Is there more?
Yes. This is a work in progress. I make refinements regularly, and include the best resources for ingredients used in cremation rites. Stay tuned. Comments are welcome.
What if I don’t believe in karma and life after death?
Keep an open mind, just in case. Safety first. After you die, you’ll know.
How long can I wait before cremation, immersing the ashes and performing the funeral rituals?
The sooner, the better. But later is better than never. Cremate immediately. No need to delay. Immersion ashes in flowing water also as soon as possible. If travel to the Ganga in India is not easy, find a beautiful natural site nearby to immerse the ashes. Do not keep ashes at home indefinitely. Antyesthi Kriyas are done within 13 days of passing. If this is not possible, the 5 day Rahi Kriyas should be done as soon as possible, but can be done at any time.
How do I cremate and transport the remains?
See Section 14 - Legal Matters. It’s boring, but useful.
What if the body and/or ashes aren’t available?
Pandits can perform these rites with a “putala body” made of kusha grass, which is cremated in place of the actual body.
What if there isn’t time to organize for the Antyesthi Rites immediately after death?
These things take time. Just have the intention to do the best you can. When it’s time, then the means will come together. Even if the full rituals cannot be arranged, pandits can do some simple recitations for “Atma Shanti” (peacefulness) on behalf of departed souls. Full rites can be done later. But the sooner the better. See Costs and Materials Section 6 for things that you can do yourself.
Vedic funeral rites were never done for my family. What should I do?
Don’t worry. If you’ve read this far, you are in good shape. Your good karma has created a good life for you and your family. However, if you can do 5 Days of Rahi Kriyas for your deceased ancestors, it is valuable. See Section 5 - Vedic Rites. Above all, organize finances for your own Vedic funeral. When the time comes it will benefit all your family.
What if I don’t know any pandits? Can you help me to find a good pandit?
Not on short notice. It’s best to use contacts that are known to you or your family or friends. You can always get a recommendation from a local Hindu temple. In any case you can perform Maharishi Yagyas 507 and 514 to help the departed soul. To arrange yagyas contact: Jyotish-Yagya@Maharishi.net
How do I get a handle on costs?
You can spend any amount of money that you want - figure $1000 to $10,000 for full 13 day rites. The pandit can tailor the ceremonies and expenses to your liking. Traditionally gold and silver were given generously for these rites. The goal is to make the pandits happy and yourself happy within the budget available. Inform the pandit of your expense account from the beginning, so there are no surprises.
Where do I get all the Yagya and Puja ingredients?
You don’t. Your pandit will collect the materials (puja samagri). Just emphasize to him that all materials must be best quality and washed thoroughly. It is a lot of work to prepare for the yagyas. The actual ceremony is only a part of it. So compensate the pandits well for their work.
One thing you can do is to collect ghee and good quality aloe wood and sandalwood sticks and/or oils ready for cremation. See Costs and Materials Section 6 for recommended ingredients.
What if a relative is missing or the family is not informed of death for several years?
As soon as the news is received, arrange for Rahi Kriya rites. A putala doll is made of kusha grass and cremated in place of the deceased with some articles of his or her clothing. A Narayan Bali Yagya is also required, due the unnatural/uncertain cause of death.
What if I find this confusing?
Death is confusing. Life can also be confusing. Learn to meditate while you are able. That will simplify everything. See Section 8 - Transcending.
The most important rule to remember is: As you sow, so shall you reap. Whatever good you do will come back to you. Whether you do good to those in this world or the next, you will reap the rewards. No good deed is ever wasted.
I don’t think that I can organize the 13 Day Antyesthi Rites or the abbreviated 5 Day Rahee Kriyas. What can I do?
Brahmins can be hired to perform these rites in your place, but they need sufficient jyotish information (and photos). It is a great commitment of time and karma for the pandits, so they should be rewarded generously. You can request Maharishi Yagyas 507 and 514 from Jyotish-Yagya@Maharishi.net and YagyaProgram@Maharishi.net.
I can't commit to several days of yagyas in India. Can't I do a simple puja?
If you are unable to follow these formal rites, you can certainly organize more simple pujas, feeding of cows, recitation of Bhagavad Gita / Vishnu Sahasranam, feeding brahmins, etc. They are all valuable. It is only a question of how much time, energy and expense you can commit. Traditionally honoring one's forefathers is considered an essential unpaid debt to the ancestors. At least you can request Maharishi Yagya 514 from Jyotish-Yagya@Maharishi.net and YagyaProgram@Maharishi.net
What about Near-Death Experiences?
There are thousands of documented experiences that indicate the reality of life after death. If you are interested, The Journey Home: Inspiring Passages From Near-Death Experiences to Comfort the Dying by Michael A Quinn and Linda L Quinn is the most comprehensive compilation for overcoming the fear associated with death. By reading the passages from those who have experienced profound unconditional love and incredibly beautiful Near-Death Experiences, the authors inspire a genuinely positive vision for the journey to the next world. They show how to create a precious inner sanctuary in the heart to hold, nourish, comfort, and cherish the soul whenever fear or sorrow arises.
What about using the Vedic Science of Jyotish to predict death?
Most jyotishis (astrologers) avoid predicting death for 3 reasons.
1. There are so many subtle factors, that it's nearly impossible to accurately predict the moment of death.
2. In general Jyotishis are discouraged from highlighting negativity and death because it can cause extreme anxiety, and is usually not helpful.
3. When someone is overly receptive to the insights of "a wise Jyotishi", one may subtly and unknowingly take the Jyotish predictions to heart, and thereby help to manifest the predictions - for better or for worse.
Nimitta is the science of omens. The Itihas and Puranic texts are full of nature’s signs, which precede good and bad karma. Dreams can also be revealing. But probably the best advice is from Swami Brahmananda Saraswati:
“Nobody can stay here. Every moment keep your luggage packed. No one knows when death will call…. No matter what is happening, we have to quickly leave off and go. So, if you are ready before hand, there will not be much difficulty in leaving.”
Who is responsible for this website?
It is prepared from references in the Vedic texts, and confirmed by authoritative pandits from Nepal, North India and South India, such as:
Dr. Shyam Subedi, Kathmandu
Dr. Acharya Kamal Dimri, Rishikesh
Dr. Ram Chandra Uniyal, Uttar Kashi
Pt. Murari Mishra, Kankhal, Haridwar
Pt. Prakash Venkateshwar Subramanyam
Compiled by Atmanand Brahmachari Douglas,
Ram Prasad, and Ram Rod
How does this website support itself?
It doesn't. Vedic texts forbid profiting from selling Vedic knowledge. This website is a gift of knowledge to anyone who deserves it. You can maximize your own good fortune and your ancestors and benefit world consciousness by
1) performing Maharishi Yagyas through the Maharishi Yagya Office, and by
2) purchasing the Maharishi Veda App, and by
3) donating to Brahmananda Saraswati Foundation.
For the Maharishi Veda App, click above link or go to
To arrange Maharishi Yagyas contact: Jyotish-Yagya@Maharishi.net