Disciples of a Hindu sect have placed the body of their dead guru in a freezer, claiming he is alive but in deep meditation.
The disciples of Divine Light Awakening Mission claim that their leader, Ashutosh Maharaj, is actually alive in a state of meditation and expect him to return to life eventually, according to The Telegraph Wednesday.
Doctors pronounced Maharaj dead of cardiac arrest in 2014 and his son claims he sued for the right to cremate his body according to Hindu tradition. An Indian High Court dismissed the plea Wednesday, allowing the guru’s disciples to keep his body in a commercial freezer under guard in his ashram.
Jha asserts that the sect’s followers only claim Maharaj is alive so that they can maintain control of and access to his multimillion dollar estate.
His son and his former driver, Puran Singh, filed petitions to the court immediately after Maharaj’s death in 2014, suing for control of his body and demanding a criminal probe into the sect. A lower court rejected Singh’s claim, prompting them to appeal to the High Court.
Swami Vishalanand, spokesman for the sect, told the Daily Mail in March that Maharaj was communicating with his followers via meditation, commanding them to preserve his body.
“Mahara-ji is still sending messages through followers in their meditative stage to protect his body until he returns,” Vishaland said.
Whether the court agreed with the sect’s claim that Maharaj is still alive is unclear, but the court’s decision in their favor will not go unchallenged, according to S. P. Soi, Jha’s lawyer.
“But they dismissed our petition which is disappointing and we will challenge it in the Supreme Court,” Soi told The Telegraph.
The son alleges that Maharaj’s real name is Mahesh Kumar Jha, and that Maharaj left his village in the 1970s before founding the sect in 1983. The sect has millions of followers, predominantly in northern India, and also the U.S., South America, Europe, the Middle East, and Australia. The sect also owns properties valued at $120 million. While the sect controls Maharaj’s body, who they say often achieved this state of meditation in sub-zero temperatures in the Himalayan mountains, they also control his properties and wealth.
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