Why is Shiva always ash smeared?

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Shiva The Adiyogi / Storytelling


Sadhguru tells the story of a yogi, who did severe austerities, and lived a very pious life. He first went to only fruit diet, and then only leaf and root diet. Sadhguru tells, about how when Shiva saw this yogi falling prey to vanity, he took on the form of a yogi and appeared in front of him...


Duration: 5 min


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Why is Shiva always ash smeared?

The following is an unedited transcript of Sadhguru's video. For better readability, breaks and highlights have been added by the editors.

There was a certain yogi, who practiced very severe austerities. From normal food, after a while he shifted to just fruit diet, and then, gave up the fruits and just went on leaf and root diet, and lived a very pious life.

On a certain day, when he was cutting grass in the forest to make a thatch, or to make a roof for his little hut in which he lived, accidentally he chopped off his own finger. When he chopped off his finger, to his amazement he saw instead of blood coming out of his severed finger, the sap of a plant or a flower was coming out of his finger. Then he felt very satisfied that his austerities, his sadhana has made him so pure that instead of bleeding, he is oozing the sap of a plant. It brought him much pride, and this vanity took over and he started thinking “I am the purest of the yogis,” because now he’s turned into a vegetable.

Shiva noticed this yogi of great accomplishment falling prey to such simple vanity. So Shiva took on the form of a yogi and came this way, and he saw a great smile of satisfaction on the yogi’s face and enquired, “What is this big smile about? What are you so self-satisfied about?” The yogi said, “Don’t you know? The news has spread everywhere already that I am the purest yogi in the world, because look at my finger, I don’t bleed anymore. The sap of a plant or a flower or a fruits coming out of me. I have become very pure. Don’t you know?”

Then Shiva said, “Animals eat leaves and roots and make blood and flesh out of it, all of it when it is burnt turns into ashes. So there is nothing to be very proud of oozing plant sap. That which was a plant becomes an animal. That which is a man, or an animal, or a plant ultimately becomes ash. Look at me,” he said and he chopped off his own finger, and ash came out of him, his body, and every pore in his body started oozing this ash, displaying that Shiva, a yogi, a true yogi constantly lives death as he lives life.

Only that one who is constantly aware of the mortal nature of his existence, who constantly knows that the flesh and blood that he carries is the ashes of the planet, only that one is truly pure. It is because of this, that Shiva is always depicted as ash smeared. He did not smear ashes upon himself, he oozed ash out of every pore of his body, displaying the ultimate dispassion that he is.

The fundamental tool is this, that there is a certain dispassion. “Passion for everybody, dispassion for myself”, if this one thing arises in your life, you will see better, everything. If you see everything better, if you see the floor that you’re walking on better, will you be more balanced? If you are more balanced, if you are really balanced, can you do many more things, can you dance a little more?

That’s about it. So, everything that you do, if it’s passionate, within you the flower of dispassion will flower because you will see dispassion is the greatest flower.

Shiva The Adiyogi

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