UPDATE:: Two years on: ‘Baba’ Ashutosh Maharaj still in freezer, no sign of thaw__
However, the arrival of four Delhi-based DJJS leaders turned things on its head. The dera started claiming that Ashutosh was in “samadhi” (state of deep meditation) and he would come out of it “very soon”.See also:: Two years on, followers of Punjab Dera chief 'sleeping in a freezer' await his second coming
Two years on, dera managers continue to assure Ashutosh’s disciples that he will be back. The devotees themselves look forward to this ‘second coming’ as Ashutosh had told them: “My soul will disappear and return after completing a few important tasks of mankind.”
Though the DJJS continues to give the impression that the sect is functioning normally even in Ashutosh’s absence, the Punjab Police’s CID (criminal investigation department) has witnessed a sharp drop in the number of visitors to the dera.
A senior CID official, who is tracking DJJS activities, told HT that due to the controversy over Ashutosh’s death, the number of political leaders usually visiting the dera has also decreased.
“Ashutosh was a spiritual leader whose knowledge of mankind was vast. Since there is no dera leader now of that stature, there is no point in making repeated visits,” said a senior BJP leader who has had an old association with the DJJS.
A Nakodar-based senior sect follower, who is in favour of performing Ashutosh’s last rites, said: “The DJJS may have its reasons to advocate the ‘samadhi’ theory, but the negative publicity has brought disrespect to Ashutosh.”
But somewhere inside the ashram, Divya Jyoti Jagrati Sansthan, hidden away in a secret chamber, is the frozen body of its spiritual leader, Ashutosh Maharaj, who was declared clinically dead of a heart attack on Jan. 29. The local news media, using a Hindi word for a holy man, have taken to calling him the “frozen baba.”
His followers — men and women who flock to the ashram by the thousands — as well as the ashram leadership, do not deny that “Maharaj ji” is there, frozen in a chamber. But they swear that he is alive, having attained “samadhi,” a high state of consciousness reserved for the holiest of men, beings so evolved they can control their heartbeat, a state indistinguishable to the unenlightened from death.
“Whenever a saint goes into samadhi, it is his disciples’ duty to preserve his body,” said an ashram preacher, Swami Vishalanand, sitting in orange robes under a framed photo of Mr. Maharaj, whose likeness dominates the ashram’s walls.
On Dec. 1, however, the High Court of Punjab and Haryana issued a 129-page order citing the Bhagavad Gita and the Upanishads, and referring to the embalming of Lenin. The upshot: Government and police officials were ordered to cremate Mr. Maharaj’s body within 15 days.
The ashram’s leaders are planning a monthly gathering on Sunday, just before the deadline, where they expect 60,000 people from all over the state, an event many fear could lead to a violent confrontation with the police.
The last time something like this happened, the results were catastrophic. In November, a powerful spiritual leader, Baba Rampal Maharaj, who was wanted on a murder charge fended off thousands of police officers with the help of an army of volunteers armed with diesel bombs and acid pouches. The standoff left six dead and many more wounded.
Where a Holy Man Lies Frozen, Threat of a Standoff Looms - NYTimes.com