Urdhva Pundra Tilak
Urdhva Pundra tilak or the Tilak Chandlo is a mark applied on the forehead my members of the Swaminarayan sampraday It is composed of two elements: the “U” shaped tilak made of yellow sandal paste, and the red kumkum dot in the middle. It is applied after the morning puja by followers of the faith and is representative of their theological principle of Akshar Purushottam Upasana. Members of the Swaminarayan Sampraday apply the mark every day during their puja.
Application and Significance
The tilak and chandlo respectively stand for the lotus feet of Paramatma (Bhagvad Padakruti), or the Supreme Being, and the bhakta, or devotee of Paramatma. Together, the Tilak Chandlo represents that the primary inclination of a bhakta is to sit at the lotus feet of Paramatma and worship Paramatma. Instructions appear in the Shikshapatri shlokas. The Tilak Chandlo also echos the Bhakta-Bhagwan mode of worshipping Paramatma along with his ideal devotee, the Gunatit Sadhu.This mode of worship emphasizes that, even though they exist in unison, the Bhakta eternally serves Paramatma. The Swaminarayan Tilak Chandlo follows from a tradition of marking foreheads in Hinduism as a form of devotional worship.
On 13 February 1821, Swaminarayan celebrated the Holi festival in Panchala, a town near Junagadh in Saurashtra.He gave all of the monks clay tablets, each the size of a small chalk-stick, to use them to do a tilak the next day. The next day when the monks came with various shapes and imprints of the tilak, he called upon Gunatitanand Swami. He applied the tilak mark on Gunatitanand Swami’s forehead and a round kumkum chandlo in its center. He proclaimed that the mark he had just applied was to be followed by all of his devotees moving forward. The importance of the tilak mark is mentioned in the Atharvana Upanisad, Maha Upanisad, Brahmanda Purana and Padma Purana among other scriptures.
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