Frozen Guru Update

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Just a quick update on the continuing controversy in India over the status of His Holiness Shri Ashutosh Maharaj Ji, the Hindu holy man who since January 2014 has been—well, let’s do a quiz (choose one):

(a) in a deep meditative state

(b) dead

(c) frozen solid

(d) all of the above

(e) both a and c

(f) both b and c

Feel free to consult my previous post about this before answering. See “Court to Decide Whether Guru is Dead or Just “In Deep Meditation,” (May 29, 2014).

Oh, sorry, did you actually spend time trying to answer that? Probably the answer is (f), but there’s no way to be sure and the Indian courts have not definitively settled this yet. Sorry, I guess it was kind of a trick question. No points.

On December 1 (Al Jazeera, Indian Express), a judge in Punjab ordered that the guru be cremated, having concluded that the evidence showed he was in fact clinically dead. The order is very interesting but very long, partly because the rules in Punjab appear to require judges to use the passive voice. It’s really quite incredible. Anyway, the judge seems to have rejected the various petitioners’ claims but held that the guru himself—who, he had just ruled, is dead—has a continuing right to dignity. (It’d be an understatement to say I’m paraphrasing here.) The precise scope of that right is not entirely clear, but based on the order, at a minimum it includes not being kept in a transparent freezer for more than ten months while people fight over your assets.

But on December 15, a panel of that same court issued a stay. Not surprisingly, it sounds like the December 1 order satisfied no one, and the panel needs time to read all the petitions and consider the appeals. It plans to take up the matter again on February 9, so the guru will be spending at least another month in deep meditation, or just the deep freeze, depending on who you ask in the meantime.