Varanasi’s Mukti Bhavan – Where You Have Only 2 Weeks To Die - Homegrown

Varanasi’s Mukti Bhavan – Where You Have Only 2 Weeks To Die

Why go through the gruelling existence of, well, existing, say a thousand times over when there are places you could go to simply exit the (seemingly) never-ending cycle of reincarnation? At least this is the ethos Varanasi’s many ‘Mukti Houses’ are based on. A bustling centre of reincarnation, India’s most holy city has found a way to capitalise (for lack of a better term) on the thousands of life-weary travellers who go there each year in search of peace, to die and be ‘reborn.’ Though it is primarily Hindus who believe in the concept of many cycles of life or Nirvana, they remain open to those of all faiths.

A Vocativ journalist, Betwa Sharma, visited one such place called Kashi Labh Mukti Bhawan, located in the heart of the city, in the hopes of uncovering what happens in the hallowed halls of such places. The priest and caretaker of this particular Mukti House told her that, “If you are destined to come here, then no power of earth can stop you. It works like a magnet. But you can’t force your way in.” Essentially, their belief is that if one has spent their life waist-deep in unseemly activities, the path to the Mukti house will not even present itself to you, hence its doors remain open to all that make it.

Established in the ‘50s, Shukla says that the house technically only allows people to stay for 15 days but till date, and he’s worked there for over two decades, no one has ever been forced to leave. Many people also choose not to come alone, keeping their family nearby and spending their days in deep prayer. Interestingly, Shukla even notes that despite our country’s tendency to value sons over daughters, it is almost always the girls who end up taking complete care of their parents in their old age.

Photographed by Danish Siddiqui//Reuters
Photographed by Danish Siddiqui//Reuters

In his own beautiful way, the priest also maintains that the only rule that must never be broken is that no tears should be shed upon anyone’s passing away because over here, death is a celebration. They believe that when these souls are freed of their karmic obligations, they are free to become one with God, or the cosmos, and there is no sadness in this.

Despite the serenity that Kashi - a local name for Varanasi - exudes, this regions seems eternally embroiled with many politicians in the country, especially Hindu Nationalists who use it as a hotbed for spouting their own religious views which often makes it appear untowardly for those of other religious faiths. However, Shukla insists that for the many who go there in search of a spiritual end, of sorts, it’s comforting to know that such havens of spirituality still exist and continue to turn up despite all odds. After all, this is the place where the circle of life stops for no one.

You can view Danish Siddiqui’s entire photo-series here

Photographed by Danish Siddiqui//Reuters
Photographed by Danish Siddiqui//Reuters
Photographed by Danish Siddiqui//Reuters
Photographed by Danish Siddiqui//Reuters
Photographed by Danish Siddiqui//Reuters
Photographed by Danish Siddiqui//Reuters
Photographed by Danish Siddiqui//Reuters
Photographed by Danish Siddiqui//Reuters
Photographed by Danish Siddiqui//Reuters
Photographed by Danish Siddiqui//Reuters

Click here to view the entire series by Danish Siddiqui


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