Kashi or Varanasi is an ancient holy city of Hindus.
It is also known as Banaras. It is at the banks of river Ganga in Uttar Pradesh, India.
Mark Twain, considered as the father of the American literature, told about Banaras,”Banaras is older than history, older than tradition, older even than legend, and looks twice as old as all of them put together.”
People believe that Kashi is the abode of Lord Shiva and, here, death is as pleasant as birth. Scriptures say “Kashyam maranam muktih”, which means dying in Kashi is equal to attaining liberation.
According to the popular belief, Lord Shiva utters a taraka mantra in the ears of a dying person in Kashi and gives moksha to them. Some believe that this mantra is the Ram Mantra, whereas others believe that it is Om. Others say that it is not about the mantra but the fact that Lord Shiva himself is becoming the guru for these dying people that help them attain liberation.
It is a widespread belief that if one dies in Kashi, one attains salvation, which means one gets liberated from the cycle of birth and death. Some believe that not only Hindus but even Muslims living in Kashi attain salvation and not just that even ants and worms of Kashi attain salvation, so much is the significance of dying in the city of Kashi.
Those who are born in the city feel very blessed, and others come to die in Kashi. There are many places in Banaras where people come from all over India to spend their last days and die. One such place is Mukti Bhavan, where only those who are about to die in the next 15 days come, and if it takes more than 15 days, they move to another place. It is a place for poor people, and they are not charged anything for staying there.
Diana Eck wrote, “No other city on earth is as famous for death as Banaras.” There are various magnificent temples and Ghats. It is also famous for muslin and silk. However, it is most famous as the cremation ground. People here believe that dying a good death is as important as living a good life.
According to Sri Sri Ravishankar, “Meaning of Kashi is one that is overflowing with knowledge. It was a great seat of knowledge and learning in the ancient days.”
It is the desire to die in Kashi that brings many people to this city, and they live there and wait for their death. The famous Manikarnika Ghat and Harishchandra ghat always have funeral pyres burning, which is an experience in itself.
The importance of dying in Kashi is so much because People believe this to be a bridge for heaven and do not fear death but feel hope as it is an opportunity that will unite them with God.
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