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Some basic queries - ThirumaN shapes and why we wear?

From: Pattangi (
Date: Tue Sep 04 2001 - 15:57:31 PDT

sre:mathe ra:ma:nuja:ya namaha:

Humble pranams to all devotees:

Vaishnavas (Worshippers of Vishu as the Supreme) wear on their bodies the LORD's external symbols.

There are several groups of Vaishnavas, 
Sre: Vaishnava, Chaitanya, Vallabha, ISKON Vaishnavas (fast growing).

Among these Sre: Vaishnavas have their faith in Bhakti & Prapatti
for Sre:man Na:ra:yana: (MahaVishnu & MahaLakshmi), and
wear on their foreheads the mark of the feet of the LORD, in the vertical position

Works like Padma Purana, Marichi, Pancaharatra, Viakhanasa, Parameswara samhita etc
explain clearly how the feet of the Lord should be worn on the forehead.
They do not though explain the details of the shape very clearly.
They do give about 25 objects, which the "Lords feet" should resemble, all these shapes
and forms have the authority of the shastras.

These 20 to 25 forms can be reduced to two forms, one resembling the english letter 
"Y" and the other "U"

Minor Vedantic differences existed between scholars, subsequent to the age of Purvacharyas, 
which formed into Vatakalai & Thenkalai groups.
Both groups wear the "Lords feet" of different forms U & Y, but they both will quote the 
same Pancaratra samhita sloka as authority.

Y & U  both denote the lord's feet. (The Bhava of adorning is Dasatvam, Sheshatvsam)

Y specifically denotes both the feet of the lord   (Charanao, is Dwithia vibhakti)
We always say Charanao Sharanam Prapadye in many places.

Venkata Nathar in "Saccaritra Raksha" explains that the Mark worn on the forehead
of Vaishnavas should not be designated by the name, but be designated
"HARIPADAKRITI" The shape of the feet of Hari.
If there had been any conrtoversy over this at that time, swami Venkata Nathar
would have mentioned this in his work.

There are scholars who have their (shatstra based) reasons for why 
U stands only for one foot of the Lord. There are scholars who read
the "HARIPADAKRITI" as one foot and not two feet (as it could go either way)

So all the controversy we see over Y & U does not have a basis, 
as different forms of the Lord's feet have been sanctioned by the Sastras.
No difference or quarrel should arise on this account. (Shape of Feet of the Lord)

The most important thing is why we wear it and the Bhava we need to have.

There is a difference in Y and U shape. This mainly arises from interpretation of the
same sloka that both groups agree on.   In the Phrases : Arabhya Nasika Mulam :   

Nasikamulam arabhya: "nasadikesa paryantam, anasamulam-arabhya" - From Pancarathra Samhita

1st Interpretation (Literal meaning ) Followed by U mark.
Adi and Mula indicate the Space between two eyebrows, Nasanta (Nose Tip)

"Feet of the Lord" is from the space between the eye-brows - Bhru Madha
to the end of the Hair - Kesanta.

2nd Interpretation (Technical interpretation) Followed by Y mark.
Since Pancaratra samhita is a highly technical treatise (Not a literary work)
the Y groups feels technical interpretation is more appropropriate

Nasikamula is one word and not Two words , same as nasamula is one word

The nose is divided into two parts :
The soft portion of the nost from the tip :  Madhvasti
Over the Mashvasti, The Hard Part         : Nasikamula (or Nasamula)

The Y shape comes as the Mark should commence from the "Hard part" of the nose
Vikhanasa muni :- (Wearing Y Shape) in most Indian Temples.

I have heard some periyavas say (The Thiruvallikeni Chief Priest, Vaikhanasa Scholar)
Swamin has quoted some Vaikhanasa slokas and explaines the 
bottom part as the Stand for the feet of the Lord, as you would not want to just make
Maha Vishnu & Lakshmi sit on the floor, you always put a stand on which you will
have them grace. So they have a stand shaped like KAMALAM.

Some Vikhanasa muni wear it as U and they also have relevant authorities.

A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada:   (Wear Y shape in all cases)
Since you see the Y shape on all the ISCON followers and HH A.C.B Swami, 
adiye:n asked some of his followers for the reasons for the Y shape on their forehead
All they said was it is per their acharya and his words on this are as per Puranas.

Now the Presence of MahaLakshmi between the feet of the LORD is acccepted by both
U & Y (Tiruppolinda sevadi yen seeninyin mer porittai - PeriAzhwar)
Lakshmi is represented as Sre:Churna. This is Turmeric (yellow in color) made red 
during manufacture.
According to Pancaratra, in the mystical diagram representing the Lord position of Lakshmi
is marked red. Thenkalais and half of the Vadakalais have adopted the red color for sre:churna.
The other part of Vadakalai use the Yellow color and they also have relevant authorities.
Hiranya Varnam.....(Golden color)

Follow up quesiotns that will come up:

Q.   Why we wear Thiruman:
A.   To take the feet of the Lord on our forehead and other parts
                                               (To indicate we are HIS servants)
Q.  Why do we do that. ?
To make our body a temple for Sre:manna:ra:yana: (Sre: & Narayana)
and to identify us as his property.

With this we realize & act in accordance to the Lord and are guided by HIM 
: in our Heart we always have HIM;  all our physical actions (On Shoulders we have his sign) 
; in speech we are guided by HIM, in thought we are guided by HIM. 
and perform  "Selfless service" to the Lord and his devotees.

Q. Why do we put Thiruman on the Lord: (Why put the feet of the Lord on the Lord?)

Lord wears Thiruman as the indication of the ayudhas (weapons) 
(some say to protect devotees, and universe etc)

Also to identify with other devotees as if HE is one of us.

Prayer 1:
adiye:n prays to Lord Sre:mannara:yana: and Purvacharyas to help with the
spreading of Sre: Sampradaya all over the world, without any divisions
or quarrels between Y & U, without any concern about caste & race.

Prayer 2:
We also pray for SadBuddhi so we all treat all devotees with utmost respect and regard.
(and treat them as you would treat the Lord Incarnate.)

If we treat all devotees of the lord with utmost respect and regard, we will see our
beautiful Sampradaya spread all over the world, we will see our Mayors, Presidents and
general public all over taking to this beautiful and logical sampradaya.

If anything is wrong in this mail it is adiye:n's fault in understanding our Acharyas and their works.

a:zhwa:r emberuma:na:r Jeeyar thiruvadigale: saranam

adiye:n ra:ma:nuja da:san
Mukundan Vankipuram Pattangi

           - SrImate rAmAnujAya namaH -
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