Hindu Funeral Prayers

In Hinduism, death is regarded as a natural and inevitable part of the cycle of life. With a rich cultural heritage and deep spiritual roots in the Vedic literature, Hindus believe death is not an end but a transition into a new journey of the soul. The concept of reincarnation and the ultimate attainment of peace are core tenets of this ancient religion.

Prayer services hold a significant place in Hindu funeral rituals, where family and friends gather to honor and pay their respects. Hindus believe that prayers can help guide a departed soul toward its next journey. These prayers not only provide comfort to the grieving family but also play an essential role in the soul's journey to its ultimate destination.

Funeral ceremonies include prayers, songs, chants and Vedic scripture readings. Prayers continue after the funeral for a traditional 13-day mourning period, during which family and friends offer condolences and pray with mourners. Prayers are also sometimes said when a loved one is approaching death to help that person be released from the Earth and attachment to this life.

Prayers for a departed soul are said with emotion and intention. Hindus believe our thoughts are powerful. They believe prayers and acts of charity can greatly benefit a departed soul when done in that person's name. Here are three common Hindu funeral prayers.

Prayers for the departed soul

Prayers, or mantras, are said for a departed soul in remembrance of the creation of all things. This prayer reflects the gratitude for those who have gone before and shown the path of life. Prayers are believed to help the departed experience consciousness, energy and comfort. Mantras are recited from Mahabharata, a Sanskrit epic, so the soul can attain shanti, or inner peace.

One Vedic mantra that may be recited for the departed soul as part of a funeral is, "I go to the sun, your life to the wind, by the meritorious acts that you have done, go to heaven and then to the earth again; or, resort to the waters, if you feel at home there; remain in the herbs with the bodies you propose to take.”

Om shanti om

When offering condolences, instead of “Rest in peace,” a Hindu will chant “Om shanti om” three times. Because Hinduism posits a cycle of life and death by reincarnation, there is no rest. There can be, however, peace. Om is a sacred sound; shanti is a Sanskrit word that means profound peace.

“Om shanti om” is said three times to invoke peace in the body, mind and spirit. The mantra can be said as either “Om shanti, om shanti, om shanti” or “Om shanti, shanti, shanti.”

Atma ko Sadgati Prapt ho

Meaning, “May Soul obtain Moksha,” “Atma ko Sadgati Prapt ho” is another mantra that may be said to offer peace. Sadgati means liberation or salvation, and it’s offered during a Hindu funeral so the soul may be liberated from the cycle of life and death. Moksha is the end of the cycle and the ultimate goal. The cycle of life is believed to be determined by the karma of the person who has passed. “Atma ko Sadgati Prapt ho” is said so that the soul can achieve Moksha.

Plan a Hindu funeral

Dignity Memorial® professionals are experts in planning funerals for families from all walks of life. We recognize death is considered the great departure and can assist with cremation, memorial planning and more. Many of our crematories include a private witness room where your family can gather to pray and honor your loved one before cremation.

Whether you need guidance honoring Hindu funeral traditions, planning a funeral in a short amount of time, arranging a meal or finding a Hindu priest to lead a service, we’re here to help.