Bhasma : The ancient Indian nanomedicine
Department of Pharmaceutical Sciences, Guru Ghasidash Vishwavidyalya (A Central University), Koni, Bilaspur – 495 009, Chhattisgarh
Ayurveda is the science made up of Veda (knowledge) and Ayush (life) i.e. knowledge of life. An Ayurvedic system adopts a holistic approach towards health care by balancing the physical, mental and spiritual functions of the human body. Rasa–Shastra (vedic-chemistry) is one of the parts of Ayurveda, which deals with herbo-mineral/metals/non-metals preparations called Bhasmas. Rasayana (immunomodulation and anti-aging quality) and yogavahi (ability to target drugs to the site) are characteristics of a properly made herbo-mineral/metals/non-metals preparation, which is also nontoxic, gently absorbable, adaptable and digestible in the body
Pal D, Sahu CK, Haldar A. Bhasma : The ancient Indian nanomedicine. J Adv Pharm Technol Res [serial online] 2014 [cited 2014 Feb 26];5:4-12. Available from: http://www.japtr.org/text.asp?2014/5/1/4/126980
Use of both bhasma (Residue after incineration – calcined preparation) as well as in pishti (powdered gem or metal) form along with appropriate herbs for treatment of critical ailments is a medicinal preparation in Ayurveda and to some extent Unani (both Indian branches of medical science using natural curative methods. The procedures for preparing these medicines are time-consuming and complicated.
Bhasma is a calcined preparation in which the gem or metal is converted into ash. Gems or metals are purified to remove impurities and treated by triturating and macerating in herbal extracts. The dough so obtained is calcinated to obtain the ashes.^
Bhasma or vibhooti is the sacred ash from the dhuni or fire of a yogi or avadhoota, or from the sacrificial fire or yajna, where special wood, ghee, herbs, grains and other auspicious and purifying items are offered in worship along with mantras. It is believed that bhasma destroys sins (paap), and that it links us with the divine. It is called ‘bhasma’ because it has the power to consume all evils. Any matter, broken up through the process of fire is reduced to its ‘bhasmic’ form, which is infinitely more refined and pure than the original matter, devoid as it is of all impurities niranjan. The grossness of matter obscures the subtle essence inherent within it, just as wood hides fire and milk conceals butter and cheese, but when it is burnt (or churned in the case of milk) only the pure essence remains. Similarly, the great heat of tapasya and the churning of the mind in meditation reveals the underlying subtle spirit or atman.
In certain circumstances Bhasma, ‘Vibhuti‘ (Sanskrit) and ‘Thiruneeru’ (Tamil) are synonymous.
Bhasmikaran is a process by which a substance which is otherwise bioincompatible is made biocompatible by certain samskaras or processes (Puranik and Dhamankar, 1964e). The objectives of samskara are :- a) elimination of harmful matters from the drug b) modification of undesirable physical properties of the drug c)conversion of some of the characteristics of the drug d) enhancement of the therapeutic action(Puranik and Dhamankar, 1964e). Various steps involved in the preparation of bhasma(or bhasmikaran) are:- 1) Shodhan -Purification, 2) Maran – Powdering, 3) Chalan- Stirring, 4) Dhavan – Washing, 5) Galan- Filtering, 6) Putan- Heating, 7) Mardan- Triturating, 8) Bhavan- Coating with herbal extract, 9) Amrutikaran – Detoxification and 10) Sandharan- Preservation (Puranik and Dhamankar, 1964e). Selection of these steps depends on the specific metal. Sometimes there is an overlapping of the steps e.g. maran is achieved by puttan. Since the present thesis work is on bhasma, Bhasmikaran process is elaborated in details in the following paragraphs.
Steps of bhasmikaran
1. Shodhan: The principle objective of shodhan is to remove unwanted part from the raw material and separate out impurities( Vaiday and Dole 1996b). Metals obtained from ores may contain several impurities, which are removed by subjecting them to Shodhan process. In context of bhasma, shodhan means purifying and making the product suitable for the next step i.e. Maran. Ayurveda classifies shodhan into a) General process and b) Specific process.
General process for shodhan:
- “The sheets of metals are heated till red hot and are successively dipped into liquids like oil, buttermilk, cow’s urine etc. The procedure is repeated seven times”.
b. Specific process for shodhan For some metals a specific process is described for shodhan e.g. for purification of Jasad, the molten mass is poured in cow’s milk 21 times (Shastri K,1979b).
2. Maran : Maran literally means killing. As the name suggests in maran process, a change is brought about in the chemical form or state of the metal. This makes it to lose its metallic characteristics and physical nature. In short, after maran, metal can be converted into powder or other form suitable for administration. To convert various metals into a form appropriate for human consumption, several techniques have been employed which ultimately gave birth to concept: “Bhasma prepared by using Rasa i.e. mercury is the best, whereas the one prepared using herbs are of better quality and those prepared using Gandhak (sulfur) are of inferior quality. Thus there are 3 methods given for maran. It is carried out by heating the metal in presence of 1) mercury 2) plants and 3 ) sulfur.
When various maran procedures for different metals were reviewed, it was found that mercury is mainly used. The unique property of mercury to amalgamate with many metals must have been the reason behind its maximum use in the process of Bhasmikaran. Ancient practitioners might have found it as the most suitable chemical and therefore probably have mentioned that bhasmas using mercury are superior. Plants used in maran process may be serving as catalyst in the process or the minerals in the plants may be forming complexes with the metals. However, no such explanation can be obtained for the use of sulfur.
3. Chalan: Process of stirring during heating the metal is chalan. Stirring is carried out either with iron rod or stick made from a specific plant. As we know today, iron serves as catalyst in many chemical reactions. The phytoconstituents of plant stick may be enhancing the therapeutic effect. For example, stick of Neem is used for chalan process of Jasad bhasma, which is used topically for ophthalmic diseases. We can interpret the significance of this process now. Neem is an antiseptic (Puranik and Dhamankar, 1964h). Zinc is antiseptic, astringent and has ulcer healing property (Block et al., 1982b). These effects of both the constituents may impart the final product better therapeutic activity.
4. Dhavan: In this process, several water washes are given to the product obtained in the previous stage. Perhaps this is to remove the excess amounts of agents used in shodhan or maran stage. Such agents may adversely affect the quality of final product. Hence intermediates are washed with water, thereby water soluble constituents are removed (Puranik and Dhamankar, 1964h).
5. Galan: The product is then sifted either through a fine cloth or through sieves of suitable mesh so as to separate residual material larger in size (Puranik and Dhamankar, 1964h).
6. Puttan: The term puttan means ignition. The general term used for heating in the process of Bhasmikaran is Puta. A special earthen pot, Sharav is generally used for the process. It has two parts, each having a shape of soccer. Sharav is used for direct heating of the material. Its shallowness is useful in heating the material faster and uniformly. After keeping the material on the shallow surface, other part is used as a lid, by placing it in an inverted position. This Puttan process can be looked upon as the key step in manufacturing of bhasma. The classification of putta is primarily done on the basic nature of the process and is as under :- (Puranik and Dhamankar, 1964f) 1)Chandraputta 2) Dhanyarashiputta 3) Suryaputta 4)Bhugarbhaputta 5) Agniptuta.
Modern medical science finds that mercury is inherently toxic, and that its toxicity is not due to the presence of impurities. While mercury does have anti-microbial properties, and formerly waswidely used in Western medicine, its toxicity does not warrant the risk of using it as a health product in most circumstances. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have also reported a number of cases of lead and mercury poisoning associated with rasa shastra containing Ayurvedic medicines.
Literal and symbolic meaning of bhasma
The Sanskrit word bhasma literally means ‘disintegration’. Bha implies bhartsanam (to destroy), while sma implies smaranam (to remember). Bhasma is thus a reminder to us of the ephemeral nature of life. Also, if we wish to unite with God (or the ‘supreme self’) and remember him constantly, our ego or ‘little self’ has first to be disintegrated or burnt to ashes. Bhasma is a symbol of this process. It is also called raksha because it protects one from all fears. When applied to the forehead before sleep, it is said to keep away spirits or ghosts, whether external or those which manifest from the depths of the mind in the form of nightmares.
Bhasma symbolises the burning of our false identification with the mortal body, and freedom from the limitations of the painfully illusive cycle of birth and death. It also reminds us of the perishable quality of the body, which will one day be reduced to mere ashes. As it says in the Bible, “Ashes to ashes; soul to soul” – the body will return to dust but the soul will continue its journey until it unites with God. All the saints and sages beseech us to remember the ephemeral nature of our earthly existence. In the Rubayyat of Omar Khyyam the poet tells us to, “ . . . make the most of what we yet may spend, before we too into the dust descend, dust into dust, and under dust to lie.” Here he calls for us to seek the eternal, not the temporal. Ash or dust, on the other hand, can be said to represent permanency (or the soul itself), because the ash, just like imperishable truth, does not itself decay. The realised soul is said to rise from the ashes (of the individual self) as the mythical phoenix. The Sufis say, “To reach the goal we have to be burned with the fire of love, so that nothing remains but ashes, and from the ashes will resurrect the new being. Only then can there be real creation!”
The power of bhasma
Bhasma is also called ‘vibhooti’, because it gives spiritual power. The Sanskrit word, vibhooti means ‘glory’, as it gives glory to one who applies it, protection (raksha) from ill health and negative forces, and attracts the higher forces of nature. Another meaning of vibhooti is ‘healing power’, and it is widely used as a medicinal treatment in both Ayurveda and Chinese and Tibetan medicine, which are all ancient and profound systems for the rejuvenation of life. Gold, silver, copper, pearls, mica and other precious stones and metals have curative properties which can quite safely and most effectively be taken into the body after being reduced to ash using great heat.
In Indian villages you will find tantric healers called ojhas who say certain mantras over the ash, which the sick person then applies to the body or eats. These healers can take some earth in their hands, hold it up to the sun, repeat some mantras, and the earth turns into the most beautifully scented ash for curative purposes. Vibhooti is also the name given to siddhis (perfections or psychic powers), as it acts as a vehicle for them. Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras devotes an entire chapter to yogic siddhis. Vibhooti also means ‘dominion’, and is the subtle power lying behind creation, from which all things manifest. From vibhooti or bhasma, anything can be created by a tantric and aghora, because the potential of creation lies within it, and he has penetrated the law and controlled the elements.
Maha Yogi Shiva, father of tantra, is usually depicted naked in sadhana, his whole body covered in bhasma. The first verse of the Shiva Panchakshara Stotram gives the following description: Naagendrahaaraaya trilochanaaya, bhasmaangaraagaaya maheshwaraaya. Nityaaya shuddhaaya digambaraaya – ‘Salutations to the mighty three-eyed Shiva, eternal and pure, wearing the king of snakes as his garland, naked and besmeared with sacred ash.’ Some other names given to Lord Shiva are Bhasmashayaaya (abode of bhasma) and Bhasmabhootaaya (covered with bhasma). Covering the body with ash is considered to be an auspicious act for discovering one’s Shiva nature. Shiva is said to be responsible for mahapralaya, the dissolution of the universe at the end of each kalpa. At this time he dances his tandava nritya, the dance of destruction.
The great tantric siddha Avadhoota Dattatreya was referred to as Bhasma Nishta – one who loves bhasma. Bhasma is generally applied on the forehead, while many sadhus also apply it on the arms, chest and stomach. Some ascetics, especially nagas (naked ascetics) rub it all over the body. While applying it, many devotees also consume a pinch. Shaivites use only bhasma from cremated bodies, which is believed to be very powerful. Bhasma has the power of fire. Agni, the inner fire, scorches and reduces all impurities in the body. It is said that one who smears ash on the body is purified as if bathed in fire. This is known as ‘the bath of fire’. After smearing the body with ash, one should reflect on and realise the highest truth.
Sannyasins wear three lines of bhasma on the forehead. These three lines (tripundra), with a red dot of kumkum underneath, between the eyebrows, symbolise Shiva-Shakti (the unity of energy and matter that creates the entire seen and unseen universe). The lower line represents tamoguna (the state of inertia and darkness), the middle line represents rajas (activity and dynamism) and the top line represents sattwa (balance and illumination). The red dot or tika represents the power of shakti through sadhana, which can take the sadhaka beyond the three gunas or qualities to the state of turiya, the fourth dimension of existence. This is the state of trigunatita – beyond the three gunas.
Swami Niranjanananda says, “The three stripes represent the tradition of the paramahamsas. Jignasus are one stripe sannyasins, representing the drive and motivation to overcome the tamasic tendency. Karma sannyasins are given two stripes, representing their drive to overcome the rajasic along with the tamasic tendencies. Poorna sannyasins are given three stripes, which represent their motivation to transcend the three gunas and attain inner sublimation. The red dot represents the spiritual power or energy that gives us the strength to control the three gunas. It is the awakening of that shakti which is the real aim of sannyasa.”
Bhasma and tattwa shuddhi
Consciousness manifests as energy, which then condenses into matter. In the tantric practice of tattwa shuddhi, in order to experience consciousness free from matter, we reverse the process of evolution back through more and more subtle dimensions to its original cause. Bhasma is an integral part of tattwa shuddhi sadhana, as a symbol of purification on the physical, subtle and causal realms of consciousness. The process of disintegration undergone in tattwa shuddhi is the breaking down of conscious awareness. Just as we reduce matter to its bhasmic form, the ‘fire’ of this practice leads us to the realisation of our essential essence. The stages of pratyahara (sense withdrawal) and dharana (concentration) take us through the more subtle states of consciousness, culminating in samadhi, the ultimate experience or ‘Shiva consciousness’. The journey is from gross matter to pure consciousness.
At the end of the practice of tattwa shuddhi, bhasma is applied to the forehead with the repetition of mantras. It is taken on the middle and ring fingers and wiped slowly on the forehead from left to right, repeating the mantra Om Hraum Namah Shivaya. Sannyasins use the index, middle and ring fingers, and repeat the mantra Om Hamsa. The bhasma used in tattwa shuddhi is prepared from gobar or cow dung. The word gobar literally means ‘gift from the cow’; it is also known as go-maya. The cow is a pure and sacred animal, full of auspicious qualities. It is even said to contain all the devas and devatas within it. Not only does gobar have mystical qualities, but it also contains useful hormones with germicidal properties. The word go also means ‘senses’. So bhasma is also symbolic of the disintegration of the senses which keep us trapped and bound in the gross material world. The transformation of gobar to bhasma is parallel to the transformation from the material world to cosmic consciousness that we find in tattwa shuddhi.
During the Sat Chandi Mahayajna, and on other auspicious occasions at Rikhia Dham, devotees receive the precious prasadam of panchagni bhasma. This is much prized by sadhakas, because as it has the power of Swami Satyananda’s sadhana behind it, it quickly helps to raise the consciousness at the time of mantra japa and other sadhana when applied to the forehead. Just keeping it in the pooja room is auspicious. This bhasma given is from the Maha Kaal Chita Dhuni, where the previously fierce fires of Sri Swamiji’s panchagni tapasya now lie smouldering quietly under ashes in their shanta roopa or peaceful form. Dhuni is the yogi’s fire, which is the witness or sakshi to his sadhana. It is also where he cooks, takes warmth, and chants the name of God. (Maha means ‘great’, kaal is ‘time’ and chita is ‘consciousness’).
This akhanda dhuni, eternal fire, has been burning in Sri Swamiji’s pooja area ever since he first came to Rikhia in 1989 and devotees come daily for its darshan. It was the centre and support of his life during his austerity, and is the very heart of the Rikhia Ashram (next to Sri Swamiji himself). Although Sri Swamiji no longer goes to this area, the fire is still tended daily. The ashes are moved to the side and the burning embers taken out. Balls of dried cow dung mixed with purifying herbs (vanaspati) are then placed inside along with fresh wood. The embers are then replaced, and the whole area is covered over once more with the ashes. From time to time the ash is removed, carefully sieved through fine cloth, and given as prasadam (that which has been blessed by a divine power.
For the panchagni sadhana itself, Sri Swamiji prepared his own bhasma to protect his body from the great heat, according to the formula prescribed in the Devi Bhagavat Purana. This special bhasma is called mahabhasma and is made from pure cow dung cakes, reeds and ghee. It is treated eleven times with many herbs, honey and other ingredients, being re-burnt each time. Bhasma is smeared on the body only during the first few days of the panchagni sadhana, and is applied in the morning. Sri Swamiji’s dog-cum-companion Bholenath, in whom he manifested the spirit of Bhairava, also took part in the tapasya. “Alsatian dogs can’t bear the heat,” commented Sri Swamiji. “I would put bhasma on him in the morning and he would sit with me.”
Tantric siddhas like Maha Yogi Shiva, Avadhoota Dattatreya and Sri Swamiji are extremely rare beings, and a gift to us beyond our understanding. They belong to a great tradition and leave behind for us a great spiritual legacy. The parampara, the line of avadhootas (those who have become immortal), continues, just as the Mahakaal Chita Dhuni continues to smoulder, unseen beneath the symbol of their glory, their bhasma – the sacred ash.
Strengthens body, ligaments & Saptadhatu, effective in raktapitta, vat diseases and joint pain. Relieves problems related to chronic hyperacidity like stomache, headache etc.
The Indian ayurved philosophy is founded on three basic classifications of human body known as doshasand its well-being:
Vat – related to the central nervous system and gastric tract,
Pitta –digestion and metabolism, governs movement of heat in the body and
Kapha – concerned with structure, stability and fluid balance in the body.
Indian herbal medicines are designed for the specific maintenance of these respective doshas or the aspects of the human body.
Abhrak Bhasma or Sahastraputi is an ancient Indian ayurvedic medicine which is trusted worldwide for healing Vat related issues of the human body. It is also found extremely effective for treating heart related issues.
Abhrak is known to have a high penetrative property which spreads in the body at a faster rate and impacts micro tissues quickly.That is why this herbal medicine is supremely effective in cell regeneration. When used as an alterative, it strengthens ligaments. It is known for rapidly increasing the production of T-cell phagocytes, antibacterial components, which are responsible for a strong immune system.
Kesar Herbals has been in the ayurvedic medicine manufacturing business for about 25 years. This company is one of the foremost and trusted ayurvedic medicine suppliers in India.The concept was let entire mankind benefit from the ancient herbal wealth of India.
Purified Mica, Magnesium, Iron, Potassium, Calcium and Aluminium.
Major Benefits of Abhrak Bhasma
- It finds its application in curing diseases like Hepatitis, Tuberculosis, Asthma and Plague.
- Abhrak Bhasma is also recommended for breathlessness due to chronic Bronchitis, Asthma, and even Chest Congestion. When taken in the initial stage of TB, it can completely cure it.
- It is beneficial to all the seven dhatus (energy elements) in the body.
- It rejuvenates the human mind.
- It improves blood circulation, improves the general tone of tissues and conductivity.
- It cures erectile dysfunction and impotency in men.
- Abhrak is hematinic, which means increases the count of red blood cells. This also increases oxygen carrying ability of the cells.
- It helps in curing jaundice and anemia.
- It restores damaged tissues and maintains their health.
- It is highly effective in cases of bone marrow depletion and hepatic dysfunction.
- It is effective in curing respiratory tract infections.
- It is beneficial for curing Bells Palsy and dysentery.
- It is beneficial in curing anemia, pernicious and azoospermia.
- Also, helps in controlling many types of veneral diseases like EBV, HIV, Lupus bronchitis and pneumonia.
- It cures breast cancer.
- It is also known to cure chronic hyperacidity like stomach-ache and vomiting with blood.
Boosts immunity, Acts as a nervine tonic , Indicated in old age debility, urinal disorders, anemia, Shwas, Helps to improve complexion, Kas & chronic fever etc.
Swarna Bhasma is an ancient Indian ayurvedic medicine that enjoys wide popularity and application.Gold has been accepted as most useful ingredient in Indian ayurvedic medicine system. SwarnaBhasma is used for the effective treatment of Gonorrhoea and Syphilis.
Fortified with potent ayurvedic herbs it is effective for maintaining a healthy life-style and relieves stress.Bhasma denotes the metal based medicine prepared from metals after scientific process to harness the hidden richness of raw metals for therapeutic effects. Swarna Bhasmaor Gold Ash is a therapeutic form of gold metal of nano-sized particles that is one of the most treasured ayurvedic medicines in the world.
It has multi-purpose ayurvedic medicine: it can be used as an antacid, haematinic, and alterative. It is highly effective as a cardiac tonic, maintaining the vitality of the human heart. It is a general vitality booster.
Kesar Herbals firmly believes in the power of nature in healing various ailments. Ayurvedic medicines from India are a gift from nature itself, without any side-effects, and hence they are trusted world-wide.Through scientific processes, nature’s best healing powers from herbs are obtained and used for medicinal purposes, helping million people worldwide. Kesar Herbals is involved in consulting, manufacturing and supplying FDA approved ayurvedic medicines for over three decades.
Major Benefits of Swarna Bhasma
- Swarna Bhasma improves resistance power in human body.
- It is responsible for boosting immunity and strengthening the human body.
- It can be used on a regular basis as an alterative and acts as a nerve tonic.
- Swarna Bhasma is excellent in treating Anemia, and chronic fever.
- Due to its gold base, it is helpful in improving complexion.
- Swarna Bhasma eradicates all chronic disorders, when used consistently.
- It is indicated in chronic fever, cough, Asthma, urinary disorders, sleeplessness and weak digestion.
- It strengthens weak muscles, debilities associated with old-age.
- It is excellent for treating Tuberculosis.
- It increases sexual power.
- Swarna Bhasma slows down the process of degeneration of tissues thus helps to prevent premature ageing.
- It helps prevent symptoms of ageing like wrinkles, dullness of skin, dark circles around the eyes, debility, fatigue, etc.
- Swarna Bhasma strengthens tissues and ligaments of the human body.
- It is highly effective in maintaining vigor, vitality and stamina.
effective against immunity disorders, Bone marrow depression and arthritis, increases stamina, vitality and strength
Ayurvedic medicinal science has been at the forefront of solving most diseases and disorders of the human body because of the purity of its ingredients- this forms the core of the ancient Indian healing system. Ayurvedic medicines and herbal products are effective because of the composition or the formulation of herbs. One such effective ayurvedic medicine is the Hirak Bhasma, which contains diamond ash.
According to Ayurveda, diamond ash is very useful in cancers, immunity disorders, Crippling Rheumatoid arthritis, and even bone marrow depression. Hirak Bhasma is known for toning heart muscles and avoiding cardiovascular syndromes and diseases. It is highly effective as a tonic and alterative, which means, it can be used regularly to strengthen immunity, aid stamina and overall vitality or the functionality of the human body.
Hirak Bhasma is made with diamond- the most precious as well as the hardest gemstone known to mankind. In its healing formulation, diamond is known since ages to make the human body stronger. It is also known for sharpening the human mind by strengthening memory power.
The effectiveness of ayurvedic medicines depends on the company. So be careful in selecting the brand for these medicines and products. Kesar Herbals has been in the ayurvedic consulting space and even manufacturing and supplying of ayurvedic medicines and herbal products for over 25 years. The trust and good will it represents in the field of Ayurveda is affirmed by its customers the world over. It is important to ascertain the brand equity of the company before purchasing these medicines.
Hirak Bhasma (diamond ash), Kumari Rasa (Aloe Vera Juice), Gulab Jala (Rose Water), Sunthi Kwath (Dry Ginger Dicoction)
- Hirak Bhasma is known the world over to make the human body stronger and the mind sharper.
- It is also recommended for the well-being of the human heart.
- It helps in toning the muscles of the heart.
- Its regular consumption as a tonic or an alterative, under medical prescription or supervision is known for toning the heart muscles.
- Hirak Bhasma also increases stamina, vitality and strength.
- It is highly effective against immunity disorders.
- It is known for curing Crippling Rheumatoid
- It is effective against Bone marrow depression and arthritis.
- Hirak Bhasma is also known to cure one of the most dangerous and lethal diseases known to mankind: cancer. When used in the initial stages, under medical supervision, it can cure cancerous cells.
- Ayurvedic formulary of India , 1978a
- Major Herbs of Ayurveda, Elizabeth M. Williamson. ISBN 0-443-07203-5
- CDC Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report: Lead Poisoning Associated with Ayurvedic Medications — Five States, 2000–2003