Asia-Pacific

Thursday 31 July 2014

Battle over whether guru is dead or just meditating

Dean Nelson in New Delhi

Published 29/05/2014|02:30

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A hoarding featuring an image of Indian spiritual leader Ashutosh Maharaj
A hoarding featuring an image of Indian spiritual leader Ashutosh Maharaj

The family and followers of one of India's wealthiest Hindu spiritual leaders are fighting a legal battle over whether he is dead or simply in a deep state of meditation.

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His Holiness Shri Ashutosh Maharaj, the founder of the Divya Jyoti Jagrati Sansthan religious order, with a property estate worth millions, died in January, according to his wife and son.

However, his disciples at his ashram have refused to let the family take his body for cremation because they claim he is still alive.

According to his followers, based in the Punjab city of Jalandhar, he simply went into a deep Samadhi, or meditation, and they have put his body in a commercial freezer at their ashram to preserve it for when he wakes.

The late – or living – guru, who was in his 70s, established his sect in 1983 to promote "self-awakening to global peace" and to create a world "wherein every individual becomes an embodiment of truth, fraternity and justice through the eternal science of self-realisation".

While the guru is thought to have died from a heart attack on January 29, his devotees believe he has simply drifted into a deep form of meditation.

Punjabi police initially confirmed his death, but the Punjab High Court later dismissed the police report. Officials said it was a spiritual matter and that the guru's followers could not be forced to believe he is dead.

Now his wife and son have filed a court application calling for an investigation into his death and for his body to be released for cremation. (© Daily Telegraph, London)

Irish Independent

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