The idea has been spread by the priests that a person who dies in Varanasi – it does not matter who he was, a sinner or a saint – just if he dies in Varanasi, his heaven will be guaranteed. So Varanasi is full of many old people, men and women, who are waiting to die there. They have done nothing in their lives – but at least one thing they can do: they can die in Varanasi.
It is a strange city – people go there only to die. When it becomes certain that life has slipped out of their hands, and now there is not much time, people start going to Varanasi. It is the deadliest city in the world. Everybody is waiting to die.
But death is something that you cannot be certain about, so even when people die somewhere else their relatives carry their bodies to Varanasi. At least their bodies can be burned in Varanasi. If not to a higher heaven, at least some lower place somewhere…but hell can be avoided.
Just as it has been known for thousands of years that by dying in Varanasi one is born as a god in heaven, Maghar – the small village on the other side of Varanasi…. There is no way to know how people started the idea, but perhaps every idea needs a balance and Maghar was the closest to Varanasi, so anybody who dies in Maghar is bound to go to hell – if he is a sinner. But if he is a saint, some concessions can be given; he will be born as a donkey!
Before his death, as he was becoming old, Kabir told his disciples – he had lived his whole life in Varanasi – “Now I want to live in Maghar.”
They said, “Are you mad? People leave Maghar; before dying they come to this side of the river. It is just fifteen minutes’ distance. Are you mad or something that you are thinking to go to Maghar?”
He said, “I want to go to heaven only if I am worthy of it, not because of Varanasi” – just the pride of the man – “I would rather prefer hell; I can become a donkey, that’s perfectly okay, but at least I am myself and I don’t owe anything to Varanasi.” There was no way to convince him; he went to Maghar. Reluctantly his disciples also had to go.
At that time Farid was passing by Maghar. His disciples said, “Just a few days ago Kabir came to live in Maghar, and it will be a great joy if you both meet.” The same was said by the followers of Kabir. Kabir said, “Certainly invite him. He should be our guest.”
And they met. They hugged each other, they wept, they smiled, they did everything – except speaking. The disciples of both mystics were so disappointed and disgusted, “But what nonsense is going on…two days, and they sit holding each other’s hands, crying, or laughing, or dancing.” But not a single word was spoken between them.
After two days Farid left; Kabir had come to give him a send-off at the boundary of Maghar. They again hugged, they again cried, they again laughed. Those two days must have been like two lives to the disciples, who were waiting for them to speak, to say something. And as they parted, the disciples of both were very angry and they said, “What kind of meeting was this?”