The word ‘bhasma‘ means ‘that by which our sins are destroyed’. Bhasma is especially associated with Lord Shiva who is believed to apply it all over his body. Shaivites apply it on their forehead as tripundra or three parallel horizontal lines. When a kumkum dot is applied at the centre of the tripundra, the mark symbolizes Shiva-Shakti-the unity of energy and matter that creates the entire seen and unseen universe.
Some devotees apply it on different parts of their body such as upper arms, chest and throat. Ascetics rub it all over their body, especially those who maintain a dhuni or eternal fire. Many devotees also consume a pinch of it each time they receive it to redeem their sins and mitigate their physical sufferings.
Bhasma or vibhuti is the holy ash retrieved from the havan kund or sacrificial fire into which special logs of wood obtained from certain sacred trees, pure ghee, herbs and grains are offered, duly charged with mantras, to a deity. Ash obtained from this sacred fire is unique: it has immense potency, both spiritual as well as material.
Unlike other gods, Lord Shiva is additionally worshipped by pouring ash as abhisheka, and later, it is distributed to devotees as vibhuti. This bestows blessings to one who applies it on his forehead and other body parts. It also protects the wearer from ill health and the evil eye.
Vibhuti is always taken with the ring finger because it is one of the most sensitive and sacred points of the body. To receive maximum benefit, apply vibhuti on the ajna chakra, the spot between the eyebrows; on the vishuddha chakra or throat chakra, the pit of the throat, to enhance speech power; on the anahata chakra or heart chakra, the centre of the chest; and just behind the earlobes.
Vibhuti obtained from a sacred havan kund serves as divine herbal medicine. Applying vibhuti on different parts of the body can bring transcendental positive energy from the astral world. It is also a tool to enhance our body’s receptivity. When applied at different body points, especially points of greater receptivity such as the ajna chakra, we receive greater divine energy.