If you visit Varanasi or any other holy city of India, you will generally come across groups of sadhus or saints who are half naked and are completely smeared in white coloured ash. Apart from that you must have also seen ash being offered to Hindu deities, especially Lord Shiva. Have you ever wondered what this ash is and why is it used to smear the body? Let us find out. The sacred ash is known as Vibhuti. Vibhuti means very valuable. It is obtained by burning a special kind of wood. Traditionally, Vibhuti should ideally be obtained from the burnt woods of the cremation ground. This practice is still followed by the Naga sadhus who usually reside near the cremations grounds. However Vibhuti can also be obtained by burning dried cow dung or rice husks.
IMPORTANCE OF MAHA MRITYUNJAYA MANTRA Smearing of Vibhuti is usually associated with Lord Shiva because He smears His body with the sacred ash. It has a great spiritual significance. It is a reminder to human kind that everything in this world is temporary and has to eventually perish. Take a look at the significance of Vibhuti or the holy ash in Hinduism.
Preparation Of Vibhuti It is not that the ash obtained from any burnt object can be regarded as Vibhuti. It has to be either from the cremation grounds, rice husks or cow dung. In a traditional festival called the Shivarathri Muttan, the cow dung is collected, dried and then made into cakes. On the day of Shivaratri, these cakes are burnt and the ash obtained from it is smeared on the body.
Symbolic Meaning Vibhuti is the reminder to mankind that one must not surround himself with worldly desires or Maya. Otherwise the lust and desires meet the same end as Kama was burnt to ashes by Lord Shiva. It is a constant reminder that one has to end up being burnt to ashes after death and hence should keep away from all worldly distractions.
Shiva & Shakti Vibhuti is usually worn on the forehead, arms or the neck. It is a common practice to wear a Vibhuti tilaka on forehead with a red sindoor tilaka. Vibhuti is the representation of Shiva while the red sindoor denotes Shakti. It is a symbolic representation that Shiva and Shakti are the only truth in the Universe and everything is in being only through the union of Shiva and Shakti.
Medicinal Value Vibhuti, also known as Bhasma has great medicinal properties. It absorbs excess moisture from the body and prevents headache and cold. It is also a good cleanser for the body and hence the sadhus bathe using Vibhuti in place of commercial soaps.
Significance Of Vibhuti According to the legends, Vibhuti is a favourite item of Lord Shiva. He always smears His body with the holy ash as it is the most purest thing in this universe. Ash is the remain of the burnt wood which means that it can never decay. Therefore it is a representation that the Supreme Lord is the imperishable truth and the entire universe gets dissolved ultimately in Him.