The family of India's wealthiest guru, with an estate reportedly valued at $167 million, believes he died of a heart attack in late January. But his followers have spirited him away to a temple freezer and refuse to turn his body over because, they say, "he has been in deep meditation."
The dispute over His Holiness Shri Ashutosh Maharaj, who's currently jammed into a commercial freezer in his Jalandhar ashram, may be about money, or it may be about the mysteries of human existence, depending on who you listen to. Here's more from Vocativ's Luke Malone:
His wife and son want his body released for cremation and are accusing his disciples of covering up the death in an attempt to keep control of his wealth. The disciples say he is in a deep meditative state called samadhi and have placed him in the heavily guarded freezer until he decides to wake up. For now, only elders and their doctors are allowed to enter.
"Maharaj has been in deep meditation," an unnamed aide told The Telegraph. "He has spent many years meditating in subzero temperatures in the Himalayas, there is nothing unusual in it. He will return to life as soon as he feels, and we will ensure his body is preserved until then."
A local court overturned the guru's death report, saying it couldn't wade into religious matters. In the meantime, his holdings—including a "property portfolio that spans India, the U.S., South America, Australia, the Middle East and Europe"—remain in a state of limbo. Or, if you prefer, samsara.
[Photo crdit: totalbhakti.com]