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Dead Indian guru in freezer for 'deep meditation'


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A hoarding featuring an image of Indian spiritual leader Ashutosh Maharaj stands outside the Divya Jyoti Jagrati Sansthan in Nurmahal on the outskirts of Jalandhar on March 11, 2014.  — Photo by AFP
A hoarding featuring an image of Indian spiritual leader Ashutosh Maharaj stands outside the Divya Jyoti Jagrati Sansthan in Nurmahal on the outskirts of Jalandhar on March 11, 2014. — Photo by AFP

CHANDIGARH: 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, is one of India's many gurus or god-men who headed the Divya Jyoti Jagrati Sansthan (Divine Light Awakening Mission) and claims to have millions of followers around the world.

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.

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 traveled to the Himalayas for months of samadhi in freezing temperatures, before returning to life.

Another spokesman, who heads a nearby village where many of Maharaj's followers are living, has told local media that they will simply wait.

“When we close our eyes, we can talk to the Maharaj, who has assured us he will come back,” Lakhwinder Singh told the Indian Express newspaper.

Comments (7) Closed

Abid Ghufran Mar 13, 2014 01:12pm

Sounds a lot like how we the Pakistanis are treating Pakistan. Hoping it would return to betterment on its own and doing nothing on our behalf. Just watching and in a lot of way contributing to its gradual declining state.

Yaseen Mar 13, 2014 01:46pm

MashAllah, May Allah bless him and make all his followers to return to him rather than forcing him to come back from meditation.

Kishore Mar 13, 2014 02:28pm

Very funny, don't know how people still believe these kind of superstitions in 2014.

AHA Mar 13, 2014 03:45pm

@Kishore: This is the power of religion. I have seen people believing in even stranger things.

Anything goes, as long as you have the right atire.

M Khizir Farooqi Mar 13, 2014 04:07pm

Superstitious people are found all over the world without any exceptions. But they are more dominating the far east countries and the sub continent India Pakistan Sri Lanka Burma Nepal etc. etc

Bhai Mian Mar 13, 2014 05:18pm

Incredible India!

zalim_khan Mar 15, 2014 12:56am

Well they better have un-interupted power supply to the freezer! other wise there will be a "melt down" and yogi bear will awakened! in a not so "life like state!"