A hoarding featuring an image of Indian spiritual leader Ashutosh Maharaj stands outside the Divya Jyoti Jagrati Sansthan in Nurmahal on the outskirts of JalandharGetty

An Indian court has been asked to rule whether a Hindu spiritual leader is dead, or actually in a deep state of meditation.

His Holiness Shri Ashutosh Maharaj, founder of the Divya Jyoti Jagrati Sansthan (DJJS) religious order, died in January, according to his family.

However, his followers insist the guru is still alive and are refusing to hand over his body for cremation.

They say their leader, known as Samadhi, who is reported to hold property worth an estimated £100 million ($181 million), is merely in a deep state of meditation. They are preserving his body in a freezer until he awakes, according to the Daily Telegraph.

One of his followers claimed Maharaj had previously spent many years meditating in sub-zero temperatures in the Himalayas.

Doctors declared the Hindu leader dead from a suspected heart attack on 28 January. Despite this, the religious group's website states that Samdhi "has been in deep meditative state since 29th January 2014".

Samadhi's family believe his followers are refusing to release the guru's body as a means to control his £100m fortune.

Punjab Police initially confirmed his death in January, but the Punjab High Court later threw out its status report. Local governmental officials have ruled the situation is a spiritual matter and said the guru's followers cannot be forced to believe he is dead.

The religious leader's wife and son have filed a court application calling for an investigation into the circumstances of his death and for his body to be released for cremation.

According to the website, DJJS was founded in 1983 and is a "socio-spiritual-cultural, not-for profit organisation".

The group say their mission is to "usher into a world wherein every individual becomes an embodiment of truth, fraternity, and justice through the eternal science of self-realization – 'Brahm Gyan', uprooting in its wake all social evils and threat."