Salvation in Varanasi : Mukti Bhavan
What does every Hindu want after death? No, it is not paradise but moksha. Moksha is the Hindu concept of liberation from the cycle of birth and rebirth. It is the time when you give up all materialistic pleasures and become one with your self. Though freedom from cycle of birth and rebirth, Moksha can be attained even while living, it is belived that attaining moksha on your death-bed frees you from the cycle of life-and-death and your soul is free ever-after that.
A visit to Varanasi, considered the spiritual capital of India is sacred for a variety of reasons. All Hindus and now a fellow tourists believing in Indian culture and custom pour in from all corners of the country to take a dip in river Ganges and wash off their sins or to perform the last rites of their loved ones.
However, there’s another reason a few thousand devotees throng Varanasi. It is to enrol themselves in ‘Mukti Bhavan’ or Salvation House and attain moksha, which will free them from the cycle of life and death.
In order to attain this salvation, they wait to die in this charity-run hostel.
Mukti Bhavan has 12 rooms with a small temple and priest and all facilities for the guests. There are a lot of old people who visit the hostel and stay here. The hostel manager Bhairav Nath Shukla has been in-charge and praying for the salvation of these dying souls for the past 44 years. He lives with his family in the same compound and his family members are used to people dying in their hostel.
While it is mostly for those who have no friends or family who come here to die, Mukti Bhavan has seen it’s share of deaths. The concept is very similar to the olden days Kashi concept where Indians, after living the Grihastashrama and Vanaprasha would go to Kashi. When people said they are going to Kashi, it was assumed they would not return as they would spend the remainder of their lives there and die there in hopes of moksha.
Those who check-in to die, have to pay a minimal rent for accommodation or electricity, which is most of the times provided by resident’s families. Even those who cannot afford are taken in. But there is only one condition, they will be allowed only if they are expected to die within 15 days. So, that those who too yearn salvation get the chance.
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