Bhasma is an Ayurvedic medicine. It is in the form of powder made from a substance obtained by calcination (Bhasmikarana). Bhasma is usually applied to calcinated metals, minerals and animal products which are, by special Ayurvedic processes, calcined in closed cruibles in pits and with cow dung cakes (Puta). Now a days modern bast furnace are used by many big pharmacies to prepare Bhasma.
Method of preparation
Bhasma is prepared by in two stages viz. Shodhana and Marana.
First stage – Shodhana (Purification)
Bhasmas are prepared from minerals, metals, marine and animal products only after purification as described in Ayurvedic texts. In Ayurveda, the process of purification is called Shodhana. There are two types of purification in general – Chemical and Medicinal. For making Bhasma we do Medicinal purification. Medicinal purification is different from chemical purification as follows –
- In chemical purification it is only elimination of foreign matters.
- In medicinal purification, following objects are aimed –
- Elimination of harmful matter from the Dravya (drug).
- Modification of undesirable physical properties (Guna) of the Dravya (drug).
- Conversion of some of the characteristics of the Dravya (drugs).
- The enhancement of the therapeutic action, thereby potentizing the drug.
Read: What is Dravya according to Ayurveda
Read: The Concept of Guna in Ayurveda
There are two kinds of Shodhana (purification)
- Samanya Shodhana (general purification) – This is applicable to a large number of Dhatu (metals) or minerals. This is performed by only heating the thin sheets of the Dhatu (metals) and Nirvapana (immersing) them in any specified liquid like Taila (oil), Takra (butter milk), Gomutra (cow’s urine) etc.
- Vishishta Shodhana (special purification) – This is applicable only to certain Dravyas (drugs) and in certain preparations. Vishishta Shodhana consists of 4 steps viz. –Bhavana, Swedana, Nirvapana and Mardana.
Read: Gomutra (Cow’s Urine)- Ayurvedic Properties, Benefits & Uses
Second stage (Marana)
After Shodhana (purification), the second stage is preparation of Bhasma. This stage is perfomed in following steps –
- The Shodhit Dravya (purified drug) is put into an Ayurvedic instrument called Khalva Yantra (stone mortar and pestle).
- Mardana (ground) with Swarasa (juices) of the specified plants or Kwatha (decoction) of drugs mentioned for a particular mineral or metal. It is ground (Mardana) for the specified period of time.
- Small Chakrikas (cakes) are made. Here one point is to be noted that the size and thickness of the cakes varies for different Dravya (drugs) which depend on the heaviness of the drug. The heavier the Dravya (drug), the thinner are the Chakrikas (cakes).
- These Chakrikas (cakes) are then dried well under sunlight and placed in one single layer in a shallow earthen plate called Sharava.
- This Sharava is then closed with another Sharava. The edge of both sharava is then sealed with clay-smeared cloth in seven consecutive layers and dried. This sealing is termed as Sandhibandhana.
- A pit is dug in an open place. Like size of Chakrikas (cakes) are different for different drugs, the diameter and the depth of the pit depend on the Dhatu (metal) or mineral that is to be calcinated.
- Then the pit is filled with Gobar ke Uple (dried cow dung) up to half of its depth.
- The Sandhibandhit Sharava (sealed earthen container), which is filled with Shodhit Dravya Chakrikas (purified cakes of drug) is placed in it.
- The remaining space is completely filled with more cow dung cakes.
- Fire is put on from all four sides of the pit and also in the middle.
- It is allowed to cool itself completely when the burning is over.
- The Sharava (earthen container) is removed carefully.
- The seal of Sharava is opened and the contents are taken out.
- The medicine is ground (mardana) into Churna (a fine powder) in a khalva (stone mortar and pastle).
- The process of triturating (mardana) with swarasa (juice), making chakrikas (cakes) and giving Putas (a term given for the process which include the selection of proper size of pit and number of cow dung), is repeated as many times as prescribed in the texts or till the proper fineness and quality Bhasma are obtained.
Maha Puta, Gaja Puta, Varah Puta, Kukkuta Puta, Kapota Puta and Bhanda Puta are different names of Puta which is described to indicate the size of the pit and the number of cow dung cakes to be used. They also indicate the amount of heat required and the period of burning.
Characteristics and preservation
Properly prepared Bhasma is first undergo following tests before using therapeutically –
- Nishchandrika – There should be no Chandrika (metallic lustre) in the Bhasma. This ensures that it is properly purified and processed well and harmful characters of heavy metals are destroyed.
- Rekha Purita – A small quantity of Bhasma is taken between the Tarjani (index finger) and Angushtha (thumb) and spread, it should be so fine as to get easily into the finger lines. This ensures its nano level processing.
- Varitara – A small quantity of Bhasma is spread on cold and still water, it should float on the surface to ensure that it is properly processed and safe to consume. This also indicates lightness of Bhasma.
- Apunarbhava – The Bhasma should not revert to the original state when re processed.
- Colors of Bhasmas are generally yellowish, black, pure white, grey, and reddish black or red; depending upon the predominant Dhatu or Dravya (drug) as well as the other Dravyas (drugs) which are used in the process of Marana.
- Bhasmas can be well preserved in air tight containers made up of glass or earthen pot. It is also said that they do not have any expiry date. They maintain their potency indefinitely. Also, Bhasma have no characteristic taste.
View some photographs collected from different sources of making Bhasma –