NEW DELHI – Despite being declared dead and kept in a deep freezer at his ashram for six weeks, an Indian guru’s followers are confident he will return to life to lead them.
Devotees placed Ashutosh Maharaj, whom authorities declared clinically dead Jan. 29, in the freezer and have been watching over his body in the sprawling ashram in the town of Nurmahal, in Punjab state. Maharaj, reportedly in his 70s, is one of India’s many gurus 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 earlier this week 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 said followers were now waiting for Maharaj to end his meditation. “(Maharaj) is still sending messages through followers in their meditative stage to protect his body till he returns,” he said.
The decision to place him in the freezer was challenged in court by a man claiming to be the guru’s former driver, who alleged several followers were not releasing the body as they were seeking a share of his properties. But the court rejected the man’s petition after receiving information from authorities confirming his death, reportedly from a heart attack.
“It is up to his followers to decide what they want to do with the body,” said Punjab official Reeta Kohli.