UrdhuvapunDra and Mudra dharane

What is UrdhvapunDra?

One of the important rituals associated with Vaishnavas is to put on the “marks of Vishnu” on the body every day. This consists of putting the “Urdhva Pundra” and the “Mudras”. The UrdhvapunDra Dharana (putting on Urdhava Pundra) consists of using the Gopichandana and applying the same to 12 parts of the body i.e forehead, lower abdomen (center, left and right), chest, both arms, the neck (center, left and right), lower back and below the neck at the back.

MadhvAcharya in his krishnAmruta mahArNava extols the practice of applying UrdhvapunDra using gopichandana.

punDra in the colloquial sense means a symbol on the body that indicates the sampradAya that one follows. But in Sanskrit punDra means one that ‘eliminates indiscipline (as in punDatana in kannada) and brings about a sense of discipline and a binding to a sampradAya’ (punDam rAhayati iti punDram). The punDra which is drawn vertical is the UrdhvapunDra and the one drawn horizontal is the tiryakpunDra.

Though the tiryakpunDra is a Shaivaite symbol the UrdhvapunDra is not only a vaishnavaite symbol but represents the entire vaidikadharma. An ancient scholar named rAghava bhatta in his commentary on ‘shAradatilaka’ says that UrdhvapunDra is a symbol used to obtain vEdAdhikAra (vEdAdhikAra sidhyarthamUrdhvapunDra dhAraNam).

Why should one apply Urdhva pundra?

The UrdhvapunDras represents the adhyAtmika sAdhane of an individual. The symbols displayed on the body represent the flow of energy inside (As quoted by Sri Vishnu thIrtha: “brahmanAdi kramENa tu”). It’s a symbol (and a physical act as well) of the ascent of kunDalIni energy from the mUlAdhAra to the sahasrAra. The 12 punDras applied have the following significance:

1. Three on the stomach: Rise of kunDalini shakti through 3 nAdis, iDA, pingaLa and sushumna.
2. Lotus shaped one on the Chest: The expansion of the hridya kamala
3. Four on the neck: Rise of kunDalini shakti from anAhata to vishuddhi chakra.
4. Two on the arms: To direct the constant flow of prANa shakti that flows from our hands.
5. One on the forehead: Rise of kunDalini shakti from Ajna chakra to sahasrAra
6. One on the lower back: To kindle the kunDalini at its source in mUlAdhAra.

These UrdhvapunDras can be applied even by water (“kEvalEna jalEna vA”) but gOpIchandana is shrEshta, the reason being that it’s the auspicious clay on which Krishna walked and that which was applied by the gopikAs of vrundAvan (used instead of chandana). Apart from the quotations of ShrimadAchArya, purANas like garuDa and padma and stalwarts like Vijayindra Tirtha quote the importance of applying gOpIchandana. Infact it’s even said that gOpichandana originated from the body of Vishnu and was brought to dwaraka by brahma and other gods.

Few quotes from krishNamruta mahArNava:

gOpIchandanalipthAngo yam yam pashyathi chakshusha
tham tham shuddham vijAnIyath nAthra kAryA vichAranA (221)
(Rough translation: Everything that a person who has applied gOpIchandana looks at becomes pure. There is no doubt about it).
If the sight of such a person can purify things, imagine the puNya one earns by applying it!

UrdhvapunDramrujum saumyam lalATe yasya drishyate
sa chanDAlopi shuddhAtmA poojya eva na samshayah (216)
(A person who has the UrdhvapunDra which is straight on his forehead is always pure and is worthy of respect even if he belongs to an unfit clan. There is no doubt about this.)

ashuchirvA api anAchArO manasA papam Acharet
shuchirEva bhavEt nityam UrdhvapunDrankito narah (217)
(A person, even though is dirty, wrong in his deeds and performs sins in thought, is considered clean if he has the UrdhvapunDras)

The above statement quoted by SrimadAchArya in kr^ishNAmr^uta mahArNava indicates the importance of UrdhvapunDra and does NOT give the authority to be dirty or perform wrong deeds. It only says that a sinner can be considered shuchi (clean) for bhagavadkAryAs after the application of UrdhvapunDra since no sAdhane is fruitful without UrdhvapunDras.

UrdhvapunDra vihInasya smashAnasadrusham mukham
avalOkya mukham tEshAm Adityam avalOkayet (218)
(A face without UrdhvapunDra is just like a cemetery. One has to look at the sun after seeing such a face)

yajnO dAnam tapO hOmah svAdyAyah pitr^utarpanam
vyartham bhavati tatsarvam UrdhvapunDram vinA kriitam (219)
(yajna, dAna, tapas, hOma, vEdAdhyayana and pitr^utarpaNa done without the UrdhvapunDras is absolutely useless)

krishNamrutamahArNava is a work of ShrI madhvAchArya. It is a collection of pramANa vAkya-s from different purANa-s.

Pancaratiki system

Madhwa arranged from the Pancaratiki system that his followers accept the marks of Vaisnavism – ‘panca samskaras’. The five reformatory – purificatory procedures as stated in the Padma Purana, Uttara Khanda.

tapah pundram tatha nama
mantro yagasca pancamah
ami hi panca samskarah
paramaikanti hetavah

(1) Austerity, (2) wearing the marks of Visnu on one’s body, such as ’tilak’, and heat ‘taptah-mudras’, (3) accepting a new name at the time of initiation, (4) chanting the glorification of the Lord in the form of the Lord’s Holy name, and (5) engaging in the performance of the ‘Yuga dharma’ or supreme sacrifice.

In his Mundakopanishad quoting Narayana Samhita, Madhwa says, ” In the present controversial age of Kali, the Supreme Lord Hari is worshipped in the form of His Holy name alone.”

tapto ‘tra tapta cakrada-mudra dharanam ucyate
tenaiva hari namadi-mudra capy upalaksyate

Austerity means to accept the heat ‘mudras’ or fire brands of the Lord’s weapons, the conch and disc, as well as the Lord’s names, His lotus and club. By taking these heat ‘mudras’ upon one’s body, detachment from the bodily concept of life is invoked.

pundram syad urdhva pundram tal
chastre bahu vidham smrtam
hari mandiram tat pada
krty adyati subhanaham

‘Pundram’ here means marking the body with sacred mud from such holy places as Dwaraka, Prayag, the banks of the Ganges, Yamuna, Godavari, Pampa (Tungabhadra), Kaveri or from the sacred Tulasi plant. By marking the body with ‘Vaisnava tilak’ or ‘urdhva pundra’ or the forms of the Lord’s feet, one marks out the humility that one’s body is the temple of Lord Visnu.
Madhwa instructed that as well as the vertical lines of ‘gopichand’, jointed at the nose like the letter U, a dark red ‘bindu’ dot, made from the ash of plantain flowers mixed with turmeric, be placed beneath a line of dhupasesa, which is the thickness of a grain of rice. The ‘dhupashesha’ is made from the burnt wick of the flames offered to the Lord during the arati ceremony.

namatra gaditam sadbhir
hari bhrtyatva bodhakam
mantro ‘stadasa-varnadih
swesta deva vapur matah

The word ‘nama’ means name, and this means that when one is initiated the ‘guru’ changes the name. As one changes one’s heart one must change one’s name indicating that he is a servant of the Lord. Next is ‘mantra diksa’. In this verse it is said that the ‘Gopal gayatri’, which is the same as the Lord Himself, is given, (in fact various ‘gayatri mantras’ are given according to the capacity of the devotee to chant them).

salagramadi pujan yaga sabdena kathyate
pramanany esu drsyani duranadisu sadhubhih

By the world ‘yaga’, the worship of the ‘Saligram Sila’ and other Deity forms of the Personality of Godhead are described, glorified and sung about in great joy. So in this way, taking the system from references throughout the Puranas and other Vedic literatures, Madhwa established ‘Vaisnava agama’ of initiation for his disciples based on the Pancaratriki system.

What is Gopichandana?

Gopichandana is a special type of mud, which is found in Dwaraka. Alternatively any other purified mud or gandha (chandana) can be used which has been offered to God, or plain water can be used. One should not forget to apply Urdhva Pundra, because it is compulsory for one and all.

gopi

The Brahmanda Purana explains that the mud  if not Dwaraka should be from the pinnacle of a mountain, the banks of a river, a place of pilgrimage renowned by Vaishnavas, the banks of an ocean or sea, an ant hill or serpents burrow and the paste of a Tulsi plant should always be favoured for marking the urdhva pundra.

In some instances the use of Gopichandana is forbidden, Gopichandana should never be used for purposes of perfuming the body, during Sutaka period (ten days succeeding a birth or death), during a wedding, when a child is born, and other such occasions. At such times other pastes should be used, as gandha (chandana) offered to God in Pooja is never forbidden for use.

These markings serve a double purpose in that the forehead mark also provides a basis for development of the mind and intellect. It purifies the mind and brings strength of intellect. The mark on the chest brings health and vitality. The marks on the arms save oneself from acting unscrupulously as sins are often committed by one’s hands. Hence purity of action is derived. The Mantras above represent the various aspects of Godhead, by chanting them we are invoking all such forms to reside within us.

Dwadasha Nama (Marking 12 parts of the body)

One of the important rituals associated with Vaishnavas is to put on the “marks of Vishnu” on the body every day. This consists of putting the “Urdhva Pundra” and the “Mudras”. The Urdhva Pundra Dharana (putting on Urdhava Pundra) consists of using the Gopi Chandana and applying the same to 12 parts of the body i.e forehead, lower abdomen (center, left and right), chest, both arms, the neck (center, left and right), lower back and below the neck at the back.

Similarly, the 5 mudras have to be applied to the 12 parts mentioned above. The 5 mudras are Shankha, Chakra, Gada, Padma and Narayana.

Mudragalu

Procedure to apply Gopi Namas and Mudras

Place a spoon of water on the left hand palm, take a piece of gopichandana, rub vigorously and prepare a paste of gopichandana. Chant the following mantra:

gopicandana papana visnudeha samudbhava |

cakrankita namastestu dharana muktido bhava ||

Apply the gopichandana paste at 12 places in the body -

one on forehead, three on abdomen, one on chest, one each on shoulders, all 4 parts of neck, one on bottom of back-bone just above trunk and one on top of head. Then, one more is applied on the right side of the chest.

Some people do also apply a similar final mark on the left side of the chest, if this is the tradition that they have been taught as per their sampradaaya (custom).  While applying, recite Keshavadi dwadashanama, one naama each for one application.

The order for applying naamas are:

on the forehead (keshavaaya namaH), center of abdomen (naaraayaNaaya namaH), chest (maadhavaaya namaH), front portion of neck (govi.ndaaya namaH), right side of abdomen (vishhNave namaH), right shoulder (madhusudhanaaya namaH), right side of neck (trivikramaaya namaH), left side of abdomen (vaamanaaya namaH), left shoulder (shriidharaaya namaH), left side of neck (hR^ishhiikeshaaya namaH), back side (above tunk) (padmanaabhaaya namaH), back side of neck (daamodaraaya namaH) and on the head, on the chest (shriivatsaaya namaH).

The shapes of the paste applied will be as follows. On the forehead : one set of vertical parallel lines (first apply the paste with the forefinger and later run through it with a wet cloth/finger). On the chest: heart (lotus leaf) shape. On the shoulder: leaf shape (preferably with a stem).

Concentrate on the mantra and quickly go through the process of applying the paste instead of trying to perfect the shapes.

Nama

After applying gopichandana, apply mudras in the following order:

Chakra mudra

It is applied in the chintanye of Ambarisavarada for rakshane and to get sat-buddhi to follow Dharma.

Chant the following mantra while applying chakra mudra:

sudarshana mahajwala kotisoorya samaprabha |
agnandhasyame nithyam vishnOrmaargam pradarshaya ||

one on right side of eye, five on centre of abdomen, three on heart, two on right of abdomen, three on right of chest, two on right shoulder both sides of naama, two on right of neck, one on front of neck, one on left shoulder below the naama.

Chakra

 

Shankha mudra

It is applied in the chintanye of dhruva varada for jnana prapthi and to get the blessings of goddess Lakshmi.

Chant the following mantra while applying chakra mudra:

paanchajanya nijadhwana dvamstapaathaka namchaya |
traahimaam paapinam GorasamsaaraarNava paatyinam ||

one on left side of eye, one on left of abdomen, two on left of chest, two on left shoulder both sides of naama, two on left of neck, one on right shoulder below the naama.

Shanka

 

Gadaa mudra

It is applied in the chintanye of  vayu varada for vairagyaprapthi and to get control over desires.

Chant the following mantra while applying chakra mudra:

brahmaanda bhuvanaaramba mUlastambO gadaadhara |
kaumOdakI karEyusya tham namaami gadaadharam ||

one on forehead, one on left of abdomen, one on left of chest, two on left shoulder both sides of naama below shankha mudra.

gada

Padma mudra

It is applied in the chintanye of  lakshmee varada for aishvarya prapthi  and to get peace and tranquility.

Chant the following mantra while applying chakra mudra:

samsaara bhayabEEtaanam yOginaamabhayapradha |
padmahastEna yO dEvO yOgIsham tham namaamyaham ||

Two on chest, two on right abdomen, two on right shoulder both sides of naama below chakra mudra.

Padma

NaaraayaNa mudra:

naarayana mudre hachidavanannu bhakthiyinda nodidavana uddara

Chant the following mantra while applying chakra mudra:

naarayana namastEstu naamamudraamkitam naram |
druStyava labhatE mukthim chamdaalO brahmagaathaka ||

One each overlapping on all mudras, and naama.

Narayana

||shrIH kRuShNArpaNamstu||

Thanks to Kale Balkrishna for Mudradharane Images.

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20 Responses to “UrdhuvapunDra and Mudra dharane”

  1. J. V. Adavi Says:

    Dear Upendran Bhoovaraha,
    Your piece on UrdhuvapunDra and Mudra dharane is truly educative to all Maadhvas.

    I have a Sanskrit text wherein the mantras for Gadaa mudra and Naarayana mudra appear to be different from those you have published. I am reproducing the mantras below in Devanagari script:
    Gadaa mudra mantra:
    / दैत्यशोणितदिग्धांगे कौमॊद्किगदेहरेः / भिंधभिंधतमोंतस्थं त्वांनमामिपुनःपुनः /

    Naarayana mudra mantra:
    / नाममुद्रेनमस्तुभ्यं त्वदंकिततनुर्हरेः / प्रसादाद्विष्णुलोकेहि चिरंस्थास्यामिनिर्वृतः /

    I am not well-versed in Sanskrit. Can you tell me if the above mantras are valid in the context to which I have referred? If so, what is the translation in English (or Kannada) of the mantras?

    • Upendran Boovaraha Says:

      Hare Srinivasa, Infact I have seen this in one of the rigveda sandhyavandana padathi book, and can be chanted while applying the Gadaa or Naarayana mudra respectively.

  2. shrivatsa joshi Says:

    || Hari Sarvottam Vayu Jeevottama ||

    thank you for the wonderful information

    warm regards
    SGJ

  3. J. V. Adavi Says:

    Many thanks for the confirmation.

    Hari Sarvottama Vayu Jeevottama

  4. Anand Says:

    HarE ShrinivAsA

    I am sure Shri MadhwAchAryaru will shower anugraha on you.

    Beautiful details, illustrated aptly.

    || na mAdhavA samO dEvah na cha madhva samO guruh ||

  5. Manohar Says:

    The information provided is very good. Please provide Rigveda Sandhyavandane procedure if you have.

    Regards
    Manohar.Varkhedi

    • Upendran Boovaraha Says:

      Hi Arunji,
      I have created a new post on sandhyavandane and it has two links. You can use them to download either english or kannada version of Rig Sandhyavandane.

  6. Upendran Boovaraha Says:

    AFAIK, it’s no. However, we can apply Angara Aksathe freshly.

  7. Upendran Boovaraha Says:

    AFAIK, it’s NO. However, you can apply Angara and Aksathe freshly.

  8. dvaitavedanta Says:

    This is really an excellent article friend. Please keep up the good work…

    hare Srinivasa

  9. Ramesh Says:

    Thank you for this very informative work. I have been trying for this information for many years now and thank God that i could access this link today. God bless you and keep on continuing this good work for less mortals likes us, SIr

  10. SreenevasaMurthy Says:

    In nama figure there are 13 names. I heard only 12 (dwadasa ) namas. Please explain or correct if it is your mistake.

    • Upendran Boovaraha Says:

      There are 12 mudras to be applied. However, few apply a 13th one on the right side of the chest and chant sriyeya namaha, and few sampradaya has 14th one, that is applied to the left of the chest, while chanting padmaya namaha.

  11. Vadendra Rao Says:

    Upendrare, I am researching the connection between the urdhva pundras and 5 mudras to Susushmna pancha nadis and their tributaries(Aryaka, Vajrika, Vaidyuta, Prakashini and Brahma. It occurs to me that there must be some connection to the number of each mudra you put on each pundra to the number of nadis that originate in that padma/chakra. Also what is the significance of 12 (dwadasha). This number comes in several places. In Vyasa Raja’s Yantrodharaka stotram, there is the mention about ‘Dwadashavarti Pratishtitam’.. Please provide any detail you have on this and any links or books that would explain them.
    Thank you.

    • Upendran Boovaraha Says:

      The ascent of kunDalIni energy, the effulgent current of consciousness, flows from tip of spine (mUlAdhAra) to above the head (sahasrAra), passing through six chakras – nAbhi, hRudaya, bhuja, kaNTha, bhrUmadhya and then to sahasrAra.
      The junctions of Nadis with Sushumna Nadi are known as Chakras, the chief six Chakras, viz., Muladhara, Svadhishthana, Manipura, Anahata, Vishuddha and Ajna. Above all these we have Sahasrara Chakra: this is the chief of all the Chakras.
      When we apply the urdva pundras and with the desired shape, we are pressing (applying pressure to) the nadis, thus enabling the energy which is normally dissipated in the lower chakras to re-channel and brought further up to the Sushumna nadi towards the upper chakras. The 12 punDras applied have the following significance:

      1. Three on the stomach: Rise of kunDalini shakti through 3 yogic nAdis, iDA, pingaLa and sushumna.
      2. Lotus shaped one on the Chest: The expansion of the hridya kamala
      3. Two on the arms: To direct the constant flow of prANa shakti that flows from our hands.
      4. Four on the neck: Rise of kunDalini shakti from anAhata to vishuddhi chakra.
      5. One on the forehead: Rise of kunDalini shakti from Ajna chakra to sahasrAra
      6. One on the lower back: To kindle the kunDalini at its source in mUlAdhAra.

      This is what I have learnt, and I have not asked my gurugalu on these. I think talking to a good Yoga guru will help you understand more on these.
      I will talk to my gurugalu on these and provide you some more insights.

      • Upendran Boovaraha Says:

        Vadendrare, ShriHarikathamruthasara (HKS) cahpter 9 has more details on this. If you can find a good guru please take pata on HKS. This website: hkS-chapter-9 can provide you basic overview on this.

        I also recommend you to listen to the HKS pata done by Bannanje Govindacharyaru.

  12. gopal Says:

    what is adma chakra cani have a deatils of it

  13. Ramesh Says:

    Namaskara,

    I must agree with Sri J.V. Adavi. The pictures of the gadha and padma mudras seem reversed. A quick internet reference:

    http://mukhyaprana.blogspot.com/2010_07_01_archive.html

    shows the different mudras. I have also verified with the Sandhyavandane books in my possession.

    Regards,
    Ramesh


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