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Courts are not appropriate to interpret Samadhi: HC on Ashutosh Maharaj case

Ashutosh Maharaj samadhi

Some call it the height of divine consciousness, some, the ultimate transcendence. Many are cynical, too. The word ‘Samadhi’ has been largely misunderstood. People who lack understanding of the phenomenon consider it to be a death-like situation. For the uninitiated, it is simply a state of being acutely aware of the present moment, achieved through intense meditation. On Tuesday, the arguments in the case of Ashutosh Maharaj turned quite interesting and revealing.

Ashutosh Maharaj
Ashutosh Maharaj’s followers believe him to be alive and in the state of a Samadhi

Ashutosh Maharaj, an Indian spiritual leader, was declared clinically dead by a team of doctors after suffering a heart attack in January 2014. However, his followers believe him to be alive and in the state of a Samadhi. Since then, the Guru has been kept by the management of Divya Jyoti Jagriti Sansthan, hoping for him to one day come out of deep meditation.

Senior Advocate Sunil Chadda, who is representing the disciples of Ashutosh Maharaj, explained to the court on Tuesday the concept of Samadhi. After listening to his arguments, Justice Mahesh Grover and Justice Shekhar Dhawan said that the court is not equipped to interpret the concept of Samadhi as it is a subject of religion and spirituality. With limitations of the court of law, it can only interpret the law, not the principles of theology. Therefore, the court cannot comment on Samadhi.

Mr Chadda responded, arguing that it was essential to first understand the concept of Samadhi in order to establish it as a core part of Hinduism, which accords it protection under Article 25 & 26 of the Constitution. To this, the Court said that under this provision, the followers have every right to believe in Samadhi, but the Court is not the appropriate forum for interpreting such purely theological subjects such as Samadhi. Justice Mahesh Grover also said that the Court cannot comment on the powers of Yogis. The Court also observed that it is not disputed that Ashutosh Maharaj was a Sanyasi and he had renounced the world. When the petitioner and the disciples both admit that he had renounced the world and taken to Sanyasa, no question of disagreement arises.

Ashutosh Maharaj
Samadhi is an integral part of the Sansthan’s religious belief.

Advocate Chadda also put forward the historical instances of Samadhi taken by Swami Vivekananda and Sai Baba, to which the court observed that there are many examples of saints going into Samadhi and that nobody is refuting the concept of Samadhi in Hinduism.

The court raised the question that if Samadhi is an integral part of the Sansthan’s religious belief, Ashutosh Maharaj must have taught the same to his disciples.

Sadhvi Tapeshwari Bharti, one of the disciples, sought the permission of the Court to speak and said that after Sai Baba took Samadhi, none of the followers were asked to perform the same. It was same in the case of Adi Guru Shankaracharya. If a Guru takes Samadhi, it is neither mandatory nor a practice for the disciples to do the same. Even if the disciples do not perform the same feat, the Samadhi of their Guru cannot be held void as per historic incidents.

The Sadhvi further added that their belief in their Guru’s Samadhi is in adherence to the ‘Guru Shishya Parampara’, which is a core of Hinduism, and since Ashutosh Maharaj had mentioned to them about his Samadhi, it is their duty to abide by it.

Ashutosh Maharaj
Followers of Ashutosh Maharaj in Divya Jyoti Jagriti Sansthan

She further explained that for a microscopic world, we need a microscope to analyze. Similarly, for quantum realities, we need quantum levels of perfection in methodology to analyse. Sadhvi argued that when scientists say that 90% of matter in Universe is dark, it is not that the matter is dark, but because science today doesn’t have the tool to gauge the dimension of universe. Therefore, the subject of Samadhi and preservation of Ashutosh Maharaj is of a different consciousness, a different order. If we employ gross approach and mindset, we will never be able to establish it. And if we employ right mindset and right methodology to this subject we will be able to discover that Samadhi is not irrational, but supra-rational.

Further, the Court inquired whether Ashutosh Maharaj had ever said about Samadhi in his discourses or whether it’s mentioned in any of the Sansthan’s literature.

To this, the official publication of Sansthan was read in the Court, which had directly quoted Ashutosh Maharaj, and his views on the subject of Samadhi. The court also observed that all these are matters of evidence and can only be proven in the Civil Court. Advocate Chadda responded that all these are matters of evidence, which could only be taken up in Civil Court, and they were not taken up in the Writ Court and a judgment by the Single bench was given, without considering the important question of facts.

Ashutosh Maharaj
Ashutosh Maharaj

After the disciples’ lawyer had completed the arguments, the Court asked the lawyer of the petitioner (alleged son) to advance his arguments. The lawyer of the petitioner could not produce any law to substantiate his claim of fundamental religious right to cremate the body of Ashutosh Maharaj.

The hearing of the case is adjourned for March 1, 2017 where the State of Punjab will advance its arguments.

Whatever be the outcome, one’s belief is his only reality. Every phenomenon cannot be subject to scientific scrutiny.

About the author


Abhishek Dinman is an Indian journalist with over 12 years of practice in the media industry. Before setting up The Voice of Nation as a platform for unreserved expressions, he designed content for ESPN STAR Sports. Prior to his stint in sports writing, he was an investigative journalist for ZEE’s India’s Most Wanted’. In school and college, he edited the in-house newsletters.

He focuses on social affairs and the dynamics and theory of how people receive and react to different forms of information on a variety of subjects.

He loves exploring hidden beaches in South East Asia, counseling and spending time with recovering addicts. He spends most of his TV time on watching National Geographic and old episodes of ‘Friends’.

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