The Way to Heaven

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“If only the bone of a person should touch the water of the Ganges, that person shall dwell, honored, in heaven.”
(A popular śloka from the Mahabharata)

This is Manikarnika Ghat during the night of Dev Diwali in Varanasi (Benaras).
This place has a great significance not only in Hindu mythology and way of life but also in the philosophies of life and death as this is the “Maha-Shmashan” or the Great Cremation Ground of the entire Universe.
Hindu mythology teaches that this ghat is especially sacred and that persons cremated there receive moksha and are granted instant salvation, it is an instant gateway to liberation from the cycle of births and rebirths.
There stands the sacred fire (dhuni) which might be the oldest fire, it is said that this place is the “navel of the world”.

Today Western Christians will observe All Saints’ Day and I thought that this picture could make a bridge between the two cultures.
Catholics celebrate All Saints’ Day in the fundamental belief that there is a prayerful spiritual communion between those in the state of grace who have died and are either being purified in purgatory or are in heaven and the “church militant” who are the living.
Tonight the tradition is to light candles while visit ing the graves of deceased relatives in cimeteries and the atmosphere will be very close to what I see along the sacred river at the same time of the year…

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