Tilak, applying it on the forehead

A ‘Tilak’ is a mark that a Hindu/a follower of the Sanatan Dharma wears on the his/her body. A average householder wears a tilak on his forehead first thing after having a bath.

When we sleep at night, our consciousness is drawn away from the physical body, ie the anna-mai-kosh. This physical body sheath is given just the basic minimum pran required to run the basic life processes. The individual soul/ Jivatma withdraws to the subtle body, the sookshma sharir during the dream state and deep sleep states. When you wake up in the morning, the consciousness again reanimates the physical body, but the sleep/ dream states have interfered with the body’s nadi/ pran wiring, it is seen in the aura, it is somewhat ‘blotchy’. When we have a bath and the body is made wet, the aura is withdrawn into the body. Now when we dry ourselves, the aura fans out again, you feel it’s warmth. Now this new refreshed body /aura /mind /soul needs to be reminded of its divine connection. So you put a tilak on your forehead at your ajnya chakra. The Ajnya chakra is the seat of the individual soul, this chakra controls the intake of the pran from the Universe and also the allocation of pran for the activities of the body/mind. This is the place where you have to concentrate on when you do your spiritual practice. So when you put a red tilak here you are literally energising your entire self.

Listing out these several types of Tilak-s used commonly,

 

A red dot between the eyebrows at the point of the third eye, ajnya chakra.

This red powder is called Kumkum. It is generally made by mixing ground turmeric powder and slaked lime with a drop of lemon juice. But this mark is really made by rubbing a strand of saffron/kesar in a drop of water. ‘Kumkum’ is a Sanskrit word which means saffron, Crocus sativa. This is the most potent Tilak, if you can afford the saffron strands, you should wear this on your forehead.

This red tilak is used by any person who wishes to acknowledge his higher spiritual self within himself or herself. It is used by both men and women who do puja of Devi, the feminine force who animates this creation. Married women compulsorily wear this on their forehead to indicate prosperity, ‘Shri’. A married woman is the Gruh-Laxmi, the sign of prosperity of the household. She wears this red tilak in recognition of her own divinity. There is variation of the red dot, the red crescent, with or without a round dot. This now represents the crescent moon that the Devi wears on her forehead and increases self-confidence, strength and aggression too.

Then there is a form of this saffron tilak which starts at the third eye Ajnya chakra and continues into the hair, till the top of the head, Brahmarandhra. It is a red line from the center of the eyebrows to the top of the head. It connects the seat of the individual soul, the third eye to the seat of the Ultimate, the Brahmarandhra, it links the two. If you use Kesar/saffron charged with mantra to draw this tilak your spiritual progress speeds up.

(For women the 5 days of the monthly cycle will again pop up.You cannot do pujas or anything on these days, so the modern world has the short cut of the sticker bindi! You can also use the red turmeric mix on these 5days)

The tilak is made even more potent by putting a few grains of raw unbroken rice on it. These rice grains are placed before the deity you worship and they absorb the energy of your puja mantra etc. When you wear the rice grains also on your tilak the energy here becomes magnified exponentially.

The Tripundra. Three parallel lines of Vibhuti/ Bhasma/ sacred ash, horizontally across the forehead.

Vibhuti is the greyish ash which remains when you do a homam. A homam is a small version of a yadnya. All Hindus are supposed to do the Agnihotra Homa every sunrise and sunset so there is ample Vibhuti always available. (A simple Homam does not need much. A small inverted pyramidal copper homa-kund, desi Indian cow’s cowdung cakes and its milk’s Ghee. The cowdung cakes and ghee is burnt in the homa-kund with accompanying mantras. The energy of the mantra enters the ash, the Vibhuti. This Vibhuti can be used in several ways. Often the vibhuti is applied as a simple dot at the third eye chakra.)

  • The three fingers, middle, ring and little finger of the right hand are used to draw the tripundra in a sweeping motion across the forehead. Those who worship Shiv will wear the Tripundra. The tripundra is also drawn on the body, the neck, the biceps, forearms, chest, navel etc.
  • A Tripundra across the forehead with a red dot at the third eye chakra. The red dot is of Kesar/Saffron and the Tripundra drawn using the Vibhuti. This is worn by those who do pujas of the Ugra (dangerous and terrifying) forms of the Devi Shakti. And for those who do puja of Shiv and Shakti together. It’s other variation is the Tripundra with the red vertical line connecting the third eye chakra and the top of the head.

Wearing a Tripundra is a a level-up. You have invited a specific type of energy into yourself. Shiv is the potential energy of the Tama-gun and Devi Shakti is the kinetic active form of Tama-gun. When you put their marks on your forehead you are clearly intending that you desire Moksh. The three lines are the three Gun, Satva Raja and Tama, the building blocks of the creation and red dot represents the combined energy of creation. (A red line represents your real self or connection to your real self.) You are using Vibhuti, burnt ash as to draw the Tripundra. This indicates that you want to destroy the three building blocks of creation and progress onwards. You want to dissolve creation and the creator both and go beyond them to your own Reality. The red dot is made with saffron charged with mantras. It is a big commitment. If you wear these marks on your forehead, you should be aware of your own actions and your conscience at all times. 

The Urdhvapundra. This mark is made by three vertical lines on the forehead. These three lines meet at the third eye chakra. This mark is to be made with sandalwood paste. Sandalwood has the effect of calming down the mind, it is easier to concentrate. The movement of the pran in the nadis becomes less turbulent and you can work better with it. Worshippers of Vishnu draw this on their foreheads. It can be drawn with the fingers or using a stick of the Tulasi plant (Ocimum sanctum). These three lines represent the three main nadis, Ida, Pingala and Sushumna which are connected at the Ajnya chakra. Sometimes the central line of the Urdhvapundra is drawn with red powder or more correctly with saffron. If the Urdhvapundra design is too complicated, a sandalwood dot at the third eye chakra can be applied instead.

Vishnu is the conscious potential of the Satva-gun, it increases the inclination of the aspirant towards the Ultimate reality. The red color is representative of Agni/ pran. Same as the Tripundra, the Urdhvapundra indicates that the three building blocks Satva-Raja-Tama have to be channelised, balanced by the active use of pran/Agni and one they are balanced the central dot of your internal geometry can be accessed. (Everything ultimately comes down to Shrichakra!)

So if you wear either of these marks linked to Vishnu or Shiv the seriousness remains the same. Satva and Tama are by themselves incapable of movement, it is only Raja-gun which moves them so that you can use their potential to move onwards on your spiritual path. You are reminding yourself of your commitment when you wear these special tilak marks.

 

Now how to put a tilak? The right hand is used always,

Ring finger – The best option for putting a tilak on everyone. This finger is called Anamika and is ruled by the Sun. It represents the Prithvi mahabhoot (solidity). It increases prosperity confidence, creativity and brings you closer to your internal divinity.

Middle finger – This finger is called the Madhyama, ruled by Saturn, represents ether, Akash Mahabhoot (ether).  It increases endurance and the capacity to work. It is rarely used alone, generally will be used together with the ring finger to draw an elongated type of tilak.

Thumb – this is called Angushtha and is ruled by Venus and represents the Agni mahabhoot. A tilak applied with the thumb increases valour, courage and mental strength.

Forefinger – The index finger is called Tarjani and represents the Vayu mahabhoot (air), it is also linked to the planet Jupiter. It is never used to apply tilak-s to a living person. Is used to apply tilak-s to a dead body at the time of cremation. A dead body is the discarded vessel, the spirit is now in the body created by only Vayu and Akash mahabhoot. So you are really intending that the energies of the tilak reach the spirit’s body by using this finger.

Little finger – this is called kanishthika and is linked to Mercury and the Aap mahabhoot (fluid). This finger is never used to apply tilak-s. It is highly inauspicious as it increases mental turmoil. If you know how, you can make someone go insane just by putting a tilak with this finger on his third eye chakra.

Tilak-5.jpg

In all Indian festivals and pujas, people put tilaks on each other. eg in Raksha bhandhan the sister puts a tilak on her brother. On the new year day, the wife puts it on her husband. If my women relatives come to my house, I will put a tilak on them. If they are men relatives, my husband will put a tilak on them. If you go to a temple the priest will put a tilak on you. It is all very usual and necessary.

But the point of the third eye chakra is very sensitive, so here are a few things. Do not let random people put a tilak on you. Do not put random stuff on here, eg vibhuti from unknown places can be dangerous. Do not put a black colored tilak on your third eye chakra ever. This will attract negativity into your energy system. Avoid chemicals. Most red powders sold as ‘kumkum’ are dangerous dyes, they will not do anything for your spiritual growth and you might develop skin allergy. The turmeric-slaked limestone (a very small pinch of choona) mix is safer, if you cannot afford saffron.

So do wear a tilak on your forehead. If you feel shy about wearing it throughout the day at least wear it for some time after you have your bath till you do your puja. It will energise you from the inside out.

 

Kundalini and the Shatchakra

The human body is a source of extraordinary energies. These energies are spread all through the body structure but the most extraordinary ones are found in the spine and the head of the body. It is very important to protect the head and the spine for energy reasons as well as medical reasons. Let’s focus on the spine in this post. Words and that too in English are very inadequate to describe the magnificence of these energies, these have to be experienced.

Kundalini and the Shatchakra

Westerners think that that there are crores and crores of gods in Sanatan Dharma, 33 crores to be exact! Several Hindu’s believe this too. This belief is good enough for average people who not know the true meanings of Sanskrit words. But for those who understand Sanskrit (not just know Sanskrit) there are 33 ‘koti’ / classes of energies in Sanatan dharm. (Koti means excellence, class, point, end, top, edge, eminence, pitch of sound, etc. Can you see it now? there are basically 33 types of energies.)

Now these 33 koti deities, each ‘koti’ corresponds to one segment of your vertebral column. There are 33 vertebrae. The 33 classes of energies, i.e. the eight Vasu, twelve Aditya, eleven Rudra, Indra and Prajapati are located in your spine. Be very careful of your back and head (friends casually hit each other on the head/back, it can be damaging). Your backbone is the literal backbone of your spiritual practice. If your spine and head are physically deformed or damaged you cannot do Dhyan. For manipulating the pran in the delicate nadis of the spine the backbone needs to be in shape. That is why we have the entire system of doing Yog-asans. (Suryanamaskar is the very basic asan which everyone should practice at sunrise, it keeps every body part in shape. It is breath control, body control and mantra recited mentally together. Find a good teacher and start with 3 repeats a day and slowly increase by one count per week, max is 108 repeats).

(Sometimes I feel quite deeply for Libra ascendant people, if the ascendant sign/ruler is well placed then doing spiritual practice is a bit easier for them. But if there are problems here, the back, backbone, spine, vertebrae and the associated structures suffer.)

The Spine however is the basis of all energy work and the spinal cord protected within it is the physical side of the energy nadis. There are several of them along the spine, however the most important are the 3, Ida, Pingala and Sushumna. Sushumna contains Vajrini, inside this is the Chitrini, inside this is the Brahmanadi. The Sushumna is connected to the top of the head called Brahmarandhra and to the lower point at the base of the spine at the centre of the genital area.

The Brahmanadi at the lower end is locked in place within the human body with a complicated knot of 3 and half coils twisted and fixed around a hexagonal ‘kurma’ structure. This is not a physical organ, it is an energy structure, and is linked to the consciousness. If it ever gets detached from the kurma-shila, it is physical death. This interlocked area is called the Kundalini. Its energies in the resting locked state ‘look’, reddish-brown to darkish yellow. The Kundalini is where the pran from the Hiranyagarbha links to the human’s Brahmanadi. The locks of the Kundalini are highly intricate because they protect the most valuable thing conceivable, the door to the Brahmanadi. There are locks within locks, in all possible dimensions and energies. An average human cannot even dream of even accessing these locks, leave opening them! But if a deserving Yogi tries to access them, he will be allowed entry.

(The energy which helps access and then open these locks is the Vighnaharta, Ganapati. The first mantra that we begin with for any energy work is Ganapati’s. He is the ultimate Vighnesh, remover of obstacles, basically means that he removes the ultimate obstacle of the locks within locks and allows access to the Brahmanadi. As children we are first taught the Gayatri mantra and the second one is Ganapati’s.)

(Kurma means several things, a tortoise, one of the 49 types of vayu in the body, name of a Naag, the second Avtar of Vishnu, a figure made by intertwined ropes, the manifested reality swimming in the ‘water’ of ksheer samudra. This is the reason why Sanatan dharma is ridiculed by people who do not understand Sanskrit. The ‘earth’ is supported on the ‘tortoise’!, basically means that the Muladhar/prithvi tattva rests on the kurma-shila.)

Kundalini and the Shatchakra

Now after the initial protection/foundation at the kurma-shila and the Kundalini the Brahmanadi is protected in the spine by 6 more locks called the Shatchakras. Muladhar, Swadhisthana, Manipur, Anahata, Vishuddi and Ajnya. There are 5 tattvas, prithvi, aap, tej, vayu and akash. These tattvas are dominant in the various chakras and give rise to their typical colors, sounds, geometry, shapes and attributes. These attributes affect the movement of the pran in this area.

We visualise these chakras as ‘lotuses’ with varying number of ‘petals’. These shapes in the simplest 2 dimensions are seen as the yantras of that chakra. These represent the movement of the pran through the brahmanadi around the chakra, sometimes fast, slow, curved, sharp turns, triangular etc. (This may sound dull to read, but just think our ancient Rishis had the power and focus to ‘see’ the movement of vital energy/pran in their body. When you see a yantra of a chakra, you are actually seeing now pran moves in your body at this point.) These movement of the pran in the area around the chakra is correlated with the gait/movements of animals, slow, fast, jumping, etc so these animals are called the ‘vahan’/carrier of the energy of the chakras.

In an average human the movement of energy is unbalanced leading to several mental, emotional, psychological, physical etc problems. If you have ever visited a real Nadi Vaidya, he will just touch your pulse points at the wrist and tell you what is your health status on all levels. Such a Vaidya can access the movement of pran in the brahmanadi and diagnose you very very deeply.

The Sri Yantra/Mahameru is all the chakras of superimposed on each other in 2D/3D. When you focus on the central bindu you are forcing your own pran to move in its perfect route. You are giving it, its perfect energy diagram to follow, you are training it. You are doing the deepest possible healing on yourself.

The sounds that the pran makes as it moves through the chakra is the beej mantra of that chakra. This beej mantra is written in the center of the lotus geometry yantra of that chakra. And as the pran moves through the smaller segments of the chakras, through each individual ‘lotus petal’  it makes more sounds which are heard as even more beej mantras. In the yantra you must have seen these individual letters written on each segments.

Now the brahmanadi is entwined around the chakra. The chakra is a point, the brahmanadi forms its ‘lotus’ and its ‘petals’ around it. When the pran moves it describes every ‘letter’ of the Sanskrit alphabet, how it looks like, the alphabet. We have lost the actual original alphabet, though those who can see can just look within and write it again. It is so awesome that the script that we write Sanskrit in, is the actual movement of the pran within the brahmanadi as it makes the corresponding sound, moving around the chakra.

(The first person to write this alphabet was Brahmi, the daughter of Samrat Rishabhdev, who had his capital city at Ujjain, she was sister to Bharat, after whom our nation Bharat is named and Bahubali, who is known as the epitome of asceticism. This alphabet was named after her as ‘Brahmi’.)

This Brahmanadi then passes through the spine and at the top of the head expands and becomes the thousands petaled Sahastradala kamal. It is also described as the thousand headed Sheshnaag, the Naag on which Vishnu rests. This sahastradala kamal is like your energy antennae, these pick up the pran, the energy, the communications from other dimensions etc, everything from the Universes and also broadcasts your energy to the universes. Here also the myth is an allegory. Vishnu is the Universe and he sits on the Sheshnaag having thousands of heads, i.e your Brahmanadi. Can you reach up to Him within Yourself?

(Naag means fearsome, cloud, luminous, entwined, mountain, immense, seven, snake, tree, intelligent, one who creates, undefinable etc. )

We average humans are in search of the powers of matter, which is located at the bottom of the Brahmanadi, the Yogis search for the realisation of Vishnu and the beyond located at the top of the Brahmanadi. In an average human the Sahastradala kamal droops, its petals scattered without any order, but for a Yogi they are perfect, erect and energised.

Just remember you have the Universe within yourself. You are everything. You have such priceless extraordinary energies within you, if you could only focus on them. Nothing is lost and no one goes anywhere, if you decide that you want to experience or know something just put your intention and will behind it. You have the power within you to manifest it. Use it!

 

Kundalini and the Shatchakra

 

Dhanvantari, the God of medicine

Any post on Medicine is incomplete if we don’t recognise the God of Ayurved, Dhanvantari. He arose from the Samudra Manthan, as one of the 14 gems/Ratna from the Sea of Ksheer (ksheer means milk/ water/ a nourishing liquid/ actually means pran). The story of Samudra manthan is a beautiful way of describing what really happens when you do dhyan. The inward breath/pran and outward apan are the dev and danav, the mount meru is your own geometry which is being churned on the support of the hexagonal kurma based of the granthi of the muladhar. (will write a separate post on this, this post is only about Dhanvantari!) But the point is that Dhanvantari is your own internal energy if you can access and activate it.

Dhanvantari, the God of medicine

The preserver of the manifested Universe is the energy known as Vishnu. His energies are manifested in different forms which manage different aspects of this creation. Dhanvantari can be loosely understood as the guide/ferry-man/boat who helps cross the wasteland/desert. He is the form of Vishnu who is equipped with 4 things, Sudarshana chakra, Panchajanya conch, the kalash of Amrut/nectar and a Leech/Jaluka and has given us the knowledge of Ayurved. Shankh when blown is the sound of Om, sudarshan chakra is the cycle of Time, the kalash is immortality i.e. the knowledge of your reality and the Leech is the tool which removes impurities. There are several Dhanvantari Dhyan mantras, here is a beautiful one recited by Uma Mohan. He is worshipped specifically by Ayurvedic Vaidyaraj-s (doctors) and followers of Sanatan Dharm on the 13th day of the dark half of the Ashwin month, on Dhanatrayodashi. If you can do any sincere mantra, jaap, homa of Dhanvantari on this day you will be blesssed with good health. I have seen some families worshipping Devi Laxmi on this day, its not correct, as She is worshipped on Diwali Kartik Amavasya, 2 days after Dhanatrayodashi.

Dhanvantari Mantras also have the same efficacy when it comes to health related things. Now the homa for Dhanvantari will work for anything and everything related to health. The preparatory phase and concluding phase remains the same (this post), for the mantra phase, the mantra you will use is this,

“Om namo Bhagawate Dhanvantaraye, Amrutkalasha hastaya, sarva aamaya vinashanaya, Trilokyanathaya, Shri Mahavishnave Swaha”

If you just want to recite the mantra, replace the ‘swaha’ by ‘namah’.

One might wonder why remedies are useful. Suppose you have some muddy water in a tank, you add clear water to it, so its muddiness will reduce. If you add even more clear water and also try to remove the muddiness, eventually your tank will be full of clear pure water. This is the same principle. You are the tank of muddy water, your karmas have turned it muddy. You add clear water by doing your spiritual practice. You remove the mud by experiencing the karmic payback related things. The intensity of the karmic payback depends on the muddiness. More mud, more intense. If you dilute the mud by adding lots of clear water, the karma you will experience will be lighter too. Eventually you will be full of only clear water. So do some spiritual activity regularly, it may be for just 2 mins, but just do it mindfully with full intention.

 

Dhanvantari, the God of medicine