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The Hindu Forehead Dot

Why do we wear the pottu, the red dot between our eyes? The dot worn on the forehead is a sign that one is a Hindu. It is called bindi in the Hindi language, bindu in Sanskrit and pottu in Tamil. In olden days, all Hindu men and women wore these marks, and they both also wore earrings. Today it is the women who are most faithful in wearing the bindi. The dot has a mystical meaning. It represents the third eye of spiritual sight, which sees things the physical eyes cannot see. Hindus seek to awaken their inner sight through yoga. The forehead dot is a reminder to use this spiritual vision to perceive and better understand life's inner workings--to see things not just physically, but with the "mind's eye" as well. With our third eye, we can see into the future. With our third eye, we can see into the next world, the Devaloka. With the third eye, we can see into the Third World, the Sivaloka. With our third eye, we can see into the past. It is an eye that we were born with and which is eternally awake, but we are usually unaware of its many functions. In most people it is clouded over with intellectual ignorance and disuse. When we are in a state of meditation and our entire mind is concentrated in the area of the third eye between our eyebrows, we see a red light begin to form. When we put a red dot between our eyebrows, the pottu, or bindu, as we are taught to do in the temple and at home, this enhances the use of the third eye, just as eyeglasses enhance the use of our two eyes.

There are many types of forehead marks, or tilaka, in addition to the simple dot. Each mark represents a particular sect or denomination of our vast religion. We have four major sects: Saivism, Vaishnavism, Shaktism and Smartism. Vaishnava Hindus, for example, wear a V-shaped tilaka made of clay. Elaborate tilakas are worn by Hindus mainly at religious events, though many wear the simple bindi, indicating they are Hindu, even in the general public. By these marks we know what a person believes, and therefore how to begin and conduct our conversations.

For Hindu women, the forehead dot is also a beauty mark, not unlike the black beauty mark European and American women once wore on the cheek. The red bindi is generally a sign of marriage. A black bindi is often worn before marriage to ward off the evil eye. The bindi is sometimes used as an exotic fashion statement, its color carefully chosen to complement the color of a lady's sari. Ornate bindis are sometimes worn by actresses in popular American TV shows.

It is common in many religions to identify one's beliefs by wearing distinctive religious symbols. Often these are blessed in their temples, churches or synagogues. Jewish men wear the round skull cap, yarmulka. Christians wear a cross or medal on a necklace or coat lapel. In some countries, Muslim women still cover their face with a veil.

So, do not hesitate to wear the bindi on your forehead in the United States, Canada, Europe or any country of the world. It will distinguish you from all other people as a very special person, a Hindu, a knower of eternal truths. You will never be mistaken as belonging to another religion or to no religion at all. For boys and girls, men and women, the dot can be small or large depending on the circumstance. Recently a Canadian TV documentary distinguished the bindi by calling it a "cool dot." Times are changing, and to proudly wear the symbols that distinguish and define us is totally cool!

(SSS HA ST)

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Yes, outward symbols are certainly important but internal spiritual change must come first. Or else it will just become a joke like someone once told me : the red dot on his wife's forehead is a sign that that the recording button is on and his wife use this recording in future arguments. Chant Hare Krishna and save yourself.  

There is a difference between the Tilak verses the Hindu dot on the forehead,an average Hindu will wear it as a symbol of the third eye,or it is commonly worn by married women,or Bramhan priests. The Tilak however symbolizes the surrender unto the lotus feet of the Supreme Personality of Godhead.

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