[QODLink]
News

Dead Indian guru 'meditating' in freezer

Ashutosh Maharaj's body put in freezer with followers saying he is in meditation and therefore conscious.

Last updated: 13 Mar 2014 08:26
Email Article
Print Article
Share article
Send Feedback
Protests erupted against Ashutosh Maharaj in 2009 over some of his statements [EPA]

An Indian guru declared dead has been in a deep freezer in his ashram for nearly six weeks with followers confident he will return to life to lead them, his spokesman said.

Devotees placed Ashutosh Maharaj, whom authorities declared clinically dead on January 29, in the freezer and have been watching over his body in the sprawling ashram in a small town in northern Punjab state.

Maharaj, reportedly in his 70s, headed the Divya Jyoti Jagrati Sansthan (Divine Light Awakening Mission). He claimed to have millions of followers around the world.

Spotlight
Follow our special India coverage

Mission spokesman Swami Vishalanand insisted their leader was not dead, but was in fact in a state of samadhi, the highest level of meditation, and was therefore still conscious.

Vishalanand told AFP that followers were now waiting for him to end his meditation. Until then, the ashram in Nurmahal town would stay open with followers performing their own mediations and spiritual sessions.

"Mahara-ji (a Hindi term of respect) is still sending messages through followers in their meditative stage to protect his body till he returns," he said earlier this week.

The decision to place him in the freezer was challenged in court by a man claiming to be his former driver, who alleged several followers were not releasing the body as they were seeking a share of the guru's properties, local media reports said.

But the court rejected the man's petition after receiving information from authorities confirming his death, reportedly from a heart attack, said Reeta Kohli, additional advocate general of Punjab state.

"The court rejected his pleas after the Punjab government said that the man is clinically dead and that it is up to his followers to decide what they want to do with the body," Kohli told AFP.

Senior district police officer Gurinder Singh Dhillon said police "cannot interfere" now that the court has made its ruling.

Samadhi

Maharaj's website, which says the mission was founded in 1983 and has spiritual centres around the world, has thanked its followers for standing by the mission while the guru undertakes his meditation.

Vishalanand said scores of spiritual leaders throughout history have travelled to the Himalayas for months of samadhi in freezing temperatures, before returning to life.

The case is reminiscent of something similar that happend in eastern West Bengal state in the 1990s, when followers of another godman, Balak Brahmachari, refused to cremate him after he died, saying he would come back to life.

Thousands of followers thronged the godman's ashram for days to have a glimpse of him in "deep meditation". It ended when the police moved in and forcibly took away the body for cremation. 

456

Source:
Aljazeera And Agencies
Email Article
Print Article
Share article
Send Feedback
Topics in this article
People
Organisation
Featured on Al Jazeera
Your chance to be an investigative journalist in Al Jazeera’s new interactive game.
An innovative rehabilitation programme offers Danish fighters in Syria an escape route and help without prosecution.
Street tension between radical Muslims and Holland's hard right rises, as Islamic State anxiety grows.
Take an immersive look at the challenges facing the war-torn country as US troops begin their withdrawal.

Featured
Private citizens take initiative to help 'irregular' migrants, accusing governments of excessive focus on security.
Indonesia's cassava plantations are being killed by mealybugs, and thousands of wasps will be released to stop them.
Violence in Ain al-Arab has prompted many Kurdish Syrians to flee to Turkey, but others are returning to battle ISIL.
Unelected representatives quietly iron out logistics of massive TPP and TTIP deals among US, Europe, and Asia-Pacific.
Led by students concerned for their future with 'nothing to lose', it remains to be seen who will blink first.