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Re: Some basic queries - ThirumaN shapes and why we wear?

From: Mohan Sagar (
Date: Thu Sep 06 2001 - 06:27:48 PDT

Respected bhAgavathas,

Here are a few additional thoughts, based on what I have learned, to add to Sri Mukundan Pattangi's lucid
and insightful posting on thiruman:

The goal of a SriVaishnavan is to awaken to the joyous realization that he/she is the simple servant of
the Supreme Lord, Sriman Narayana.  Such a realization is life changing, effecting every level of our
being, taking us to a level where in body, mind and spirit we become humble receptacles to His Divine
Grace and simple instruments to His Good Efforts.  We want such a realization to be experienced in
everything we do, say or feel.  Both the desire for this experience and the experience itself is outwardly
expressed to ourselves and others through the wearing of thiruman and sri:chu:rnam in the 12 major energy
nodes of our body.

Two fundamental qualities must be cultivated in a devotee seeking to come to the Divine awakening
described above. One is Peace and the other is Divine Love.  Peace is only known at the twin Lotus Feet of
of Sriman Narayana.  These are our only refuge and our True Home.  So, these are placed on ourselves as
twin vertical white lines.  Divine Love can be known only by becoming constantly aware of the Lord's Mercy
and Compassion, which reside with Him as His Eternal Consort, Sri, the Divine Mother.  Her presence is
seen in the red/yellow marking that is known as the sri:chu:rnam.  We could stop here, but, in order for
both of these to be known and experienced correctly, a proper foundation is required.  Bhagavad Sri
Ramanuja becomes this foundation through our Acha:rya paramparai, and this is seen as the connector, the
base, if you will, on which the three vertical lines rest.  This base is represented by either the
semi-circular shape or the ""lous flower"" shape that is placed just under the eye-brows.

To me, what is important is not whether the thiruman is shaped U or Y, but rather the philosophical
attitude that one must cultivate when one is wearing them. We must recognize and treasure the that our
very ability to wear thiruman is the kind gift of our Acharya, who provides with us this great honor
during our sama:sra:yanam.  We must see the thiruman as a holy sacrament, a ritual that invokes in us the
the mood of being simple instruments in the Lord's Loving Hands through the mercy of the Acharya
paramaparai that finds its foundation and highest ideal in Bhagavad Sri Ramanuja.

It is sad and ironic that the very symbol that was intended to cultivate and express this highest level of
Divine Love and Peace, this gift of our Acharyas, would create such strife in our community.  I join in
Sri Mukundan's prayers for a better understanding that will help us to work together harmoniously in
preserving and sharing the wonders of our Ramanuja Darshanam.

An additional thought/question:

Pattangi wrote:

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

This is a very interesting interpretation, but until now, I did not realize that it could be substantiated
in sa:stra.  I recall reading about the "one-foot" vs. "twin-feet" interpretation of U vs. Y a number of
years ago in an article written by a western scholar, but I had assumed it was just an analogy and not
actually based on anything in sa:stra.  Perhaps, more erudite members of this forum can enlighten us
further in regard.

adiyEn rAmAnuja dAsan

           - SrImate rAmAnujAya namaH -
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