Dying the Good Death: The Pilgrimage to Die in India's Holy CityBook
Dying the Good Death is a unique ethnography, the first to focus on the experiences of dying at the end of the life cycle. In a region of northern India, some people at the end of their lives leave their villages and travel to the Hindu holy city of Kashi to die. These pilgrims expect that by dying in Kashi they will obtain the spiritual reward of moksha -- liberation from the cycle of death and rebirth.
Based on fieldwork conducted in Kashi's hospices or "mansions of liberation", Christopher Justice introduces us to a number of dying individuals and their families, providing rich and evocative descriptions of their remarkable experiences. The social contexts of these experiences are explored through descriptions of the families who provide care and the priests who chant the name of God twenty-four hours a day. The book also has clear implications for the potential ways in which we may choose to face the ends of our lives.
"This book is about a fascinating topic. It is about the death retreats (bhavan) of Kashi where Hindu people go to die. It is also about the way in which individuals in the bhavan make sense of death within their social/cultural and religious environment. And it is about the relationship between an individual's understanding of the good death to that person's actual experience of dying and the interaction between the cultural and physiological processes of dying". -- Dorothy Counts, University of Waterloo