Chapter XI

On the description of the greatness of the three kinds of Bhaṣmas

Nārada asked:

O Bhagavān! How is the above Bhaṣma of three kinds? I am eager to hear this. Kindly describe this to me.

Nārāyaṇa said:

O Nārada! I am now talking of the three kinds of ashes; hearing this even destroys one's sins and brings in good fame.

When a cow evacuates her dung, just as the cow dung leaves her and is far from reaching the ground, one should catch it with one's hand and this cow-dung burnt with “Sadyojāta,” i.e., Brahmā Mantra, becomes ashes which are called “Śāntika Bhaṣma,” i.e., ashes producing peace.

Before the cow dung is about to reach the ground, the devotee should take it with his hand and uttering the six lettered Mantra, he is to burn the cow dung. The ashes from this are called Pauṣṭik Bhaṣma, i.e., ashes leading to nourishment.

If the cow dung be burned with the Mantra “Haum,” the ashes of this are called “Kāmada Bhaṣma,” i.e., ashes leading to the granting of desires.

O Nārada! On the full moon day, new moon day or on the eighth lunar day, a man is to get up from his bed early in the morning and be pure and go the cow enclosure.

He is to salute the cows and take the cow dung, uttering the Mantra Haum.

If he be a Brāhmin, he is to collect the white cow dung; if he be a Kṣattriya, he would take the red cow dung; a Vaiśya, yellow cow dung and if he be a Śūdra, he would take the black cow dung.

Then by the mantra “Namaḥ” he is to form that into a ball and cover it with the husk of rice or some other grain and dry it in a sacred place, repeating the mantra “Haum.”

Bring fire from a forest or from the house of a Veda-knowing Brāhmin and reduce the cow dung to ashes by this mantra, uttering the mantra Haum.

Next take out the ashes carefully from the fire place (Agni Kuṇḍa) and place it in a new jar or pot, again remembering the mantra “Haum”.

Mix with the ashes the Ketakī dust, the Pāṭala flower dust, the root of the fragrant grass called khas khas, saffron and other sweet scented things with the mantra “Sadyojātam prapadyāmi,” etc.

First perform the water bath, then the bath of the ashes. In case one cannot have the water bath, one is to have the ash bath.

Washing the hands, feet and head with the mantra “Īśānaḥ Sarvavidyānām,” etc., and uttering “Tatpuruṣa” mantra one is to besmear one's face with ashes and by the “Aghora” mantra apply ashes on one's chest; with the mantra Vāmadēva.

He is to use ashes on his navel; and with the mantra “Sadyojāta,” etc., all over his body; he is to quit his former cloth and put on another fresh cloth.

Wash your hands and feet and sip (do Āchaman). It will serve the purpose if one simply uses Tripuṇḍrak and if one does not besmear the whole body with ashes.

Before the midday one is to use Bhaṣma with water; but after the midday with dry ashes one is to draw the Tripuṇḍra lines of ashes with the forefinger, middle finger and ring finger.

The head, forehead, ears, neck, heart, and the arms are the places where the Tripuṇḍras are used.

On the head the ashes are applied with five fingers and with the mantra “Haum”; on the forehead, the Tripuṇḍra is applied with mantra Svāhā by the forefinger, middle finger and ring finger;

on the right ear, it is applied with “Sadyojāta” mantra; on the left ear, with “Vāmadēva” Mantra; on the neck with Aghora mantra by the middle finger;

on the chest with “Namaḥ” mantra by the forefinger middle finger and ring finger; on the right arm with vaṣa mantra by the three fingers; on the left arm with “Ham” mantra by the three fingers; and on the navel, the ashes are to be applied with the mantra Īśānaḥ sarva devānām by the middle finger.

The first line in every Tripuṇḍra is Brahmā; the second line is Viṣṇu; and the third, the topmost line is Mahā Deva. The line of ashes that is marked by one finger is Īśvara.

The head is the place of Brahmā; the forehead is the site of Īśvara; the two ears are the seats of the two Aśvīns and the neck is where Gaṇeśa resides.

The Kṣattriyas, Vaiṣyas, and Śudras are to use Tripuṇḍras without any mantra; they are also not to use the ashes on the whole of the body. The lowest classes (e.g. the chāṇḍālas, etc.,) and the uninitiated persons are to use the Tripuṇḍras without any mantra.

Here ends the Eleventh Chapter of the Eleventh Book on the description of the greatness of the three kinds of Bhaṣmas in the Mahāpurāṇam Śrīmad Devī Bhāgavatam of 18,000 verses by Mahāṛṣi Veda Vyāsa.