Top Menu

Rooted in the hearts of many Hindus is the belief that if you breathe your last in Kashi (Varanasi) you attain what is popularly known as ‘Kashi Labh’ or ‘the fruit of Kashi’—moksh or “release from the cycle of rebirth impelled by the law of karma”.

Kashi Labh Mukti Bhawan in Varanasi is one of the three guesthouses in the city where people check in to die. The other two are Mumukshu Bhawan and Ganga Labh Bhawan. Established in 1908, Mukti Bhawan is well-known within the city and outside.

Bhairav Nath Shukla has been the Manager of Mukti Bhawan for 44 years. He has seen the rich and the poor take refuge in the guesthouse in their final days as they await death and hope to find peace. Shukla hopes with and for them. He sits on the wooden bench in the courtyard, against the red brick wall and shares with me 12 recurring life lessons from the 12000 deaths he has witnessed in his experience as the manager of Mukti Bhawan:

1. Resolve all conflicts before you go

Shukla recounts the story of Shri Ram Sagar Mishr, a Sanskrit scholar of his times. Mishr was the eldest of six brothers and was closest to the youngest one. Years ago an ugly argument between the two brothers led to a wall to partition the house.

In his final days, Mishr walked to the guesthouse carrying his little paan case and asked to keep room no. 3 reserved for him. He was sure he will pass away on the 16th day from his arrival. On the 14th day he said, “Ask my estranged brother of 40 years to come see me. This bitterness makes my heart heavy. I am anxious to resolve every conflict.”

A letter was sent out. On the 16th day when the youngest brother arrived, Mishr held his hand and asked to bring down the wall dividing the house. He asked his brother for forgiveness. Both brothers wept and mid sentence, Mishr stopped speaking. His face became calm. He was gone in a moment.

Shukla has seen this story replay in many forms over the years. “People carry so much baggage, unnecessarily, all through their life only wanting to drop it at the very end of their journey. The trick lies not in not having conflicts but in resolving them as soon as one can,” says Shukla.

2. Simplicity is the truth of life

“People stop eating indulgent food when they know they are going to go. The understanding that dawns on many people in their final days is that they should’ve lived a simple life. They regret that the most,” says Shukla.

A simple life, as he explains, can be attained by spending less. We spend more to accumulate more and thus create more need. To find contentment in less is the secret to having more.

3. Filter out people’s bad traits

Shukla maintains that every person has shades of good and bad. But instead of dismissing “bad” people outrightly, we must seek out their good qualities. Harbouring bitterness for certain people comes from concentrating on their negatives. If you focus on the good qualities though, you spend that time getting to know them better or, maybe even, loving them.

4. Be willing to seek help from others

To know and do everything by yourself might feel empowering but it limits one from absorbing what others have learnt. Shukla believes we must help others, but more importantly, have the courage to seek help when we’re in need.

Every person in the world knows more than us in some respect. And their knowledge can help us, only if we’re open to it.

He recounts the incident of an old woman being admitted on a rainy day back in the 80s. The people who got her there left her without filling the inquiry form. A few hours later, the police came to trace the relatives of the old lady who, they said, were runaway Naxalites. Shukla pretended not to know anything. The police left. When the lady’s relatives returned next morning, Shukla asked the leader uninhibitedly, “When you can kill 5-8 people yourself why didn’t you simply shoot your Nani and cremate her yourself? Why did you make me lie and feel ashamed?” The grandson fell to his knees and pleaded for forgiveness saying no one amongst them is capable of helping his religious grandmother attain salvation. He respects that, and is the reason why he brought her to Mukti Bhawan.

5. Find beauty in simple things

Mukti Bhavan plays soulful bhajans and devotional songs three times a day. “Some people”, he says, “stop and admire a note or the sound of the instruments as if they have never heard it before, even if they have. They pause to appreciate it and find beauty in it.”

But that’s not true of everyone, he adds. People who are too critical or too proud, are the ones who find it hard to find joy in small things because their minds are preoccupied with “seemingly” more important things.

6. Acceptance is liberation

Most people shirk away from accepting what they are going through. This constant denial breeds in them emotions that are highly dangerous. Only once you accept your situation is when you become free to decide what to do about it. Without acceptance you are always in the grey space.

When you are not in denial of a problem you have the strength to find a solution.

Indifference, avoidance, and denial of a certain truth, Shukla believes, cause anxiety; they develop a fear of that thing in the person. Instead, accept the situation so you are free to think what you want to do about it and how. Acceptance will liberate you and empower you.

7. Accepting everyone as the same makes service easier

The secret to Shukla’s unfazed dedication and determination towards his demanding job can be understood via this life lesson. He admits that life would’ve been difficult if he treated people who admit themselves to Mukti Bhavan differently, based on their caste, creed, colour, and social or economic status. Categorisation leads to complication and one ends up serving no one well. “The day you treat everyone the same is the day you breathe light and worry less about who might feel offended or not. Make your job easier,” he says.

8. If/When you find your purpose, do something about it

To have awareness about one’s calling is great, but only if you do something about it.

A lot of people, Shukla says, know their purpose but don’t do anything about realising it, making it come to life. Simply sitting on it is worse than not having a calling in the first place. Having a perspective towards your purpose will help you measure the time and effort you need to dedicate to it, while you’re caught up in what you think you can’t let go or escape. Take action on what truly matters.

9. Habits become values

Shukla recommends cultivating good habits to be able to house good values. And building good habits happens over time, with practice. “It’s like building a muscle; you have to keep at it everyday.”

Till one doesn’t consistently work towards being just or kind or truthful or honest or compassionate, every single time he is challenged, one cannot expect to have attained that quality.

10. Choose what you want to learn

In the vastness of the infinite amount of knowledge available to us it is easy to get lost and confused. “The key lesson here is to be mindful of choosing what you deeply feel will be of value to you,” he says. People might impose subjects and philosophies on you because it interests them and while you must acknowledge their suggestions, the wise thing to do is delve deeper into what rejoices your own heart and mind.

With a smile on his face Shukla says, “In the last days of their life a lot of people can’t speak, walk or communicate with others with as much ease as they could, earlier. So, they turn inwards. And start to remember the things that made their heart sing once, things that they cared to learn more about over the course of their life, which enriches their days now.”

11. You don’t break ties with people; you break ties with the thought they produce

You can seldom distance yourself from people you have truly loved or connected with in some way. However, in any relationship, along the way, certain mismatch of ideologies causes people to stop communicating. This never means you are no longer associated with that person. It simply means that you don’t associate with a dominant thought that person brings with him/her, and to avoid more conflict you move away. The divorce, Shukla affirms, is with the thought and never with the person. To understand that is to unburden yourself from being bitter and revengeful.

12. 10 percent of what you earn should be kept aside for dharma

Dharma, Shukla doesn’t define as something religious or spiritual. Instead, he says it is associated more with doing good for others and feeling responsible about that. A simple calculation according to him is to keep 10 percent of your income for goodwill.

Many people donate or do charitable acts towards the end of their life because death is hard on them. In their suffering, they begin to empathise with others’ suffering. He says those who have the companionship of loved ones, the blessings of unknown strangers, and an all-encompassing goodwill of people exit peacefully and gracefully. That is possible when you don’t cling on to everything you have, and leave some part of it for others.


Project FUEL collects, preserves and passes on life lessons from all across the world. We’re currently crowdfunding for our next Masterpiece Tour to Europe, to collect life lessons from refugees displaced after the conflict in Syria. Your contribution counts.

Please click here to contribute:



About The Author

Deepak Ramola is the Founder and Artistic director of Project FUEL and serves as the Kindness Ambassador to UNESCO MGIEP. With his initiative Project FUEL, Deepak travels across the world collecting and passing on life lessons of common people. He is also a gold medallist in Journalism, an award winning poet, a lyricist and a writer.


  1. Some more info from other 2 homes, would be interesting. Any reason for a difference in names and significances to the home titles!!
    what is the stat on succssful closure of life and those who reverse?
    a great effort by the project team iindeed. Any hindi version or non english available?, more close to local thoughts!

  2. Eye opener article .I feel all you need to know about life and how to live is covered in few words.Thanks a lot Deepak Tamola ji.

    • Dear Laxmikant ji,

      Thank you so much for writing in and appreciating the post. I am glad it resonated with you.

      Deepak Ramola

  3. THE BEST GURU LEARNING……………..Thanks deepak

  4. The facts of Life are simply philosophical and we do not realize until almost the end of our life and by the time we realize the same it is becoming too late.
    Reading about shri Bhairav Nath Shuklaji and the like minded people will be of very great guidance for all of us.
    Let us all try to lead a simple life, be stingy in utilising the Natural wealth like water, air, let us not pollute the same and pass away peacefully.
    Pranams to Shri Bhairav Nath Shuklaji.
    Thanks Deepak.

  5. Thank you for such a nice & enlightening article.God bless you.

  6. Thats a beautiful piece of work Deepak..

  7. […] Started my morning with a heartfelt life story – about how to exit the world. […]

  8. Nice article..

    Keep explore more and enlighten more in diverse field.

    Thank you to whole your research team.

  9. Wonderful simply wonderful ! Your observations should be made available for a wider range of people . So many of us go on in life without realising these very simple things and thus thus causing unnecessary pain to ourselves and others. Thankyou for sharing.

  10. Seriously appreciate the writer, I am glad to earn so many life living Mantra from this. I am just 28 years old and so happy after reading this. I am always in rush for office home and running after money.
    This article made me realize what I am leaving behind and what will I have with me in last when I leave this land of almighty god. Thank u so much for giving me this lesson.


  11. Muraleedharan P Chengat - Reply

    Life is like that….

  12. I have just been reading ‘The top five regrets of the dying,’ written by a hospice nurse, and felt it didn’t resonate completely… I wasn’t sure why and I suppose it is difficult to fully understand what it is like to be dying and what regrets one might have and I didn’t feel she was entirely wrong, just that some of the key elements might be missing. This article resonated much more deeply and feels like a complete and genuine summary of how one ought to live to die without regrets. Thank you for your compassion and wisdom!

  13. Savithri JagannathacRao - Reply

    I found the life lessons equal to BhagavathnGita,very apt to the present scenario. Beautifuly written. Our Pranamsmto the greatest humanbeing.

  14. Fantastic!Reading this article is enough for a person to understand the meaning of life.Thanks for this article!

  15. […] Originally written by Deepak Ramola and published on Project Fuel […]

  16. This is the perfect blog for anybody who hopes to find out about this topic.
    You realize a whole lot its almost hard to argue with
    you (not that I really will need to…HaHa).
    You certainly put a brand new spin on a topic that has been discussed for years.
    Great stuff, just excellent!

  17. Retired from Ranbaxy, myself in final phase of journey called life.Insights n learning from Mr Shukla’s experiences as narrated by you in your esteemed BLOG are precious.
    Aap ko Saaduvaad.

  18. What magnificent words!
    As a Rabbi, Author, Radio Show host “From Mourning to Morning” on VoiceAmerica, I am so moved by these holy lessons. To have the dignity of “checking into” death residences and to be cared for with love and compassion, is a concept we should adopt here in the USA.
    In Jewish Tradition, the ancient Rabbis said that when you reach the gates of Heaven, you will only be allowed to enter if you answer their questions about how well you lived your life.
    The very first question is: “did you deal with others with honesty and gratitude?”
    Your lessons could very well form the rest of the questions.
    Thank you for sharing your wisdom and compassion.

  19. I am actually thankful to the holder of this web page who
    has shared this great article at at this place.

  20. Beautiful blog. Mukti Bhavan is such a unique concept probably possible only in one of the oldest living cities – Kashi.
    And these are indeed golden words from someone who has seen and experienced death at such close quarters. From Shuklaji we learn that most of us can follow these lessons in our daily life rather than wait till the last days of our lives.
    Thanks Deepak for your exemplary work in bringing the life lessons of these wise people to all of us! May your tribe increase.

  21. Excellent compilation of simple yet very powerful insights. Well done Deepak and thanks for bringing it to us.
    Best wishes, Prateek

  22. SUPERB! Keep up the good work. If I am not mistaken you belong to Devbhoomi Uttrakhand and there is lot their that needs to be told or shared through such Great Blogs. I hope we catch up sometime and do something together.

  23. Very well written. The temptation to relish the spice of life is so strong and the human ego is a very good promoter of the illusion. So all get swept away by it. Few have to wisdom to know when their journey is ending.

  24. Hi,

    Excellent article. I have bookmarked it to read often else we tend to forget quickly. I will be honest, I fear death since I lost my father three years back. I feel its a mysterious journey where you are all alone. No loved one comes with you. Only thing which comes with you is your KArma. I wonder how people must be feeling when they check in to Moksha Bhavan. or is it that they have lost senses and relatives admit them. I guess there must be both type of cases.
    Real credit goes to Bhairav Nath Shukla who is doing such a selfless service. Attending to old and needy is the most noble cause. Great soul. And thank you to for bring such beautiful eye opener lessons to us. Keep sharing!

  25. Thank you Mr.Deepak Ramola. May God bless you.Keep doing this great work.

  26. Remarkable.
    These lessons are really heart touching but we often don’t understand the importance of these simple life running formulas in our busy day to day life. I haven’t heard of this Guest House (Mukti Bhawan) earlier. Thank You Shukla Ji & Deepak for teaching us the meaning of LIFE!!

  27. Hi Deepak,
    1st let me thank you for sharing amazing experience, one of my friend forwarded your video on whatsup, I immediately messaged her back its incomplete video, phew apart these stories rather truth of breath you shared is unbelievable.

    I am glad to see people like you are volunteering & spreading awarness goodness , Humanity, this is what people around has to learn,understand and adapt to the environment of Human Cycle.

    Thank you so very much Deepak.

  28. An eye opening article, l have also realized one of this lesson when I fought with my mother on trivial things and two days after that, my mother gone. I couldn’t forgive myself for it.

    Good work, keep it up Deepak.

  29. Great article. Appreciate the efforts to bring the best and important information in short note. To be aware of what is important to our life s the best thing to happen in one’s life and in this regard, Deepak, u and ur team has done great job in this particular project. Gratitude!!

  30. I am typing this message just 15 minutes out of the hall where I just heard Mr. Ramola, 26 yrs old teach us life lessons. Your mother is a very inspiring lady Sir! All mothers are such. It was a very nice you know what I mean by nice- an amazing amazing feeling after his speech. I do not know about the others in the auditorium, I felt amazed, inspired and lovely!! (No better words to describe this). Great effort by your Team! will keep spreading the knowledge you share. A big Thank you!

  31. Its a beautiful post.Its an eye opener.Each one of us should on a serious note about the quality of life we are living.Reading this post will help you yo understand life better.Life is simple…enjoy it.

  32. Thanks for this awesome post. It is extremely helpful for me. Would you mind updating your blog with more information

  33. Thanks Deepak for such a nice compilation of real life experiences. Most of us learn bits and pieces of these valuable info from books and learned Gurus, but read the blog was like going through my Practical exams during studies…… I learnt a lot about life after my association with “Art of Living” with the knowledge points from its founder SriSri Ravishankar GuruDev…….simple lessons, simpler teaching which makes our Body, Mind & Soul to see, feel and Enjoy the Happiness…… JaiGurudev

  34. Hi Deepak

    How can one offer their services to
    Volunteer and help at this place? I tried looking up their contact details but couldn’t find any. Any guidance would be much appreciated.


  35. Very true when people realize it’s too late
    What should be do

  36. Invaluable life lessons.. great write up and insights.keep up the good work, I see a lot of points in the life lessons which are as same as what chanakya has told in chanakya neeti.

  37. Dear Deepak Ji,

    The blog has heaviest meaning. I got your video too. Thanks for sharing the unpredictable truth of Moksha Bhavan.


  38. […] recently came across an article from back in 2016 that was posted by Project Fuel and it really got me thinking about how much we take for granted in this life as well as how […]

  39. valuable thought

  40. I came across a WhatsApp video of yours about this ashram. Curious as I am, I visited your blog, website. And while some people realise the need to change the society, do charity and devote their lives to wellness of others at an early stage of their life, but many of us are often scared, unwilling to let go of things and “settling down”. And I am one of those. But here’s the inspiration I drew from this blog, is that one doesn’t need to give away their life or their living but rather put aside time and resources to do their bit. The sense of purpose is much higher and life is better lived.

  41. Thank u Deepak ,U have reflected the truth of Life ia a very simple to understand ,impactful with Deep message .
    I have come across this morning ,u made my Day

  42. Thanks for this awesome . It is extremely helpful for me. Would you mind updating your blog with more information

  43. Insightful and eye opener article..
    Thank you Deepak for sharing it.

  44. These 12 lessons were shared in 2016, relevant then, now and even in future also.
    Thanks for sharing.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>