The Eleventh Hour

Only one thing in life is certain: we will all die. We will never know the moment in which we will die. For many of us, the vision of death is terrifying and we do everything we can to rule out the moment when we will have to give our last breath. In Western culture, death is a taboo and people do not know how to talk about it. The secret of death is part of the mystery of the human soul because understanding death really means understanding life.

Hinduism is one of the oldest religions. It's sacred writings date from 1,400 years before Christ. Also, it is one of the most diverse and complex religions. The belief in cyclic reincarnations, karma and the liberation of the soul are the basis of the Hindu religion. Death, according to Hinduism, is not a denial of life, but part of its cycle. Hindus believe in the conscious process of dying and in good and bad death. Good death is rapid death, without pain, without suffering in the family environment.
After death, the soul can take two different paths: it can be reborn or reach the highest liberation called Moksha. If the soul is reincarnated, the new life will depend on how the person has lived his previous incarnation. Each subsequent incarnation depends on karma, on the good and bad actions performed during the previous life. If, on the other hand, the soul comes to Moksha, it will go to God and it will not return to Earth again. The Hindus want their soul to reach Moksha, because life on Earth is full of suffering and pain and only by attaining liberation from the soul, can one escape the cycle of rebirth.
Only people can achieve moksha because the animals can not do the ritual work and the good deeds that could improve their lives. The life of the human being is the last opportunity to improve the future and free the soul from eternal reincarnation.
The most sacred of the cities, Varanasi (also called Benares or Kashi) is a city of light and a city of death. Considered as created by the Hindu God Shiva, it is a mecca for anyone seeking spiritual enlightenment. Hindus believe that death in Varanasi will allow them to obtain moksha and liberate the soul from reincarnation. Some people come to Kashi in the last days of their lives, and some leave their families and surrender to God many years before dying in the hope of attaining holiness. In the city, there is a place where the dying can stay during the last days of their life. It is a house called "Mukti Bhavan" where people come to die. They can live there for free, paying only for the food. Although for most people this trip is a big expense, death in Varanasi is the only way to escape the cycle of death, avoid rebirth in the form of an animal, or relive the life of pain and suffering as a human being. And for many, that's priceless.

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Varanasi is belived to be one of the oldest cities on Earth. Hindus believe that one who is graced to die in Varanasi would attain salvation and escape the cycle of rebirth.
The river Ganges is considered sacred. Hindus believe that bathing in the river causes the remission of the sins. Pilgrims inmerse the ashes of their kin in the Ganges, which is considered by them to bring the spirits closer to moksha. Every day people come to the gaths to take bath, do the ceremonty for the Shiva or to pray.
"Every day I come to Ganga to take bath. If I don't come, I feel bad. It's a holy water, from God. If you do good things, the God will give you a good death and will give you moksha. If you do bad things you will rebirth again. If I feel that the last day is coming, I will be happy. I will die happy, with no pain. I had a good life." Munnu Majhi. 79 years old.
"Don't cheat anyone, don't lie to anyone, don't make anybody suffer, be clean always. If you make people suffer, your soul will cry and you will get pain in your life. What you give to others and to the world, it will get back to you. Even if the problems come, they won't stay forever. When you are a good person, and you listen to God, you can ask God for a good death. I can't be sure when I will die. Only God knows it." Ganesh, 92 years old.  
"Moksha is good but also the rebirth is good because it means that your soul has to learn more things,here on Earth. The good things I did in this life, they will go to another life and my future life will be better than the previous one. Moksha doesn't depend on me because the God is looking at my work during all my lives. To get the soul liberation, I have to do something more. I have to search inside me. What am I? Only knowing myself, the God will help me to liberate my soul."  Amal Kumar. More than 80 years old. He lives in the ashram, a hermitage, a place of meditation. He left his family and only prays to God, witing for death.
"We have 84 generations. First we have to struggle in others lives, and then we will get a human life. We have only one chance to get a human life. Use it wisely. Some people don't know what it means a human life. God is a human life. You should be a good person, to see good in others and show them the right path. If you have a good life, you will have a good death, with no suffering. If you have a bad life, you will have a bad death.  The worst thing is to suffer in life and during the death.  But is depends on you, on which karma you create for yourself." Brahmin, 55 years old. He does the ceremony for dying people at the ghat of Ganga.
The body of the deceased after death is immediately decorated with flowers. If the person died at night, the family has nowhere to buy flowers, so dry flowers are hunging in the room so that they can put them on the body right away when they person dies. In the morning, the family can buy fresh flowers on the street.
"Take me to Varanasi, there I will die fast. Varanasi is one of the Shiva places. If I have to die, I want to die in the Shiva place.I'm not sure if I will get moksha, but during my last days, I want to be close to the God. If somebody gets moksha, it means that the God accepts him. In Varanasi, God will take me, not throw me or give me another life full of suffering. In my life, I had everything- my family, my friends. In my last days I want to give myself to Lord Shiva. He will decide what to do with me. I'm in his hands. I'm in peace."  Virender Sigh. 64 years old.
Tulsi leaves are placed in the mouth of the dead bodies before cremation because they hve the power to raise the dead or to help the soul of the deceased in the transit in the inner realms and to gain eternal salvation. Tulsi is grown in the house of death Mukti
After the body has been prepared is carried by the male relatives on the flower-draped bier to the cremation ghat. Many tiemes the family has to cross the city to reach the Ganges. The life in the city never stops. The view of the dead body on the street is very common in India.
The member of the family, the eldest or the youngest son often with his head shaved and wearing a white robe out of respect, walks around the body seven times with a torch and then lights the bonfire.
According to the Hindu scriptures, only the body dies. The immortal soul never dies. Live is seen as a source of the suffering, so the Hindus want to give their last breath in Benares, which means that the soul will be freed from reincarnation.

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