As a ritual, during Antyeṣṭi, the dead person's head is hit with a bamboo stick in between the burning of the whole body. As far as my understanding goes, this is done so that the person won't remember all the deeds and person of this birth in the next birth.

But on the other hand, I believe that Ātma departs from body right after the person dies. Or because Ātma leaves the body, the person dies. Then, what is the benefit of hitting the head?

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    Head is the place of ego of a body for a normal person and breaking the skull is said to free the soul roaming near its body after death of its attachment. Doing this also makes sure that the soul will not be misused for any occult practices of Tantra by some corrupted Tantriks, Aghoris as they use an unbroken skull of a dead person to call back its attached spirit and force it to do things for them. speakingtree.in/allslides/…
    – user16530
    Commented Oct 15, 2019 at 5:19
  • @ManuKumar Thank you for the comment. Since this is a Q&A site and your comment is more like an answer, please consider posting it as an answer. :)
    – Aman
    Commented Oct 20, 2019 at 11:49
  • there is no written statement as a reason for this thing in the scriptures, its more of tradition that was adopted later in Hinduism or old one, we are not sure.
    – user16530
    Commented Oct 20, 2019 at 13:48
  • @ManuKumar it is true that the skull is broken to prevent it being used for Black Magic. I know I shouldn’t be asking this. this is more like a chat. However, I will ask the question. Can’t the Tantrics use bodies of other religion who decide to Bury the dead? Would it help them?😀 Now, you know why bodies need to be burnt... Commented Nov 9, 2019 at 18:17
  • @GopalAnantharaman yes tantrics use skulls from any graveyard given Aghories can enter their graveyards as minorities have many rights in India. Abrahmic religions and their culture originate from earlier Judaism of Arab/Israel where there are no woods in desert to make a pyre, hence dead are placed in a cave or buried, otherwise most of the ancient Paganic cultures of Europe like earlier Greeks, Romans etc., used to burn their dead and put their ashes in rivers.
    – user16530
    Commented Nov 9, 2019 at 18:31

2 Answers 2


Garuda Purana describes the method of breaking brahmarandhra.

56-50. Whether half or wholly burnt, his skull should be split open, in the case of householders with a piece of wood, in that of ascetics with a cocoanut.

His son, so that he may attain the world of the forefathers, having split open the brahmarandra should make an oblation of clarified butter with this mantra:

"Thou art born from him; may he be born again from you. He is an offering to the heaven-world. O Fire, blaze forth!"

Thus having made an oblation of clarified butter, with mantras and sesamum offerings, he should weep loudly, that he may become happy

There are other beliefs about this practice.

  1. Since the Soul resides in the Forehead, with the breaking of the skull, the residence of the soul is destroyed. For the soul, this begins search for a new birth.

  2. Many occult practitioners prey around Cremation grounds for fresh spirits (of the recent dead) to “use”. A spirit cannot be used endlessly by the occultists so Cremation grounds are frequented by them. Skull is an effective way and tool for them to do what they are doing. If the skull is broken, it is of no use to them. If the skull is not broken and has not burnt along with the body, then the spirit of the dead is susceptible to the malafides of the occultists.


My grandmother, who was half indian , mentioned witnessing this practice to me when she was a child . I have also seen it practiced at a Thai Buddhist cremation.

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