The Significance of Tilak (Part 2)

Tilak in Hindu tradition holds a special place when it comes to identifying one’s religious, cultural and sectarian preferences. While representing our ability to connect to the inner Divine, a Tilak also awakens our consciousness and spirituality. Its application on the Ajna Chakra or the Third Eye is an important indicator of its potent effect on our intuitive abilities and our sense of awareness.     

Different Tilaks applied in various shapes with different formulations also represent the worshippers of different Gods and Goddesses in Hinduism. One can simply look at the shape of the tilak and make out which sect or religious group an individual belongs to.

Let us know about the different shapes and substance of the Tilak and the significance each one holds:

  • Shaivites or the worshippers of Shiva, as they are known, apply Vibhuti or Ash Tilak on their forehead represented by three horizontal lines and at times a red dot. This kind of Tilak representative of Shiva Bhakti, is known as Tripundra. The three horizontal lines of tripundra symbolise Shiva’s threefold powers of will, knowledge and action. The Vibhuti or ash also acts as a constant reminder of the temporary nature of this material world. Tripundra is often worn with a red dot or Kumkum (red vermillion) in the centre symbolic of the feminine energy of the Divine Goddess Shakti.
  • Vaishnavas or the worshippers of Vishnu apply a Tilak of Chandan or sandalwood and clay, or both, in two vertical lines joining at the bridge of the nose in a shape of ‘U’. This kind of tilak represents the Krishna Bhakts (as Krishna was the avatar of Vishnu), and is known as Urdhva Pundra. The shape of ‘U’ of this Tilak is considered as the footprint of Vishnu. Within the Vaishnavites, this tilak serves as an offering to their Ishta Devta (personal diety) and is an indication of the wearer’s desire to become Vishnu’s devoted and humble servants.
  • Shaktas or the worshippers of Devi Shakti, the feminine manifestation of the Divine, wear a red dot of Kumkum or red vermillion or draw a single red vertical line with Kumkum. This kind of Tilak is the symbol of the Devi’s divine energy and power. This Tilak or Bindi as it is called, symbolises the beginning and the end. It’s a reminder that we all come from one source and in the end, merge back into it. The application of a red Tilak ignites our inner Shakti (power).   
Author: Aumtara