Saint's followers hope for a miracle to happen

Saint's followers hope for a miracle to happen

Saint's followers hope for a miracle to happen

Eight hundred plus days since January 2014, followers of a popular sect in Punjab are still hoping that their saint’s corpse will come back to life, at least someday. But no one knows when that day will come. His followers have frozen him. This, in the hope and reverence that the saint will one day come to life again. That may not happen.

Any amount of rationale or scientific explanation falls flat within the bounds of the massive sect in Nurmahal in Jalandhar district of Punjab.

Devotees still throng the sect like before. They refuse to believe he is dead. Their saint, Ashutosh Maharaj, is still alive, only that he is in deep meditation or samadhi, they believe. It’s a prophecy he made that has been taken as gospel by his followers and there’s no way they are “letting him go”.

All this has continued since January 29, 2014 when the sect head breathed his last. Doctors declared him clinically dead after a thorough examination. But that has no value for sect followers. Faith, bordering superstition, reigns supreme at the sect when it comes to their belief in the godman and his word of “coming to life, again”.

Courts too have intervened. But the picture remains much the same--the body of the man is in deep freeze and nobody knows how long before he is consigned to flames.

Ashutosh Maharaj, born as Mahesh Kumar Jha in 1946 at Lakhnaur in Madhubani district of Bihar, was a Hindu Brahmin. In 1983, he founded a non-profit spiritual sect and named it Divya Jyoti Jagrati Sansthan (DJJS). The organisation has 350 branches spread across 15 countries. Its followers are countless. 

Last year, the Punjab and Haryana High Court maintained that courts cannot arbitrate on religious issues. But it left it to the DJJS to decide on its own by November 30, last year the manner it wanted to dispose of the body of clinically dead Ashutosh Maharaj kept in the deep freezer.

A division bench comprising Justices SK Mittal and Mahavir Singh Chauhan said: “They have never heard in history about any saint sitting in samadhi for such a long time... But we have heard of followers of such saints giving them respectable burial”.

The court had further added that the “sect people can come forward, what religious burial or cremation they want...Construct a big samadhi there as a respect and even the state will help. We have to respect Ashutosh Maharaj’s followers and also religion”. Earlier, a single bench had directed the Punjab government to cremate Ashutosh Maharaj’s body within 15 days, which was challenged in the High Court.

Claims are that Ashutosh Maharaj married Anandi Devi and had a son, although this stands disputed. The sect head courted controversy after he was accused of distorting Sikh teachings. Certain Sikh bodies had demanded a ban on the activities of the sect. The godman lived with a “Z” category security cover. As time passes by and the samadhi continues to be what it is, the sect is now going public with its “rationale” of the entire happenings.

Fourteen chapters have been explained in a book, titled-- “Samadhi-Neither a Comma, Nor a Full Stop!” that has been written by authors owing allegiance to the sect. The book was handed over to the Punjab police recently in Chandigarh by representatives of the DJJS. The case in the high court has been posted for May 17. Sect representatives handed over the book to the police with the hope that the police will read it and argue the case keeping in view the perspective of the sect as well.

The sect said the methods to preserve the body have been based on contemporary and available means. The book explains that Ashutosh Maharaj has assumed a long-term samadhi and not a short-term samadhi for which he outlined clear guidelines for his disciples. It states that hypothermic and hypoxic conditions of the Himalayas have been created in Ashutosh Maharaj’s room where he is in deep samadhi.

 So how long will all this continue? Will it end someday? And when will Ashutosh Maharaj come out (alive) of his samadhi, if at all? In the book the sect has attempted to answer all such queries.

 It says Ashutosh Maharaj has not pre-informed anyone about the duration of his samadhi. But he has categorically revealed that he is going to come back, the book claims.

At the sect, it's work as usual. “Ashu Baba ayega”(Ashutosh saint will come) the song that devotees sing during the monthly mega congregation of sorts. Delhi-based representatives of the sect are said to call the shots. Denials apart, a row over succession is also said to be a reason behind this entire “deep freeze” issue.

Access to the room where the body has been kept in deep freeze is strictly restricted.
Only a few of the top management persons visit the area, besides authorised doctors of the sect. If reports are to be believed, the body has turned black and has even shrunk.

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