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  • Writer's pictureSavitha Enner

Abhinivesh and understanding Varanasi

Abhiniveshais one of the last Kleshas we discussed last Saturday. This is not a easy discussion. Abhinivesha translates to Abhi ( will ), willing to live or fear of death. But Niveha ( niveshana) in sanskrit means home or house. So Abhinivesha translates to fear of demise of the physical body which houses the life.

I am not sure of reincarnations and afterlife, its a mystery to me and I am not in any hurry to understand that. Growing up in India, the ceremonies and rituals after deathi s something which has disturbed me all my young life and now has given me something to think about.I was very young when I lost my paternal grandmother, do not remember much but lost an uncle when I was in middle school. I remember, that being an all night and all day ( I don’t know what to call it, rituals/affair/event). I remember lots of people, food relatives bring, lots of flowers, lots of singing and crying but not a traumatizing experience. But in my teens and 20s, these rituals have bothered me immensely and had stayed away from them.

Then about 5 years ago, I read this book which talked about the death rituals and ceremonies in Varanasi/ Kashi and have given me sense of understanding. Varanasi is a city in the northern India which is regarded as the spiritual capital for Hindus. Hindu pilgrims bathe in Ganga river and perform funeral rites. And when you go there as a pilgrim, you are suppose to give up( tyaga) something you are attached to. The river Ganga is suppose to wash and take that attachment( another klesha or a reason for suffering) with her. It can be an emotion(ex: anger toward others and yourself), it can be material possession ( I know an aunt who gave up buying silk sarees as she realized she had become a hoarder ) or it can be an idea. The word used is Tyaga. Tyaga translates to letting go,letting go of a part of something important to you but not necessary to your life is way of understanding the ultimate letting go when the time comes.The death rituals are conducted openly and made to understand that prana(life) cannot be destroyed but will be transformed into other forms of energy. The rituals are for the physical body which was sheltering that life. The open and prolonged death rituals are for us to understand that demise of the physical body is the ultimate truth, prepare yourself for that and to lead an exemplary life of service, kindness and pure joy.

These Kleshas are observations and guides and are a tool to explore and understand. I am skeptic who will take time to understand something and take longer to believe anything. I write and shares these as a way of exploration and not ultimate truth.

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