applying tilak, vibhuti, sandalwood paste and kum kum are common practice in hinudism.
many sects wear the tilak in different ways. e.g. shiva devotees will have three horizontal lines in the forehead. whereas vishnu devotees will apply the three vertical lines (tripundra). aghori’s like to apply the vibhuti all over the body.
apart from forehead, tilak can be applied to twelve parts of the body: head, neck, both upper-arms, both forearms, chest, both sides of the torso, stomach and shoulder.
why vibhuti, tilak, sandalwood paste is put on forehead and body:
1. vibhuti comes out from the sacred fire or dhuni which is burnt by the sadhus, aghoris or at the religious ceremonies like havan. it also comes from the sacred fire which is burnt in the temple. so it carries the spiritual vibrations and is good to apply it on the body. as it activate minor chakras in your body and will also give you spiritual vibrations. it is considered auspicious and is a important religious ritual.
2. the bhasam or ash reminds you that everything goes back to nature. nothing is eternal. death is the ultimate reality. so better not to get identified with mundane things of life and focus your attention and energy on getting self-realizement (enlightenment or moksha).
3. applying vibhuti in a particular way, helps to identify with the sect or path one is following. it creates familiarity and brotherhood in the people following the same path. group energy is very important in spiritual practices.
4. sandalwood paste should actually be applied at the third eye spot. the position of third eye is between two eyes. the actual position will vary from person to person. if you have meditated in previous lives deeply then your third eye will be lower than other people. as deep meditation experiences brings down the third eye spot. sandalwood paste is applied at third eye spot, because the cooling quality of sandalwood paste activates the third eye for meditators. it draws the attention of meditators on their third eye.
for third eye, attention is food and thoughts are poison. so as you meditate more and have thoughtless experiences then the third eye will become more and more active. as a caution, before trying to activate your third eye, always first work on your heart center and purify it. don’t have any malice, anger, jealousy or sexual feeling in you. always share love, compassion and positivity with others.
5. many hindu married women also apply bindi in their forehead which indicate that they are married. actually while applying bindi they should remember their husband and it will help to make the bond more deeper and they will be more devoted to their husband. the science behind applying bindi was that women is only surrendered and devoted to his husband and not to any other men. just as celibate men has lot of power within. similarly a chaste devoted wife also has lot of power within.
the bindis which you get in market is not good for third eye. kum kum is the best option instead of bindi. but normally for most women the natural path is of devotion, which is of heart center. but few very rare women also tread the path of meditation, then for them it is better to use kum kum or sandalwood paste instead of bindi.