Gopi-chandana Mahatmya
The Glories of Gopi-candana


According to the Gaudiya Vaishnava tradition, gopi-candana, or the sacred clay from Dvaraka, is applied on the body in twelve places while reciting mantras to Lord Vishnu. This process purifies one's body, designating it as a temple of the Lord. Besides purification, the tilaka also offers the wearer protection from ghosts, evil influences, bad dreams, accidents and many other things. It keeps one's mind calm and allows one to constantly remember Lord Krishna.

The following story from the Garga Samhita describes the wonderful glories of the sacred clay known as gopi-candana.

From Garga Samhita, Canto Six, Chapter Fifteen, 
Translation by Sri Kushakratha Das 

Text 15
yasya sravana-matrena
karma-bandhat pramucyate
gopinam yatra vaso 'bhut
tena gopi-bhuvah smrtah
Simply by hearing about Gopi-bhumi, which is so named because the gopis resided there, one become free from the bondage of karma.

Text 16  
gopy-angaraga-sambhutam
gopi-chandanam uttamam
gopi-chandana-liptango
ganga-snana-phalam labhet
In Gopi-bhumi gopi-chandana was manifested from the gopis' cosmetics. A person who marks his limbs with gopi-chandana tilaka attains the result of bathing in the Ganga.

Text 17  
maha-nadinam snanasya
punyam tasya dine dine
ngopi-chandana-mudrabhir
mudrito yah sada bhavet
A person who daily wears gopi-chandana tilaka attains the pious result of daily bathing in all sacred rivers.

Text 18  
asvamedha-sahasrani
rajasuya-satani ca
sarvani tirtha-danani
vratani ca tathaiva ca
krtani tena nityam vai
sa krtartho na samsayah
A person who daily wears gopi-chandana tilaka attains the result of performing a thousand asvamedha-yajnas and a hundred rajasuya-yajnas. He attains the reusult of giving charity and following vows at all holy places. He attains the goal of life. Of this there is no doubt.

Text 19  
ganga-mrd-dvi-gunam punyam
citrakuta-rajah smrtam
tasmad dasa-gunam punyam
rajah pancavati-bhavam
Twice as sacred as the mud of the Ganga is the dust of Chitrakuta. Ten times more sacred than that is the dust of Panchavati-tirtha.

Text 20  
tasmac chata-gunam punyam
gopi-chandanakam rajah
gopi-chandanakam viddhi
vrndavana-rajah-samam
A hundred times more sacred is the dust of gopi-chandana. Please know that gopi-chandana is equal to the dust of Vrindavana.

Text 21 
gopi-chandana-liptangam
yadi papa-satair yutam
tam netum na yamah sakto
yama-dutah kutah punah
Even if in the past he has committed hundreds of sins, if a person wears gopi-chandana tilaka, then Yamaraja cannot take him away. How, then, can Yamaraja's messengers touch him?

Text 22 
nityam karoti yah papi
gopi-chandana-dharanam
sa prayati harer dhama
golokam prakrteh param
A sinner who daily wears gopi-chandana tilaka goes to Lord Krishna supreme abode, Goloka, which is beyond the world of matter.

Text 23  
sindhu-desasya rajabhud
dirghabahur iti srutah
anyaya-varti dustatma
vesya-sanga-ratah sada
In Sindhu-desa there was a king named Dirghabahu. He was cruel and sinful and he was addicted to visiting prostitutes.

Text 24  
tena vai bharate varse
brahma-hatya-satam krtam
dasa garbhavati-hatyah
krtas tena duratmana 
While he was on the earth this cruel sinner murdered a hundred brahmanas and ten pregnant women.

Text 25  
mrigayayam tu banaughaih
kapila-go-vadhah krtah
saindhavam hayam aruhya
mrgayarthi gato 'bhavat 
One day he mounted a sindhu horse and went hunting. With a flood of arrows he accidentally killed with a brown cow in that hunt.

Text 26  
ekada rajya-lobhena
mantri kruddho maha-khalam
jaghanaranya-dese tam
tiksna-dharena casina
One day, greedy to get his kingdom, with a sharp sword his angry minister killed him in the forest.

Text 27  
bhu-tale patitam mrtyu-
gatam viksya yamanugah
baddhva yama-purim ninyur
harsayantah parasparam
Seeing him fallen to the ground and dead, the Yamadutas came, bound him, and, joking as they went, took him to the city of Yamaraja.

Text 28  
sammukhe 'vasthitam viksya
papinam yama-rad bali
citraguptam praha turnam
ka yogya yanatasya vai 
Seeing this sinner brought before him, powerful Yamaraja said to his scribe Chitragupta, "What is the proper punishment for him?"

Text 29 
sri-chitragupta uvaca

catur-asiti-laksesu
narakesu nipatyatam
nihsandeham maha-raja
yavac candra-divakarau
Sri Chitragupta said: O great king, he should be thrown into eight million four hundred thousand hells for as long as the sun and the moon shine in the sky.

Text 30 
  anena bharate varse
ksanam na su-krtam krtam
dasa-garbhavati-ghatah
kapila-go-vadhah krtah
On the earth he did not perform a single pious deed. He killed ten pregnant women. He killed a brown cow.

Text 31 
tatha vana-mriganam ca
krtva hatyah sahasrasah
tasmad ayam maha-papi
devata-dvija-nindakah
He killed thousands of deer in the forest. He offended the demigods and the brahmanas. He is a great sinner.

Texts 32 and 33

sri-narada uvaca
tada yamajnaya duta
nitva tam papa-rupinam
sahasra-yojanayame
tapta-taile maha-khale

sphurad aty-ucchalat-phene
kumbhipake nyapatayan
pralayagni-samo vahnih
sadyah sitalatam gatah
Sri Narada said: Then, by Yamaraja's order, the Yamadutas took that sinner and threw him into a terrible, eight-thousand mile wide cauldron of bubbling boiling oil in the hell of Kumbhipaka. The moment that sinner came to it, the boiling oil, which was as hot as the great fires at the time of cosmic devastation, suddenly became cool.

Text 34 
vaideha tan-nipatanat
prahlada-ksepanad yatha
tadaiva citram acakhyur
yama-duta mahatmane
O king of Videha, as Prahlada was unhurt in the same situation, that sinner was not hurt by the boiling oil. Then the Yamadutas described that great wonder to noble-hearted Yamaraja.

Text 35  
anena su-krtam bhumau
ksanavan na krtam kvacit
citraguptena satatam
dharma-rajo vyacintayat
Yamaraja and Chitragupta carefully reviewed the sinner's case and concluded that while he was on the earth the sinner had not for a moment performed even a single pious deed.

Text 36  
sabhayam agatam vyasam
sampujya vidhivan nrpa
natva papraccha dharmatma
dharma-rajo maha-matih
Then Vyasadeva arrived in that assembly. Bowing down before Him, and carefully worshiping Him, saintly and noble-hearted Yamaraja asked Vyasadeva the following question.

Text 37   
sri-yama uvaca

anena papina purvam
na krtam su-krtam kvacit
sphurad-agny-ucchalat-phene
kumbhipake maha-khale  

asya ksepanato vahnih
sadyah sitalatam gatah
iti sandehatas cetah
khidyate me na samsayah
Sri Yamaraja said: When a certain sinner, who had never performed even a single pious deed, was thrown into the terrible boiling oil of Kumbhipaka, the oil suddenly became cool. Because of this my mind is now tortured with doubts.

Text 39  
sri-vyasa uvaca

suksma gatir maha-raja
vidita papa-punyayoh
tatha brahma-gatih prajnaih
sarva-sastra-vidam varaih 
Sri Vyasadeva said: O great king, the intelligent sages, who have studied all the scriptures, know that the ways of piety, sin, and spiritual progress are very subtle and difficult to understand.

Text 40  
daiva-yogad asya punyam
praptam vai svayam arthavat
yena punyena suddho 'sau
tac chrnu tvam maha-mate
Somehow or other, by destiny, this sinner did perform a pious deed, and by that deed he became purified. O noble-hearted one, please hear the story of this.

Text 41  
kasyapi hastato yatra
patita dvaraka-mrdah
tatraivayam mrtah papi
suddho 'bhut tat-prabhavatah
That sinner died in a place where from someone's hand some gopi-chandana from Dvaraka had accidentally fallen. Dying in gopi-chandana, that sinner became purified.

Text 42  
gopi-chandana-liptango
naro narayano bhavet
etasya darsanat sadyo
brahma-hatya pramucyate 
A person who wears gopi-chandana tilaka attains a spiritual form like that of Lord Narayana. Simply by seeing him one becomes free of the sin of killing a brahmana.

Texts 43 and 44 
sri-narada uvaca

iti srutva dharma-rajas
tam aniya visesatah
vimane kama-ge sthapya
vaikuntham prakrteh param

 presayam asa sahasa
gopi-chandana-kirti-vit
evam te kathitam rajan
gopi-chandanakam yasah  
Sri Narada said: Hearing this, Yamaraja, who understands the glories of gopi-chandana, took the sinner, placed him a an airplane that goes anywhere one wishes, and sent him to Vaikuntha, which is above the worlds of matter. O king, thus I have described to you the glories of gopi-chandana.

Text 45  
gopi-chandana-mahatmyam
yah srnoti narottamah
sa yati paramam dhama
sri-krishnasya mahatmanah 
One who hears this account of gopi-chandana's glories becomes exalted. He goes to the supreme abode of Lord Krishna, the Supreme Personality of Godhead.

Kumkum Vendor
Quotes on Tilak: Urdhva Pundra Vidhi
1. Atharvana Upanisad: Anyone who marks his body with the tilak which resembles the lotus feet of Lord hari becomes dear to the Paramatma. He becomes fortunate and attains liberation.

2. Maha Upanisad: One gets released of all the bondage of samsara when one marks his body with the tilak markings and knows Narayana who is known by karma, jnana and bhakti yogas. Ultimately, he attains Lord Visnu.

3. Agni Purana: A brahmana should not wear the three lined tilak across (tiryak pundra) even for as a joke or play. One should mark his body with the vertical tilak only according to the prescribed rules.

4. Brahmanda Purana: A brahmana should wear urdhva pundra; a ksatriya ardha candrakara (half-moon) pundra; vaisya round shaped pundra; and a sudra tri pundra (horizontal tiryak pundra). A brahmana should never wear the horizontal tilak. He is to be considered a sudra if he wears it.

5. Brahmaratra: One should meditate on Me by chanting Om and should mark his body with vertical tilak daily. Anyone who marks thus attains sayujya liberation.

6. Vasista smrti: One should mark the tilak on his forehead as follows: he should start from the nose tip and go till his kesa (hair). The width should be one angula (circa 1 inch). This is urdhva pundra laksana.

7. Sanat Kumara Samhita: Urdhva pundra should be worn with clay and should be worn with a gap inbetween and nicely. In between the two lines, one should mark Sri or Laksmi in the form of Haridhra curna. One should not mark anything else inbetween. Anyone who marks like this is freed from all sinful reactions. Anyone who marks the tilak without any gap is condemned.

8. Padma Purana: Those devotees on whose neck tulasi kanti mala and lotus seed kanti malas are hanging and on whose shoulders there are the markings of conch and cakra and on whose body there are 12 tilak markings, they purify the entire universe immediately.

9. Isvara samhita: Anyone who marks his body with the clay which has touched Lord Visnu's body attains the benefit of an asvamedha sacrifice and is glorified in Visnu's abode. One should mark inbetween the vertical lines mother Laksmi with the help of yellow curna or powder.

Jahnava Nitai das: The tilak is an external symbol of our surrender to Krishna, or to our object of worship. The shape and material used may differ according to the particular process of surrender the sampradaya follows.

In the Sri Vaishnava sampradaya the tilak is made out of the white mud found in anthills. The scriptures tell us that the mud from the base of a Tulasi plant and the white mud from within the ant hill are both pure and best for making tilak. The Sri Vaishnavas will draw two lines representing the feet of Sri Narayana, and in the middle they will put a red line to represent Lakshmi Devi. The red line was originally made from a red stone found within the ant hill. The ants would usually make their ant hill on top of these red stones. When you rub the stone in water, a red color paint is formed. The category of Shakti is generally represented with the color red in all lines, both Vedic and Tantrik. Because the Sri Vaishnava sampradaya begins with Sri Lakshmi Devi, and because they approach Narayana only through Lakshmi, their tilak reflects this process of surrender. The tilaks of each sampradaya actually depict the siddhanta of the sampradaya.

In the Vallabha sampradaya the tilak worn is generally a single vertical red line. This line represents Sri Yamuna Devi. The form of Krishna worshiped in the Vallabha line is Sri Nathji or Govardhana. The consort of the Govardhana hill is the river Yamuna. Their process of surrender goes through Sri Yamuna Devi.

Pope with TilakIn the Madhva sampradaya the tilak is made out of Gopichandana mud from Dwaraka. Two vertical lines are made out of Gopichandana to represent the feet of Lord Krishna. This gopichandana tilak is nearly identical to that used in the Gaudiya sampradaya. In between a vertical black line is made from the daily coal of the yajna-kunda. In their sampradaya, the process of worship involved nitya-homa, or daily fire sacrifices to the Lord. The remnant coal of the puja was taken each day to mark the forehead. Underneath the black line, a yellow or red dot was put to indicate Lakshmi or Radha. Those who did not perform daily fire sacrifice would only put the simple gopichandana tilak.

In the Gaudiya sampradaya the tilak is usually made out of the Gopichandana mud. Some lineages prefer to use the mud from Vrindavana. The main tilak is basically identical to the Madhva tilak. The slight difference arises due to the emphasis on nama-sankirtana, or the chanting of the Lord's names. In Sri Chaitanya's line, nama-sankirtana is the yajna to be performed in kali yuga, and not the daily fire sacrifice performed in the Madhva sampradaya. As such, the black line made from the ash of the fire sacrifice is not applied in the Gaudiya sampradaya. The second difference arises due to Sri Chaitanya's process of approaching the Lord. In the Gaudiya line one does not approach Srimati Radharani directly, but always indirectly through the servant. To indicate this, the red dot representing Radha is replaced with a tulasi leaf offered at the base of the Lord's feet. Only with the mercy of Tulasi Devi can we develop pure devotion to Sri Sri Radha and Krishna.

In the scriptures there are very general descriptions of the procedure for applying tilak. For example it is mentioned that the tilak should be urdhva-pundra, or vertical lines; the body should be marked in twelve locations, etc. But these instructions are very general and leave a lot of the details to the acharyas. Even in a simple point, such as the location of the tilak, one person may interpret the 'shoulder' to start from the arm, where as another may interpret it to start higher up near the neck. This is actually the case in the two branches of the Sri Vaishna sampradaya.

The actual design of the tilak will manifest either through divine revelation or through scientific study. An example of divine revelation is the Gaudiya lineage of Sri Shyamananda. Radharani revealed a portion of her broken bangle to Sri Shyamananda, which he used in applying tilak to his forehead. As a result, his followers apply a unique design of tilak from other branches of the Gaudiya sampradaya.

In other cases, an acharya may scientifically analyze the sampradaya siddhanta and compare its compatibility with the tilak they wear. The external purpose of the tilak is to differentiate the followers of a sampradaya from other classes of philosophers, just as one branch of the armed forces wears a uniform to differentiate itself from the other branches. In such a case, the tilak may change when there occurs a shift or branching of the sampradaya due to philosophical views. The newly formed branch may re-analyze the tilak in connection with its siddhanta and make changes that fully reflect their process of surrender. Such is the case among the two branches of the Sri Vaishnava sampradaya. Due to a difference of opinion in regards to the process of surrender, two distinct tilaks emerged.

In any case, the ultimate purpose of tilak is to sanctify oneself and mark the body as the temple of the Lord. The scriptures do not specify in detail the manner that this should be done, and as such it is the acharyas who crystalize the procedures while adhering to the general prescriptions given in the scriptures.

urdhvapundra (Vaisnava) symbolism:

1. U = foot of Visnu and Tulasi leaf on His foot, in "U" place between leave empty (it is meant for Visnu) 
2. two lines = Brahma and Siva

3. tripundra (Saiva): three horizontal lines (Padma Purana)



















































GIVE US HAND BY SHARING THIS POST

Share on FacebookTweet on TwitterPlus on Google+

Post A Comment:

0 comments so far,add yours

Have something to add to this story? Share it in the comments. By Writing Your Comments with Registered User - includes OpenID