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Tilak – A Mark of Hinduism on the Forehead

Monday, September 21, 2009

Readers of the post are highly recommended to read my earlier post ‘Bindi A Icon of Indian tradition on the forehead’,this can be found under the label Indian traditions.

Without the worship of Lord Ganesh no work begins in Hindu religion, similarly no religious work begins in Hindu religion without a TILAK on the forehead. Tilak is a mark of auspiciousness. In India, you will find people wearing a red, yellow, orange and, rarely, a black mark on their forehead. It's called the tilak, or tilakam, in the Sanskrit language and is basically a Hindu tradition. Depending on the purpose for which Tilak is applied, the material is chosen for preparing the sacred forehead mark.
Sandal: White sandal symbolizes purity, calmness and tranquility
Kumkum: Red kumkum signifies power, vigor, dynamism and stability
Turmeric: Saffron colored turmeric stands for wealth, fortune, prosperity and opulence
Holy Ashes or Vibhuti: Vibhuti represents dedication, devotion and commitment
The devotees of Shiva apply sacred ashes (Bhasma) on the forehead, the devotees of Vishnu apply sandal paste (Chandan), and the worshippers of Devi or Shakti apply Kumkum, a red tumeric powder. The Shaivites(followers of Lord Shiva) typically use ash and draw their tilak as three horizontal lines. Vaishnavas (followers of Lord Vishnu) use clay from a holy river or place, which is sometimes mixed with sandalwood paste for applying Tilak.

The holy scriptures of Hindu advocate the importance to Tilak on a forehead in the below line:
‘"A forehead without a Tilak, a woman without a husband, a Mantra the meaning of which is not known while doing Japa (recitation), the head that does not bend before holy personages, a heart without mercy, a house without a well, a village without a temple, a country without a river, a society without a leader, wealth that is not given away in charity, a preceptor without a disciple, a country without justice, a king without an able minister, a woman not obedient to her husband, a well without water, a flower without smell, a soul devoid of holiness, a field without rains, an intellect without clearness, a disciple who does not consider his preceptor as a form of God, a body devoid of health, a custom (Achar) without purity, austerity devoid of fellow-feeling, speech in which truth is not the basis, a country without good people, work without wages, Sannyasa without renunciation, legs that have not performed pilgrimages, determination unaided by Viveka or discrimination, a knife which is blunt, a cow that does not give milk, a spear without a point- all these are worthy of condemnation. They exist for name’s sake only."

Tilak is applied at the Ajna Chakra, the space between the two eyebrows. It has a very cooling effect. Application of sandal paste has great medicinal value, apart from the spiritual influence. Numerous mentions have been made about Tilak in the ancient scriptures such as Vedas and Upanishads. Rig Veda has given an elaborate description about the life of Goddess Usha, the consort of Lord Surya. She is portrayed as wearing a red dot on her forehead that signifies the rising sun.

Tilak applied with the ring-finger or thumb is very beneficial. As per Hindu palmistry it is believed that at the base of the ring-finger is Sun and and at the base of the thumb is Venus. Sun represents firmness, brilliance, honour,respect and faith, while Venus gives life force, health, is the creator of new life, the bestowed of gentility and politeness. And if Tilak is applied on the forehead with these fingers then the blessings of sun or Venus can be achieved.


Juhi said...

wow Meghana, this is very informative..thanks for writing such a nice blog, I had no idea about the meaning of different kinds of tilak!!

Parv Kaushik said...

very nice and informative.... bfully explained. i liked the step-by-step dissection of tilak in your article!

sm said...

interesting information

Mumbai said...

Excellent blog. I liked it.

Shweta said...

Excellent Article, specially the comments regarding tilaka being associated with the Agnyaa Chakra, effects of each type of tilaka and references of Devi Usha wearing it. Thanks !