The spot, or the point on the forehead between the eye brows, where the bindi or tilak is applied is the most important psychic location and a major nerve point in the human body. It is considered the seat of latent wisdom, mental concentration, and spiritual energy. All thoughts and actions are said to be governed by this spot.
In worship the spot is known by various names i.e. “ajna chakra”, “third eye”,“eye of wisdom”, or “the mind’s eye”. It represents the third eye of spiritual sight which can see things that the physical eye cannot see i.e. it controls and evokes the divine.
Ajna chakra or the third eye is a spoton which yogis meditate to become one with Brahamana. Yogis and devout Hindus meditate on the spot to accumulate energy through divine insight, power, and wisdom to cultivate one’s spiritual vision to perceive and understand life’s inner working with the mind’s eye.
Material used for bindi and tilak is generally vermillion paste (turmeric mixed with lime and/or camphor), turmeric paste, kum-kum, ash (vibhuti), sandal wood paste by itself or mixed with saffron.
The paste is usually applied with the ring finger or the thumb of the right hand. The mark is usually topped with a few unbroken grains of rice. The grains symbolize firmness and steadfastness of the brain and are also a symbol of peace. They are also known as Dev Dhaniya (grains from God).
It is said that at the base of the thumb lies Venus which represents life’s forces , health, creation of new life, gentility and politeness. At the base of the ring finger lies the Sun, which represents brilliance, firmness, honor, respect, and faith.
Whenever a tilak is applied to a person some mantra is recited. One such mantra is as follows:
Aditya Vasvo Rudra Vishvedeva Sapaitrakaa
Tilakam Le Pryanchantu Dharma Kamarth Sidhdhyet
“With the blessings of all Deities, Adityas, Rudras and your ancestors may the tilak help you in the attainment of dharma, kama, and artha.”
Vibhuti is the sacred ash used in religious worship in Hinduism. The main ingredient of Vibuthi is a special kind of wood. It is burned in a sacred fire (Homa) to form white ash. Vibhuti is placed on the forehead as it is considered sacred and holy.
They are Vibhuti, Tulsi (holy basil) leaves, Sacred Deepa (lamp), Sacred Thread, due to their sacredness. So,they are kept over an Asanam (throne) to give respect to those articles. They are not kept on the floor directly.
The ash has several symbolic meanings:
It serves as a reminder to the believer to cast away selfish and worldly desires that wrap the self in maya, meaning worldly illusion and distractions, and calls to mind the legend of how Shiva burned Kama (the god of desire) to ashes when Kama attempted to break Shiva's meditation. This incident is recorded in the contents of Shiva Purana which entails the history of Shiva and his family.
Vibhuti may refer to glorious attributes of the divine, and in this context is translated as 'all pervading', 'superhuman power', 'wealth' and so on.
Vibhuti (the holy ash) is the ash from the Homa (consecrated fire) where cow dung is used to perform the ritual. Or the deity is worshipped by pouring ash as abhisheka and is then distributed as Prassad to devotees. The ash of any burnt object is not regarded as holy ash.
Vibhuti is generally applied on the forehead, neck, chest, arms, stomach elbow, wrists etc., Some apply it on other parts of the body, like the knees, toes, scalp etc. It is considered very auspicious for the Hindus especially shaiva sect of people to smear vibhuthi all over the body.
Sri Adi Shankaracharya praises the greatness of Vibhuthi Of Lord Murugan in his "Sri Subramnaya Bhujanga Stotra" as follows ,
ApasmAra kushta kshayArsha prameha|
JvaronmAdha gulmAdhi rogA mahAntha||
PishAchAshcha sarve bhavatpatra bhoothim|
Vilokya kshanAth tArakAre dravanthe|| (Shloka no.25)
Oh Conqueror of Taraka! Severe epilepsy, leprosy, lung diseases, fevers, mental diseases of all types, they run away the moment they see Vibhuti contained in a leaf.
The word bhasma means “that by which our sins are destroyed and the Lord is remembered". ”Bha” implies Bhartsana (“to destroy”) and “sma” implies smaranam (“to remember”).
The application of Bhasma therefore signifies destruction of the evil and remembrance of the divine. Bhasma is called Vibhuti (“glory”) as it gives glory to one who applies it and raksha (which means a source of protection) as it protects the wearer from ill health and evil, by purifying him or her.
Bhasma is specially associated with Lord Shiva, who applies it all over His body. According to Hindu mythology Vibhuti or Bhasma is said to be favorite to Lord Shiva and that's why He is often called Vibhuti Bhushan (the one having ash as his ornament). Shiva devotees apply bhasma as a tripundra (the form of three lines).
Normally worn along with red tilaka(red dot). Vibhuti relates to Shiva and Red tilaka to Shakti (his consort Parvati). It is a constant reminder that Shiva and Shakti form the universe and everything is into being through, the union of Shiva and Parvati the red Kumkum mark symbolises Shiva-Shakti (the unity of energy and matter that creates the entire seen and unseen universe).
The Upanishads say that the famous Mrutyunjaya mantra should be chanted whilst applying vibhuti on the forehead, thus:
“Om Tryambakam yajaamahe
mrutyor muksheeya maamritaat !!”
“We worship the three-eyed Lord Shiva who nourishes and spreads fragrance in our lives. May He free us from the shackles of sorrow, change and death effortlessly, like the fall of a ripe cucumber from its stem !!”
In Yajna cow dung is considered very sacred and is used as fuel to burn the offerings like ghee, milk, curd, rice, holy twigs etc.,in Lord Agni who carries the offerings to the respective devata in a yajna. The residue left over which is white in colour is considered as vibhuthi and is given to the devotees as prasaad for daily use to please Lord Shiva.
Vedic scriptures say as follows "Lalaata Shoonyam Smashaana Tulyam", which means that "an empty forehead is comparable to a cemetery".
So, upper caste Hindus pay special attention that their forehead is smeared with vibhooti and it remains all the time over their body in a day. Even the Almighty Lord Shiva who sports vibhuti all the time stands as an example to his followers that however one be considered as great person in this mortal world, he needs to smear his forehead and the body with holy ash prepared from a special kind of wood as he does (Lord Shiva) in the Immortal abode of Kailasa.
So, it is considered by vedic scholars that even great saints, seers, yogis and the like should wear vibhuti all the time over forehead and other parts of the body in form of three lines to make a Tripundra. Vibhuti smeared horizontally to make three parallel lines with forefinger, middle finger and ring finger across the forehead and other parts of the body like chest, stomach, arms, elbows, wrists etc. is called as Tripundra.
It is mandatory for the devotees of Lord Shiva to have Tripundra over their body all the time. This is a quality among classifications of Shaivites. Those who do not wear vibhuti on forehead are wearing it on their chest and stomach, upper arms, next to the shoulders. People who smear Vibhuti purify themselves from sins and also remove the sins of people who look at them besmeared with Vibhuti.
The great saint Thiru Gyaana Sambandar did many wonders with Vibhuti and he expounds the greatness of Vibhuti in one of his Pathigams called "Thiruneetru Pathigam" as follows:
Mandhira maavadhu neeru / Vaanavar meeladhu neeru
Sundhara maavadhu neeru / Thudhikkap paduvadhu neeru
Thandhira maavadhu neeru / Chamayaththil ullaadhu neeru
Senthuvar vaayumai pangan / Thiruaalavaayaan Thiruneerae
("Mantra is the ash; Higher than heavenly people is the ash; Beauty is the ash; Praised is the ash; Technique is the ash; In the religion is the ash; The Lord of Thiruaalavaay (Lord Sundareshwarar, Madurai) who share the body with the red lipped Parvathi - His Holy Ash.)
Panchakshara mantra and the above Pathigam are generally recited by devotees while smearing Vibhuti.
Winning the Jains in the challenge on fire Thirugnana Sambandhar sang the above marvelous hymn Thiruppaachuram explaining the king and the world the limitless grace and glory of Lord Shiva and won the Jains in the water challenge. Thiru Gyana sambandar won the Jains and re-converted the king and his people back to Shaivism by Vibhuti reciting the above Pathigam.
Vibhuti of Vaitheeswaran Koil and Thiruchendur Murugan Temple is famous for curing many incurable diseases.
CAUTION WHILE USING VIBHUTI FROM COMMERCIAL SOURCES:
Special care needs to be taken by the Shiva devotees that Vibhuthi is without adulterants and is prepared in a traditional way from cow dung to gain the benefits of smearing Vibhuthi.
Many Vibhuthi Manufacturers these days adulterate their Vibhuthi product with Jersey and Friesian's animals dung ashes, rice bran ashes, rice husk ashes, boiler waste ashes, Thermal Power plant ashes, Bio-gas energy plants, white stone powder, paper cellulose, calcium carbonate, paints, chemicals etc., These substances make them unfit for spiritual use.
Due to lack of knowledge and awareness, the above adulterants are used by the manufacturers to gain a huge profit as they are cheaply available and are considered as waste by-products by various industries. Many people have developed skin allergies by the use of these adulterated Vibhuthi.
Source : Wikipedia and many other Sites on Hinduism
N Jambunathan Iyer,