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Editor's Note - 50 (July 1, 2012)

Thiruman — No Mere Mark But A Hallmark Of Srivaishnavam

Dear Fellow-Bhagavathas,

‘Thiruman’ — as ‘Oordhva Pundram’ is known in Tamil — is not merely a mark that is worn by Srivaishnavas but is also a hallmark of Srivaishnavam itself. This ‘Pundram’ is the second constituent of the Pancha Samskaaram, popularly known as Samaasrayanam (the others are Thaapam, Naamam, Manthram, Yaagam, in that order). The fact that it is taught by the Acharya catapults its significance to great heights.

The literal meaning of the Sanskrit term ‘Oordhva Pundram’ is ‘upward mark’ (‘Oordhva’ is ‘upward’ and ‘Pundram’ means ‘mark’). Seemingly, there exists a lack of clarity or even big differences of opinion as to the details regarding it. There is even a perception that the concept itself is of a recent origin and was started by Sri Ramanuja, drawing from only the Paancharaathra Aagama texts. But, in reality, we have all kinds of other legends as authorities such as the Vedas, Smruthis, Puraanas, Saasthras laid down by great sages, works of Azhwars and Acharyas.

Based on these scriptures, Sri Ramanuja, a traditionalist that he was, propounded the import of Thiruman to the value of our Sampradaya and streamlined the practice of wearing it. And Swami Desika carried it forward, emphasised its greatness and established Ramanuja’s ideology through his work ‘Sachcharitha Rakshai’, extensively quoting from the said legends.

Sachcharitha Rakshai is a philosophical work that comprises three sections, namely, Sudharsana Paanchajanya Vidhi (deals with the procedures relating to Samaasrayanam), Oordhva Pundra Dhaarana Vidhi (deals with the procedure of preparing and applying the Thiruman) and Bhagavan Nivedhitha Upayoga Vidhi (deals with the procedure of offerings made to the Lord).

Sachcharitha Rakshai is such a legendary work by itself that it delves deep into the issue and answers all the questions — the five ‘W’s and the ‘H’ (What, Who, Why, When, Where and How) — that might arise about Thiruman. We shall take a look at some important points under each of the heads.






All points discussed hitherto relate to the Thiruman on the forehead. However, it has been categorically laid down in the Saasthras that 12 have to be worn representing the 12 Vyuha forms of the Lord in different places of our body. Additionally, one for Vasudeva has also been provided for.

The tabular column given below lists the respective places, the Manthras for Vyuha forms of the Lord and their corresponding Consorts. Even as we wear these, we should meditate upon them and chant these names. It should be noted that the Pranavam should be prefixed to each Naama.

Chanting Swami Desika’s Prabandham ‘Panniru Naamam’ when applying the Dwaadasa Pundrams (the 12 Thirumans) is considered special in our Sampradaya.

S. No.PlaceManthra for ThirumanManthra for Srichoornam
1ForeheadKesavaaya Nama:Sriyai Nama:
2StomachNarayanaaya Nama:Amruthodhbhavaayai Nama:
3ChestMadhavaaya Nama:Kamalaayai Nama:
4NeckGovindaaya Nama:Chandrasodharyai Nama:
5Right stomachVishnave Nama:Vishnupathnyai Nama:
6Right armMadhusudhanaaya Nama:Vaishnavyai Nama:
7Right neckThrivikramaaya Nama:Vararohaayai Nama:
8Left stomachVamanaaya Nama:Harivallabhaayai Nama:
9Left armSridharaaya Nama:Saarnginyai Nama:
10Left neckHrishikesaaya Nama:Devadevikaayai Nama:
11Bottom of the backPadmanabhaaya Nama:Surasundharyai Nama:
12Back neckDamodaraaya Nama:Mahalakshmyai Nama:
13Above foreheadVasudevaaya Nama:Sarvaabhishta Phalapradhaayai Nama:


Swami Desika concludes the treatise with the following Sloka:

ஸ்ரீமத் வேங்கட நாதேந ச்ருதிஸ்ம்ருதி சதைரிதி!
விதாநம் ஊர்த்வ புண்ட்ரஸ்ய விஸ்தரேண நிரூபிதம்!!

“(The concept of) The upward mark, that is, Thiruman, has been thoroughly proved by Venkatanatha, on the basis of hundreds of references drawn from the Vedas and Smruthis.”

Let us bow our heads in salutation to the great Acharya who, with tremendous foresight, took pains to show us the perfect path as regards the Thiruman with this monumental work.

Meet you in the next Note.

எங்கள் தூப்புல் பிள்ளை பாதம் என் சென்னியதே!

Natteri P. Srihari (a) Lakshmi Narasimhacharyar

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