Sandalwood’s relaxing and cooling properties are known to boost concentration, readying the mind for meditation—a drop or two is often placed on the third eye, located near the middle of the forehead, just above the center of the eyebrows, in order to prepare the mind for an inward focus .
Many religions believe that sandalwood creates a link between heaven and earth, and thus powdered sandalwood is used in many spiritual traditions as incense in temples and personal altars to remind one of the fragrant heavens.
Sandalwood, known to be one of the most calming fragrances, has been used as incense for at least 4000 years. Besides incense, the sandalwood tree’s wood and oil are used in many diverse spiritual practices and are considered sacred by Hinduism, Buddhism, and Islam, as well as numerous other religions.
The area in which the mark is applied is between the eyebrows, called the Ajna Chakra. This is the point that most schools of Hinduism consider the entry and exit point of our jivaatma (soul). Scientifically, this Ajna Chakra area is often cited as the seat of thinking, concentration and memory. It is also the area which gets heated during stress and tension. Applying the tilak (generally using Chandan) has a cooling effect and aids concentration.
There is an interesting incident in the Ramayana regarding the significance of Kumkum. One day as Sri Jankidevi, wife of Lord Rama, was adorning her forehead with Sindur, Hanuman asked her, “Mata, why do you put this red thing on your head?” Sri Jankidevi replied, “By applying this, my swami (husband) will live long.” Since Hanuman is a Parama-bhakta of Sri Rama, he thought that if a pinch of Sindur could make his master’s life long, a whole lot of it would make him live much longer. So he rubbed it all over his gigantic body!
Other Uses of Sandal powder or Chandan Powder
- According to the Vamana Purana, an ancient Hindu text, sandalwood is recommended for use in worshiping the god Shiva, and it is believed that the goddess Lakshmi resides in the sandalwood tree.
- The paste of the sandalwood tree’s powdered wood is often applied to the forehead—the third eye center—and other body parts, especially by devotees of the god Krishna and for the ritual bathing of other Hindu gods.
- Sandalwood is also crucial to the ritual of homa (havana), a Sanskrit word which refers to any ritual centered around offerings to a consecrated fire. Sandalwood oil is burned in a tent during Hindu marriages so that the smoke surrounds the bridal couple
- In Buddhism, sandalwood-based incense is often burned during prayers and meditation and is one of the three fragrances integral to Buddhist practice, along with aloeswood and cloves.
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