KASHI or VARANASI
“Kashi was created by Lord Shiva and is an independent intelligence called Kashi Devi.
After He created Her, Kashi Devi asked a boon of Lord Shiva, Mahadeva, “Bless me so that whoever enters Kashi (Varanasi) will obtain liberation.”
Mahadeva then gave three boons:
‘First, whoever comes into Kashi and gets into the Ganga (the Ganges River) to take snaan (sacred bath), will have all their sins washed away.
Second, whoever dies in Kashi will be liberated.
And third, whoever’s body is brought and burnt in Manikarnika Ghat or Harishchandra Ghat will also be liberated.’ Kashi Devi was really happy with these three boons.
But Devi Parvati interfered and said, ‘Mahadeva, don’t you feel you made liberation very cheap and enlightenment so easy? Everyone can get it!’
Mahadeva said, ‘Don’t worry, I will take you to Kashi and show you. Come.’
Meanwhile, this boon that Mahadeva gave to Kashi Devi became very popular. In the next few days, almost the whole world had gathered to take a bath in the Ganga.
Mahadeva and Devi arrived in Kashi. Mahadeva said to Devi, ‘Now let both of us become human beings. I will lie down pretending I’m your dead husband and you sit down here acting as the widow, crying. If any person without sin touches me, I will come back to life. If somebody with sin touches me and tries to bring me back to life, they will die.’
Mahadeva lay down as a dead body and Devi sat there crying extremely loudly.
All the people who had come to take a bath in the Ganga came and asked Devi, ‘What happened? What happened? Why are you crying? Why is such a beautiful lady sitting and crying in front of such a beautiful man?’
Devi said, ‘My young husband has died. If anybody without sin touches my husband’s body, he will come back to life. But if you have done some sin and you touch him, your head will burst and you will die!’
From morning to night, millions of people took bath in the Ganga, but not a single person dared to touch this body!
Late that night, one drunkard fellow came. He also asked Devi, ‘What happened?’ Devi said, ‘If anybody without sin touches my husband, he will come back to life. But if a person with sin touches him, that person will die!’
Devi thought that this man will start running away like all the others. But that drunken fellow looked at Devi and said, ‘Wait, wait, wait …. I heard Shiva has given some boon.’ So he gets into the Ganga, takes a bath and comes out. Then he said, ‘I have done all types of sins. But now, after taking bath in the Ganga, I am free of all sins because Shiva gave this boon.’
Then he touches the dead body of the husband! Naturally, Shiva comes back to life and gives darshan, liberating him.
Then Mahadeva asks Devi, ‘Do you see now? Millions may take a bath in the Ganga, but how many of them really believe in my boon?’
Millions may visit and perform religious rituals, but how many of them understand the context of what they are doing?
So don’t worry, even if I shower everyone with boons, only those who are worthy, who are already in the space of completion and feeling connection, will even be ready to receive them!'”
Har har Mahadev