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

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

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Vibhuti on Forehead of a Sadhu. Image source: Wikimedia Commons
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  • 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 the 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)
Lord Shiva Idol. Image source: 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
Shiva Linga. Image Source: 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.

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

by Karishma Vanjani, an intern at NewsGram. Twitter: @BladesnBoots

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  • Akanksha Sharma

    My parents told me that Vibhuti is applied on our forehead so that no evil spirits can touch us. It is also applied on the neck.

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12 Interesting Facts About Somnath Temple Probably You Didn’t Know

The Somnath Temple is popular due to various legends connected to it. The place is an important pilgrimage and tourist spot.

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Somnath Temple is located in Veraval on the western coast of Gujarat, India. Wikimedia Commons
Somnath Temple is located in Veraval on the western coast of Gujarat, India. Wikimedia Commons
  • Somnath Temple is believed to be the place where Lord Krishna ended his Lila and thereafter left for heavenly abode
  • The first Siva temple at Somanath is believed to have been built at some unknown time in the past
  • Gujarat was raided by Mahmud of Ghazni in 1024, plundering the Somnath temple and breaking its sacred jyotirlinga

Somnath Temple is a specimen of fine architecture of one of the 12 Jyotirlingas Shrines of Shiva. This place is believed to be the place where Lord Krishna ended his Lila and thereafter left for heavenly abode, therefore it is dubbed as Eternal Shrine. This legendary temple has been vandalized numerous times in the history but with the help of some Hindu Kings, the temple was reshaped each time.

Somnath Temple is located in Veraval on the western coast of Gujarat, India. The temple is popular due to various legends connected to it. The place is an important pilgrimage and tourist spot. Lord Shiva has a strong connection here and also known as shrine eternal.

Somnath Temple History

According to popular tradition, the first Siva temple at Somanath is believed to have been built at some unknown time in the past. The second temple has been built at the same site by the “Yadava kings” of Vallabhi around 649 CE. In 725 CE, Al-Junayd, the Arab governor of Sindh destroyed the second temple as part of his invasions of Gujarat and Rajasthan. In 815 CE, the Gurjara-Pratihara king Nagabhata II constructed the third temple, a huge structure of red sandstone.

Also Read: Top 10 Famous Hindu Temples of Tamil Nadu

The Chaulukya (Solanki) king Mularaja possibly built the first temple at the site sometime before 997 CE, even though some historians believe that he may have renovated a smaller earlier temple.

Somnath Temple Attacks

Gujarat was raided by Mahmud of Ghazni in 1024, plundering the Somnath temple and breaking its sacred jyotirlinga. Ghazni took away the wealth of almost 20 million dinars. As per historical records, the damage to the temple by was quite negligible because there are records of pilgrimages to the temple in 1038, which has no much mention of any damage to the temple.

In14th century, Gujarati Muslim pilgrims were noted by Amir Khusrow to stop at that temple to pay their respects before departing for the Hajj pilgrimage. Wikimedia Commons
In14th century, Gujarati Muslim pilgrims were noted by Amir Khusrow to stop at that temple to pay their respects before departing for the Hajj pilgrimage. Wikimedia Commons

But claims are there that Mahmud had killed 50,000 devotees who tried to defend the temple. The temple at the time of Ghazni’s attack appears to have been a wooden structure, which is said to have decayed in time.

According to an inscription of 1169, Kumarapala rebuilt it in “excellent stone and studded it with jewels,”

Also Read: Angkor Wat: History behind Cambodian Hindu temple

Then in 1299, the Somnath Temple was invaded by Alauddin Khalji’s army, led by Ulugh Khan. They defeated the Vaghela king Karna and sacked the Somnath temple. Legends state that the Jalore ruler Kanhadadeva later recovered the Somnath idol and freed the Hindu prisoners, after an attack on the Delhi army near Jalore. However, some other sources state that the idol was taken to Delhi, where it was thrown to be trampled under the feet of Muslims.

The Somnath Temple was rebuilt by Mahipala I, the Chudasama king of Saurashtra in 1308 and the lingam was installed by his son Khengara sometime between 1331 and 1351.

In14th century, Gujarati Muslim pilgrims were noted by Amir Khusrow to stop at that temple to pay their respects before departing for the Hajj pilgrimage.

In 1395, the temple was again destroyed for the third time by Zafar Khan, the last governor of Gujarat under the Delhi Sultanate and later founder of Gujarat Sultanate.

In 1546, the Portuguese who were based in Goa attacked ports and towns in Gujarat including Somnath Temple and destroyed several of its structures.

Somnath temple to Dwarka

Dwarka is an ancient city in the Indian state of Gujarat. It is very near to Somnath temple and due to its relevance to Hindu pilgrimage; people do tend to visit this place also.

Also Read: The Temple of Death: The Abode of Yamraj

The magnificent Temple of Dwarka has an elaborately tiered main shrine, a carved entrance and a black-marble idol of Lord Krishna.

Somnath Temple said to have been safely hiding the famous Syamantak Mani within the hollowness of Shivalinga. Wikimedia Commons
Somnath Temple said to have been safely hiding the famous Syamantak Mani within the hollowness of Shivalinga. Wikimedia Commons

The road distance between Dwarka and Somnath is 231 km and the aerial distance from Dwarka to Somnath is 210 km. One can also cover the distance through train which is almost 398km distant.

Here are some facts that are attached to this sacred and architecturally marvellous temple.

  1. The present-day Somnath Temple was built in five years, from 1947 to 1951 and was inaugurated by then President of India Dr Rajendra Prasad.
  2. Somnath Temple said to have been safely hiding the famous Syamantak Mani within the hollowness of Shivalinga, the Philosopher’s stone, which is associated with Lord Krishna. The stone is said to be magical, which was capable of producing gold. It is also believed that stone had alchemic and radioactive properties and thus it remains floating above the ground.
  3. The temple finds its reference in the sacred texts of Hindus like Shreemad Bhagavat, Skandpuran, Shivpuran and Rig-Veda. This signifies the importance of this temple as one of the most popular pilgrimage sites in India.
  4. According to records, the site of Somnath has been a pilgrimage site from ancient times as it was said to be the junction of three rivers, Kapila, Hiran and the mythical Saraswati. The meeting point was called as Triveni Sangam and is believed to be the place where Soma, the Moon-god bathed and regained his lustre.
  5. According to Swami Gajanand Saraswati (a Hindu scholar), the first temple was built 7, 99, 25,105 years ago as derived from the traditions of Prabhas Khand of Skanda Puran.
  6. The temple is said to be located at such a place that there is no straight-line land between Somnath seashore till Antarctica continent. In a Sanskrit inscription, found on the Arrow-Pillar called Baan-Stambh is stated that the temple stands at a point on the Indian piece of land, which happens to be the first point on land in the north to the south-pole on that particular longitude.

    The saga of Somnath temple is related to moon god and curse of his father in law Daksha Prajapati. Wikimedia Commons
    The saga of Somnath temple is related to moon god and curse of his father in law Daksha Prajapati. Wikimedia Commons
  7. According to the text of Skanda Purana, the name of Somnath Temple will change every time the world is reconstructed. It is believed when Lord Brahma will create a new world after ending the one we are living, Somnath will acquire a new name of Pran Nath Temple.
  8. On the walls of Somnath Temple, the sculptures of Lord Brahma, Shiva and Vishnu can be seen.
  9. According to another reference in the Skanda Purana, there are about 6 Brahmas. This is the era of 7thBrahma who is called Shatanand.
  10. The flag mast on the peak of Somnath Temple is 37 feet long and it changes 3 times a day.
  11. The saga of Somnath temple is related to moon god and curse of his father in law Daksha Prajapati.
  12. Non-Hindus doesn’t require any special permission to visit Somnath Temple. The decision was taken in view of security issues.Now, pack your bags and begin your journey to one of the most the sacred places of India.