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Tripundra and Urdhvapundra

 

[Query] Though I am a smartha, my ishta deivam is krishna. Can I wear thirunama?

namaH shrIpurabhairvyai

Of the various pending questions [apologies to those who are still awaiting answers], this one starts with the dvyakShara mahAmantra kR^ishNa. That indeed seems to be a sign of blessing from the Lord ahead of his janmAShTamI. It is always best to follow one's tradition in relation to shrauta smArta karma. Moreover, does mere UrdhvapuNDra bestow upon one the grace of shrImannArayaNa if other expected qualifications are absent? Or, does absence of UrdhwapuNDra alone result in the loss of the kR^ipA of bAlagopAla even if other guNa sampatti is present?

Technically, like in the case of tapta mudrA, there are pramANas both for and against UrdhvapuNDra dhAraNa.

dhR^itordhvapuNDraH parameshitAraM nArAyaNaM sAMkhyayogAdhigamyam |
j~nAtvA vimuchyeta naraH samastaiH saMsArabharairiha cheti viShNum || [mahopaniShat]

"He, who, adorned with the UrdhwapuNDra, knows the great Lord who is the goal of sAmkhya, yoga etc., is liberated from samsAra and attains the Lord".

There are various pramANas which proclaim the indispensability of UrdhwapuNDra during the performance of shrauta smArta karmajAla. Some smR^itis speak of UrdhwapuNDra with equal importance as shikhA and yaj~nopavIta:

upavItaM shikhAbandhaM UrdhvapuNDraM vinAkR^itam |
apavitrakR^itaM karma viprasya viphalaM bhavet || [viShNuH]

upavItavihInena pavitrarahitena cha |
tathordhvapuNDrahInena yatkR^itaM tannirarthakam || [bhR^iguH]

kushapANiH sadA kuryAt sottarIyordhwapuNdradhR^ik |
vedoktamakhilaM vidvAn anyathA syAnnirarthakam || [dakShaH]

UrdhvapuNDravihInaM yat sharIraM shavasannibham |
UrdhwapuNDravihInaM tu shvapAkamiva saMtyajet || [atriH]

homapUjAdisamaye sAyaM prAtaH samAhitaH |
UrdhwapuNDradharo vipro bhavecChuddho na chAnyathA || [vasiSThaH]

Some scriptures describe the different effects of wearing the UrdhwapuNDra, similar to the kAmya tilaka procedure well-known in the Tantras, a concept criticized later below:

shyAmaM shAntikaraM proktaM raktaM vashyakaraM bhavet |
shrIkaraM pItamityAhuH vaiShNavaM shwetamuchyate || [brahmANDa purANe]

It should however by noted as to how the symbolism various from one context to another. The same rakta tilaka which is mainly for vashya in one context becomes representative of a higher tattva in the shAkta context, when viewed with bhasma [sImantollAsa tantra].

Praise for UrdhwapuNDra can be found even in the purANas:

UrdhwapuNDrasya mAhAtmyaM vakShyAmi tava pArvati |
dhAraNAdeva muchyeta bhavabandhAt dvijottamaH || [pAdme]

Some scriptures discourage the use of tripuNDra and prefer UrdhwapuNDra:

tripuNDraM brAhmaNo vidvAn lilayA.pi na dhArayet |
dhArayet brAhmaNaH samyak UrdhvapuNDraM prayatnataH || [agnivaishvAyaniH]

Some restrict the use of tripuNDra to antyajas alone and prescribe UrdhwapuNDra for the bhUsuras:

brAhmaNasyordhwapuNDraM syAt kShatriyasyArdhachandrakam |
vaishyasya vartulAkAraM shUdrasyaiva tripuNDrakam || [nAradIye]

There is a more moderate view which prohibits UrdhvapuNDra with bhasma and tripuNDra with gopIchandana or mR^ittikA:

tripuNDraM bhasmanA tiryagUrdhwapuNdraM mr^idA nyaset |
ubhayaM chandanenaiva vartulaM na kadAchana ||

bhasmanA tUrdhwapuNdraM tu tiryakpuNDraM tathA mR^idA |
brahmahatyAsamaM proktaM munibhirvedapAragaiH || [garuDapurANe]

There are various pramANas prohibiting UrdhwapuNDra dhAraNA, quite well-known among the smArtas:

sordhwapuNDramukhaM dR^iShTvA vrataM chAndrAyaNaM charet || [mAnavopapurANe]

"One who sees a person with UrdhwapuNDra attains sin which is to be absolved by observance of chAndrAyaNa".

gopIchandanadhArI tu shivaM spR^ishati yo dwijaH |
sasvaikaviMshatikulaH so.akShayaM narakaM vrajet || [kUrmapurANe]

"One who touches Shiva while wearing UrdhwapuNDra, attains hell along with his twenty-one generations".

svamAtuH sodarAyAmshcha gamanaM tadvadeva tu || [sUtasaMhitAyAm]

Some restrict the use of UrdhwapuNDra to antyajas alone and prescribe tripuNDra for the bhUsuras:

tripuNDraM suraviprANAM vartulaM nR^ipavaishyayoH |
ardhachandraM tu shUdrANAM anyeShAmUrdhwapuNDrakam || [li~NgapurANe]

The common ground seems to occur in some scriptures, which prescribe UrdhwapuNDra for viShNu bhaktas and tripunDra for shiva bhaktas. The usage, Agamokta AshramaniShThA should be noted however.

shaivAgamoktAgamaniShThamAnavaH tripuNDrali~NgaM tu sadaiva dhArayet |
viShVAgamoktAshramaniShThamAnavastathaiva puNDrAntaramUrdhwarUpataH || [sUtasaMhitAyAm]

Some restrict the use of UrdhwapuNDra to those following tantras alone:

UrdhwapuNDraM trishUlaM cha vartulaM chArdhachandrakam |
tantraniShThena dharyaM syAnna dhArye vaidikairjanaiH || [manuH, kUrmapurANe]

And the learned prohibit the pramANa picked from tantras and Agamas, when not in accordance with the shruti or tadarthabodhaka shAstras:

tasmAttu vedabAhyAnAM rakShaNARthAya pApinAm |
vimohanAni shAstrANi kariShyAvo vR^iShadhwaja ||
kApAlaM kAkulaM vAmaM bhairavaM pUrvapashchimam |
pA~ncharAtraM cha kaulaM cha athAnyAni sahasrashaH || [kUrmapurANe]

The same is true for vaiShNavAgamas as well:

yatra strIshUdradAsAnAM samskAro vaiShNavaH smR^itaH || [bhAgavate]

When vaiShNava or shivAgamas are described as prohibited for dvijas, it is interpreted as referring to those particular practices which contradict the shruti or tadarthabodhaka shAstras. Also, such injunctions do not demean the greatness of the deities who taught them, such as bhairava, shiva, viShNu or devi, as these shAstras were taught to those who were ineligible for the mainstream path, out of compassion, to ensure their spiritual upliftment. Of course, there are those who contest this view and it is best that we distance ourselves from unending contests and practice what we believe and what was taught by Sadguru.

tato viShNoH prasAdena vedamargAtivartinAm |
shANDilyaH saMhitaM chakre vaiShNavIM mahatIM mune ||
vAmaM pAshupataM ghoraM lA~NgulaM chaiva bhairavam |
na sevyametatkathitaM vedabAhyaM tathetaram ||

Some accept the practices from Tantra in Kali Yuga as all varNas are said to be shUdropamAH and hence find use in Tantra for Krama siddhi, as pointed by parAshara, especially for the current age:

shrutibhraShTaH smR^itiproktaprAyashchitte bhayaM gataH |
krameNa shrutisiddhyarthaM manuShyAstantramAshrayet || [parAsharaH]

Thus, for dvijas who shall accept shruti smR^iti pramANa, only UrdhwapuNDra or tripuNDra should be acceptable, but not li~Nga, shUla, chakra, trishUla [the vaiShNavaite symbol with three upward lines] etc. And to answer the question: which of these two, we can refer to vaidyanAtha dIkShita's take on this subject:

UrdhwapuNDraM tripuNDraM vA dhR^itvA karmANi vai dvijaH ||

The basis for the choice is kulAchAra.

yA yogibR^indahR^idayAmbujarAjahaMsI
mandasmitastutamukhI madhukaiTabhaghnI |
vighnAnadhakArapaTabhedapaTIyasI sA
mUrtiH karotu kutukaM bhramarAmbikAyAH ||