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Baba's Photo in the Wrong Place

From: "Marc Pele"
Subject: Baba's Photo in the Wrong Place
Date: Fri, 05 Nov 2010 19:11:48 +0000


"A'mi pather hadish pa'i ni, ta'i toma'r pa'ne cali ni..."    (PS 1338)


    Baba, in the past I did not get the direction of the proper path. Because of
that I could not come close to You. Your and my relation was hidden in dark. I
was not aware about You. In that past I could not get Your introduction. And I
could not link up in our close intimate relation which, in reality, has been
going on since a very long time.    

In my misunderstanding, I was thinking that nobody is mine, and that to feel
love and affection is not my fate.  I was thinking that my life does not have
any value. That I will not get respect in my life, just it will be filled with
disrespect and neglect.

    Baba, today You have blessed me and changed everything. Now I feel that my
life has become meaningful, because You are mine. My heart is filled with Your
love. Baba, by Your grace I surrender at Your lotus feet, O' Baba...


Many are aware that recently one book was published about Baba. The book's cover features a large photograph of Baba. Here are some thoughts about that.


The photo depicts Baba sitting on a wall with a lake in the background. Baba has one leg towards the ground and the other leg bent with His foot propped up on the wall. The bottom of Baba's foot is in full view, directly facing the reader. Baba is not wearing any shoes or socks. The picture was taken in a remote area away from town - no one else is around. The whole scene is quite intimate.

It should also be noted that this photo was taken in Barackpur (West Bengal) on 26th December 1960. This photo was not even taken in Jamalpur nor in the surrounding area.

We all have to think if this photo should be placed on a book cover or not. After all, "a picture speaks a thousand words", and this photo is the way we are presenting Baba to the general public - via the Internet, book stalls etc. Anyone and everyone can see Baba in this pose. So we have to think if this is proper.


Before discussing this matter in greater detail, we should remind ourselves once again of Baba's following teaching.

Baba says, "You shall protect, in all respects and at all costs, the dignity of your treasures and the sanctity of...the pratikrti [photo] of Márga Guru." (Carycarya Part 1, Treasures of Ananda Marga)

Hence, Baba places tremendous importance on the keeping the sanctity of the photo. We must adhere strictly to Baba's mandate.



Now let's step by step analyse the placement of Baba's photo on the cover of this book.

1. First and foremost, this photo of Baba is too informal for a book cover. Baba is in a relaxed pose. His feet are not covered and His dress is very casual. This photo is not for general social use. We should take a deeper look at the matter.

2. In Caryacarya Part 2, in His chapter "Social Norms", Baba has given the following teaching:

Baba says, "Do not sit in a “zamindary posture” and dance your feet in a silly manner." (CC-2, Social Norms, point #21)

But by seeing the cover photo on the recently published book, any member of the public can say that the Guru of Ananda Marga is doing what He Himself tells should NOT be done in public - He is sitting in zamindary posture. So this is indeed a sensitive issue.

Baba Himself always represents all of His teachings perfectly. Every Ananda Margii knows this. We understand that in this particular situation when Baba is by Himself in private then He can sit as He wishes. Whereas in a social setting, He would never sit like this. However, now that this photo has been used as a book cover for all to see, members of the general public will question the matter. They will wonder why Baba is in such a pose in public, when He Himself says not to sit like this.

3. Here the point is also that the above photo is way too informal and casual to use for a book cover that will appear on book stores in countries all over the globe - as well as on-line. Baba is in a casual pose not meant for public view. His intention was never that this would be a public photo. He did not permit this photo to be sold to the general public or during DMC etc. Indeed, everyone knows that this photo was never openly available for sale by our Public Relations Dept etc. This was a rare photo meant only for devotees. That is why Baba is in such a casual and informal pose. In public He would never present Himself in this manner. Those who have attended DMC know Baba would never have sat on stage like this in the pandal.

It is just like when in His room Baba would just wear a short-sleeve shirt and lungi. But when going onto the dais for DMC, then Baba would dress very meticulously because this was a public event.

The best recourse is not to place Baba's photo on the cover of the book at all. What was done in this case is not at all appropriate. Members of the general public will form a poor opinion of Baba because of His dress. And by displaying this photo publicly, we are going against Baba's wishes.


4. Shortly after Baba first gave His kaoshikii dance then He had to explain to margiis how to practice it properly. Everyone had to know which portion of the foot should touch the ground. At one DMC in Gwalior (Nov 25, 1979) when Baba was reviewing kaoshikii, He told the audience that as a general rule: "As a point of decency, one should not show their bare feet in public." And showing the bottom of the foot is worst.

This itself is sufficient logic that the aforementioned photo should be removed from the cover of the book. It is going against Baba's own teachings. Any non-margii will make jokes about this. That is sad.


5. This book has been written for margiis and non-margiis, i.e. the general public. In such circumstances, Baba would present Himself in formal dress. But this photo goes against this mandate.

6. We must also remember that on points of presentation and professionalism, the standard of the public is quite high. In this high-gloss, dazzling internet era, everyone is accustomed to fancy graphics and slick packaging. Whereas the cover of this book is quite informal, even casual. By this photo, they will naturally form a poor opinion of Baba. That is sad and that itself goes against the purpose of the publication of this book.

7. The only type of person who could select such an informal photo for the cover of a book is one who does not have any sense or is ignorant and not aware of Baba's teachings of Caryacarya, and related discourses.

Baba says, "Do not sit in a “zamindary posture” and dance your feet in a silly manner." (CC-2, Social Norms, pt #21)

Even then they put this photo on the cover of the book for all to see.

For clarity's sake, the above guideline is a social norm. If anyone is alone, then one can sit this way in the privacy of their own home or in a remote place. And that is what Baba is doing in this photo. His intention was that this photo would never be used in a public manner. But that is what the book publishers have done - they put it on display for all to see.

8. As we know, each and every book related with Baba and Ananda Marga is for the propagation of AM ideology. But the very cover of this book is doing something else. Some will look at this photo and conclude that Baba is rude or that He is not aware how to express Himself in public. All of this is very painful for any true Ananda Margii.

9. Members of the general public do not have the requisite regard or reverence for Baba that we have. So when seeing this photo they will make jokes about Baba and think poorly of Him.

10. Baba did not use such photos for His books. Because His photos are personal and His books are meant to be purchased by the general public. There is no AM book where such an intimate photo of Baba is on the cover.


11. When publishing the book series, Prout in a Nutshell, Baba Himself checked all the photos in Central Office for hours & hours looking for a suitable picture. At that time Baba was more than 60 years of age, but He chose a photo of when He was young for the Prout books. That way youths can identify with Him as a social leader. But again, even then Baba used a formal picture and it was not placed on the cover of the book for all to see. Rather that picture is displayed on the inside pages. The newly published book contravenes Baba's entire approach.

12. When margiis see this cover of this newly published book and the informal photo it displays, they will also emulate that posture. They will sit like this in public. And some will even question the veracity of Caryacarya & insist that this social norm point was not given by Baba.


13. We have utmost regard for Baba and His photos. That is Baba's divine mandate.

Baba says, "You shall protect, in all respects and at all costs, the dignity of your treasures and the sanctity of your ..... pratikrti [photo] of Márga Guru." (Carycarya Part 1, Treasures of Ananda Marga)

Thus we are to keep the sanctity of His photo. Indeed it is for this reason we do not display varabhaya mudra in public. No true bhakta will carelessly display any Baba photo in public. Yet with this book we are going against all social norms of Ananda Marga and the sanctity of Baba's photo. It is just a book after all and booksellers may place it on the sidewalk, railway platform and in all kinds of places in order to attract buyers. Hence, Baba's divine photo will be compromised in all kinds of ways since this photo is on the cover itself.

13. When other religions or spiritual groups publish their books they never use a casual photo of their revered leader on the book's cover. They always display an official photo.

But we have a different system: Baba's photo is never on cover. The idea is this: We should not to use any photo at all on the cover and instead use an official photo on the inside pages. Just like Baba did with His Prout Nutshell and other series.

This begs the question that why then was a photo of Baba placed on the cover of this newly published book. Many say the reasoning behind it is to highlight Bengal, since it is well known that this photo was taken in Barackpur, West Bengal.

14. All in all this is a sad event. On the one side it is good that this book was published but it was not good to use that photo. That ruins the whole feeling of the book.


15. This photo is only for extremely close devotees who meditate and wish to massage His feet, not for the general public.

Just as you do not wish to display bedroom photos of yourself in the public arena, similarly this photo of Baba is not meant for public distribution. 

16. This is the era of external superficial beauty - so no need to put Baba's photo. In comparison to glossy movie stars and fake gurus, those with no devotion will think this book cover is useless. Secondly, to present a more substantive story, we do not need to use glossy photos just a proper written account. Not putting any photo at all gives a better impression and more attraction for the reader.

19. Baba is very strict that margiis and wts be clean in public otherwise people will formulate a poor opinion of us. Should we not apply this same principle when presenting our revered Guru Baba to the general public.



20. It is Baba's rule that if any publication is wrong then that will be withdrawn from the market and corrected. It is the same as how poisonous food must not be sold, even if you have spent money getting that food.

All the above stands as sufficient logic that the aforementioned photo should be removed from the cover of the book. It is going against Baba's own teachings. Any non-margii will make jokes about this. That is sad.


21. Finally, this is a very rare and intimate photo. It is meant to be used on the puja table only - certainly not on the cover of any book.

22. Let us conclude with Baba's teaching:

Baba says, "You shall protect, in all respects and at all costs, the dignity of your .... of the pratikrti [photo] of Márga Guru." (Caryacarya)

Please write in with your thoughts.



The name of the recent publication is, "Anandamurti: The Jamalpur
" written by brother Devashish, originally of NY sector.

Here is the photo for your review:

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