Exactly! A hotel for Salvation. People check in to this building to die, literally. In old days, it was and still is a strong belief among Hindus that every death that happened in Kashi will attain ‘Mukti’ (Which means the person will be free from the constant cycle Birth and Rebirth). Lately, one of the richest industrialist family started funding an organization to serve people who reach Varanasi at their last stages of life. ‘Mukti Bhavan’ gets major part of its funding through that charitable trust. That doesn’t mean they run the hotel for free. People who want to check-in are supposed to pay some name sake amount for the accommodation and electricity. Coming to the main concept of this Salvation House, it is simple. People who are about to die, or probably think they are about to die will be reaching the premises of ‘Mukti Bhavan’ and wait for their turn to get a room and rename themselves to a serial number. Yes! No one will be recognized with their own names here. They will be given a number and that will be their new identity till their last day. The hotel staff which includes the manager and care taker, Bhariavi Nath Shukla and his family members, some priests who perform Poojas in the temple which is in the compound of the hotel will take care of daily needs of the visitors, provide a peaceful and spiritual surroundings during their last stages of life and even take care of last rituals after their death.
Though they’ll be paying for the accommodation, they can’t stay there and just wait for the last call from god. All they have is 2 weeks and they either have to die or check out. No matter if they are ready to pay extra, Mr. Shukla won’t let them be there. They will have to vacate and give way for the others in queue. End of two weeks, if Mr. Shukla thinks they will be dying in few more days, he can extend their stay for a while. After all, he is doing his duties in Mukti Bhavan for over 44 years. He is 61 now and he has seen more than 16,500 deaths in the house so far. His family members got used to this process and death is a common scene they see.
According to Hinduism, there is Karma which is reason for everything that happens in one’s life. But breathing their last in Kashi will clean their souls from all the sins they’ve done during their life time and help them to attain Moksha. This is written in a lot of Holy books, spiritual stories and Vedas. Dedicated to this idea, there are thousands of people living in Varanasi depending upon people’s death. The Doms (people that belong to the untouchable caste, who usually work at the Cremation grounds), Priests and Shadhus, Astrologers are some of them.
After spending his youth working in Army and teaching verticals, Bhariavi Nath Shukla wanted to serve his life helping the people who is living their last days. And it’s been over 44 long years and he is still doing it. He bluntly says it on face that ‘Mukti Bhavan’ is not a place where people come and stay because they have no other place to live. This is a place for people to have peaceful death.