Ashutosh Maharaj is the leader of the Divya Jyoti Jagriti Sansthan (Divine Light Awakening Mission), an Indian spiritual movement which seeks to change the world through changing individuals, particularly their thought patterns. While some spiritual movements make wild claims and put their trust in charismatic-but-crazy cult figures, the Divine Light Awakening Mission (or DJJS) seems to be rather level-headed – at least as far as spiritual movements go.
However, followers of Maharaj have recently taken their reverence of their leader at least one step in the ‘crazy cult’ direction with their latest act of devotion which has many raising their brows in disbelief. See, Ashutosh Maharaj died of a suspected heart attack back in January 2014. Not to be set back by something as simple as an untimely death, his followers immediately put Maharaj’s body into a commercial freezer on their 100-acre compound in order to preserve it.
Followers of Maharaj believe the guru to be in a suspended meditative state rather than dead and are adamant that Maharaj will reawaken to lead them once again when the time is appropriate. At the time, his spokesman Swami Vishalanand told the BBC that the guru’s death was somewhat of a miracle:
He is not dead. Medical science does not understand things like yogic science. We will wait and watch. We are confident that he will come back. The body did not decompose before we put it in the freezer. It was a spiritual experience. We thought of embalming it, but somebody told us that his chances of revival were less if we did it.
Yeah, something tells me his chances of revival are gonna be pretty low after spending three years in a commercial freezer, too. A three-year custody battle ensued following Maharaj’s death and subsequent freezing, with his son on one side and his followers on the other. His son, Dalip Kumar Jha, wanted his father to be cremated and accused the guru’s devotees of wanting to maintain control of his father’s wealth and property. The guru’s followers meanwhile want their guru to remain on ice, adamant in their belief that Maharaj will soon re-animate. Luckily for them, followers of the guru have just won a court ruling which will allow them to keep their spiritual leader on ice indefinitely, presumably until he wakes up locked inside and promptly suffocates and/or dies of hypothermia.