Traditionally, vibhuti is taken between your thumb and your ring finger – you don’t have to pick up a lot of it, just a little bit – and applied between the eyebrows, known as the agna chakra, at the pit of the throat known as the vishuddhi chakra, and in the center of the chest where the ribcage meets, known as the anahata chakra. It used to be common knowledge in India that you must apply it at these points. The reason why these particular points have been specified is because sacred ash makes them more sensitive.
Vibhuti is usually applied at the anahata so that you receive life as love. It is applied at the vishuddhi so that you receive life as power; power does not mean just physical or mental power, there are so many ways in which a human being can be powerful. The idea is to make the life energies very strong and powerful so that your very presence has an influence on life around you – you don’t have to speak or act – if you simply sit, you influence the situation around you. This kind of power can be developed within a human being. Vibhuti is applied at the agna so that you receive life as knowledge.
This is a very deep science, but today, without understanding the science behind it, we simply apply it like a stripe on the forehead. The one who has stripes one way does not agree with the one who has the stripes another way – this is stupidity. Vibhuti is not something that Shiva gave, or this or that god gave. This is not a question of belief. In Indian culture, it has been looked at deeply as a tool for a person’s growth. Properly prepared sacred ash has a different vibrancy. There is a need to revive and make use of the science behind this.