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What is ashtagandha and what is it made of?

Where is it mentioned in the scriptures?

Ashtagandha is a mixture of eight ingredients available in granules or powder and is used in deity worshipping and bathing. Some use it for tilak. It is said when Bhagavan Krishna was on earth the smell of Ashtagandha was emanating from Him. Well Ashtagandha came after that of course.

I have not found a scripture specifically mentioning Ashtagandha and its use, also not its exact composition. Some use other ingredients. That is why I would like to know if someone knows where Ashtagandha is described in the scriptures with its composition?

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  • Hello. Welcome to Hinduism Stack Exchange. When you ask a question you are suggested to add more context in the question and background of the question. Please add more details about the term Ashtangadha and background on what made you to post this question. This helps you to get answers more quickly. As of now, the question is vague. Please check How to Ask page. Commented Feb 2, 2019 at 2:48
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    I have edited the question as recommended by Sarvabhouma. Also thank you for your input Rickross, but it is not what I am looking for. I am looking for evidence of it being mentioned in the scriptures.
    – shanayan
    Commented Feb 2, 2019 at 16:04

3 Answers 3

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A partial answer is as follows ..

I have a found a reference of Ashta Gandha in KulArnava Tantram:

Trigandham shAntike proktam pancha gandhancha vashyake |
Sarva kAryed ashtagandham krure chAshtavishAni ||

In ShAnti Karmas, TriGandha is prescribed to be used; in Vashikarana Pancha Gandha; in all Karmas Ashta Gandha is prescribed and in Krura Karmas Ashta Vishas (the eight poisons) are to be used.

KulArnava Tantram 16.46

The commentator mentions that Chandana (sandal), Agaru (?) and Karpura (camphor) constitutes the Tri Gandha, he also mentions what the Ashta Vishas are but he does not mention anything about the Ashta Gandhas.

Here, in this particular text, the application of Ashta Gandha is in using it as a writing medium (like ink say) to write/draw Mantras/Yantras on Bhorjapatra.

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    Agaru means incense. Commented Feb 3, 2019 at 3:15
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What is Aṣṭagandha?

Aṣṭagandha (अष्टगन्ध) or Gandhāṣṭaka (गन्धाष्टक), literally meaning - 'Eight-fragrances', is a composite aromatic-mixture of powders (or paste) of eight fragrant herbs (or substances).

In practice, mostly it is used as one of the several ingredients for worshipping an idol of a deity and writing a Yantra.

The term - 'Aṣṭagandha ' appears across several scriptures. For instance in Padma Purana Verse 5.114.27.



Different types of Aṣṭagandha?

Now, the Eight different herbs comprising the Aṣṭagandha are different for different sects.

1. The Meru Tantram Classification:

The Meru Tantram compendium gives a list of five different kinds of Aṣṭagandha in reference to the five great deities (viz. Gaṇeśa, Sūrya, Śiva, Devī & Viṣṇu ) of the Pañchāyatana-pūjā.

(i). Gāṇapatya Sect:

देवतापूजनम् - प्रकाशः ३

चन्दनागुरुकर्पूररोचनाकुङ्कुमं मदः ॥
रक्तचन्दन वारि गाणपत्यमुदाहृतम् ॥ ४३१ ॥

[Hindi Translation]:- चंदन, अगर, कपूर, रोचन, कुंकुम, मद, रक्तचंदन, ह्रीवेर - ये आठ द्रव्य गाणपत्य-अष्टगन्ध कहलाते हैं ।

  1. Candana, Agara, Kapūra, Rocana, Kuṃkuma, Mada, Raktacaṃdana, Hrīvera are said to comprise the Gāṇapatya's aṣṭagandha.

(ii). Saura Sect:

जलकाश्मीरकुष्ठैस्तु रक्तचन्दनचन्दनैः ॥
तगरागुरुकपूरैः सौरं गन्धाष्टकं विदुः ॥ ४३५ ॥

[Hindi Translation]:- जल, केसर, कुष्ठ, रक्तचंदन, चन्दन, तगर, अगर, कपूर - ये आठ द्रव्यों को सौर-अष्टगन्ध जानना चाहिए।

  1. Know these eight items to comprise the Saura's aṣṭagandha - Water, Kesara, Kuṣṭha, Raktacandana, Candana, Tagara, Agara, Kapūra.

(iii). Śaiva Sect:

जल काश्मीरकुष्ठश्च रक्तचन्दनचन्दनैः ॥
तगरागुरुकपूरैः शाम्भवं चाटगन्धकम् ॥ ४३४ ॥

[Hindi Translation]:- जल, केसर, कुष्ठ, रक्तचंदन, चन्दन, तगर, अगर, कपूर - ये आठ द्रव्यों को शैव-अष्टगन्ध जानना चाहिए।

  1. Water, Kesara, Kuṣṭha, Raktacandana, Candana, Tagara, Agara, Kapūra - these eight items comprise the Śaiva's aṣṭagandha.

(iv). Śākta Sect:

चन्दनागुरुकर्पूरचौरकुङ्कुमरोचनाः ॥
जटामांसी कपियुता शाक्तं गन्धाष्टकं विदुः ॥ ४३३ ॥

[Hindi Translation]:- चंदन, अगर, कपूर, चोर, कुंकुम, रोचन, जटामासी, कपि - ये आठ द्रव्यों को शाक्त-अष्टगन्ध जानना चाहिए।

  1. Know these eight items to comprise the Śākta's aṣṭagandha - Candana, Agara, Kapūra, Cora, Kuṃkuma, Rocana, Jaṭāmāsī, Kapi.

(v). Vaiṣṇava Sect:

ह्रीबेरश्चन्दनकुष्ठमगुरुः कुङ्कुम मुरा ॥
सिहकञ्च जटामांसी वैष्णवं तदुदीरितम् ॥४३२॥

[Hindi Translation]:- ह्रीवेर, चंदन, कुष्ठ, अगर, कुंकुम, मुर, सेव्यका, और जटामासी - यह आठ पदार्थों के मिश्रण को वैष्णव-अष्टगन्ध के रुप में जानना चाहिए ।

  1. Hrīvera, Candana, Kuṣṭha, Agara, Kuṃkuma, Mura, Sevyakā, and Jaṭāmāsī - these eight herbs are to be known comprising the Vaiṣṇava's aṣṭagandha.

It is interesting to note that, the Saura and Śaiva sects' ingredients for making Aṣṭagandha are the same in the Meru-tantram classification.




2. The Śārdā-tilaka Classification:

This compendium gives the aṣṭagandha definitions for the three sects, the followers of Śakti, Viṣṇu & Śiva.

गन्धाष्टकं तत् त्रिविधं शक्तिविष्णुशिवात्मकम् ।

[Hindi Translation]:- शक्ति, विष्णु तथा शिव के भेद से गन्धाष्टक तीन प्रकार का होता है ।

Know the Gandhaṣṭakam/Aṣṭagandha to be of three types as per the deity being worshipped (viz., Śakti, Viṣṇu & Śiva) -


(i). Śākta Sect:

चन्दनागुरुकर्पूरचोरकुङ्कुमरोचनाः ।
जटामांसीकपियुताः शक्तेर्गन्धाष्टकं विदुः ॥ ७९ ॥

[Hindi Translation]:- चन्दन, अगुरु, कपूर, चोर, कुंकुम, गोरोचन, जटामांसी तथा कपि - ये आठ शक्ति के गन्धाष्टक कहे गये हैं ।

  1. Candana, Aguru, Kapūra, Cora, Kuṃkuma, Gorocana, Jaṭāmāṃsī and Kapi - these eight ingredients compose the Śākta's aṣṭagandha.

(ii). Vaiṣṇava Sect:

चन्दनागुरुनीवेरकुष्ठकुङ्कुमसेव्यकाः ।
जटामांसीमुरमिति विष्णोर्गन्धाष्टकं विदुः ॥ ८० ॥

[Hindi Translation]:- चन्दन, अगुरु, ह्रीवेर, कुष्ठ, कंकुम, सेव्यक, जटामांसी और मुरा - ये आठ विष्णु के गन्धाष्टक हैं ।

  1. Candana, Agaru, Hrīvera, Kuṣṭha, Kuṃkuma, Sevyaka, Jaṭāmāṃsī, and Murā - know these eight ingredients to compose the Vaiṣṇava's aṣṭagandha.

(iii). Śaiva Sect:

चन्दनागुरुकर्पूरतमालजलकुङ्कुमम् मीमा ।
म कुशीतकुष्ठ संयुक्तं शैवं गन्धाष्टकं स्मृतम् ॥ ८१ ॥

[Hindi Translation]:- चन्दन, अगुरु, कर्पूर, तमाल, जल, कुंकुम, कुशीत तथा कुष्ठ - ये आठ शैव गन्धाष्टक कहे गये हैं ॥

  1. Candana, Aguru, Karpūra, Tamāla, Water, Kuṃkuma, Kuśīta and Kuṣṭha - these eight ingredients compose the Śaiva's aṣṭagandha.

(iv). Gāṇapatya Sect:

In the commentary to the above three, the commentator cites a certain Gāṇapati Saṃhitā enlisting the ingredients for the Gāṇapatya's gandhāṣṭaka, as follows -

॥ गणपतिसंहितायां गणेशगन्धाष्टकमप्युक्तम् ॥

स्वरूपं चन्दनं चोरं रोचनागुरुमेव च ।
मदं भृगद्वयोद्भूतं कस्तूरीचन्द्रसंयुतम् । अष्टगन्धं विनिर्दिष्टं गणेशस्य महाविभोः ॥ इति ॥ ७९-८१ ॥

[Hindi Translation]:- गाणपत्यों की अष्टगन्ध में अधोलिखित आठ पदार्थ होते हैं - चन्दन, चोर, रोचन, अगर, मद, भृगद्वय (?), कस्तुरी, चन्द्रभाग,

The Gāṇapatya's aṣṭagandha is said to comprise these eight ingredients - Candana, Cora, Rocana, Agara, Mada, Bhṛgadvaya(?), Kasturī, Candrabhāga.



3. The Ayurvedic Classification:

Vettam Mani gives an 'eight-ingredient' list in their work - Puranic Encyclopedia

Aṣṭagandha (अष्टगन्ध).—Akil (Eaglewood), Candana (Sandal), Guggulu (Indian Bdellium), Māñci (Jaṭāmaṃsī-Spikenard) Kuṅkuma(saffron), Koṭṭa (Kuṣṭṭa-bostus root), Rāmacca (Uśiram-Sweet rush), Iruveli (Vālaka).

(Āyurveda)

However, this list remains more or less similar to the above-give ingredients in the Tantras.

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Ashtagandha means

sandal, camphor, saffron, उशीर, cyperus pertenuis (Mar. नागरमोथा), गोरोचन, देवदार and a flower are used in the mixture.

However some compositions vary according to the deity to Whom it is offered.

Reference : http://sanskritdictionary.com/?iencoding=iast&q=गन्ध&lang=sans&action=Search

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