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Urdhav-pundra (thiruman)

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Jai Shri Krishna, i have 2 questions regarding The sri vaishnava

Urdhava-Pundra mark (thiruman) worn on the forehead of bhakthas.


1) Today the two Vadakalais and Tenkalais have slighlty different

Urdhav pundra marks. Historicaly speaking what was the exact urdhav-

pundra worn on the head of Sri Ramanuja. Also what did Sri Desika

wear on his forehead (vadakalai or tenkalai thiruman mark..)


2).And Historically when did the two different Kalais start wearing

two different thirumans and what is the basis in the shastras for

the two different desighns







3) Finnaly in Gaudiya sampradaya both men and women wear the

Thiruman. What is the tradition of women wearing thiruman in Sri

Vaishnava sampradaya?? What are the reasons for this?? Also so do

the women mark their bodies in 12 parts as do the men.?????



[msg from Moderators: This is a genuine question from a

genuine devotee, please reply with FACTS, or "Munnor Mozhinda"]

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As a "convert" to Srivaisnavism, I attempt to answer you


On the women's thiruman in the tradition - see the thiruman on the mamis and

Andal's forehead for your answers




>Also so do the women mark their bodies in 12 parts as do the >men.?????





FareChase - Search multiple travel sites in one click.

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SrImathE rAmAnujAya namah:

This refers to the question on ThirumaN SrichoorNam for women for

which there is a reply that women can also wear them on their

foreheads. I would like to supplement what was told by Srimad

Pondareekapuram Andavan SwamigaL. He said that it is imerative for

the Sri VaishNava women too to wear the 12 ThirumaN on their bodies

(which I remembered to have seen in my Grandmother's body, as she

used to wear 12 thirumaN everyday).


This only goes to prove that the better half is in no way inferior

(in fact BETTER only due to their getting half of their husband's

puNyam automatically).


(in lighter vein: I read in Reader's Digest once: Do not complain

your wife. Had she been better, she would have got a better husband)


There was a query on Signififcance of Naamam (ThirumaN kappu) on

forheads: ThirumaN kappu- is called "Urdhva puNdram-Urdhva -

vertical; puNdram- mark..It has been widely discussed and can be

found in archives.


Swamy Desikan explains the saasthra pramANam of the same in crystal

clear terms in His Saccharitharaksha, which is divided into three

parts with the titles:



UrdhvapuNdra dhAraNa vidhi

BhagavannivEdhithOpAyOga vidhi


Swamy Desikan starts the Sacharitharaksha which establishes the

absolute and prime need of Pancha samskaram:


(meaning of 1st sloka): Let us carry the people on our head who bear

the mark of Sudharsana and Paanchajanya; who wear the UrdhvapuNdra

(ThirumaN kaappu) on forheads; who consume only the food offered to

the Lord and by virtue of the above who are saluted even by



All of us have these doubts as to where the saasthRAs says that one

should wear Thiruman kappu. Swamy Desikan has beautifully explained

it in this work.


Vedic authority of Urdhva puNdram dhAraNam is:


GruthOdhvapuNdra: paramESithAram nArAyaNam saankhya yOgAdhi gagyam |

jnAthvA vimuchyEtha nara: samasthai: samsaara paaSairiha chaiva

vishNu: ||


MahOpanishad statement above sys: One who wears Urdhva puNdra and

meditates on Lord Sriman Narayanan and realizes Him through his mind

gets liberated from the bondage of samsaara.


In Paancharaathra samhitha it is said:


yagnO dhAnam thapou hOma: bhOjanam pithru tharpaNam

sarvE bhavanthi viphalaa: Urdhva puNdram vinAkruthA:


Yaga, charity, penance, daily sacrifice, taking food, offering of

water to manes (argyam?) etc., is all null and void if one does

without wearing Urdhva pUndram. Libations means pouring of water in

honour of God. Manes means spirit of the dead (deceased Father,

Mother. Grand father, Grand mother, Great grand father, Great grand

mother et al).


pithru tharpaNam means offering water with sesame seeds to those

twelve Pithru dEvathAs. Hence, wearing Urdhva pUndram is essential.

The shape of Urdhva pUndra should be in the shape of HaripAdakruthi

(in the shape of the Lotus Feet of Sriman Narayanan). In Varaaha

pUrAna Lord says:


yEkAnthina: mahAbhAgA: math swarUpa vidha: amalA:

sAntharAlAn prakurvIran puNdrAn *mama padhaa kruthin*


As per Brahmaanandha purAna, in the middle of every Urdhva puNdra,

which is wide and good looking, Lord Sriman Narayanan stays with His

Consort Goddess Mahalakshmi. The symbol of Mahalakshmi is Sri

choorNam which may be either in red or yellow colour.


Thus, Swamy Desikan in the three chapters, establishes by his

beautiful and inimitable style and power of arguments based strictly

on scriptures, the three important customs and rituals of

Srivaishnavas which are Pancha samskaram, UrdhvapuNdradhAraNam and

partaking of the food offered to the Lord Sriman Narayanan in archa



(The above article is based on write up of Sri U Ve Anantha

Naarasihmachariar Swamin of Srirangam)


In this connection, a fervent appeal is made to every Srivaishnava to

strictly adhere to the above customs and eschew any contact or

worship of any deities other than Lord VishNu. More important: DO

NOT WIPE OFF when you step out of the house.The sikhs do not remove

their turbans; the arabs not their head ring.. But why should we?

That is as bad as not wearing it, if not worse.



Namo Narayana


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  • 8 years later...
Guest M Raghavan

No one quite knows what resulted in the differentiation between the two shapes in know.  One possible theory offered is in the interpretation of an Agama text which calls for the base of the thiruman to start at the bridge of the nose.  Some interpreted the bridge as the nasal bone, others as the top of the nose, between the eyebrows.  


Today, however, the difference in shape separates the two interpretations of Ramanuja's theology.  The Vadakalai (Northern School) of the faith regards surrender to the Lord as an actual conscious act on the part of a devotee to connect himself with the Lord.  It can either be replacement or a supplement to Bhakthi Yoga, which is one of the three paths discussed in the Bhagavad Gita.  The Tenkalai position on the same is that surrender is a mental transformation in which a devotee, realizing his inability to act effectively by him/herself, puts the responsibility upon the Supreme One to save him/her. From that point on, the devotee lives in a way which is conducive to the Lord's Mercy, i.e., a life of readiness to be the Lord's instrument in doing good for the world.


In both schools the shape and location of a woman's thiruman kappu is modified for both anatomical and vanity reasons.  The shape is also defined by Agama Sastra.



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