Tripundra

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A Yakshagana dancer with tripundra on her forehead Face of Parvati dancer.jpg
A Yakshagana dancer with tripundra on her forehead
Sivaya Subramuniyaswami, a Shaiva sadhu with the tripundra on his forehead. Portrait of Sivaya Subramuniyaswami AS.jpg
Sivaya Subramuniyaswami, a Shaiva sadhu with the tripundra on his forehead.

Tripundra (Sanskrit : त्रिपुण्ड्रtripuṇḍra "three marks") is a Śaivite tilaka, and a form of body art with origins in South India. It consists of three horizontal lines on the forehead, usually with a dot made from sacred ash, and has spiritual meaning in Shiva tradition within Hinduism. [1] A Vishnu tradition related mark consisting of vertical lines is called Urdhva Pundra. [2]

Contents

History

Supreme Kaji Kalu Pande, Chief Minister and Army head of Gorkha Kingdom, a Hindu Kshatriya warrior sporting a Tripundra Tilaka Kalu Pande.jpg
Supreme Kaji Kalu Pande, Chief Minister and Army head of Gorkha Kingdom, a Hindu Kshatriya warrior sporting a Tripundra Tilaka

The practice is discussed in medieval era Hindu texts such as Bhasmajabala Upanishad, Brihajjabala Upanishad and Kalagni Rudra Upanishad. [3] The allegorical significance of the "three ash lines", states Deussen, is that the tradition sees them as streaks of three Vedic fires, three audible syllables of AUM , three Guṇas, three worlds, three Atmans, three Vedas and three aspects of Shiva. [4]

Usage and significance

The Tripuṇḍra, three horizontal lines, on the forehead as well as other body parts are symbols during rites of passages, and for some a daily practice. [1] These lines, states Antonio Rigopoulos, represent Shiva’s threefold power of will (icchāśakti), knowledge (jñānaśakti), and action (kriyāśakti). [1] The Tripuṇḍra described in this and other Shaiva texts also symbolizes Shiva’s trident (triśūla) and the divine triad of Brahmā, Vishnu, and Shiva. [1]

Tripundra, to those who apply it, is a reminder of the spiritual aims of life, the truth that body and material things shall someday become ash, and that mukti is a worthy goal. Tri means three, pundra means one which is released. There are three horizontal lines of vibhuti (holy ash) on the brow, often with a dot (bindu) as the third eye. Holy ash, remains from yagya or sacrificial fire-wood is a reminder of the temporary nature of the physical body and the importance of spiritual attainment and closeness to Shiva (Atman-Brahman). Chapter 2 of Kalagni Rudra Upanishad explains the three lines as various triads: sacred fires, syllables of Om, guna s, worlds, types of atman (Soul), powers, Vedas, the time of extraction of the Vedic drink Soma, and Mahesvara (a form of Shiva). [5] [6]

Sadhu Varanasi.jpg
Gaze of a priest.JPG
Left: A Shaiva Hindu with Tilaka (Tripundra) on his forehead. [4] [7]
Right: A Vaishnava Hindu with Tilaka (Urdhva Pundra). [2]

The "Tri" in the word Tripundra signifies the Triguna – Satva, Raja and Tama; Triloka – Bhuhu, Bhuvaha, Suvaha; Tritapa – Bbhoutika, Daivika, Adhyatmika. Tripundra is also called as Bhasma or Vibhuti. Tripundra also signifies Prana or life force and the three responsibilities performed by Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva respectively. Brahma represents Creation, Vishnu denotes Sustenance and Shiva connotes Destruction. Thus Tripundra symbolises Holy Trinity of Hindu Gods Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva. [8] Tripundra Applying Tripundra on the forehead is termed as "Bhasma dharana". The word Bhasma means calcined ash. Those who wear Tripundra on their forehead, often recite the mantras of the Lord while remembering its spiritual meaning and it is not just a sign of culture or identification.[ citation needed ]

Regional nomenclature

Tripundra is called பட்டை / Pattai in Tamil. It is also known as Tripundraka. [9]

See also

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