Ashes on the Forehead

While having breakfast in my hotel lobby, a lady approached me and asked if she could join me. I nodded with approval to which she placed her breakfast plate on the table and with a gentle smile greeted me. I could make it from her facial expressions that she had a question in her mind.

After a bit of chit-chatting, she asked me with utmost curiosity, “I see you have applied something on the forehead. Could you tell me more about that ?”. I was not sure what she was talking about but then I suddenly remembered that she is talking about the ashes (bhasma) on my forehead. I usually apply some ashes on my forehead in the morning. Today, I forgot to wipe it since I was in a hurry to leave for work.

I replied to her about the question she asked. I mentioned, ” In Hinduism or Sanatana Dharma, ashes or bhasma is applied on the forehead to remind oneself that this body is transient. This body will be gone one day leaving behind nothing. We have been holding onto so many things as if we are going to live forever. Hence bhasma reminds you that the body which is felt so precious is impermanent.”

She was in complete awe and surprise as I was explaining to her. She mentioned that she had seen ashes on a lot of people’s head, but never knew the essence of it.  I always get wonder-stuck by the depth of knowledge hidden behind such things mentioned in the Vedas or other scriptures.