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VIBHUTI: What significance does applying ash on forehead holds in Hinduism?

Ever wondered why the pundits you met sported three ash lines on their forehead, read to know more.

 

  • It’s believed that the holy ash also called ‘vibhuti’ or ‘bhasma’ protects man against all evil forces

  • A Vibhuti has medicinal values, it is used in many Ayurvedic medicines and prevents headaches and cold

  • A ‘tripund’ is good to display if one consciously remembers to follow the meaning behind its existence

  • Let’s talk about types, Benefits & medical properties/values of Vibhuti or Bhasma.

What Is Vibhuti or Bhasma :

Vibhuti (Sanskrit: विभूति; vibhūti), also called Bhasma (ash), Thiruneeruand Vibhooti, is a word that has several meanings in Hinduism. Generally, it is used to denote the sacred ash which is made of burnt dried wood in Āgamic rituals.

“OM Namah Shivaya, OM Namah Shivaya” are some words hymned by the Pandits, sages, and your local gurus. These are mantras that are sung to ask Lord Shiva for his blessings. When one says the name Shiva, it automatically reminds him/her of the tripund; a symbol made of three horizontal lines that Lord Shiva adorned on his forehead. While the world continues to worship God with all his disciples, a question is bound to linger in the mind of a curious devotee, “ Why the Ash lines on the forehead?” It’s a question that can also stem from the daily visit to a temple, where one can very easily find many pundits flaunting the ‘tripund’.

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Lord Shiva meditating (Source: Wikimedia Commons)
When one says the name Shiva, it automatically reminds him/her of the tripund; a symbol made of three horizontal lines that Lord Shiva adorned on his forehead. Wikimedia Commons

There are many stories behind the idea of putting ash on one’s body but there’s one universally agreed to the theory behind it. It’s believed that the holy ash also called ‘vibhuti’ or ‘bhasma’ protects man against all evil forces. Ash is a substance that is obtained only when things are completely burnt off. This indicates that the ash kindles the devotee’s spirit and purifies him.

According to the Indian scriptures, bhasma means ‘‘that by which our sins are destroyed and the Lord is remembered’’, this, in turn, signifies its inclusion in the worship of Lord Shiva. Adding to that a shiva lingam that is smeared with the holy ash is a common sight at shrines. Hence, to show one’s respect to Lord Shiva, he/she who renounces worldly practices and the person who completely rejects material pleasures, becomes a devotee and can wear ash on his forehead.

Shiva Linga. Image Source: Wikimedia Commons
“Bhasma Arti” is done for the Shiva Linga to revere Lord Shiva. Wikimedia Commons

There are five sacred names given to the ash of ‘homa’, the sacrificial fire. The names ‘vibhuti’ and ‘bhasma’ that are extensively mentioned in this piece also have a principle behind them. Since the holy ash is believed to burn the sins to ashes and give wisdom to all its called ‘bhasma’ or ‘bhasmam’. Additionally, its name raises the spiritual power of an individual and hence the name ‘vibhuti’.

Science has its reason to believe that vibhuti has medicinal values attached to its name too. It is used in many Ayurvedic medicines and prevents headaches and cold. Not only that, bhasma is also compounded with other medicines to increase its use.

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Lastly, a ‘tripund’ is good to display if one consciously remembers to follow the meaning behind its existence and strives to live by it. Without awareness of the truth that lies behind it, these symbols are nothing but social identities.

Benefits Of Vibhuti or Bhasma:

  • It increases the positive energy. The smell, the act of applying it, the chanting before it, everything increases the positive energy.
  • Applying holy ash prevents headaches. It prevents allergies on the skin especially if it is made with different herbs.
  • Applying holy ash is said to regulate all the 7 chakras in the body which is the basis for good health.
  • Thiruneer also prevents cold and is very good for preventing all cold related headaches.
  • It always reminds of the impermanence of our lives.
  • Applying it on the forehead is said to prevent cold.
  • Stimulating the area between the eye brows can actually have another effect too. It can clear the sinuses. It can also prevent nose-block too. When you apply vibhuti regularly on the forehead, the area gets stimulated.

Types of Vibhuti/Bhasma:

  • Swarna bhasma is prepared form gold
  • Godanti bhasma is prepared from gypsum
  • Shankh bhasma is prepared from conch shell
  • Mandur bhasma is prepared from iron oxide and
  • Vanga bhasma is prepared from tin.

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These are all very important ayurvedic preparations that is used internally for treating different illness and should only be consumed under the strict supervision of an experienced ayurvedic practitioner.

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