How different is it from the Christian belief in Jesus returning from the dead? It's different in that Maharaj's followers are asserting that he hasn't died, but is in a state of deep meditation.
But then why put him in the freezer? I see that a man petitioned a court and accused the followers of keeping the body frozen as a way to acquire his property, but Maharaj has been officially declared dead, so from a legal standpoint it's just a question about what to do with a dead body, which, I take it, is unrelated to inheriting the dead person's property.
Is freezing a permissible method for dealing with a dead body? In the United States, we have our cryonics places.
Legally, cryonics patients are treated as deceased persons. A long established legal tradition, the concept of "lost persons," permits a person who has been declared legally dead to later be declared legally alive.Here's a great essay the now-dead David Rakoff published back in 2003. Excerpt:
The grand fantasy of cheating death... is as old as humanity itself.... What is brought up repeatedly as a worthy precedent is a letter Benjamin Franklin wrote to a friend in 1773: "I should prefer to an ordinary death, being immersed with a few friends in a cask of Madeira wine, until that time, then to be recalled to life by the solar warmth of my dear country!"...
The full-body patients are stored upside down, so that, in the unforeseen event of a nitrogen boil-off, the head would be the last to thaw. Neuros [head-only "patients"] are stacked five high.... Each head is placed in what looks like a high, narrow steel stockpot....
I ask Hixon whether any concessions are made to preserve the neuros' faces. Not really. Neuropreservation is all about the brain. The only reason it is kept in the skull is to minimize damage. Hair is removed to reduce insulation and to allow easy access to the burr holes made in the skull for the "crackphones"—seismograph-like sensors that monitor any fissures that may result from freezing. Also, the antifreeze renders the skin translucent. "This is not a cosmetic procedure" is all Hixon will say on the record.