Good news for followers of an Indian guru who fought to keep his body on ice: A court on Wednesday ruled that the remains of Ashutosh Maharaj can remain in a freezer, Agence-France Press reports. Punjabi followers of Maharaj dispute the idea that he died of a heart attack in 2014 and instead say he is in a deep meditative state called samadhi. His well-heeled sect—Divya Jyoti Jagriti Sansthan, or Divine Light Awakening—counts millions of followers around the globe. A man claiming to be the Maharaj's son, Dalip Kumar Jha, petitioned the high court three years ago to allow him to cremate the body according to Hindi tradition. The ruling overturns a lower court that sided with Jha, ordering the body removed from the commercial freezer at his heavily guarded Punjabi ashram, per the BBC.
Jha’s lawyer tells AFP it was unclear whether the court agreed Maharaj was still alive, but he said they will appeal to the supreme court. Disciples of Maharaj, who say he often meditated in sub-zero Himalayan temperatures, are waiting for him to return to life. But Jha and the guru's driver contend followers are using the body as a cover to keep control of Maharaj's substantial assets. The guru founded the sect in 1983 in a quest for "self-awakening and global peace" and along the way built an empire with properties worth $120 million in India, the US, and several other countries. (Read more India stories.)