Sri Sri Ravi Shankar:
Astrology is called the eye of knowledge but you cannot rely on today’s astrologers. Don’t run after astrology. It is a field of knowledge, shastra (traditional science) and is true, yet the everyday forecasts are not taken seriously by anyone. Sadhana is effective and powerful. Shivji is Mahakaal (One who destroys time). Whatever is the kaal (time) just say Om Namah Shivaya, as it contains all the five elements and there is nothing outside of it. This is a very powerful mantra.
When you chant, do not imagine Shiva with bhasma
(ash) all over his body and a trident in his hand, that is just the imagination of a painter. Shiva is the Chaitanaya Tattva
(consciousness), our soul, present all over, it is an energy field.
Do you know why we apply bhasma on the forehead? There are three kinds of mites on our forehead, unique to every individual like the thumb imprint. To keep the mites in their area, we put three lines on the forehead.
An experiment in Russia revealed that a place which was covered with gobar
(cow dung) or had Agnihotra bhasm
(ash from the Vedic ritual of Agnihotra), was less affected by the radiation from the Chernobly disaster.
In ancient times, sandalwood paste or ash was applied on the forehead to prevent the effect of radiation since the head is a sensitive place. The ash would also keep the mind cool.
Also, putting ash on the skin was a reminder that the skin that we see today will turn into ashes tomorrow. With this knowledge one cannot do any wrong.
The end of life is in ashes - if this is remembered then no mistakes will be made. Others are also going to turn to ashes - this realization can cleanse the system of all the negative emotions. Dispassion arises and anger, jealousy etc dissolve.
The reason for the tradition was wonderful. Today people know nothing behind bhasma
, but apply it out of pride. To understand the underlying meaning is important.