Looking for spirituality? Go to Varanasi and (probably) you’ll find it. The complete guide to Varanasi, between spirituality, death and rebirth.
This is the place nor for who has a delicate sensitiveness (or a delicate stomach) nor for the clichés-tourist that goes to India just to do an elephant ride. But nobody could totally understand and appreciate this country without having been here. Varanasi (former Benares) is the holiest city between the Hindu holy cities. The city of Shiva and, most of all, the city of death. Every Hindu would dream to die in this city because it’s the only way to be admitted to the house of Shiva and to get rid of the reincarnation yoke.
In the narrow streets of the old city you keep hearing people screaming “Ram Nama Satya Hey!”, “Satya Hey, Satya Hey” (“God is Truth” “truth, truth”). When it happens you have to move aside in order to let the umpteenth funeral procession pass. Here corpses don’t have coffins. They are carried on a longer. Covered with a linen sheet or, sometimes, even uncovered; with just fresh flowers sprinkled on their naked bodies.
Besides, in Varanasi Hindu people don’t believe the cremation of the body to be a private ceremony. The Ghats (staircases that go till Ganga River) on the river are covered with fiery pyres where the dead bodies burn en plain aire. With the sight of all. Then it seems to be on another planet when the crematorium workers throw in the river the remaining bones.
This ensemble of things is for sure hard to comprehend if it’s observed with a western eye. Probably most of the people would see these uses and costumes as something barbarian and would judge Indians as brutal and savage. However, when you are there, you see that they are acting naturally. Because they know that at the end of this macabre sort of puppet theater, the soul of their father, son, brother, uncle or whatever, will be blessed from the eternal peace. And this happens just in Varanasi.
Life and death, sacrifice and rebirth. Death for the old life, rebirth for the new soul. An important teaching that won’t allow anybody to go back with the same spirit.