Why Do Hindus Wish to Die in Kashi (Varanasi)?

An insight into why Hindus from around the world prefer to breathe their last breath and have them cremated in the holy city of Varanasi, Uttar Pradesh.

Varanasi, once known as Kashi, holds a significant place in Hindu mythology and spirituality. Home to the revered Kashi Vishwanath Temple and cradled by the sacred river Ganga, it's a city steeped in ancient lore and traditions.

According to Hindu scriptures, Lord Shiva himself created Kashi after his marriage to Devi Parvati, who desired a more habitable abode. Thus, Kashi emerged as the oldest and holiest city, embodying devotion and purity.

Walking through its streets is like traversing through realms of spirituality. Sadhus engaged in penance, saints chanting mantras, and funeral processions coexist harmoniously. On one ghat, devotees perform vibrant aartis, while on the next, cremations mark the final journey of the departed.

The Ganga, revered as the holiest river, witnesses both purification rituals and the release of mortal remains, symbolizing the circle of life and death. 

The essence of Kashi is encapsulated in the phrase 'Kashya Maranam Mukti'—'Dying in Kashi is liberation'. Hindus believe in the cycle of reincarnation, where souls traverse through various life forms to settle karmic debts. Liberation from this cycle, known as 'moksha', is the ultimate spiritual goal.

Legend has it that Kashi Devi, personifying the city, beseeched Lord Shiva for blessings. In response, Lord Shiva granted three boons:

1. Bathing in the Ganga absolves sins.

2. Dying in Kashi grants liberation.

3. Cremation at specific ghats ensures salvation.

The Manikarnika Ghat holds particular significance, where it's believed that Lord Shiva himself guides departing souls towards liberation by chanting the name of Lord Ram.

Such beliefs attract pilgrims and devotees worldwide, many seeking to spend their final days in Kashi. Mukti Bhawan, a renowned accommodation for the terminally ill, embodies this faith. With strict rules and limited rooms, it provides a sanctuary for those awaiting their journey beyond.

Varanasi pulsates with faith and mystique, a testament to the enduring bond between Lord Shiva, Devi Parvati, and the city of Kashi. Its allure lies not just in its ancient temples and ghats but in the profound spirituality that permeates every corner.

Have you experienced the magic of Varanasi? Share your thoughts and stories with us in the comments below.