Praying for the Dead


'Praying for the dead.' Is it of any use? Can you explain it based on energy?

—Mathew, India


Dear Mathew,

Each soul is cloaked in 3 bodies: physical, astral (a body of energy), and causal (a body of ideas). After the soul leaves the physical body at physical death it continues to exist in its astral body. When the soul sheds its physical body it does not shed its karmic patterns and personality traits which are preserved as energy patterns in the astral body.

The soul goes to that astral level which is harmonious with the soul’s vibration while living its most recent incarnation. Yogananda whose teachings we follow here at Ananda explained there are many levels on the astral plane from exalted high vibration ‘heavens’ to ones of low vibration, astral ‘hells.’ On the astral plane, the soul may have the opportunity to work out some past karma but other karma must be worked out by reincarnating in a physical body. When the soul reincarnates in a new body it brings with it the karmic patterns to work out and lessons needed to progress toward eventual soul freedom when there will be no need to incarnate again. There is a chapter in Yogananda’s famous book Autobiography of a Yogi called “The Resurrection of Sri Yukteswar” which explains in detail the astral and causal universes and the journey of the soul to freedom.

It is very helpful to pray for the dead. We pray that the soul release identifications, attachments and old habitual patterns that it brings from its most recent sojourn in life and soar in freedom. Especially in the hours and days immediately after passing, prayers can be powerful. Such prayers are a great blessing for the one who has passed and may help the soul advance more quickly. Our founder Swami Kriyananda wrote an astral ascension ceremony which we do here soon after a soul passes. You can click the link to read it.

Many Blessings,
Nayaswami Mukti