Bhagwan Shiv as the Bhasmadhaari

The compassionate Bhagwan Shiv is most worshipped in his yogic form. As a true yogic form, he is the symbol of detachment over material desires, yet attached to pure devotion. As the Adi guru, he adorns everything which symbolises control over the senses, instead of resplendent ornament and silk robes, which make him a perfect idol of the stable mind. One such adornment is the Bhasma or the divine ash which he smears all over his body signifying the detachment over pride and beauty, and giving more importance to the being within oneself.


There once lived a Brahmin who came down from the lineage of Rishi Bhrigu. He lived a life of severe asterism and lived only by consuming leaves and hence came to be known as Rishi Parnad. (Parn meaning leaf). Once, Rishi Parnad cut his finger while chopping grass in his Ashram. But instead of blood oozing out from the wound, he noticed a sapling of a tree coming out from his wound. That was because he had stopped eating food, and lived on green leaves, and hence there sprung a sapling from his finger.

Looking at this wonder, Rishi Parnad began to feel proud of his asterism. Pride entered his senses and began to think that this wonder happened because he was a pious and a sacred person. He began shouting in joy to the whole world thinking it to be his achievement. His shouts of pride and joy reached Bhagwan Shiv. Noticing his pride, Bhagwan Shiv decided to make him understand the true meaning of austersim and detachment as a Rishi. He came in guise of an old man to Rishi Parnad and asked him the reason for his happiness.

The Rishi replied that he was the most pious person in the world, as a sapling had emerged from his wound, instead of blood and he had become similar to the trees and plants. The old man smiles and asks as to what is so great in it. He states that not only the plants and saplings, but huge trees also when burnt, becomes ashes and those ashes are what remain at the end. Hence, there is nothing to feel great about this incident. Saying this, Bhagwan Shiv cut his middle finger and ashes emerged out of his hand. He then applies the ash all over his body and signifies that all life turns into ashes and gets merged in the Almighty.

Rishi Parnad was shocked and surprised to see this and realised that the old man was none other than Bhagwan Shiv. He asked for forgiveness for his ignorance and sought refuge in Bhagwan Shiv after understanding that true asterism was being simple, rather than boasting about one’s powers. Signifying the same aspect, Bhagwan Shiv adorns ash on his body symbolising the feature that pride and arrogance have no value except to be reduced to ashes.

The Bhasma not only signifies the perishing of materialistic desires, but also the enhancement of the spiritual being and also the health of the body. By adorning the Bhasma which gives coolness to body and mind, one gets more control on the mental state of being. It is for the very reason that it is adorned as a Tilak on the forehead. The offering of this sacred ash is very dear to Bhagwan Shiv and he is worshipped with this Bhasma which is later adorned by the devotees. Given as the sacred Vibhuti to us, Bhagwan Shiv signifies that that spiritual state is more beautiful than the physical state of any living being.