the Holy Bible states : " 1 Corinthians 6:19 "Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you,
whom you have received from God ? You are not your own "
In the Vaishnava tradition devotees wear the urdhva
pundra made of gopi chandan commonly known as tilak.
"Tilaka means victory personified." (SPL to Tilaka devi
By wearing tilak not only does one identify ones body as the temple of the Lord but also one is blessed by the
auspicious protection of the Lord. Not only is the wearer immensely benefited but even those who see the tilak marks are benefited.
Kali-yuga one can hardly acquire gold or jeweled ornaments, but the twelve tilaka marks on the body are sufficient as auspicious
decorations to purify the body. “ SB 4.12.28 Purport
Srila Prabhupada emphasized that tilak was part of
the essential dress of a devotee.
“I have no objection if members of the Society dress like nice American
gentlemen; but in all circumstances a devotee cannot avoid tilaka, flag on head (shikha) and (tulasi) beads on the neck. These
are the essential features of a Vaisnava." (SPL to Brahmananda, 14th October, 1967)
Tilak is applied with the Lord’s
holy names thus giving protection to the whole body.
“While decorating the body with tilaka, we give protection
to the body by chanting twelve names of Vishnu. Although Govinda, or Lord Vishnu, is one, He has different names and forms
with which to act differently.” SB 10.6.27-29 Purport ACBSP
"Persons who are decorated with tilaka or gopī-candana
[a kind of clay resembling fuller's earth which is produced in certain quarters of Vrindāvana], and who mark their bodies
all over with the holy names of the Lord, and on whose necks and breasts there are tulasī beads, are never approached
by the Yamadūtas." The Yamadūtas are the constables of King Yama (the lord of death), - Nectar Of Devotion Ch. 9
Prabhupada has given the example of a policeman. He can be identified by his dress. Downing the dress, the policeman is also
reminded that his behavior should honor his position.
Simply by seeing someone wearing tilak, people are induce
to utter the words, “There is a Hare Krishna” and thus they immensely benefit thus we should not see it as something
“Just like sometimes on the street some outsider, seeing you, they chant Hare Krsna only by the symbolic,
sānketya. Because they see: "They have got tilaka, kunti." Therefore these things are required. Don't become immediately
paramahamsa—no tilaka, no kunti and no bead bag. This is not good. Sānketya. So that others may understand, "Here
is a Vaisnava. Here is a Krsna devotee..." And if he is simple, he'll chant, "Hare Krsna." This chance should be given. Therefore
it is necessary, how people can utter. That chanting may save him from the greatest danger. Therefore it is said, sānketyam
pārihāsyam. If somebody jokes... Sometimes they do that. "Hare Krsna" means he is not seriously chanting, but he
is trying to joke the other party who is engaged in chanting. And that is also good, pārihāsya.” - Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam
6.2.13 -- Vṛndāvana, September 15, 1975
Sometimes I am self conscious about wearing the sacred symbol of
tilac on my forehad in Public, but I have seen Vaisiseka prabhu in full devotee dress, tilac, shaved head, stopping anybody
and everybody on the street to take a Bhagavad Gita. He is totally transcendental and amazing to watch. If the Jews can wear
their Yamakahs on their heads, the Christians wear their crosses, the Mulims wear their Topee or Burkhas / Hijab, then why
should we be ashamed or embarassed to wear our tilac ?
I remember when Visvakarma prabhu / Bobby Hebert say years ago in a Bhagavatam class, " If you cannot walk down the city street proudly wearing tilac and dhoti / kurta
/ saree,how do you expect to "walk" back to Godhead ?"
Tilac especially looks beautiful on women when applied artistically.
Women are already beautiful to look at, and they make tilac look even more beautiful and they are the secret weapon to getting
the tilac more widely accepted. Kind of like how Henna markings are really cool, so I see tilac as an extension of that. One
may also say that tilac makes the woman look even more beautiful than she already is.
Envision high fashion Vogue
models, walking down the runway with their beautifully adorned tilac on . We just need to influence Phillip Lim, Alexander
McQueen, Céline, Chanel, Derek Lam, Diane von Furstenberg, Dolce & Gabbana, Gucci , Stella McCartney etc....
aspiring Vaisnavas & Vaisnavis wearing tilac, inevitably brings up questions in peoples minds as a further opportunity
for us to share. " The reason I am wearing these two lines on my forhead, is because in my Vaisnava tradition,it states in
our scripture that one should adorn one's head as a temple of God, because that is what this body is , right ?
6:19 "Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God ? You
are not your own "
The Christians , which is the majority of people will love to hear that ! If you have time ,
please ask a Muslim friend or research on Google if the Quaran or Torah says anything about the body being God's temple. I
would like to know that.