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Vaitarni Nadi in Garuda Purana – Vaitrani River in Hell in Hinduism


Vaitarni nadi is mentioned in Garuda Purana. Vaitrani River is in Yamaloka and this 100 yojana wide river does not contain water but pus and blood. The banks of the river are filled with bones. Crocodile, worms with needle-sharp fangs, fish with sharp teeth and vultures inhabit the river and its banks. The blood and pus in the river are in constant turbulence. They jump up trying to grab the dead souls.

It is believed that the soul of the dead person is brought here by the lieutenants of Yama, the Hindu god of death.


The river can be safely crossed only through a boat. The boatman is a ghost and it asks the dead person as to what punya or virtue he/she had performed on earth to cross the river.

Only those people who have performed Go Danam – donation of a cow will be able to cross the river on the boat. Other souls either fall into the river or are carried by hooking on to a Trishul by the soldiers of Yama.

The name of the river is Vaitarni because only those people who have performed charity can cross the river.

Vaitarni Go Dhanam is performed in the name of the dead person by relatives to help the dead soul pass through the Vairanti River. This is also the reason why some communities make a seriously ill person touch the tail of a cow. Those seriously ill people, who are not able to touch the cow, meditate on Go Mata and chant the Vaitarni Go Dhana Mantra.

Vaitarni Go Dhana Mantra

वैतरणी गोदान मंत्र

धेनुके त्वं प्रतीक्षास्व यमद्वार महापथे।
उतितीर्षुरहं भद्रे वैतरणयै नमौऽस्तुते।।
पिण्डदान कृत्वा यथा संभमं गोदान कुर्यात।

A decade ago we wrote on this topic