Urdhvapundra (tilaka) from the Padma Purana

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Padma Purana, Uttara Khanda, ch. 225

Shankara said (to Devi):

1-4. 0 you of an auspicious appearance, I shall tell you the greatness
of the #Urdhvapundra (vertical Vaishnava mark on the forehead). The
best brahmana would be free from the bond of the worldly existence
just on having it. Within the large and very charming space in the
Urdhvapundra, Vishnu, God of gods, is seated with Lakshmi. Therefore,
the body of him, on which there would be the mark, is the clean,
auspicious temple of the lord. That devotee of Vishnu, who has the
mark made with white clay, has bathed at all holy places, is prepared
for all sacrifices.

5-8. The brahmana having the mark is honoured among all people, (and)
getting into an excellent aeroplane, goes to the highest place of
Vishnu. The best brahmana should put on the mark thrice (a day), for
purification of all sins, and for obtaining the fruit of performing
sacrifices and digging wells and doing other acts of charity. (A man)
seeing one having the mark, is freed from all sins. By saluting him
devoutly he would obtain the fruit of all (kinds of) charity. The dead
ancestors of him who will feed a brahmana having the mark are
undoubtedly pleased for crores of kalpas.

9-14. 0 you of an auspicious face, he who, having the mark, performs a
shraddha, would obtain, for crores of kalpas, the fruit of the
shraddha (performed) at Gaya. The religious merit of the sacrifices,
gifts, penance, muttering (of hymns), sacrificial rites etc. of one
having the mark is endless. All the sacrifices performed, wells dug,
and other charitable acts done by him who does any act without having
the mark, are useless. That human body which is without the mark
should not be seen at all. It would be like a cremation ground. All
the rites etc. which a man without the mark would do, are taken (away)
by demons; and he goes down to hell. A brahmana well-versed in the
Vedas, should have the mark with white clay. The wise one should never
have it in an oblique manner even in a misery.

15-18. Brahmana should have the mark. The mark of kshatriyas should be
round; that of vaishyas should be strip-like; that of sudras should
have three lines. The mark should be made with clay; the round one
with musk; the strip-like one with sandal; and the three-lined one
with sacred ash. The vertical mark is recommended for all. It is not
prohibited. A kshatriya etc also, if he is Vishnuís devotee should
have it. Brahmanas are not to have the oblique or the strip-like mark.
And they are not to worship any other (deity) than Vishnu, the highest

19-23. 0 goddess, if a brahmana, learned and born in a noble family
has put on (the mark of) sacred ash, one should avoid such a brahmana,
as a pot in which liquor is left as the remnant. The mark of three
lines is the practice for those who are sudras and like sudras. There
is no doubt that a brahmana having the mark of three lines, falls. The
very noble ones, interested in the good of all living beings, should
have a pundra with a gap like the shape of Vishnuís foot. A man should
have the mark in accordance with the precept, resembling the foot of
Vishnu and having a gap in its centre; for that is Vishnuís temple. He
should have the mark which is good, pleasing, has the shape of a
staff, good sides, which is very charming, very beautiful, and which
has a gap at the centre.

24-27. Therefore, 0 you of an auspicious appearance, brahmanas and
women should always have the mark which has a gap, has the shape of a
staff, and is very beautiful. In the large and very beautiful gap at
the centre of the vertical mark, Vishnu is seated with Lakshmi. That
mean brahmana who would have a gapless vertical mark, expels Vishnu
along with Lakshmi seated there. There is no doubt that there always
is a dogís foot on the foreheads of those mean brahmanas who have a
gapless vertical mark.

28-40. Therefore, in order to attain the same world as of Vishnu, a
brahmana should always have a mark with a gap, with turmeric, and
having auspiciousness. For securing likeness of Vishnu one should,
with great devotion, bring the clay from the pool on the Venkata
mountain (Tirupati), and make the vertical mark with it. A devoted
person should bring the clay from the root of Tulasi of Sri Krishna,
and should make the vertical mark (with it). Vishnu is pleased with
him. Or the best brahmana, having brought the pleasing clay from the
auspicious, charming pool (i.e. sacred to) Vishnu at Dvaravati
(Dwaraka), should make the mark (with it) in order to secure all
desired objects. He who, having brought with great devotion, clay from
the banks of Ganga, makes the mark with it, would obtain the fruit of
all sacrifices. Due to having the mark (with) sandal, turmeric, so
also ash from the sacred fire one is said to control everything. He
should bring the clay from that place which is sacred to Vishnu. One
should get the clay from the top of a mountain, the bank of a river,
the root of a bilva tree, a reservoir of water, the coast of a sea,
an anthill, especially from a place sacred to Vishnu, and from the
place where the water used for Vishnuís bath always flows, for having
the mark. A man, taking clay with water flowing from Vishnuís feet,
and having pundra marks on the limbs of his body at Shriranga,
Venkatagiri, Shrikurma, the auspicious Dvaraka, Prayaga, Narasimha
mountain, Varaha, a Tulasi-grove would get likeness of Vishnu. For
having the mark clay should be taken from that place wherefrom the
noble devotees of Vishnu take it. A dark mark is said to cause peace.
So also a red one is said to bring about control. They say that a
yellow one leads to riches. The white one leads to salvation and is

41-50. They say that a round, oblique, gapless, short, long,
protracted, thin, crooked, ugly park, one with its top closed or with
its root cut off, with a line missing, inauspicious, rough, fixed, one
that is not drawn with the finger, not having fragrance, or inadequate
is unfortunate. One should draw it with clay begin- fling with the
root of the nose. Starting it from the middle of the eye-brows, he
should have a gap in it. The gap should be of the measure of two
fingers, and the sides of the size of a finger. With white clay he
should draw a better and auspicious mark. He should meditate upon
Kesava (as staying) on his forehead. (He should meditate) upon
Narayana (as staying) in his belly, Madhava (as staying) in his chest,
and Govinda (as staying) in his throat. (He should meditate) upon
Vishnu (as staying) in the right side of his belly and Madhusudana (as
staying) in his right arm. (He should meditate) upon Trivikrama (as
staying) in (the right side of) his neck, and Vamana (as staying) in
his left side. (He should meditate) upon Sridhara (as staying) in his
left arm, and Hrshikesha in (the left side of) his neck. (He should
meditate) upon Padmanabha (as staying) in his back, and place Damodara
in the lower part of his spine. And with the water for washing it (he
should meditate) upon Vasudeva (as present) in his head. He should
draw the mark of the measure of four fingers on his forehead, both the
arms, on both (the sides) of the back, and on the neck. On the belly
and near its sides a long one of the measure of ten fingers is
recommended. On the arms and chest a mark of the measure of eight
fingers is recommended. Thus a brahmana should always have twelve

51-59. He should, after meditating upon those images with their
respective hymns, have the marks (on those respective limbs of his
body). In the gap he should put auspicious turmeric. They say,
ksatriyas should have four marks and vaisyas should have two. One mark
is laid down for women and sudras. He should have four marks on the
forehead, on his chest, and on the arms. Two are laid down for the
forehead and the chest and one for the place where the hair is
separated. Of all the marks, the vertical one is said to be the first
(that should be put) on the forehead. As laid down, it should be had
in the order of the forehead first. One should have the images of
Vasudeva etc. in the four vertical marks. In two he should have the
two (images of) Govinda and Krsna and one of Narayana. O Girija, I
have thus told (you) the manner in which the pundra is had. The triad
of one resembling the ashvattha-leaf, the reed-leaf, or the
lotus-leaf, is said to be ‘Mohana’. A pure, great devotee of Vishnu,
should, in case of a controversy, have a vertical mark of the shape of
a staff. Those, the roots of whose arms are marked with Sudarshana, so
also all of whose limbs are marked with the vertical pundra, who have
lotus garlands and tulasi rosaries, protect the people from contact
with heaps of sins.




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