Mood of Black Tilaka

The Gaudiya Vaishnavas of Radha Kunda wear the Greyish black tilaka of the Parivaras which represents the highest ideals in Bhakti. However in the tilaka itself there are two varieties that we usually find. One is the direct silt from the base of the Radha Kunda water body. When one forms cakes of this silt and uses it as a Tilaka, it gives a greyish black colour on the forehead, the colour is more dominant on the grey side. Then there are a group of Saints who apply Radha Kunda tilaka mixed with a powder of myrobalan seeds. When we apply this, the colour that the tilaka assumes is “jet” black. Many of the sadhakas from the Kunda apply the cake as it is without bothering about the colour whereas others take the pain of mixing the myrobalan seed powder with the Kunda cake powder and making a paste out of it before putting it to use. Now what is this seeming discrepancy?

terminalia-chebula-harro_chebulic-myrobalan_1As such there are many views about its usage. Some devotees believe that the grey tilaka is the original Radha Kunda silt and hence should be used as it is because it denotes purity of the tilaka without mixture. A decent view so to say. This works fine. Many of the saints of Vraja yet take the pains of mixing powdered myrobalan seeds to the silt from Radha Kunda before applying the tilaka. Why do they resort to additional activity? Is there a specific reason why this is done? The reason is this, Myrobalan seed represents a fruit which has been revealed in the Shastras as the only fruit that can tackle the imbalance induced by  three states of imbalance within the body which are caused by “Vaat”,”Pitt” and “Kaaf” in the language of Ayurveda. This is the only fruit that can by itself work on each of the three substances mentioned above individually or as required based on what it takes to restore complete health. From the spiritual angle these three states as equivalent to the Satva, Rajas and Tamas. The spiritual angle is that this seed puts an end to these three states of material ignorance. The powdered seed indicates the power of “Nishtha” or one’s utter faith which when mixed with the silt of Sriji Kunda gives a dark “jet” black colour which indicates the sadhaka’s faith in the Kunda indicated by the resulting black colour of the tilaka.

Hence this is a special way that mahatmas look at how the tilaka may carry a subtle idea of Nishtha mixed with one’s “ishtha” who is Srimati Radharani. The black colour is very much conducive to one’s faith in the parampara and the system of Bhajana that has been given by Srila Gurudeva.

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