In­dian guru’s body to stay in a freezer

Kuwait Times - - LOCAL -

An In­dian court yes­ter­day al­lowed dis­ci­ples of a spir­i­tual guru to pre­serve his body in a freezer, as they believe he is in a deep state of med­i­ta­tion and will re­turn to life. Ashutosh Ma­haraj, founder of the multi-mil­lion dol­lar sect, Divya Jy­oti Jagriti Sansthan (Di­vine Light Awak­en­ing Mis­sion), ap­par­ently died of a car­diac ar­rest in Jan­uary 2014. But his fol­low­ers in­sist he is in a deep spir­i­tual state called sa­madhi and have con­tro­ver­sially kept his body in a com­mer­cial freezer at his heav­ily guarded 100 acre ashram in the north­ern state of Pun­jab.

Yes­ter­day the Pun­jab and Haryana High Court dis­missed a three year old pe­ti­tion by Dalip Ku­mar Jha, who claims to be his son, and who wanted his father’s body to cre­mate him as per Hindu rit­u­als. Jha’s lawyer, S P Soi said that it was un­clear whether or not the court ap­proved the sect’s ar­gu­ment that Ma­haraj was alive. “But they dis­missed our pe­ti­tion which is dis­ap­point­ing and we will chal­lenge it in the Supreme Court,” said Soi. The court while re­ject­ing their plea set aside a 2014 judg­ment that had or­dered his cre­ma­tion af­ter doc­tors con­firmed him clin­i­cally dead.

His dis­ci­ples had chal­lenged the court’s cre­ma­tion or­der say­ing he had sim­ply drifted into a deeper form of med­i­ta­tion, some­thing he did of­ten in sub-zero Hi­malayan tem­per­a­tures. The guru, who is in his sev­en­ties, es­tab­lished the sect in Pun­jab’s Ja­land­har city in 1983 to pro­mote “self-awak­en­ing and global peace”, with mil­lions of fol­low­ers across the world and prop­er­ties worth an es­ti­mated $120 mil­lion in In­dia, the United States, South Amer­ica, Aus­tralia, the Mid­dle East and Europe. Jha claims that the guru’s real name was Ma­hesh Ku­mar Jha and he left his na­tive vil­lage in eastern Bi­har state in late 1970’s be­fore found­ing the sect.

He and Ma­haraj’s former driver Pu­ran Singh filed pe­ti­tions in court soon af­ter the guru’s death de­mand­ing a crim­i­nal probe and al­leged the sect mem­bers were de­lib­er­ately hold­ing his body to re­tain con­trol of his vast fi­nan­cial as­sets. Ma­haraj is one of sev­eral gu­rus who in re­cent decades have built huge em­pires and com­mand mil­lions of fol­low­ers, par­tic­u­larly in north­ern In­dia. For fol­low­ers, gu­rus play an in­te­gral role in daily life, in­clud­ing a path to en­light­en­ment. Fol­low­ers of­fer spir­i­tual de­vo­tion and do­na­tions to ashrams, tem­ples and char­ity projects. — AFP

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