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[V. Sadagopan: Copy of: ThirumaN]

From: V. Sadagopan (
Date: Fri Sep 22 1995 - 13:02:32 PDT

A lot of interesting comments have been made on The Vaishanavite wearing
ThirumaN, Ramunuja"s role in it, The differences in the shape of the ThirumaN
worn by the Thenkalai and Vadakalai sects , Smarthas/Vaishanvas worship of
Vishnu , Why ThirumaN is seen on the forehead of Archa Murthys in recent notes
of Prapatti Group members. 

I will share  my views on this : First of All , there is a lot of history to it.
Vangipuram Nambi , one of the 74 Simhasanaathipatis summarized Ramanuja"s views
on Sadaachaaaras  regarding this practise and Swami Desilkan later  elaborated
on this in his Saccharitra Raksha and linked the sources of his views to
Paarameshtya Samhita,Brahmaraatra Samhita et al. Other granthas like
Sacchaaritra Sudha Nidhi and the 800 page  Monograph approved by the 44Th Jeeyar
of Ahobila Mutt known as "Sri Vaishanava Sadaachara Nirnayam" by Vidwan
Villivalam Krishna Dasa (Krishnamacharya) have detailed references to the
mantras  that go with this daily observance , the right way to apply the
ThirumaN and other daily observances by Vaishanavites..

The Vaishnavite Paribhasha(colloquial) for wearing  ThirumaN (Auspicious Clay)
is ThirumaN Kappu Saatal. The key word here seems to be Kaapu or Protection.
That protection is achieved thru the Lord"s weapons celebrated in Panchaayudha
Sthotram. Like Dig Bhandhanam before Mantra recitation, the request for
protection of the limbs of one body and protection from above, behind, sides etc
is a well known practise in Ahnikaas (Performance of Daily rituals
prescribed).Hence , ThirumaN Kappu can be viewed as  a Kavacham , that confers
protection on the Vaishanavaas wearing that by invoking the weapons and the
power of the Lord. The freedom from fear of the ThirumaN kappu wearing
Vaishnavas referredto in Eswar's note relates to the Mahaviswasam of the Vishnu
Bhaktas in Lord"s protection from the  three kinds of afflictions of life.

The 12 names associated with 12 Urdhva Pundarams have been elaborated upon by
Swami Desikan in his work known as "Panniru Thirunaamam" dedicated to the
celebration of the holy feet of Kanchi Perumaal.

Examples of that are:

Forehead, Presidng lord  is Kesavan. His color is invoked as Golden. His weapons
are 4 Chakrams. The direction assigned to him is East.`
Centre Portion of Stomach, the next site to wear Urdhva Pundram has Sriman 
Narayana as the presiding  deity. His Color is visualized as Blue.His Weapons
are 4 Conches .The  direction of protection offered by him is West.Thus it goes
on for the rest of the 10 Urdhva Pundram.

Incidentally, Urdhva Pundram is associate with Urdhva Rethas celebrated in the
Vedic Passage "Urdhva Retham virupaksham Viswaroopaya Nama:" Urdhva Pundaram is
also symbolic of Sattvika Guna by Lord Krishna In Bhagavat Gita ( 
Urdhvam Gacchanti Satttwasthaa:).Reference to this is from Naaradheeyam.In this
context, this souce says that the Vishnu Bhaktaas should not wear Tiryak
Pundram(cross , horizontal wearing of the Pundram) even as a playful matter.
Vishnu Dharmottaram  establishes guidelines as to  which finger to use in
applying ThirumaN. Pavitram wearing finger and the middle finger are taboo. One
should apply ThirumaN , while  sitting. The Thirucchornam used must be
sanctified. Any vermillion paste wont do. The people , who have had Bharanyaasam
should wear the Yellow choornam and others the Vermillion  version. The thirumaN
wearing has to have the White two lines and the Red line at the center, housing
the Divine coulpe, who are never seperated. The two white lines are like temple
for them. Lord Himself says that he andHis consort love to reside in the temple
created by the two broad white lines of ThirumaN. Narrow crowding of the two
lines are not desirable to him, In my other note, I will speculate on the
Neuroanatomical significance of the shape of the thirumaN and suggest a
reconciliation between the Tenkalai and Vadakalai versions of wearing the

On the Sampradhayam(tradion) side, there are number of mantras to create the
paste of clay with water in one"s palm.Nrsimha Beejam is to be drawn at the
center after completing the preparation of the paste.The Veda Mantras used in
the preparatory rituals are 7 in number.Panchopanishad Mantra,
Ashtaaksharam,Vishnu Shadakshara  Mantram, Dwaadasaaksharam, Dwayam(Mantra
ratnam), Vishnu Gayatri are to be included in the appropriate phases of the
Pundram wearing ceremony. In between the 12 Names of the Lord to be recited at
the time of the decoration of the individual parts of the body, the 12 names of
Sri Devi are to be added.They are: Sriyayai nama:., Amrutothbhavaayayai Nama:,
Kamalaayayai Nama:,Chandra Sodharyayai nama:, Vishnupatnyayai nama:,
Vaishnavyayai nama:, Varaarohayayai nama:,Harivallabhyayai Nama: , Saarnginyayai
nama:, Devadevikaayayai nama:, Surasundaryayai nama:. Maha Lakshmyayai Nama:,
Sarvaabhishtapalapradhaayayai nama:. Guru vandanaams are also involved. I have
seen my grandfather take a minimum of 30 minutes to perform this ThirumaN
ceremony sitting at the abnk of Cauvery river after his morning bath. Even
today, we can see in the Toopul House Remains  of Swami  Desikan , the section,
where he sat and applied ThirumaN prior to his Abhigamana Araadhanas( Act of
Going near the Lord and His consort with Humility and reverence) prescribed by
Ramanuja in one of his nine works.

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