India

Ashutosh Maharaj: Court allows followers to keep his dead-body

06 Jul 2017 | By Vaneet Randhawa

The Haryana High Court has granted permission for the followers of Ashutosh Maharaj, a long-dead spiritual guru to keep his body in a commercial freezer.

The guru's follower had refused to believe that he had died and deemed that the guru was in a state of 'deep meditation'.

The court rejected a previous judgment that had ordered the guru's cremation.

In context: No sign of thaw: Frozen God-man Ashutosh Maharaj

January 2014Guru with assets worth $120 million dies of heart attack

Ashutosh Maharaj had founded the Divya Jyoti Jagriti Sansthan (Divine Light Awakening Mission) sect in Jalandhar, Punjab, in 1983 for "self-awakening and global peace".

Over the years, Maharaj attracted millions of believers across the world and accumulated assets worth $120 million in India, the US, South America, Australia, the Middle East, and Europe.

In January 2014, the guru died of an alleged heart attack.

01 Dec 2014Religion vs State: Court orders cremation, followers seal the headquarters

The court ordered the cremation of the guru within 15 days but the followers of the sect thronged to the Divya Jyoti Jagriti Sansthan's headquarters at Nurmahal and refused to allow police in.

Barricades were seen around a kilometer from the sect headquarter.

Some claimed that the body was being frozen due to the succession row in the Divya Jyoti Jagriti Sansthan.

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04 Dec 2014Dead guru's followers freeze him, say he is in Samadhi

While Ashutosh Maharaj was declared 'clinically dead' by doctors on 29 January, his followers denied their claims.

It was claimed that the guru had entered 'Samadhi' (deep meditation) and his 'body' was kept in a deep freezer in the ashram.

The followers claimed Maharaj had gone in Samadhi in "1981, 1983 and 1987 for around a week and had come out of it".

April 2014More drama ensues, Guru's alleged son and driver seek cremation

The case witnessed more twists and turns as a Bihar native Dalip Jha claimed that he was the guru's son and sought his cremation.

A similar plea was submitted by Puran Singh, former driver of the guru in the Punjab and Haryana high court.

Both pleas called for an investigation by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI).

The Dera said Dalip Jha was lying.

06 Jul 2017Ashutosh Maharaj: Court allows followers to keep his dead-body

Haryana court upholds 'freedom of conscience'

The Haryana HC said the order was given keeping in mind the "freedom of conscience" which it said was the most "fragrant" of the fundamental rights. HC said that "the right to protection of life" and other rights upheld by Constitution were secondary to it.