Two years on, devotees still wait for baba Ashutosh Maharaj to rise out of frozen state

On Wednesday, there were no visible activities to mark the anniversary on January 29. A group of 20 to 25 women arrived, many of them from Uttar Pradesh and seeking to enter.

Written by Anju Agnihotri Chaba | Jalandhar | Updated: January 28, 2016 11:26 am
Baba Ashutosh; monitored by CCTV, a group of women visit the dera Wednesday. Express Baba Ashutosh; monitored by CCTV, a group of women visit the dera Wednesday. Express

On Friday, Baba Ashutosh Maharaj will complete two years in a frozen state in Nurmahal town of Jalandhar district. The baba, also known as Mahesh Kumar Jha, was declared “clinically dead” on January 28, 2014. His followers, for their part, declared him “spiritually alive”. The following day, officials of Divya Jyoti Jagriti Sansthan, the religious sect Ashutosh founded, put his form put into a refrigerated room. They continue to claim he will come out of samadhi soon.

On Wednesday, there were no visible activities to mark the anniversary on January 29. A group of 20 to 25 women arrived, many of them from Uttar Pradesh and seeking to enter. Like all other unfamiliar people, they had to face a barrage of questions. Visitors are invariably turned away, unless accompanied by known devotees.

The police checkpost on the road stops no one. The questioning takes place at the security “control room” run by dera followers at the entrance. CCTV cameras too are in place. These checks were set up when the body was kept under special conditions.

The dera’s stand, as declared in the Punjab and Haryana High Court, is that the baba is in a state of samadhi, or deep meditative sleep. The day after four doctors, three of them devotees of the dera and one from Apollo Hospital, Ludhiana, declared the baba dead, the dera booked two portable mortuary chambers from Baba Bhooth Nath Mandir Committee. This was to ensure sub-zero temperatures as “sadhus and yogis normally head to the Himalayas when in samadhi”. Later, an air-conditioned chamber was prepared for the baba.

The high court is hearing a case over his last rites. On December 1, 2014, a single-judge bench directed the state to conduct the last rites within 15 days; on December 15, a division bench stayed that order.

“We have the right to preserve the samadhi of Maharaj, as he will come out of the samadhi,” said Swami Vishalanand, a dera official. “We have done nothing to create a law-and-order or a health problem.”

Law and order is a concern cited by the state government. Solicitor general Ranjit Kumar, appearing for the state, had submitted in the high court that the government is bound to respect the belief of the sect that Ashutosh Maharaj is in samadhi, else it could create a law-and-order problem.

On September 29 last year, a division bench observed that courts cannot decide such religious issues and left it to the dera to take a decision about the manner in which it wanted to dispose of the baba’s body. The dera has not yet filed a reply. The next hearing is on February 24.

Dalip Kumar Jha, a resident of Bihar’s Madhubani, has added another dimension to the controversy. Claiming to be the baba’s son, he has sought the court’s permission to undergo a DNA test so that he could perform the last rites.

Baba Ashutosh’s sect:

> Dera set up in 1983 by Ashutosh

> Main building has rooms for around 400 to 500 resident devotees, a main hall and rooms for officials along with a large langar hall. There is a separate building where Ashutosh Maharaj used to live. The gau shala has around 700 cows. Dera has its own hospital, and ayurvedic pharmacy.

>36 centres in Punjab and 109 centres elsewhere, including a few abroad.

> Dera has several hundred acres agricultural land, the farming done by followers.

> Amid controversy over its preachings, the dera’s programmes were banned for some time in the 1990s by then CM Amarinder Singh.

> Punjab government in 2014 carved out a new village, ‘Divya Gram’, named after the sect. Its population is 525, including 264 voters, mostly sadhus, sadhvis and sewadars of the dera.

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  1. R
    Rajesh
    Jan 28, 2016 at 11:36 am
    Your mom, I dont know. Even you dont which of your father's 4 wh-res is your real mom. BTW, b****d, unlike you people dont f--k their own mothers, stop confusing your personal life with the rest of us.
    Reply
    1. R
      Rajesh
      Jan 28, 2016 at 11:37 am
      lol, ha ha, I knew you were a mother f--ker, thanks for confirming it.
      Reply
      1. S
        Sundar BN
        Jan 28, 2016 at 6:01 am
        एषा ब्राह्मी स्थिति: पार्थ नैनां प्राप्य विमुह्यति | स्थित्वास्यामन्तकालेऽपि ब्रह्मनिर्वाणमृच्छति ||
        Reply
        1. B
          babu
          Jan 28, 2016 at 9:10 am
          Bjp' pim p s
          Reply
          1. B
            babu
            Jan 28, 2016 at 9:16 am
            Your mom was complaining about your loose dik last night
            Reply
            1. M
              mik
              Jan 28, 2016 at 7:16 am
              Too much of illitteracy in India Modi should talk about these pakhandis, oops Modi itself promoe pakhandis.
              Reply
              1. M
                madan gupta
                Jan 28, 2016 at 3:33 am
                in sb ko phansi do, yh b bhale logon ko lurakh bna rhe hein.
                Reply
                1. W
                  Walter Muller
                  Jan 28, 2016 at 6:58 am
                  The devotees might as well wait forever....
                  Reply
                  1. R
                    rajan luthra
                    Jan 28, 2016 at 9:09 am
                    India of 21st century! cannot handle even such meaningless issues. Dreaming big with rhetoric and tall talk.
                    Reply
                    1. D
                      David
                      Jan 28, 2016 at 9:34 am
                      Anti national. ..
                      Reply
                      1. D
                        David
                        Jan 28, 2016 at 9:37 am
                        Let them wait. Not anyone's problem.
                        Reply
                        1. D
                          David
                          Jan 28, 2016 at 9:36 am
                          You mean same as stoning the black devil during haj...what you say goes both ways. Think.
                          Reply
                          1. S
                            S singh
                            Oct 13, 2016 at 4:48 pm
                            Ashutosh's got burnt in the cold room
                            Reply
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