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Mahesh Yogi cremated with state honours

Maharishi Mahesh Yogi has been cremated in Allahabad with tens of thousands of his followers making a beeline to have a glimpse of his last rites.
By Sharat Pradhan | IANS, Allahabad
UPDATED ON FEB 11, 2008 04:10 PM IST

Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, the spiritual guru who introduced Transcendental Meditation in the West, was cremated in Allahabad on Monday with tens of thousands of his followers making a beeline to have a glimpse of his last rites.

The funeral pyre was lit at 12.40 pm by his nephew Girish Srivastava on a specially erected platform over a mound overlooking the Sangam - the holy confluence of the Ganga, the Yamuna and the mythological Saraswati rivers - where a dip, according to Hindu belief, washes away a lifetime's sins.

Mahesh Yogi's relatives and disciples placed his body on a high pyre made of mango and sandalwood logs. One relative put Gangajal or holy Ganga water in his mouth. Other family members including his 97-year-old brother and a number of nephews placed sandalwood logs over the body that was smeared with sandalwood and vermilion paste.

His followers from far and wide - nearly every corner of the globe as well as different parts of India - closed their eyes amid chants of Jai Ram, Jai Ram, Jai Shree Ram as the body of the Maharishi was carried in a procession from the assembly hall of the Maharishi Ved Vidyapeeth to the far end of the sprawling campus overlooking the Sangam.

Carrying the body in turns were members of the Maharishi's family together with students of the vidyapeeth, attired in white dhotis and vests. It took nearly an hour and a half to cover the one kilometre to the point where Mahesh Yogi's newly nominated successor Tony Abu Nadar and a team of ashram administrators were already seated in their hierarchical regalia, displaying the insignia conferred on them by the Maharishi.

They were dressed in white silk brocade robes, with long gold medallions round their necks and a golden crown on their heads. They included the 35 rajas and 13 ministers named by the Maharishi to oversee the functioning of his organization, spread across 130 nations.

Just as the pallbearers climbed atop the mound, a helicopter showered raised petals on the body.

Uniformed policemen lowered their guns as the last post was sounded as a mark of state honour to the departed spiritual guru.

Then came the turn of Tony Abu Nader, now renamed Maharajadhiraj Raja Ram, to bow at the feet of the Maharishi. The other rajas followed.

Renowned spiritual leader Sri Sri Ravi Shankar, who had been a disciple of the Maharishi, rose with a wreath in hand and went round the special platform to offer obeisance to his guru.

Hollywood filmmaker David Lynch was in tow, to be followed by VIPs including central minister Subodh Kant Sahay, Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) chief Ashok Singhal, former Uttar Pradesh assembly speaker and state BJP chief Keshri Nath Tripathi, top local officials and others.

The Maharishi, whose followers at one point included the Beatles and who had become a counter-culture icon in the 1960s and 1970s, passed away Tuesday at his Dutch home.

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