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The tilak is worn every day by sadhus and pious householders, and on special occasions like weddings and religious rituals. A tilak is also applied by a priest during a visit to the temple as a sign of the deity's blessing, for both men and women.

Tilak marks are applied by hand or with a metal stamp. They might be made of ash from a sacrificial fire, sandalwood paste, turmeric, cow dung, clay, charcoal, or red lead. In addition to its religious symbolism, the tilak has a cooling effect on the forehead and this can assist in concentration and meditation.

Vaishnava sampradaya

Brahma Sampradaya

Kumara Sampradaya

Rudra Sampradaya

Sri Sampradaya

Brahma Sampradaya
Brahma sampradaya

Madhva sampradaya

Gaudiya sampradaya

Madhavendra puri(founder)

Chaitanya Mahaprabhu

Madhva sampradaya
In between a vertical black line is made from the daily coal of the yajna-kunda (fire sacrifice).
The Madhva sampradaya mark two vertical lines representing Krishna's 'lotus feet'. In the Madhva sampradaya the tilak is made out of Gopichandana mud from Dwaraka.

Gaudiya sampradayathe Gaudiya In

In the Gaudiya line devotees do not approach Radha and Krishna directly, but always indirectly through their servant. To indicate this, the black line representing Radha is replaced with a tulsi leaf offered at the base of Krishna's feet. Vaishnava sampradaya the tilak is usually made out of mud from Vrindavan. The main tilak is basically identical to the Madhva tilak ( Two vertical lines representing Krishna's 'lotus feet).

Kumara Sampradaya

Within these lines, between the eyebrows is a black dot, made from the slate found in Barsana, Uttar Pradesh, the sacred birthplace of Radha. This is said to represent God as Radha and Krishna together.

The tilak is made of Gopi-Chandana (the clay from Gopi Kunda lake in Dwarka, Gujarat). It starts at the bridge of the nose and continues as two vertical lines to the top of the forehead.

Rudra Sampradaya

The tilak worn is generally a single vertical red line. This line represents Yamuna devi. The form of Krishna worshiped in this sampradaya is Sri Nathji or Govardhana..

Sri Sampradaya

A red line in the middle which representing Lakshmidevi. The red line was originally made from a red stone found within the ant hill. The ants would usually make their ant hill on top of these red stones.

Tilak with two lines representing the feet of Narayana. the tilak is made out of the white mud found in anthills. The scriptures tell us that the mud from the base of a Tulasi plant and the white mud from within the ant hill are both pure and best for making tilak.

Shaiva Marks
In general Shaiva tilaka is made of ash coming from burned wood, cow dung or incense. The tradition of ash goes back to stories that tell how Shiva would smear his body with ash taken from cremation sites, and so today, Shaivas mark their bodies with holy ash. In general, amongst Shaivas, the wearing of tilaka is not as extensive or as rigid as it is in the Vaishnava schools. Here are the most common Shaiva patterns. .

Importance of Tilak
Atharvana Upanisad Anyone who marks his body with the tilak which resembles the lotus feet of Lord hari becomes dear to the Paramatma. He becomes fortunate and attains liberation. Brahmaratra One should meditate on Me by chanting Om and should mark his body with vertical tilak daily. Anyone who marks thus attains sayujya liberation.