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Allahabad: Maharishi Mahesh Yogi cremated

February 11, 2008 15:22 IST

Uniformed policemen of Uttar Pradesh lowered their guns as the last post was sounded by another set of cops as a mark of respect to Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, who was cremated in Allahabad with state honours on Monday noon.

The funeral pyre was lit at exactly 12.40 pm by his nephew Girish Srivastava on a specially erected platform over a mound overlooking the holy 'sangam' of Ganga, Yamuna and the mythological Saraswati rivers -- where a dip is widely believed by Hindus to wash away a lifetime's sins.

Chants of Jai Ram Jai Ram Jai Shree Ram by hundreds of his close disciples provided the backdrop to the cremation while several other enthusiastic followers of the Maharishi raised cries of Jab tak suraj chand rahega, Maharishi ji ka naam rahega (The Maharish's name will live as long as the sun and moon exist.)

The Maharishi's family members laid out logs of mango and sandalwood to prepare an elevated pyre on which the body was placed before being smeared with sandalwood and vermillion powder.

One of his nephews offered 'Gangajal' to his mouth while another poured out ghee from a golden pitcher all over his body.

His followers from far and wide -- nearly every corner of the globe as well as different parts of India stood in stoic silence while showering rose petals on his body that was carried in a procession from the assembly hall of 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.

The Maharishi's body was flown from his spiritual headquarters in Netherlands to Allahabad -- his hometown – on Saturday. Thousands of people visited the Vidyapeth to offer their homage to him.

The 1km journey took nearly an hour and a half to reach its final destination where the yogi's newly nominated successor Tony Abu Nader and team of administrators -- designated 'rajas' -- received the body .

Attired in white silk brocade regalia and displaying the insignia conferred on them by the Maharishi himself , the 'rajas' -- mostly European or American -- also wore huge gold medallions around their necks and golden crowns on their heads making them look like the cardinals from the Vatican.

These included the 35 'rajas' and 13 ministers named by the Maharishi to oversee the functioning of his organisation, spread across 130 nations.

Just as the pall-bearers climbed atop the mound, a helicopter took several circles to shower rose 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 Maharaja Dhiraj Raja Ram, to bow his head down at the feet of the Maharishi. The other 'rajas' followed course .

Famous spiritualist Sri Sri Ravi Shankar who had himself been a strong disciple of the Maharishi rose with a wreath in hand and went round the special platform to offer obescience to his 'guru'.

Hollywood film-maker David Lynch was in tow, to be followed by VIPs including Union Food Processing Minister Subodh Kant Sahay, Vishwa Hindu Parishad chief Ashok Singhal, former UP Assembly speaker and state BJP chief Keshri Nath Tripathi, top local officials and others.

Sharat Pradhan in Allahabad