Often devotees ask, “Is it okay to wear Radha Kunda tilaka?” The bhava and purpose behind all actions is the most important element in all movements on the bhakti marga. So let’s take a closer look at these points and discover the answer to this question.
Our Gaudiya Vaisnava raskika poets and acharyas state that Srimati Radharani is very pleased to see and likes all things that are dark blue or black in color beginning with Her Priyatama Shyamasundara.
Because the dark blue or black color reminds Sri Radha of Her darling sweet heart Sri Krishna, Kishori jeu also likes black deer, kajjala, blue sapphire bangles and necklaces, nilambari saris, sakhis named Shyamala, monsoon clouds, Amavasya, the ratri deep night, the shimmering blue Yamuna river, the dark forest, and so on.
Every Hindu knows why every murti of Sri Hanumanji, the great monkey of Lord Rama, is covered head to toe in red/orange sindur. Bhagavan Ramachandraji once commented that He felt very happy to see the sindur in Sita Thakurani’s hairpart (simanta).
Hearing this and wanting to please His Lord Rama, the innocent bhakta Hanuman went out and covered his entire body in red sindur. When Hanuman returned, Lord Rama was very surprised and amused at Hanuman’s unusual appearance. Thus henceforth, all Hanuman murtis are colored sindur red/orange.
So this is the same devotional principle behind wearing Radha Kunda tilaka; it pleases Radharani, reminds Her of Shyama, and thus attracts Radhika’s compassion and mercy upon the wearer of black tilaka.
Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu was the first Gaudiya to wear Radha Kunda tilaka. Srila Krishnadasa Kaviraja explains, “Mahaprabhu marked His body with tilaka made from the mud of Radha Kunda, collected some of the mud and took it with Him”, kundera mrttika lana tilaka karila, mrttika sange kari laila (Cc. 2.18.14).
Now let’s hear what the founder acharya of Iskcon says about wearing Radha Kunda tilaka. Thirty-nine years ago, Srila Prabhupada said, “There is no harm in wearing Radha Kunda tilaka.” (BBT Folio 760816rc.bom)
So the conclusion is that Radha Kunda tilaka is worn by those devotees who desire to gain the favor of and to please Srimati Radharani. It is especially used by those rare souls on the path of raganuga bhakti hankering to serve within Radha’s inner circle of sakhis.
Radha Kunda tilaka ki jai! Syama-kunda Radha Kunda ki jai!
Jai Jai Sri Radhe!