Strange things are happening in this land of countless believers. Months after a nondescript village in Unnao district of Uttar Pradesh shot to global fame when a gold-dreaming hermit prompted the Central government to order an excavation which yielded dust, mud and a bit of better sense, another drama is unfolding. Ashutosh Maharaj, the sect leader of Divya Jyoti Jagriti Sansthan, had been declared clinically dead on January 29, following which his disciples had placed the dead body in a deep freezer claiming he had gone into ‘samadhi’ or deep meditative state. A petition had been filed in the case by one – Dilip Kumar Jha – who claimed to be Ashutosh Maharaj’s son and sought the “mortal remains” for performing last rites. A second petition in the case had been filed by Ashutosh Maharaj’s driver – Puran Singh – demanding a CBI probe to ascertain the cause of his former employer’s death.
The Punjab and Haryana High Court asked authorities to conduct the last rites of Ashutosh Maharaj in 15 days. The honourable High Court also ordered the formation of a committee of senior officers — that would include officers in the rank of home secretary and chief secretary — to overlook law and order during the process. There are many talks going around; no one has seen Maharaj except his followers after 29th January. Apollo’s team of doctors visited the ashram but they were not allowed to examine the body of the Maharaj. They only declared Baba as clinically dead. Police has filed affidavit in the high court on the basis of reports by these doctors but disciple are challenging that doctors had never examined the body. Everybody is claiming that body is kept in deep freezer but no one has seen him in deep freezer.
The impact on the gullible public can be imagined. In case, if Ashutosh Maharaj is already dead then his followers are being made fool by the close aides of baba, we can conclude that Ashutosh is alive and this is all a conspiracy to show him as a God having control over his life and death. Thousands of his disciples believe he is not dead but in samadhi, a state of deep meditation. There was little the doctors could do, so they left without causing any discomfort to the disciples. For the five days after his death, patient disciples and DJJS staff waited for their guru to open his eyes. That did not happen and instead, signs of decay started showing. On the sixth day, they shifted the religious guru into a freezer to ensure “Himalayan-type environment” for him. The disciples maintained that yogis used to go to the Himalayas for samadhi in ancient times.
India being a religious country, its cops are dutifully religious. While this entire drama unfolded and a corpse was kept in open for a week, local police failed to intervene. In the meanwhile, Puran Singh, a man who claimed to be DJJS founder’s former driver, filed habeas corpus petition in the Punjab and Haryana High Court on February 3 maintaining that the Dera was not letting the truth come out. In his petition, he sought the release of Mahesh Kumar Jha alias Ashutosh Maharaj from the alleged illegal custody of four Dera followers, namely, Arvindanand, Soni, Narinder Singh and Vishalanand, who, according to Singh, want to usurp the Dera’s property.
Forty five years ago, Mahesh Jha, who later became famous as Ashutosh Maharaj had left his village Lakhnaur in Madhubani district of Bihar. He was married and had a one month old baby boy when he left his house. Jha had a bachelor’s degree in English and was married to one Anandi Devi. He left his house in 1970 over a minor tiff with his wife. As the guru’s ties with his disciples grew, his relations with his family snapped. When his son Dilip, now a middle-aged man, heard of his father’s death, he said it made no difference to him.
He founded Divya Jyoti Jagrati Sansthan as a non-profit spiritual organisation in Nurmahal, Punjab, India in 1983. According to the organisation’s website, their mission is “To usher into a world wherein every individual becomes an embodiment of truth, fraternity, and justice through the eternal science of self-realisation – ‘Brahm Gyan’, uprooting in its wake all social evils and threat. As the head of the organisation, Ashutosh is seen as a controversial figure among Sikh community, who have alleged him to be hurting Sikh religious sentiments. He has been accused of distorted Sikh teachings, called Banis, and making negative comments about Sikhism and the Sikh gurus. At the time of his death, Ashutosh was in his 60s.