Gopi Chandan – Tilaka

Tilaka refers to the markings which Vaisnava devotees apply to their bodies, to remind themselves and others that we are all eternal servants of Lord Krsna. ISKCON devotees generally make their tilaka from a cream-colored clay called gopi-candana, obtained from a sacred lake near Dvaraka, Lord Krishna’s ancient city on the west coast of Gujarat. Krishna’s greatest devotees, the gopis, once visited this lake. The upper part of this tilaka, shaped like the prongs of a tuning-fork, represents Lord Krishna’s footprint, and the leaf-shaped part on the nose represents a leaf of the tulasi, Krishna’s favorite plant. Tilaka is applied to twelve parts of the body, and the twelve names of the Lord are recited with each application.

A diagram and the mantras for applying tilaka to all twelve places on the body can be found in RVC’s Pocket Temple Songbook


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