Thousands throng to pay homage to Mahesh Yogi
Thousands of followers and admirers of the icon of transcendental meditation swarmed on Sunday at the Maharishi Ved Vidyapeeth in Allahabad to pay their homage to Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, who died at his spiritual headquarters in the Netherlands last week.
Hundreds of his foreign devotees thronged in and around the institute on the sprawling 120-acre campus on the banks of the Sangam - the confluence of the Ganga, Yamuna and the now dried Saraswati rivers - regarded by the Hindus as the holiest of the holy spots for taking a dip to wash off one's sins.
The last rites of the sage would be performed on a specially erected platform on a mound at the far end of the institute overlooking the Sangam at 11.00 am on Monday.
Widely revered spiritualist Sri Sri Ravi Shankar is expected to join the cremation ceremony. Famous Hollywood filmmaker David Lynch also flew down all the way from Los Angeles to attend the funeral. Minister of state for food processing Subodh Kant Sahay will represent the central government.
Throughout the day, people kept pouring in at the institute where the body of the Maharishi was kept after being flown in by a chartered plane here on Saturday.
Made to sit in an upright position with his eyes closed, the guru appeared to be in a sadhana (meditation) mode on a white draped and flower bedecked platform.
Scores of wreaths were placed all around the platform adorned with marigold chains and covered with rose petals.
While a group of 10 students pursuing Vedic studies at the institute continuously recited from the religious scriptures, the Maharishi's handpicked disciples from different corners of the globe listened with rapt attention.
These included the 35 rajas (kings) and 13 ministers nominated by the Maharishi himself to carry on his organization, now spread across 130 nations.
The Maharishi's closest disciple, Tony Abu Nadar (from Lebanon) - renamed Maharajadhiraj Raja Ram - was named the head of his multi-billion dollar legacy.
However, as per the yogi's will, he would function on the advice of the rajas and ministers.
Each of the rajas appointed as "in-charge" of different countries was easily discernable because of their respective regalia which included white brocade sherwani, golden medallion and to top it all a golden crown.
Hectic preparations continued until late evening for the grand funeral on Saturday.