The devotees of Ashutosh Maharaj, who were fighting a legal battle to keep their dead guru from being cremated, recently won a court case that will allow them to withhold his body for another seven weeks.
“The division bench of the Punjab and Haryana High Court has stayed the cremation till February 9, 2015,” said Swami Vishalanand.
Despite Maharaj having died in January 2014, his followers insist that their spiritual leader is in a state of deep meditation and he will eventually return to lead them. The devotees cited their right to religious freedom under the Indian constitution to keep their guru from being cremated, even though his family wished otherwise. After the court’s verdict, thousands of believers assembled at Maharaj’s ashram in Nurmahal to show support for their guru’s Samadhi, which is the highest level of meditation, and hope for his return.
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An Indian court has been asked to rule on whether Ashutosh Maharaj, a revered Hindu guru, is dead or alive and whether the decision is based on religious faith or scientific fact. According to his wife and son, Maharaj passed away in January after suffering a heart attack but his disciples at the ashram have refused the family their right to have him cremated because they believe he is still alive, only in a state of deep meditation.
A statement on the group's website says, “His Holiness Shri Ashutosh Maharaj ji has been in deep meditative state (Samadhi) since 29th January 2014.”
“Maharaj has been in deep meditation. He has spent many years meditating in sub-zero temperatures in the Himalayas, there is nothing unusual in it. He will return to life as soon as he feels and we will ensure his body is preserved until then,” said one of his aides.
After leaving his family in 1970, Maharaj founded the Divya Jyoti Jagrati Sansthan in 1983 and managed to acquire a property estate worth $170 million during his lifetime. The late guru’s establishment aimed at promoting “self-awakening for global peace” and creating a world “wherein every individual becomes an embodiment of truth, fraternity and justice through the eternal science of self-realization.” At present, the organization has thousands of followers across the world and owns several properties in various countries including India, South America, Australia, Europe, the Middle East as well as the United States.
Even though the Punjab Police confirmed his death initially, the Punjab High Court dismissed the status of the report later, saying the matter is spiritual and the guru’s disciples cannot be forced to believe he is no more. Thus, his family has filed a court application demanding an investigation into the circumstances of his death so that his body can be released for cremation.
Maharaj’s body has been preserved in a commercial freezer at his 100-acre retreat in Nurmahal, Jalandhar, where only a few elders and sect doctors are allowed to enter. His disciples wait outside with firm belief that he will wake up from his state of deep meditation.
Maharaj’s son, 40-year-old Dilip Jha, claims his father’s body is being held by his followers as a means of controlling his vast financial empire. Additionally, three disciples who are vying for succession claim that the guru will announce his successor after coming out of his Samadhi.
Photo Credits: ABP Live