Śrīmad Devi Bhāgavatam | Book 11 Chapter 13
THE ELEVENTH BOOK
On the greatness of Bhaṣma
1-20. Nārāyaṇa said:
O Best of Munis! What shall I describe to you the effects of using the Bhaṣma!
Only applying the ashes takes away the Mahāpātakas (great sins) as well as other minor sins of the devotee. I speak this truly, very truly unto you.
Now hear the fruits of using simply the ashes.
By using Bhaṣma, the knowledge of Brahmā comes to the Yatis; the desires of enjoyments are eradicated; the improvement is felt in all the virtuous actions of the householders and the studies of the Vedas and other Śāstras of the Brahmachārins get their increase.
The Śudras get merits in using Bhaṣmas and the sins of others are destroyed.
To besmear the body with ashes and to apply the curved Tripuṇḍras is the source of good to all beings. The Śruti says so. That this implies the performance of sacrifices by all is also asserted in the Śrutis.
To apply ashes to the whole of the body and to use Tripuṇḍra is common to all the religions; it has nothing, in principle, contradictory to others. So the Śruti says.
This Tripuṇḍra and the besmearing with ashes is the special mark of the devotees of Śiva; this again is asserted in the Śruti.
This Bhaṣma and the Tripuṇḍra are the special marks by which one is characterised; it is said so in the Vaidik Śruti.
Śiva, Viṣṇu, Brahmā, Indra, Hiraṇyagarbha, and their Avatāras, Varuṇa and the whole host of the Devas all gladly used this Tripuṇḍra and ashes. Durga, Lakṣmī, and Saraswati, etc., all the wives of the gods daily anoint their bodies with ashes and use the Tripuṇḍras.
Even the Yakṣas, Rākṣasas, Gandharvas, Sidhas, Vidyādharas, and the Munis have applied Bhaṣma and Tripuṇḍra.
This holding on of ashes is not prohibited to anybody; the Brāhmaṇas, Kṣattriyas, Vaiṣyas, Śudras, mixed castes, and the vile classes all can use this Bhaṣma and Tripuṇḍra.
O Nārada! In my opinion they only are the Sādhus (saints) who use this Tripuṇḍra and besmear their bodies with ashes.
In seducing this Lady Mukti (liberation is personified here as a lady) one is to have this gem of Śiva Lingam, the five lettered Mantra Namaḥ Śivāya as the loving principle, and holding on the ashes as the charming medicine (as in seducing any ordinary woman, gems, jewels and ornaments, love and charming medicines are necessary).
O Nārada! Know the place where the person, who has besmeared the holy with ashes and who has used Tripuṇḍra takes his food as where Śankara and Śankarī have taken their food together.
Even if anybody himself not using the Bhaṣma, follows another who has used the Bhaṣma, he will be soon honoured in the society even if he be a sinner.
What more than this, if anybody himself not using the ashes, praises another who uses the Bhaṣma, he is freed from all his sins and gets soon honour and respect in the society.
All the studies of the Vedas come to him though he has not studied the Vedas, all the fruits of hearing the Śrutis and the Purāṇas come to him, though he has not heard them, all the fruits of practised Dharma come to him though he has not practised any, if he always uses this Tripuṇḍra on his forehead and gives food to a beggar who uses Tripuṇḍra on his forehead.
Even in countries as Bihar (Kīkaṭa, etc., that have got a bad name) if there be a single man in the whole country whose body is besmeared with ashes and who uses this Tripuṇḍra, that is considered then as Kāśī (Benares city).
Anybody, of a bad or of a good character, be he a Yogi or a sinner, using Bhaṣma, is worshipped like my son, Brahmā.
O Nārada! Even if a hypocrite uses Bhaṣma, he will have a good future, which cannot be attained even by performing hundreds of sacrifices.
If anybody uses Bhaṣma daily either through good companion or through neglect, he will be entitled, like me, to the highest worship.
O Nārada! Brahmā, Viṣṇu, Mahēśvara, Parvati, Lakṣmī, Saraswatī and all the other Devas become satisfied with simply holding on this Bhaṣma.
The merits that are obtained by using only the Tripuṇḍra, cannot be obtained by gifts, sacrifices, severe austerities, and going to sacred places of pilgrimages. They cannot give one-sixteenth part of the result that accrues from holding the Tripuṇḍra.
As a King recognises a person as his own, whom he has given some object of recognition, so Bhagavān Śankara knows the man who uses Tripuṇḍras as His own person.
They that hold Tripuṇḍras with devotion can have Bholā Nātha under their control; no distinction is made here between the Brāhmaṇas and Chāṇḍālas.
Even if anybody be fallen from the state of observing all the Āchāras or rules of conduct proper to his Āśrama and if he be faulty in not attending to all his duties, he will be Mukta (freed) if he has used even once this Bhaṣma Tripuṇḍra.
Never bother yourself with the caste or the family of the holder of the Tripuṇḍras. Only see whether the sign Tripuṇḍra exists in his forehead. If so, consider him entitled to respect.
O Nārada! There is no mantra higher than this Śiva Mantra; there is no Deity higher than Śiva; there is no worship of greater merit-giving powers than the worship of Śiva; so there is no Tīrtha superior to this Bhaṣma.
This Bhaṣma is not an ordinary thing; it is the excellent energy (semen virile) of fire of the nature of Rudra. All sorts of troubles vanish, all sorts of sins are destroyed by this Bhaṣma.
The country where the lowest castes reside with their bodies besmeared with ashes, is inhabited always by Bhagavān Śankara, Bhagavatī Umā, the Pramathas (the attendants of Śiva) and by all the Tīrthas.
Bhagavān Śankara, first of all, held this Bhaṣma as an ornament to his body by purifying it first with “Sadyojāta,” etc., the five mantras.
Therefore if anybody uses the Bhaṣma Tripuṇḍra according to rules on his forehead, the writings written at the time of his birth by Vidhātā Brahmā will all be cancelled, if they had been bad. There is no doubt in this.
Here ends the Thirteenth Chapter of the Eleventh Book on the greatness of Bhaṣma in the Mahāpurāṇam Śrīmad Devī Bhāgavatam of 18,000 verses by Mahāṛṣi Veda Vyāsa.