Why Wear Tilak on Forehead? - The Glories of Gopi - candana Tilaka - THE HINDU PORTAL - Spiritual heritage Rituals and Practices

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Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Why Wear Tilak on Forehead? - The Glories of Gopi - candana Tilaka


Śrī Garga Saṁhitā, Canto Six,

Chapter Fifteen

Translation by Kusakratha Dāsa


Prabhu pada putting tilak
Prabhu pada putting tilak
This compilation of information will explain what tilak is and why it is worn. As anyone who is familiar with the Vedic tradition knows, many of its followers wear marking on the foreheads. This is called tilak. Some tilak markings are made with ash, some with clay or soil, some are red dots with kum kum, or dyed rice flour, or red dots with additional applications like a few grains of rice stuck to it. Some tilak appears as three lines of ash going horizontally across the forehead that indicates one is a Shaivite, or a small triangle on the nose with a "V" shape rising vertically up on the forehead from between the eyebrows, which indicates one is a Vaishnava. This is a sign of the foot of Lord Vishnu, recited while chanting the name of Lord Vishnu.

        There are different reasons why this is done and what they mean, but here is a
description of why Vaishnavas wear their tilok, especially with Gopi-candana (or Gopi Chand). Gopi Candana is the soil that comes from a place not far from Dwaraka. The history is that this is the place where the gopis entered the river to leave their bodies after Lord Krishna left this planet to return to His spiritual abode. Thus, they also followed in this way. The mud that used to be the banks  of that river is called Gopi-candana. Vaishnavas apply this mud while chanting the names of Vishnu in twelve places on the head, arms, chest and back. The process marks the body as a temple, purifies the body, and also acts as protection from evil influences, ghosts, etc. By seeing this tilok on ourselves or other devotees, it serves as a constant reminder of Lord Krishna. Tilak is also used in Deity worship, offered to the Deities and also used with lemon juice to polish brass deities.

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 gopīs resided there, one becomes free from the bondage of karma.

Text 16
gopy-angaraga-sambhutam
gopi-candanam uttamam
gopi-candana-liptango
ganga-snana-phalam labhet

In Gopi-bhumi gopi-candana was manifested from the gopīs' cosmetics. A person who marks his limbs with gopi-candana tilaka attains the result of bathing in the Ganga.

Text 17
maha-nadinam snanasya
punyam tasya dine dine
gopi-candana-mudrabhir
mudrito yah sadā bhavet

A person who daily wears gopi-candana tilaka attains the pious result of daily bathing in all sacred rivers.

Text 18
asvamedha-sahasrani
rajasuya-satani ca
sarveṣu tirtha-danani
vratani ca tathaiva ca
krtani tena nityaṁ vai
sa krtartho na samsayah

A person who daily wears gopi-candana tilaka attains the result of performing a thousand asvamedha-yajnas and a hundred rajasuya-yajnas. He attains the result 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
tasmād dasa-gunam punyam
rajah pancavati-bhavam

Twice as sacred as the mud of the Ganga is the dust of Citrakuta. Ten times more sacred than that is the dust of Pancavati-tirtha.

Text 20
tasmac chata-gunam punyam
gopi-candanakam rajah
gopi-candanakam viddhi
vrndavana-rajah-samam

A hundred times more sacred is the dust of gopi-candana. Please know that gopi-candana is equal to the dust of Vṛndāvana.

Text 21
gopi-candana-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-candana tilaka, then Yamarāja cannot take him away. How, then, can Yamarāja’s messengers touch him?

Text 22
nityaṁ karoti yah pāpī
gopi-candana-dharanam
sa prayati harer dhāma
golokam prakrteh param

A sinner who daily wears gopi-candana tilaka goes to Lord Kṛṣṇa's supreme abode, Goloka, which is beyond the world of matter.

Text 23
sindhu-desasya rajabhud
dirghabahur iti srutah
anyaya-varti dustatma
vesya-sanga-ratah sadā

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
dāsa garbhavati-hatyah
krtas tena duratmana

While he was on the earth this cruel sinner murdered a hundred brāhmaṇas and ten pregnant women.

Text 25
mrgayayam 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 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 Yamarāja.

Text 28
sammukhe 'vasthitam viksya
papinam yama-rad bali
citraguptam praha turnam
ka yogya yanatasya vai

Seeing this sinner brought before him, powerful Yamarāja said to his scribe Citragupta, "What is the proper punishment for him?"

Text 29
sri-citragupta uvāca
catur-asiti-laksesu
narakesu nipatyatam
nihsandeham mahā-raja
yavac candra-divakarau

Śrī Citragupta 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
tathā vana-mrganam ca
kṛtvā hatyah sahasrasah
tasmād ayam maha-papi
devata-dvija-nindakah

He killed thousands of deer in the forest. He offended the demigods and the brāhmaṇas. He is a great sinner.

Texts 32 and 33
sri-narada uvāca
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 Nārada said: Then, by Yamarāja’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 yathā
tadaiva citram acakhyur
yama-duta mahatmane

O king of Videha, as Prahlāda 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 Yamarāja.

Text 35
anena su-krtam bhumau
ksanavan na kṛtam kvacit
citraguptena satataṁ
dharma-rajo vyacintayat

Yamarāja and Citragupta 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-phen
ekumbhipake 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-candana from Dvaraka had accidentally fallen. Dying in gopi-candana, that sinner became purified.

Text 42
gopi-candana-liptango
naro narayano bhavet
etasya darsanat sadyo
brahma-hatya pramucyate

A person who wears gopi-candana 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-candana-kirti-vit
evam te kathitam rajan
gopi-candanakam yasah

Sri Narada said: Hearing this, Yamaraja, who understands the glories of gopi-candana, took the sinner, placed him on 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-candana.

Text 45
gopi-candana-mahatmyam
yah srnoti narottamah
sa yati paramam dhama
sri-krsnasya mahatmanah

One who hears this account of gopi-candana's glories becomes exalted. He goes to the supreme abode of Lord Krsna, the Supreme Personality of Godhead.

 
Additional References

If a Vaisnava who wears the sacred tilaka mark which goes upward like a flame eats in anyone's house some grains, I (the Supreme Personality of Godhead) liberate his twenty previous generations from their suffering in hellish planets. [Hari Bhakti Vilasa 4/203 from Brahmanda Purana spoken by the Supreme Lord]
Oh king of the birds (Garuda), if gopicandana is marked on anyone's forehead by the mercy of the Supreme Lord, no planets (Sun, Moon, Mars, etc.), Yaksas (semi demigods), Pisacas (ghosts and devils), snakes and demons can harm him. [Hari Bhakti Vilasa 4/238 from Garuda Purana spoken by Narada Muni]

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.

SRI VASUDEVA UPANISAD


1.    Om.   The  great  sage Narada bowed down before  the  Supreme
Personality  of  Godhead, Lord Vasudeva and asked: O  Lord,  please
teach  me  the  rules of Vaisnava tilaka.  Please tell  me  of  the
substances,  mantras, places, and other things in  connection  with
it.
2     Lord  Vasudeva said: To please Me, My devotees headed by  the
demigod  Brahma, wear Visnu-candana, which comes from the spiritual
world  of  Vaikuntha.  Because every day the gopis anoint My  limbs
with this candana and then again wash it away, it is also known  as
gopi-candana.  This sacred yellow candana, which holds within it My
cakra, and which is present at Cakra-tirtha, brings liberation  (to
they who wear it).
3    In the following prayer one praises and bows down before gopi-
candana:
      O  gopi, O destroyer of sins, O candana manifested from  Lord
Visnu’s  transcendental body and marked with His cakra, I offer  my
obeisances  to you.  Please give me liberation, for I  am  anointed
with you.
4     One  should go to My Ganges, take some water, bring it to  My
temple,  and  use  it to make gopi-candana paste.   Then,  reciting
either  the  mantras  that begin ‘deva avantu nah’  (May  the  Lord
protect  us), or the Visnu gayatri, or my names beginning with  the
name Kesava, one should apply gopi-candana tilaka.
5     A brahmacari or vanaprastha should, while chanting the Visnu-
gayatri or the holy names beginning with Krishna, apply this tilaka
to his forehead, chest, neck, and shoulders.
5 (A)     Three times he should chant this mantra: O Lord who holds
the  conch shell, cakra, and club in Your hands, O infallible  Lord
who  resides in Dvaraka, O lotus-eyed Lord Govinda, please  protect
me, who have surrendered to You and taken shelter of You.
5  (B)      After meditating in this way, a grhastha should,  while
chanting the Visnu-gayatri or the holy names beginning with Kesava,
apply this tilaka with his ring finger to twelve parts of his body,
beginning with his forehead.
6     A  brahmacari or grhastha should, while chanting  the  Visnu-
gayatri or the holy names beginning with Krishna, apply this tilaka
to his forehead, chest, neck and shoulders.
7     A  sannyasi,  while chanting the sacred syllable  Om,  should
apply  this  tilaka with his forefinger to his head,  forehead  and
chest.
8     As  there  are three Deities (Brahma, Visnu and Siva),  three
vyahrtis (Bhuh, Bhuvah and Svah), three metres in the Vedic  hymns,
three  sacred  fires,  three times, three states  of  being,  three
atmas,  and three letters (a, u, and m) in the sacred syllable  Om,
so Vaisnava tilaka has three parts, which correspond to the letters
in the sacred Om.
9     A  person  who  chants  the sacred syllable  Om  goes  upward
(urdhva).  That is why Vaisnava tilaka is called ‘urdhva-pundra.’
10    A  paramahamsa should say the sacred syllable  Om  and  place
Vaisnava tilaka on his forehead.
11    When  he sees the Supersoul in his heart illumined  with  the
lamp of truth, the yogi attains the liberation of meeting Me.
12    Or the yogi may surrender his heart to the Lord in the tilaka
mark on his chest or to the Lord in the lotus of his heart.
13    In  the  heart is a flame reaching upwards, a  flame  like  a
lightning  flash  from a dark cloud, or like a slender  rice-plant.
In that flame the Supersoul stays.
14    In  the lotus flower of the heart one should search  for  the
Supreme  Lord,  who is present as the tilaka mark.   Gradually  one
should  become  rapt in meditation on Me, Lord  Hari,  the  Supreme
Personality of Godhead, who is present as the Supersoul.
15    He  becomes  liberated who, with single-pointed concentration
meditates on Me, Lord Hari, the eternal Supersoul who stays in  the
lotus flower of the heart.  Of this there is no doubt.
16   By engaging in My devotional service one is able to understand
My transcendental form, which is spiritual, eternal, self-manifest,
filled  with  knowledge  and bliss, and beyond  the  touch  of  the
material world of dualities.
17    I am Lord Visnu, the one Supersoul who stays in the hearts of
the many moving and unmoving creatures.
18   As oil stays in sesame seeds, as fire stays in wood, as butter
stays  in  milk,  and  as fragrance stays in  flowers,  so  I,  the
Supersoul, stay in the hearts of all living creatures.
19    By  anointing  one’s  body with gopi-candana  tilaka  and  by
meditating   on   the   Supreme  Lord,  Hari,   splendid   like   a
transcendental  sun in the brahma-randhra, heart, and  between  the
eyebrows, one attains the Lord in His supreme abode.
20    His  sannyasa  danda raised, his semen flowing  upwards,  His
Vaisnava  tilaka vertical, and his practice of yoga  elevated,  the
sannyasi,  in  this  four  ways  ascending,  goes  to  the  highest
spiritual abode.
21    The final conclusion is that by serving Me with devotion  one
attains the supreme perfection.  Wearing gopi-candana tilaka,  with
single  pointed  concentration  one  should  always  engage  in  My
devotional service.
22    Of  all brahmanas and followers of the Vedas he is  best  who
wears Vaisnava tilaka of gopi-candana mixed with water.
23    If  gopi-candana is not available one may use the earth  from
the  roots  of the Tulasi plant.  In order to attain the  spiritual
goal  that cannot be seen by materialistic men, a person who yearns
for liberation should wear Vaisnava tilaka every day.
24    One  should apply Vaisnava tilaka using the sacred atriratri-
agnihotra  ashes  of the sacred syllable Om, the Visnu-gayatri,  or
the mantras beginning with the words ‘Visnus trini pada.’
25    In  this  way  one should apply Vaisnava  tilaka  with  gopi-
candana.
26    A  person who studies this Upanisad becomes purified  of  all
sins.   Sinful thoughts do not arise in his mind.  He  attains  the
results of bathing in all sacred rivers and lakes.  He attains  the
results  of performing all yajnas.  He is to be worshipped  by  all
the demigods.  He attains unwavering devotion to Me, Lord Narayana,
the goddess of fortune’s husband.  When his spiritual knowledge  is
perfect  he attains the liberation of meeting Lord Visnu.  He  does
not return to the world of birth and death.  He does not return  to
the world of birth and death.
27   Thus spoke Lord Vasudeva, the Supreme Personality of Godhead.
28    One  who studies this Upanisad certainly attains  this.   Om.
That is the truth.  Thus says the Upanisad.


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