According to Hindu scripture, it is believed that if one dies and is cremated in Varanasi, the soul will be relinquished from reincarnation and will achieve Moksha. Death is viewed as ultimately a positive thing in Hinduism. Losing one’s identity to join the consciousness stream of the universe is the ultimate goal of Hinduism. It is the epitome of enlightenment. It is Moksha. This view clashes with the Judeo-Christian west, where death as a topic is avoided and the desire for an afterlife is the pillar of Christian philosophy and dogma. 

An inspired team of film-makers from USA and Canada came to Varanasi to explore the Hindu perspective on death and answer the question 'Is there a way for humans to come to terms with mortality?'

We found the idea both interesting and close to our hearts, and got onboard in its execution. To cover multiple perspectives, we helped identify and interview people from diverse backgrounds - ranging from Sanskrit PhDs, Holy men (Sadhu's), workers at the cremation ghats, family members who have traveled far to bring their loved ones to die in Varanasi, and Varanasi locals. The film also helped us delve deeper into these questions and gave us an excuse to ask pertinent questions to the above people and learn from their experience and perspectives.

 

Images, clockwise from the top -

  1. Anchal and Robyn interviewing at Mumukshu Bhavan (Hospice)
  2. Interview with a cremation worker at Manikarnika ghat
  3. Aayush, Rob and Matt interviewing at Dalmia Mukti Bhavan
  4. Aayush, Chris and Rob preparing for an interview at Manikarnika ghat

The film is currently in post-production stage and shall be out soon. Stay tuned!

'Embers of Varanasi' facebook page

Picture credits - Christopher Rubey

Embers of Varanasi – a Documentary Film exploring the Hindu view on Death
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