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Why Shiva smears Ash on body


Shiva smears ash on bodyOnce Parvati asked Lord Shiva as to why His divine body is smeared with ashes. What is the reason behind it?
Lord Shiva smiled gracefully and narrated a story;

A Brahmin descending from Sage Bhrigu once performed an austere meditation. While doing so, he was not affected by seasonal changes such as scorching summers or stiffening winter nor was he disturbed by monsoons. All he was focused on was his inner strengths to be in meditation. When he felt hungry, he requested animals such deer, lion, bears and jackals to fetch him fruits. These animals unafraid of the Brahma served him relentlessly.

The time passed by. He gave up feeding on fruits and only ate leaves which were called parna. Therefore, he was called Parnada.

Years passed by. One day, Parnada was busy cutting some grass with a scythe. Suddenly, he got his middle finger sliced off. However, it didn't scare him instead he was amazed to find that no blood oozed out from the wounded portion. But a sap-like liquid, which plants unleash, came out. He wondered for a while and realized it was due to his long subsistence on the leaves he ate during the later years of his meditation. Parnada felt proud of his achievement and began to jump with delight. Having been observing Parnada, Lord Shiva decided to teach him a lesson.

He disguised Himself as a Brahman and arrived before Parnada.

"Why are you so happy?" asked Shiva.

"Can't you see?" replied Parnada. "My tapasya has been so successful that my blood has become like the sap of plants."
"This sort of vanity or self-important attitude destroys the fruits of all penances," said Shiva. "What have you got to be so proud about?" Your blood has only turned into the sap of plants. What happens when you burn plants? They become ashes. I Myself have performed so much penance that My blood has becomes ashes."

Shiva sliced off his middle finger and ashes came out of it. Parnada was impressed. He realized that there was nothing that he could be proud about; here was a far greater hermit than he. He asked Shiva who he was. Shiva then displayed his true divine form to Parnada.

Ever since that day, there have always been ashes on Shiva's body.



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