Author Topic: Where a Holy Man Lies Frozen, Threat of a Standoff Looms  (Read 254 times)

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Offline Minnesotan

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Where a Holy Man Lies Frozen, Threat of a Standoff Looms
« on: December 12, 2014, 12:30:27 AM »
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: The state government ordered the cremation of 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.


More here.

Some thoughts I had after reading this article:

  • Does the Christian tradition have any similar concepts to Samadhi? The closest thing I can think of is the Seven Sleepers of Ephesus.
  • This practice doesn't seem to fit with the fundamental Hindu view that the material world is a prison to be escaped from. The idea of Samadhi/incorruptibility seems to imply a much higher view of the physical body, one more characteristic of Christianity than of Hinduism. Could sects like this one have originated as a result of Christian influence? India has always been a fertile ground for religious syncretism.
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Offline TheTrisagion

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Re: Where a Holy Man Lies Frozen, Threat of a Standoff Looms
« Reply #1 on: December 12, 2014, 12:36:54 AM »
If they want to keep a frozen body, why not let them. Why does the government feel the need to anger 60k people?  That seems like a bad idea to me...
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Offline Minnesotan

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Re: Where a Holy Man Lies Frozen, Threat of a Standoff Looms
« Reply #2 on: December 12, 2014, 12:42:54 AM »
Also, isn't it the case that the EO and OO churches don't allow cremation? If the Indian government has decided it has the authority to force people to cremate their dead, that could be problematic considering the large numbers in Kerala and other areas.
« Last Edit: December 12, 2014, 12:43:38 AM by Minnesotan »
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Online Justin Kissel

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Re: Where a Holy Man Lies Frozen, Threat of a Standoff Looms
« Reply #3 on: December 12, 2014, 12:53:25 AM »
^For the Eastern Orthodox, as I understand it, cremation is not absolutely forbidden (like a dogmatic ruling), but more like forbidden unless there are exceptional circumstances. I think in Japan the government requires people to be cremated, for example, including Orthodox Christians.

Offline Minnesotan

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Re: Where a Holy Man Lies Frozen, Threat of a Standoff Looms
« Reply #4 on: December 12, 2014, 12:58:02 AM »
^For the Eastern Orthodox, as I understand it, cremation is not absolutely forbidden (like a dogmatic ruling), but more like forbidden unless there are exceptional circumstances. I think in Japan the government requires people to be cremated, for example, including Orthodox Christians.

Yes, and it seems that if the government requires it, then the church doesn't have a problem with it. What the EO church has a problem with is a willful decision to be cremated instead of buried, especially if done to express disbelief in the bodily resurrection.

That being said, most Indian Orthodox are OO not EO, and I'm not sure what their church's position on this matter is.
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