It is said that Lord Brahma tested all four Vedas through his wisdom and knowledge and came to the conclusion that there should be love in the soul for the Supreme Lord. Bhagwat also recommends a strong tie of devotional love between a devotee and Supreme God and that should be the cause of all the efforts. Gods, demons, human beings, Yaksha or Gandharva, whosoever he may be, but he can earn emancipation through the means of the devotion of lotus feet of Lord Mukund. All these are indicative of the importance of devotion. Therefore, to earn the right for such devotion, one has to undergo formal initiation through a secret and sacred hymn, Pooja, Niyam and Preaching. This is most essential. One should dispel his doubts through the preaching and guidance provided to him; he should, thereafter seek the support of his Guru, should know the scriptures suggested by the Guru; and in well-composed mind should perform the Pooja of Bhagwan. That is the prescription of Shrimad Bhagwat. Lord Shankar says to Parvati in Padmottar Khand, 'Oh Vam Uru (Parvati)! The activities of a person without initiation are in vain. Such person without initiation takes birth as an animal. One who worships Lord Vishnu after his initiation earns reward for his life. Others remain as a burden on this earth. Skanda Puran says: Those souls are like animals, which have not taken initiation in Shri Hari and have not performed devotion of Shri Hari. Their lives are fruitless - aimless - unfulfilled.
Dwijati - twice born means those who have earned the status of 'Dwij' through the preaching of Gayatri. Why Diksha (initiation) for the Brahmin etcetera three castes ? One may think that this ritual of Diksha may only be for the Shudras (last cadre in the caste system) who are not entitled for Gayatri preaching. This type of doubts have been removed by using the word Dwij twice born. Only Vedic rights or performance of duties as per Vedic prescription does not endow one with fulfillment of life, because eternity is impossible without devotion. This shows supremacy of devotion of Lord Shri Krishna. In the light of divine devotion of women to Lord Shri Krishna, they felt inferiority complex and started criticizing : Shame on our life as we are deprived of the devotion of Lord Shri Krishna, shame on our Vrata, shame on our knowledge, shame on our dynasty, shame on our acts, shame on our wisdom. Those women who did not have culture as twice born nor the education or proximity with the Gurus, have not performed any Tapa, and have no critical look at the soul, neither are they pure nor are their acts good but they have firm devotion to Yogeshwar Lord Shri Krishna; but we, who are with culture and other attributes did not have such devotion. Further it is said, the Brahmin even with all twelve attributes if he is far off from the devotion to Lord Vishnu one who has lotus from his navel - then in comparison to such Brahmin a devotee chandal is far better. He is good, because he has followed the words (preaching) and has purified his own self along with his lineage. But those great Brahmins have not done so. Lord Shri Krishna says: 'Oh Arjuna ! Women, Vaishya (class of traders) and shoodras (class of labourers and servants) who are born in the species of the sinners, earn my Parampada (highest abode of God) by accepting my fold, then there should be no surprise if virtuous Brahmins and Rajarshi devotees if earn place in Parampada (highest abode of God). Krishna - Diksha is the first step in such devotion, and that has been said earlier. The devotion of Lord Shri Krishna can not become fruitful in the absence of Krishna-Diksha, therefore it shall be proper for the seekers of the knowledge of the ultimate to become initiated by the ritual of Krishna-Diksha.
Tulsi is a sacred plant. Mala means rosary. Two rosaries made of Tulsi wood beads should be worn around the neck. Skand Puran prescribes to wear Tulsi-Malas around the neck. This Mala, which increases devotional love for Bhagwan, should be placed around the neck . The disadvantages of not wearing such Mala have been shown in Padmapuran. This list aims at showing the advantages of wearing such Mala. Those wicked minded souls who are not wearing such Tulsi Mala face hellish fire with the displeasure of Bhagwan. Therefore, scriptures prescribe wearing such Mala on a regular basis (everyday). One should wear this Tulsi Mala as he wears his Yagyopavit (holy threads). Padmapuran also says that, the food would be like meat and water would be like wine from such animal like people who do not wear Tulsi Mala.
Those devotees who wear Tulsi Mala at the time of Pooja, Dhyan and Sandhya, earn the pleasure of Shri Hari. Those are the opponents of Lord Vishnu who wear Tulsi Mala while eating, sleeping or at the time of natural calls. These sentences from Padmapuran are sometimes used to restrict the use of Tulsi Mala up to the Pooja rituals. In fact it is not so. Those sentences are for such Malas, which have not been submitted to Bhagwan. Dwarika Mahatmya in Skand Puran explains this very clearly: One, who wears Tulsi Mala after submitting it to Bhagwan, stays sin-free. Moreover Padmapuran says: Do not leave Tulsi Mala at the time of sleeping, eating, bathing and even while answering natural calls. One who leaves Tulsi Mala in such circumstances becomes a defaulter. Garud Puran says: Don't leave Tulsi Mala even while attending to natural call. It is not unholy to keep it in such circumstances. Because it is a form of Brahm.
Shruti says: If rosary is flavourless then it should be in gold, otherwise flavourless rosary should not be kept around the neck. There in that statement there is no flaw in wearing but it objects to rosery laid in steel. For more details one should refer 'Mala Dharan Vaad'. Now what is the reason behind prescribing 'double' rosary ? Regarding this, it says that: Two rosaries represent two images of Shri Radhakrishna and meditation of that. Sometimes Krishna alone is mentioned. As such, there is nothing wrong in wearing single Tulsi Mala. And therefore, chanting name of God goes like 'Krishna' and 'Shri Krishna'. The hymn of placing Tulsi Mala around the neck has been given in Vishnu Dharm: Oh Rosary! You are made of Tulsi wood and loved by the devotees of Lord Vishnu ! Oh such rosary ! I am wearing you around the my neck. You make me a devotee of Lord Krishna.
Forehead etc, means forehead, chest, arms etc. vital parts of the body. A vertical Tilak (like a vertical stick) should be there on the forehead while performing Satkarma. Brihad Narad Puran explains, "Oh the greatest amongst the Brahmins! Yagya (holy fire), Dan (donation), Japa (chanting holy name of God), Homa (sacrifice in holy fire), Swadhyaya (study of the scriptures) and the Pitri-Karma (rites to the mane) become fruitless in absence of Tilak on the forehead.' Matsya Puran says: The man who performs Vedic Karmas (Vedic rituals) without a Tilak on his forehead, are in vain like butter oil poured on the heap of ashes. Harit also says: The Sandhya rites performed without Tilak, go to the demons and the performer of such rites is consigned to hell. Shrutis have described three types of Karma (action); namely: Nitya (daily or regular), Naimittik (causal) and Kamya (desired). If all such actions are not performed with Tilak on forehead, they become fruitless.
It is said somewhere that the manes become sad on looking at one who has Tilak on his forehead and the garlands on the shoulders or one whose upper caste wife copulates with a lower-caste man. These sentences of Smriti appear to be reprimanding Tilak in the ceremonies for offerings to manes. But this is in fact misunderstood. This objection stands against the Sandalwood Tilak if worn at such times. Ashwalayan Smriti says that one should not decorate himself prior to the offering to manes. The words sandal-paste etcetera, include kumkum, therefore vermilion powder should not be used. Prithvichandra defines that word as Tripundra - a symbol consisted of three lines. Learned Parasharmuni advises: wear vertical sign, not a Tripundra (three lined) one. The manes becomes unhappy upon looking at Tripundra, Therefore, in mane rituals too, one should wear a vertical Tilak made of Gopi-Chandan (sacred earth from Brindavan). Padma Puran says: Oh lovely faced ! One, who performs manes-rites with vertical Tilak, earns the reward of one thousand such offerings at Gaya. Smriti Saar Sanchaya suggests the use of vertical Tilak. The Devotees of Shiva and Vishnu should wear a Tilak at the time of offerings to the manes, failing which the rite turns fruitless.
The Brahmins should wear a vertical Tilak . The Kshatriya should wear a Tripundra (three lined sign) and the Vaishya should wear a half circle (like a half - moon sign) and Shudras should make a round dot on their foreheads. Brahmpuran has prescribed that. But that is for the Kshatriyas, Vaishyas and Shudras, but not for the followers of Lord Vishnu. In Urdhva Pundra Chapter of Padmottar Khand, there is no objection in wearing a vertical Tilak. The Kshatriya and others who wear Tilak, become the followers of Lord Vishnu. Herein word forehead etcetera has been used; therefore, Tilak should be placed on the forehead, chest, throat and arms. In the case of celebates, the fifth place is upper portion of throat. The procedure for wearing these Tilak shall be given in Snan Prakranam under the ceremonials for the offerings to the manes.
The print etcetera are to be placed everyday on the body by a Vaishnava devotee. Padma Puran says: As it is prescribed for a Brahmin to perform Agnihotra and study the Veda everyday, in similar way, it is a must for him to wear print on his body. He, himself and his wife, sons, servants and his animals must take on their body and body-parts like arms- the hot prints of wheel etc, religious symbols. Kashi Khannd says: A person, may belong to any caste like Brahmin, Kshatriya, Vaishya, Shudra or others but if religious symbols like conchshell, wheel etc, appears on his body as a hot print and if he wears Tulsi Mala in his neck and wears Gopi-Chandan on his person, then no sin touches such a person. Skandh Puran says: Others should worship a Brahmin who has religious prints on his body and is a devotee of Lord Vishnu. No doubts should be raised about him. Those who criticize him are consigned to hell. Further it is said: Oh Giver of son! Prahalad, Dhruva, Vibhishana, Bali, Rukam, Angad, Shuka, Mandhata, Ambarish, Markendya etc, great wise people have worn the print sign of conch shell and wheel on their bodies. Kurm Puran says: The print symbol of conch-shell etc, on the body of the man indicates relation with God and a pair of bangle on the wrist indicates faithfulness towards husband. Brihad Nardiya Puran says: Lord Vishnu and Goddess Lakshmi reside forever in a person on whose chest there is a permanent print of the wheel. 'The Chakra (wheel) created doubt and uncertainity in the heart of Yama (deity of death) to him and freed him from the wrath and did worship of such a devotee. Shandilya Smriti says: One should get religious prints on household things, animals, sons etc, and on the body of his own wife. One should perform five Sanskars (rites) as per Gruhasthashram Vidhi (as per the procedure prescribed for a householder) so that they become religious in their actions and use. Acharya should perform Taap (heat) etc five Sanskars (rites) as per Gruhya Sutra for the householders. Parashara Smriti says: Oh the best amongst the twice born ! Tapas Muni had prescribed the ritual of prints on bodies of the women belonging to all age groups. The people who wear heated impression on their arms, receive Param Dhaam, they are not reborn again. Vishnu Rahasya says: All devotee-Munis of Lord Vishnu, have impression of divine Chakra (wheel) on their bodies. Their Darshan only removes our sins. A person, who is deeply involved in great sins, if he drinks water from the lotus-feet of a devotee of Vishnu with the impression on his body, then he gets free from all the sins. Vishwaksen Samhita says: Oh great eagle! Offer our worship to all those on whose body appear the print of wheel or conch-shell etc. Brahmand Puran says: The sins of the last hundred births are destroyed upon the Darshan of a devotee with the print of a divine wheel on his chest. It has been justified for the rites like Shraaddha (offerings to mane), then there should be no point in objecting it for other purpose. Achardeep says: A Brahmin should wear the prints of conch-shell, Gadaa, Chakra etcetera as he wears his Upavita (sacred threads). It is most important for the devotees of Lord Vishnu.
Now it shows the descent of those who are not practising it. Parashar Smriti says: A Brahmin without Yagyopavit (sacred threads) and Chakra (wheel) becomes a Chandal (lowborn). A Brahmin without the prints of conch-chakra and Tilak is the lowest one. Though he may be alive but he lives as an out caste. He is out from all religions. Harit Smriti says: A Brahmin without the prints like wheel etcetera is criticized in all his actions. He is not a devotee of Lord Vishnu. He would be consigned to hell. Reject and keep him away like a chandal (low caste) one who is not wearing the print of wheel etcetera, one who is without Sanskar (culture) and one who is quarrelsome and one who is not a devotee of Lord Vishnu. Bhavishya Puran says: one who is not bowing his head to a person wearing the print of a wheel on his arm, becomes a bird for the next hundred births and thereafter takes birth as a dirt worm. The Yagya (holy fire), Daan (donation), Tapa (penance), Homa (sacrifice), Bhojan (food), Pitru Tarpan (rites of mane) become futile of a Brahmin who does not wear wheel print.
Padma Puran says: one earns emancipation in the abode of Lord Vishnu, if he converses with, donates to, worships and bows his head to such a Brahmin who is with the print of wheel. Those devotees of Lord Vishnu, who bow their head or offer worship to a Brahmin who is not wearing the print of wheel on his body, suffer hellish pains till the final rest of universe. A Brahmin, though he may be a scholar in Smriti and Shruti, but if he is not wearing a print of Chakra, then he should be thrown off like the nectar fallen in the utensil of a low-caste. The Urdhva Pundra (vertical sign) school says: To wear an Urdhva Pundra (vertical signs is the most important act for a Vaishnava. This ritual goes like this in a set : vertical symbol, rosary of Tulsi beads, print of Chakra (wheel), worship of Shaligram (symbolic form of Lord Vishnu) are the attributes of a Vaishnava devotee.