Spirit-Health Connections


Prayers and Rituals at a Time of Illness and Dying

Prayers and practices for seriously ill or dying Hindu
children follow general practices. Visiting a seriously
ill or dying person and his or her family provides
comfort in time of distress, especially speaking about
God's holy will. Chanting of God's name at the time
of death not only provides comfort to the dying person
and his or her family, but it also is believed in
Hindu theology that doing so will merit the dying
person moksha, or salvation. Depending on the deity
in which the family has the greatest faith, his or her
name would be the one chanted, although the name
of Lord Shiva can always be chanted, especially at
the final moments. An example of a chant would be
"Hari Krishna" or "Hari, hari." For very young or
for persons who are unconscious, family members
can do the chanting of the presiding deity's name.
Ideally, a Hindu priest is present, but anyone who
has knowledge of the Hindu scriptures can lead the
chanting, although some families may only want a
true Hindu believer to do so. 1

Reading particularly apropos verses of the
Bhagavad Gita can also be comforting. The following
verses, translated by Mascaro, are attributed
to Lord Krishna (God), as he spoke gently to the
warrior, Arjuna, who was sorrowful over having to
kill in battle. 2 His words underscore the impermanence
of death and the importance of devotion
to God.


  1. Kumar Bhattacharya, e-mail message, March 18, 2007.
  2. Juan Mascaro, trans., The Bhagavad Gita (New York: Penguin Books, 1962).

From Pat Fosarelli, Prayers and Rituals at a Time of Illness and Dying: The Practices of Five World Religions (West Conshohocken, PA: Templeton Foundation Press, 2008), 50-51. 

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