Religion: Violent Bliss

A turbaned monk squatted in a waterless pool in New Delhi, held a match to his gasoline-soaked saffron robes and burned himself to death. The day before, a silent protest march by his fellow believers had turned into a riot. Demonstrators shouted "Death to the police!" and 238 of them were arrested in a flurry of tear gas and lath-is (long sticks).

Such tumult ill fits a religious group that calls itself Ananda Marga (the Path of Bliss). But its desperate devotees believe Indian authorities are conspiring to crush the sect and kill their imprisoned guru, P.R. Sarkar, by poison and...

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