Why does Swami give Vibhuti to His devotees
Summer Showers 1974
Topic - Excerpt from Divine Discourse
Words Relating To God Alone Constitute True Poetry
There is another word coming here and that is sasivarnam and this stands for the colour of vibhuthi. Traditionally vibhuthi symbolises divinity. This fact is obvious from the various ways in which Easwara is described. One of the descriptions of Easwara is that his entire body is smeared with vibhuthi. The colour of that vibhuthi is greyish white (sasivarnam). This simply means that amongst the several strengths which Easwara possesses is the strength of maya.
There is yet another significant meaning for this. What remains of the human body when it is burnt away is a small quantity of ash. The human body consisting of different organs––the senses of action and the senses of perception, undertaking ever-so-many activities while it is alive, is burnt away after death like a piece of firewood and is reduced to a small quantity of ash. You can purify or transform any matter with agni or fire and all matter is reduced to ash ultimately. The Vibhuthi is a sacred substance and its colour or form does not change further. If you burn iron, it reduces to ash; if you burn wood, it reduces to ash; if you burn the human body, it reduces to ash; if you burn anything, it reduces to ash. Thus, ash is the ultimate substance which does not change its form. When it is burnt, it still remains as ash. The one thing that remains permanent and which does not change is the ash.
This is the lesson one has to learn and constantly remember. It is in this context that several pundits take this ash in the name of the five different elements and bear it in the centre of their eyebrows. The meaning of this is that all the elements in the world are identical with ash. What remains ultimately as an unchanging substance is the ash and this is the reason why Easwara himself wears ash all over His body.
Ash is the only substance which is symbolic and equivalent to God and that is the reason why I create and give vibhuthi to the devotees who come to me. This is to convey to them that ash is permanent and even liked by Easwara. Since the aspect of Vasuvu, Aditya and Saraswathi are all present in this ash, it is neither pure white nor dark but is a combination of both these colours and is described as Sasivarnam.