“Perhaps the deepest reason why we are afraid of death is because we do not know who we are. We believe in a personal, unique, and separate identity,
but if we dare to examine it, we find that this identity depends entirely on an endless collection of things to prop it up: our name, our “biography”, our
partners, family, home, job, friends, credit cards… It is on their fragile and transient support that we rely for our security.
So when they are all taken away, will we have any idea of who we really are? Without our familiar props, we are faced with just ourselves, a person we do
not know, an unnerving stranger with whom we have been living all the time but never really wanted to meet. Isn’t that why we have tried to fill every
moment of time with noise and activity, however boring or trivial, to ensure that we are never left in silence with the stranger on our own?”
Sogyal Rinpoche

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Varanasi, also known as Benares or Kashi, is a North Indian city on the banks of the Ganges and is one of the oldest continuously inhabited cities in
the world. The spiritual capital of India, it is the holiest of the seven sacred cities in Hinduism and Jainism, and played an important role in the
development of Buddhism.

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The city is known worldwide for its ghats, embankments made in steps of stone slabs along the river bank where pilgrims perform ritual ablutions.

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Of particular note are the Manikarnika Ghat and the Harishchandra Ghat, where Hindus cremate their dead.

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“Death is viewed as a natural aspect of life, and there are numerous epic tales, sacred scriptures, and law books that describe the reason for death’s
existence, the rituals that should be performed surrounding it, and the many possible destinations of the soul after departure from its earthly existence.
While the ultimate goal is to transcend the need to return to life on earth, most Hindus believe they will be reborn into a future that is based
primarily on their past thoughts and actions. The lessons of these mythic Hindu texts about death are really lessons about the meaning of life, a
life that can be truly enjoyed once the mind is released from worrying about the fate of its immortal soul.” Laura Strong,

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The Ganges is the most sacred river to Hindus. Normally, the Ganges flows from North to South across the country, but in Varanasi, She flows from
the South to the North. It is alleged that the River wanted to pay respects to Lord Shiva, and thus had to change its course.

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It is also a lifeline to millions of Indians, who live along its course…

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…and depend on it for their daily needs.

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Life on the banks of the Ganga begins before dawn when thousands of pilgrims – men, women and children – come down to the river to wait for
the rising sun, when…

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…immersion in the sacred river will cleanse them of their sufferings and…

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…wash their sins away.

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It is worshipped as the goddess Ganga in Hinduism.

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A Sadhu at the river Ganges

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In Hinduism, Sadhus are religious ascetic or holy people.

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The Sadhu is solely dedicated to achieving mokṣa (liberation), the fourth and final Ashrama through meditation and contemplation of Brahman.

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Evening Ganga Aarti, at Dashashwamedh ghat, Varanasi.

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A group of priests daily perform “Agni Pooja” (Worship to Fire) wherein a dedication is made to Lord Shiva, River Ganga, Surya (Sun), Agni (Fire),
and the whole universe.