Does dying in holy cities like Varanasi bring salvation?

In the centuries-old Indian city of Varanasi, there is a hotel with a weird check-out policy: if you don’t die within two weeks, the manager will politely ask you to leave.  The hotel caters to a clientele of faithful Hindus who travel to Varanasi  specifically to die  (more on that hotel later).  They are solemnly adhering to the norms laid down in the hoary scriptures that state that death in Varanasi (aka Kashi, Banaras) and some other holy cities can guarantee liberation from the cycle of reincarnation.  Is this fast-track to liberation a parochial  and outdated belief, or does it imply that anyone living anywhere in the world can attain liberation from rebirth by dying in an Indian holy city? In this article, we examine the continuing validity of such affirmations.

The prospect of an exotic silver bullet which can dissolve  the miseries of life holds enduring allure to the habitually enervated human mind.  All religions affirm their unique holy lands, holy days, liturgies and soteriologies.  The unfolding phenomenon of globalization, which is fusing together traditionally insulated strands of humanity, is throwing into sharp relief the incompatibilities between the beliefs of various religions.  Consequently, it is imperative to critically examine all antiquated beliefs and decouple the underlying inner truths, if any, from the external forms under which they have been historically couched.

In the Matsya Purana, Siva says: “Varanasi is always my most secret place, the cause of liberation for all creatures.  All sins which one may have accumulated in thousands of previous lives disappears as soon as one enters Avimukta” (1).  One finds similar remarks in the Kashi Khanda (section) 0f the Skanda Purana regarding the importance of Kashi (aka Varanasi) (2).  The Garuda Purana lists the seven holy cities, said to be Kshetras or fields of active power, where death is supposed to guarantee liberation. (“Ayodhya Mathura Maya Kasi Kanchi Avantika Puri Dvaravati chaiva saptaita moksadayikah” – Ayodhya, Mathura, Maya, Kashi(Varanasi), Kanchi, Avantika(Ujjain), and Puri are the seven holy cities – Garuna Purana, I XVI.14) (3).

Questions regarding the continuing validity of these scriptural remarks have been raised before some modern seers such as Anandamayi Ma, Ramana Maharshi and Ramakrishna Paramahansa.   Let us first read what they had to say in response.

Anandamayi Ma

In 1981, a devotee asked Anandamayi Ma, “What is better, to die at Brindavan or at Kashi?”.  She replied:

Those who are on the bhakti marga (path of devotion) think is it good to die at Brindavan, because they have the saguna rupa (the form with qualities) of God there in the form of Sri Krishna. Those who are on the nirguna marga (formless worshippers) and want to obtain the God who is jnana svarupa (the essence of knowledge), Atma svarupa (the essence of the Self), and nitya (eternal) take Kashi as their mukti kshetra (place for liberation) because Shiva is there. But where does He not exist? Where is the place unoccupied by Bhagavan(Divine)? He is everywhere. (4)

Anandamayi Ma seems to offer a modicum of flexibility when she says that the Divine is everywhere.

Ramana Maharshi 

We have two recorded instances where the sage of Arunachala, Ramana Maharshi, was asked the same question.  The first dialogue is from Talk 18 recorded in 1935:

Devotee: Is there any psychic effect in visiting sacred places like Mt. Kailas, Benares, etc.?
Ramana: Yes.
Devotee: Is there any benefit accruing by dying in Benares?
Ramana: Yes, the meaning will be clear if the real Benares and real dying be understood.
Devotee: You mean that they are in the Self?
Ramana: Yes.

Devotee: There are six centres in the body and there are corresponding centres in the world.
Ramana: Yes. What is in the world is in the body; and what is in the body is in the world also.
Devotee: Is the sacredness of Benares a matter of faith, or is it externally also real?
Ramana: Both. (5)

In another talk, Talk 473, recorded in 1938, Ramana Maharshi was asked similar questions about the holiness of the Arunachala mountain where he had established his Ashram.

Someone remarked: It is said that they get mukti (liberation) unasked who live or die within a radius of 30 miles round Arunachala. It is also admitted that only by jnana is liberation obtained. The purana also remarks that Vedanta Vijnana is difficult to get. So mukti is difficult. But life or death round about the Hill bestows mukti so easily. How can it be?

Ramana: Siva says, “By My command.” Those who live here need no initiation (diksha) etc., but get mukti. Such is the command of Siva.

Devotee: The purana also says that those who are born here are Siva’s group of followers, such as ghosts, spirits, disembodied beings, etc.

Ramana: So it is said of other kshetras as well, e.g., Tiruvarur, Chidambaram.

Devotee: How does mere life or death here confer mukti(liberation)? It is difficult to understand.

Ramana: (quotes a Sanskrit verse) Darsanad Abhrasadasi jananat Kamalalaye, Kasyantu maranam muktih smaranad Arunachale.

(and then gives the meaning of the Sanskrit verse) “To see Chidambaram, to be born in Tiruvarur, to die in Benares, or merely to think of Arunachala, is to be assured of Liberation.” Jananat Kamalalaye means “by being born in Kamalalaya”. What is it? It is the Heart.  Similarly, Abhrasadasi – Seat of Consciousness.  Again, Kasi is the Light of Realisation. Remembering Arunachala completes the verse. It must also be understood in the same sense.

Devotee: So bhakti(devotion) is necessary.

Ramana: Everything depends on the outlook. One sees that all born in Tiruvarur, or visiting Chidambaram, or dying in Banares, or contemplating Arunachala, are muktas.

Devotee: I think of Arunachala, but still I am not a mukta.

Ramana: Change of outlook is all that is necessary. See what such a change did for Arjuna.  He had the vision of the Cosmic Self. Sri Krishna says: “Gods and saints are eager to see my Cosmic Form. I have not fulfilled their desire. Yet I endow divine sight by which you can see that Form.”  Well, having said so, does He show what He is?  No. He asks Arjuna to see in Him all that he desires to see. If that were His real form it must be changeless and known for what it is worth. Instead, Arjuna is commanded to see whatever he desires.  So where is the Cosmic Form? It must be in Arjuna.

Furthermore, Arjuna finds Gods and saints in that form and they are praising the Lord. If the form be withheld from the Gods and saints as said by Krishna, who are they of Arjuna’s vision?

Devotee: They must be in his imagination.

Ramana: They are there because of Arjuna’s outlook.

Devotee: Then the outlook must be changed by God’s Grace.

Ramana: Yes. That happens to bhaktas (devotees) (6).

Ramana Maharshi, while affirming the sanctity of the holy places, stresses that the inner truths of the verses must be understood, instead of relying on their purely literal or external interpretation.  He suggests that a change in the outlook, which can come through devotion, Divine Grace and realization, is required before one can attain liberation.

Ramakrishna Paramahansa

We have an instance of Ramakrishna Paramahansa being asked the same question:

The Marwari devotee: “Revered sir, does one attain liberation only when he quits the body on the bank of the Ganges?”

Sri Ramakrishna: “Liberation comes when one has attained spiritual knowledge. Wherever one may be, whether one dies in the cremation ground or on the bank of the Ganges, a person of spiritual knowledge will attain liberation. But the bank of the Ganges is best for a person who has not attained knowledge.”

The Marwari devotee: “Revered sir, why is a person liberated if he dies in Kashi (Benares/Varanasi)?”

Sri Ramakrishna: “When one dies in Kashi, Shiva appears before him and says, ‘This form of mine is not real. I assume it for the sake of the devotee. Now look, I am dissolving into the Indivisible Existence-Knowledge-Bliss Absolute.’ After saying this, the form disappears.

According to the Puranas, even a pariah will attain liberation if he develops loving devotion to God. According to this belief, only chanting His name brings salvation; there is no need for sacrifices, oblations, tantric disciplines, or mantras.

The teachings of the Vedas are different. According to them, only brahmins can gain liberation.  And if the mantra is not recited properly, the worship is not accepted. One has to perform sacrifices, oblations, mantras, and tantric disciplines as prescribed.” (7)

Ramakrishna Paramahansa, like Ramana Maharshi, while affirming that liberation can only come with spiritual knowledge, also affirms the importance of dying in a holy place.


In light of the insights offered by Ramakrishna Paramahansa, Ramana Maharshi and Anandamayi Ma, let us attempt a reconciliation.

Firstly, it must be understood is that these remarks occur in the scriptures known as Puranas, which are secondary sources of authority.  The Puranas are called smriti because they are recordings of ancient customs and traditions, as opposed to the Vedas and Upanishads which are denoted as sruti because they contain revelations of sages who had attained enlightenment.   Therefore, these remarks from the Puranas about dying in a holy city guaranteeing liberation need not be admitted as  eternal truths.

Secondly, the ancient term for Varanasi is “Kashi”, which in Sanskrit means “light”.  The external interpretation might today refer to a city, but if we take the real sense of the word, we realize that it implies that liberation comes by dying in the state of enlightenment.  This was the inner meaning that Ramana Maharshi was alluding to above.

All said and done, actual self-realization (dissolution of the separative ego and union with the Divine) seems to be the sole factor in gaining liberation, and this trumps everything else – including the place of death.  Dying in Varanasi doesn’t bring liberation from rebirth.  But for those who have not yet reached self-realization, dying in a hallowed place which has been sanctified by the penance of sages can make a difference because the vibrations of the place can comfort and protect the soul in the immediate aftermath of death when it has to encounter hostile spirits.  This is probably what Ramakrishna meant when he said above that the “bank of the Ganges is best for a person who has not attained knowledge.”

About that hotel…

The unusual hotel that was referred to earlier in the article was the subject of a documentary on the Al Jazeera English channel.  See the video titled “Salvation House” below or at this Al Jazeera webpage.


  1. Klaus K. Klostermaier. A survey of Hinduism, p 283 (google books)
  2. Diane Eck.  Banaras, city of light, p 331. (google books)
  3. Stella Kramrisch, Raymond Burnier.  The Hindu temple, Volume 1, p 3 (google books)
  4. Lisa Hallstrom, Mother of Bliss, p 190. (google books)
  5. Talks with Ramana Maharshi, Talk 18, 26th January, 1935.
  6. Talks with Ramana Maharshi, Talk 473, 15th March, 1938.
  7. Gospel of Ramakrishna, vol. 2, chap. 30.  The Master in Various Moods

Related Posts

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  2. Significance of places of worship, relics and prayer rooms
  3. On some customs and traditions of Hinduism
  4. Is fear and awe of God necessary?
  5. Hermeneutics: how to read holy scriptures
  6. How to read holy books
  7. Interplay of Faith and Doubt in Yoga
  8. The purpose of idolatry and its limitations
  9. Is fear and awe of God necessary?
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28 thoughts on “Does dying in holy cities like Varanasi bring salvation?

  1. amsha

    Reminds me of naive religious people expecting to go to heaven after death as
    a reward for their “good” (faithful to dogma) behaviour. Well, if you don’t know how to get there during lifetime why you will be there after you leave the body. I’m sure that vibrations or energy currents of place and state of mind are helpful but still there is a process of purification to go through otherwise we wouldn’t be separate from any heaven.

  2. Hermann

    thank you, amsha, for your reply. straight to the point: naive people, their ‘good’, and dogma. but let me complete what you have said.

    since 29 February 1968, the situation has changed dramatically:

    Up to then all had sought their salvation in a Hereafter; Sri Aurobindo and the Mother wanted the salvation of mankind here, on the Earth, in the cells, in Matter. ‘Le salut est physique,’ said the Mother, ‘the salvation is physical.’ – Georges Van Vrekhem

    therefore today, right now, the issue of ‘salvation’ is completely beside the Line:

    Nobody comes here for his own salvation because Sri Aurobindo does not believe in salvation; for us salvation is a meaningless word. We are here to prepare the transformation of the earth and men so that the new creation may take place. – The Mother

    in this context, the ‘Integral Yoga of Sri Aurobindo & The Mother’, it is better to look ahead than to reflect over an issue which is deaf as a doorpost:

    What we are doing now is a new thing; it has nothing to do with the past. – The Mother

  3. amsha

    I believe in salvation here, otherwise there is no reason in earthly existence,
    what was then the purpose of soul evolving from spark to something
    greater if not this. By the way why 68?

    1. Hermann

      1956, of course. what a silly mistake! you see that i am a faulty little human being. very faulty, very little.

      but nevertheless, salvation as aimed by the old sages and their followers can only be the ultimate form of egoism. XYZ reached salvation, but what about he rest? and what about God Himself? He is going to be fully present in His own creation. and that and not anyone’s salvation is the Goal of the Integral Yoga of Sri Aurobindo and The Mother.

      1. Sandeep Post author


        Amsha probably doesn’t know the timeline of developments in the life of Sri Aurobindo and the Mother.


        1956 and 1968 are related to events related to the Supramental descent. Without getting into specific dates, the gist of what Hermann is alluding to is that Sri Aurobindo’s Yoga goes beyond other Yogas because it continues after individual enlightenment in order to effect a change in the Earth consciousness, by utilizing the power of the Supermind. Sri Aurobindo himself said, “My yoga begins where other Yogas end”.

  4. amsha

    I’m aware of the dates: 29.02.1956 and 28.02.1968. So much as I know
    On the third anniversary of the Golden Day, 29.02.1968, The Mother gave the Message:
    “Truth alone can give to the world the power of receiving and manifesting the Divine’s Love.”
    That’s what I know about 29.02.1968 and reason for my question. I know that liberation in Brahman is only beginning of Integral Yoga.

    Self’s vast spiritual silence occupies Space;
    Only the Inconceivable is left,
    Only the Nameless without space and time:
    Abolished is the burdening need of life:
    Thought falls from us, we cease from joy and grief;
    The ego is dead; we are freed from being and care,
    We have done with birth and death and work and fate.
    O soul, it is too early to rejoice!
    Thou hast reached the boundless silence of the Self,
    Thou hast leaped into a glad divine abyss;
    But where hast thou thrown Self’s mission and Self’s power?
    On what dead bank on the Eternal’s road?
    One was within thee who was self and world,
    What hast thou done for his purpose in the stars?
    Escape brings not the victory and the crown!
    Something thou cam’st to do from the Unknown,
    But nothing is finished and the world goes on
    Because only half God’s cosmic work is done.

    Savitri Book 3 Canto 2

    1. Sandeep Post author

      > I’m aware of the dates: 29.02.1956 and 28.02.1968.

      Oh! that helps in future conversations.

      > That’s what I know about 29.02.1968 and reason for my question

      In 1968, the Mother attained something she called the overman (surhomme) consciousness. You can read about it in the Agenda or in Georges van Vrekhem’s book Beyond the Human Species.

      I don’t discuss such advanced matters on this blog because they are too far out for most (or all) people. It is easy to get caught up in the vicarious pleasure of living off the Guru’s achievements and forget to work on the basic realizations that we need to attain. As Abraham Lincoln said, “You have to do your own growing no matter how tall your grandfather was”.

  5. ipi

    Question: What is the difference between a death in the Ashram and a death outside? Does one get more benefit in the form of development of the mental, vital etc. on their own planes so that one may get a better new birth?

    Sri Aurobindo I am not aware of any “development” of the mental etc. in their planes; the development takes place on earth. The mental and other planes are not evolutionary. The one who dies here is assisted in his passage to the psychic world and helped in his future evolution towards the Divine.

    (Sri Aurobindo. CWSA vol. 35, Letters on Himself and the Ashram, p 793, 14 December 1936)

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  7. Sandeep Post author

    The Darsana Upanishad confirms that the internal places of pilgrimage are more important than the external ones.

    The body is of ninety-six digit lengths in height. The internal places of pilgrimage here are said to be Sri-parvata as the crest, Kedara in the forehead, Benares at the junction of the brows and the nose, Kuruksetra in the region of the breasts, Prayag in the lotus of the heart, etc. When such is the case, if one abandons the internal holy places and goes after the external ones, then one may as well be said to be going after pieces of glass abandoning the precious gems in his hands
    (N.S. Subrahmanian. Encyclopaedia of the Upaniṣads, New Delhi : Sterling, 1985, p 406)

    For those who may not know, Kuruksetra, Prayag, Benares, Kedar are places in India.

    If this is the case, how did the external centers become important? The answer may lie in Joshua Foer‘s book on human memory capacity entitled “Moonwalking with Einstein“. Foer remarks that the humans in ancient cultures sought to remember concepts by embedding them in the local geography. This mnemonic aid is called the “method of the loci“.

    In Australia and the American Southwest, Aborigines and Apache Indians independently invented forms of the loci method. But instead of using buildings, they relied on the local topography to plot their narratives, and sang them across the landscape. Each hillock, boulder, and stream held a part of the story. “Myth and map became coincident,” says John Foley, a linguistic anthropologist at the University of Missouri who studies memory and oral traditions. One of the tragic consequences of embedding narrative into the landscape is that when Native Americans had land taken from them by the U.S. government, they lost not only their home but their mythology as well.
    (Joshua Foer. Moonwalking with Einstein, New York : Penguin Press, 2011, p 97)

    This method of loci is evidently in use in ancient Indian scriptures as well. For example, the seven streams of consciousness were named after the seven rivers which flowed through india.

  8. Sandeep Post author

    Secondly, the ancient term for Varanasi is “Kashi”, which in Sanskrit means “light”. The external interpretation might today refer to a city, but if we take the real sense of the word, we realize that it implies that liberation comes by dying in the state of enlightenment. This was the inner meaning that Ramana Maharshi was alluding to above.

    Sri Aurobindo also affirms that the internal significance of places described in the scriptures:

    The Puranas construct a system of physical images and observances each with its psychical significance. Thus the sacredness of the confluence of the three rivers, Ganga, Yamuna and Saraswati, is a figure of an inner confluence and points to a crucial experience in a psycho-physical process of Yoga and it has too other significances, as is common in the economy of this kind of symbolism. The so-called fantastic geography of the Puranas, as we are expressly told in the Puranas themselves, is a rich poetic figure, a symbolic geography of the inner psychical universe. The cosmogony expressed sometimes in terms proper to the physical universe has, as in the Veda, a spiritual and psychological meaning and basis. It is easy to see how in the increasing ignorance of later times the more technical parts of the Puranic symbology inevitably lent themselves to much superstition and to crude physical ideas about spiritual and psychic things. But that danger attends all attempts to bring them to the comprehension of the mass of men and this disadvantage should not blind us to the enormous effect produced in training the mass mind to respond to a psycho-religious and psycho-spiritual appeal that prepares a capacity for higher things. That effect endures even though the Puranic system may have to be superseded by a finer appeal and the awakening to more directly subtle significances, and if such a supersession becomes possible, it will itself be due very largely to the work done by the Puranas. (Foundations of Indian Culture, SABCL vol. 14, p 313)

    1. Sandeep Post author

      Sri Aurobindo also considered the proposition that death at Varanasi would lead to salvation as utter nonsense:

      Men believe in Heaven and Hell but go on sinning merrily, quit at last by a Papal indulgence or the final priestly absolution or a death-bed repentance or a bath in the Ganges or a sanctified death at Benares,—such are the childish devices by which we escape from our childishness! And in the end the mind grows adult and puts the whole nursery nonsense away with contempt.
      (CWSA vol. 13, Essays on Philosophy and Yoga, p 266)

    2. Sandeep Post author

      Disciple: What is the utility of prāyaścitta (atonement)?

      Sri Aurobindo: It is a religious ceremony which has nothing to do with the spiritual.

      Disciple: What is the religious element here?

      Sri Aurobindo: Bathing in the Ganges, feeding the Brahmins — what else are they?

      Disciple: What is the purifying effect of the Ganges water?

      Sri Aurobindo: No particular sanctity belongs to any water, but the faith a man has in the purifying effect may cause this purification.


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  10. Sandeep Post author

    Adi Shankaracharya (8th century C.E.) is in agreement that dying in Varanasi won’t bring self-realization.

    In verse 2.14.40 of the Upadesa-Sahasri (a thousand verses), he said “The internal organ is a pilgrimage place (tirtha) where the gods (deva), Vedas and all other purifying agencies are united. Bathing in that place makes one immortal”

    (Karl Potter, Advaita Vedanta up to Śaṃkara and his pupils, Encyclopedia of Indian philosophies, vol. 3, Princeton University Press, 1981. p 235)

    So is Swami Vivekananda who questioned the unthinking orthodox way of life which permeated society in his time. In a lecture given in Calcutta (modern Kolkata) titled “Vedanta in all its phases”, he said:

    If food alone would purify the Sattva, then feed the monkey with milk and rice all its life; would it become a great Yogi? Then the cows and the deer would be great Yogis. As has been said, “If it is by bathing much that heaven is reached, the fishes will get to heaven first. If by eating vegetables a man gets to heaven, the cows and the deer will get to heaven first.” …But the defect is that in modern India we have forgotten the advice of Shankaracharya and taken only the “pure food” meaning. That is why people get mad with me when I say, religion has got into the kitchen; and if you had been in Madras with me, you would have agreed with me. The Bengalis are better than that. In Madras they throw away food if anybody looks at it. And with all this, I do not see that the people are any the better there. If only eating this and that sort of food and saving it from the looks of this person and that person would give them perfection, you would expect them all to be perfect men, which they are not.


  11. mike

    l can’t find it now in the agenda, but l found that story about the catholics giving ‘last rites’ or ‘holy unction’ or something quite informative. Someone asked the Mother if there was anything to it, and She had this vision of someone on there deathbed and a catholic priest doing these so-called rites and She said afterwards that it mean’t nothing, unless the priest or whoever was a person with Power.
    l found that quite interesting, and ‘dying in the ganges’, or wherever, has always seemed a bit dubious, but l wasn’t completely sure; you need the ‘sight’ for that. lt’s a lot like catholics and their ‘confessionsl’ really; just confess every sin to a priest and say some ‘Hail Mary’s’ [l wonder what Mary thinks about that] and all is forgiven – of course, they are told not to do it again lol.

    1. Sandeep Post author

      Mike: l can’t find it now in the agenda, but l found that story about the catholics giving ‘last rites’ or ‘holy unction’ or something quite informative

      January 15, 1964

      … I watched carefully to find out if really it had a power of action, if extreme unction had the power to disturb the progress of the soul and tie it down to old religious formations. I watched and I saw how thin and tenuous it was, without force; I saw clearly that it could have some force only if the priest who performed it was a conscious soul and did it consciously, in relationship with an inner power or force (vital or other), but that if it was an ordinary man doing his “job” and giving the sacraments with the ordinary belief and nothing more, it was perfectly harmless.

      Mike: l found that quite interesting, and ‘dying in the ganges’, or wherever, has always seemed a bit dubious, but l wasn’t completely sure; you need the ‘sight’ for that.

      True, otherwise it degenerates into a mere ritual performed out of habit and obedience to ancestors.

  12. NP

    Actually – if you read Gospel of Sri Ramakrishna Paramahansa, you will note that Ramakrishna confirms seeing Lord Siva go to each pyre, whispering the Taraka mantra in the ear and granting that soul liberation – so your conclusion ‘Dying in Varanasi doesn’t bring liberation from rebirth’ is your inference formed from your (limited human) understanding of the statements by the great sages – whereas Sri Ramakrishna Paramahansa’s statement and Sri Ramana Maharshi’s statement are a direct experience of the truth and hence are what are known as pramaaNa that does not involve any inference or analysis; – I advise that one not make such ‘bolded’ statements for they could unknowingly be causing perturbance to a casual reader or amount to spreading wrong information.

    1. Sandeep Post author

      If you really think that dying in Varanasi gives liberation, try it now and let me know. Why wait for natural death ? Since you are going to be liberated, you should know where to find me after your death.

      NP: I advise that one not make such ‘bolded’ statements for they could unknowingly be causing perturbance to a casual reader or amount to spreading wrong information.

      This blog is not for casual readers. And it was created to spread wrong information.

  13. Siva Mayavin

    Hello Sandeep,
    My comment refers to your 2011 article “Does dying in a holy city like Varanasi bring liberation.” You conclude this article with a sentence that appears in bold: “Dying in Varanasi does not bring liberation from rebirth”.
    So through my comment I hope to be able to restore some authenticity and perhaps undo some of the wrongs disseminated in the article.

    You start by quoting Matsya Purana, where Śiva says “Varanasi is the cause of liberation of all creatures.” Then, you do a reconciliation between this, and some quotes and misquotes from sages like Ramakrishna. I don’t know what you go by when you quote Ramakrishna, but I go by “The Gospel of Sri Ramakrishna” written by his direct disciple Master Mahasaya, which was published in its Bengali original in 5 volumes. Master M says of Ramakrishna’s visit to Manikarnikā Ghāt: “At the Manikarnika Ghat he saw Śiva, with ash-covered body and tawny matted hair, serenely approaching each funeral pyre and breathing into the ears of the corpses the great mantra of liberation. And then the Divine Mother removing from the dead their bonds. Thus he realized the significance of the scriptural statement that anyone dying in Benares attains salvation through the grace of Śiva.”
    Later in the Gospel after singing a song, we read “The Master continued: Anyone who dies in Benares, whether a brahmin or a prostitute, will become Śiva.”
    Later: “Master: A person dying in Benares sees the vision of Śiva. Śiva says to him: This is my aspect with form, my embodiment in maya. I assume this form for the sake of the devotee. Now look, I am merging in the indivisible Satchitananda. Uttering these words Śiva withdraws His form and allows the person to see Brahman.”
    So Sri Ramakrishna himself has said that whoever dies in Benares, whether a brahmin or a prostitute, will become Śiva.

    And yet you in your article contradict both Matsya Purana and Sri Ramakrishna, saying – in bold – that dying in Varanasi would not grant freedom from rebirth. Yet Śiva is free from rebirth.
    I hope that by writing this comment some wrongs in your article have been undone.

    1. Sandeep Post author

      Alright Siva. I don’t have the time to debate right now but other blog readers can engage with you if they wish.

    2. Shankar

      If that was the case then there would be no need of these innumerable ways, yogas, different paths, longing for the divine, ………… what are you trying to say eat, drink enjoy do anything and go and jump into ganga in varanasi, you would be liberated. This is much dangerous than confession box concept and jihadism of Islam. Please ask a well read vedic pundit, by that I mean who had done complete adhyayan of not only veda( normally it takes at least 7-10 years to do it) , but also shastras. They will talk about three pramanas yathaartha kathan, arthavaada and athi shayokti. To drive home a point, shastras use these 3 techniques. Normally puranas since they are like kavyas(poetries) they engage in athishaykti(Exaggeration) Any well read vedic pundits would establish these kind of things as athishayokti without doubt. These things are told to develop at least arhaarthii bhakti in the people to move towards the Divine and should not be taken as such in their face value. The case of Shri Ramakrishna is different who could see the Divine even in filth and he would have said it to keep up the faith . And he has also said after taking bath in ganges, as a person comes to the shore , the sins once again come to catch hold of him. Does this not go against the puranas ?

      1. Siva Mayavin

        @ Shankar
        Okay buddy, you stick to your well-read vedic pundits I stick to Ramakrishna alright : ) I’m happy with that, and hope you are too : ) (Are you not the same guy as Sundeep…? : ))))
        I can’t go into sterile debates like “if moksha were attained so easily why do the yoga and samkhya also exist” etc. That is sterile. I could ask the same: if Patanjali’s yoga is enough as a technique of liberation, why did the tantras also come into being? Did the Source not know we were taken care of?

        The short answer is: You cannot restrain the boundless. Ask the limitless why It came with more than one religion / more than one path / and alao places of grace which seem “unfair” or dangerous for someone full of avidhya. They are not dangerous, they do not lead to religious intolerance. It’s not like if someone plans on passing in Benares they will fly a plane into the twin towers.
        These are transcendental questions. My advice would be try to attain moksha, with or without a God figure, and then ask the questions. Don’t ask them from your present state. Let’s say you don’t consider Matsya Purana an authority. Fine with me.
        Forgive me, but I am still baffled that you’d find something that a pundit once told you to be more reliable than Ramakrishna’s own words … Kinda difficult and ambitious for you (and for Sundeep) to try and contradict Ramakrishna, who based what he said on a direct experience, when you base your statements on the absence of a direct experience.
        Much love and light

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