aix-en-Provence, said he did not understand the inclusion on the cult list of an association that is fully recognized in India. The Centre d'Information et de Conseil des Nouvelles Spiritualités (CICNS), a French association for the defense of religious freedom and conscience, said the movement is victim of slander on the Internet.
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