The Skanda Purana

by G. V. Tagare | 1950 | 2,545,880 words

This page describes Imprinting Marks of Conch etc. which is chapter 3 of the English translation of the Skanda Purana, the largest of the eighteen Mahapuranas, preserving the ancient Indian society and Hindu traditions in an encyclopedic format, detailling on topics such as dharma (virtous lifestyle), cosmogony (creation of the universe), mythology (itihasa), genealogy (vamsha) etc. This is the third chapter of the Margashirsha-mahatmya of the Vaishnava-khanda of the Skanda Purana.

Chapter 3 - Imprinting Marks of Conch etc.

[Sanskrit text for this chapter is available]

Brahmā said:

1. Explain to me, O Keśava, how many varieties of Puṇḍra marks are there. I have great curiosity to hear about Puṇḍras.

Śrī Bhagavān said:

2-4. Listen, O son, I shall recount.[1] Puṇḍras are proclaimed to be of three varieties: that marked with the clay from the root of a Tulasī plant, that with Gopīcanḍana (yellow-coloured clay from Dvārakā) and that with Haricandana (yellow sandal). These Puṇḍras have to be marked by wise devotees.

If a devout man takes the clay from the root of a Tulasī plant (a favourite) of Śrīkṛṣṇa and makes the vertical Puṇḍras, Hari becomes pleased with it.

I shall now speak to you the greatness of Gopīcanḍana.

5. If a man takes up in his hand the clay that comes from Dvārakā and applies it on his forehead as a vertical Puṇḍra, the value of his holy rites shall enhance crore-fold.

6. If he fails to perform holy rites with prescribed procedure or if the Mantras are not uttered, or if he has no faith in it or the rites are not performed in time, he can still always attain the benefit of the holy rites, provided he applies Gopīcandana on his forehead.

7-8. If a Brāhmaṇa wears everyday a fine sacred mark of Puṇḍra on his forehead with Gopīcandana always, whether it is night or day, he attains that benefit which one obtains (by bathing) at Kurujāṅgala[2] during a solar eclipse or at Prayāga during Māgha. More than that, he dwells in my house like a Deva.

O Four-faced One, accompanied by Śrī I always stay in the form of the Slayer of Kaṃsa in that house in which there is Gopīcandana, provided the man (the house-owner) devoutly applies it on his forehead.

9. If a man always wears on his forehead the clay which originates from Dvārakā, the clay that is very sacred and a dispeller of all the sins of Kali, and is inspired by my Mantra, Yama shall not see him even if he is full of sins.

10. Dear son, even if one happens to be a slayer of cows and children or even of Brāhmaṇas, he goes to the world that belongs to me, the Lord of Kamalā, if at the time of death he has Gopīcandana (marks) on his forehead, arms, chest and head.

11. Evil spirits do not harass (him) nor groups of Rākṣasas, Yakṣas, Piśācas, serpents and leaders of ghosts and goblins inflict pains, O dear son, on that person on whose forehead there is Gopīcandana mark. By my power he is not affected by them.

12. If the vertical Puṇḍra, straight and gentle, is visible in the forehead of any person, he is undoubtedly a pure soul. Even if he is a Cāṇḍāla, he is worthy of being honoured.

13. A sinful person devoid of purity may have performed holy rites without taking bath. But, should he have contact with Gopīcandana, he becomes sanctified instantaneously.

14. A man may be unclean. He may be guilty of misconduct. He may have committed many great sins. But if he is marked with the vertical Ūrdhvapuṇḍra[3] mark, he shall always be pure and clean.

15. For the purpose of pleasing me, or for the sake of auspiciousness or for protecting himself, O Four-faced One, my devotee should always have Ūrdhvapuṇḍra that is destructive of worldly existence, at the time of my worship or Homa, whether it is performed in the evening or in the morning. He should have purity and concentration of mind.

16. If a man having the vertical Puṇḍra mark dies anywhere, he shall go to my world riding in an aerical chariot. Even if he is a Cāṇḍāla, he is honoured in my world.

17. When a man having the Ūrdhvapuṇḍra mark takes the food offered by any person, I redeem twenty generations of that person from hell.

18. O highly fortunate one, a person who looks into a mirror or into water and carefully applies the Ūrdhvapuṇḍra mark, attains the greatest goal

19. (The benefit accruing from the application of Gopīcandana with different fingers.) The ring finger is said to be the bestower of peace. The middle finger shall be conducive to longevity. The thumb is said to be the bestower of nourishment. The index finger yields salvation.

20. If a person gives a piece of Gopīcandana to a Vaiṣṇava, one hundred and eight generations of his family are redeemed thereby.

21. Yajña, charitable gift, penance, Homa, study of the Vedas, water libations to the manes—all these become fruitless, if performed without the vertical Puṇḍra mark.

22. If the body of a man is devoid of Ūrdhvapuṇḍra, I shall never see that face as it is like a cremation ground.

23. One should necessarily apply the Ūrdhvapuṇḍra mark. Besides it, he should have the imprints of (incarnations of Viṣṇu such as) fish, tortoise etc. for the sake of winning the favour of Viṣṇu. It is highly pleasing to Mahāviṣṇu.[4]

24-25. If at the time of Kali Age a man takes the clay originating from my city (Dvārakā) and makes imprints of fish and tortoise (on his own person), know, O most excellent one among Devas, that I have entered his body. There is no difference between him and me. This must be done by one who wishes for welfare.

26. If the symbols of my incarnations are visible on a man’s body, he should not be deemed a man. Certainly he (his body) is my body.

27. The sin of that embodied soul becomes a meritorious deed in Kali Age, on whose body my weapons are seen drawn.

28. He who is marked by both the symbols, i.e. the symbol of fish and that of tortoise, has my splendour infused into his body.

29. He by whom the conch, the lotus, the iron club, the discus, the fash and the tortoise—all these are marked on the body, increases (his) merits and destroys the sins acquired in the course of hundreds of births.

30. What (harm) can Yama do to that person whose body is always marked with Nārāyaṇa’s weapons, even if he has committed crores of sins?

31. If the symbol of the conch is imprinted on the right arm everyday, he attains that benefit which is obtained by one who resides in the holy place Śaṅkhoddhāra[5] in the course of a crore of births. He attains the benefit that has been mentioned.

32. If the symbol of the lotus is imprinted above that of the conch, one attains crore times the benefit that has been proclaimed for visiting the Lotus-eyed Lord at Puṣkara.

33. Gadādhara (Viṣṇu) grants everyday the merit of (visiting the sacred place) Gayā, to that person on whose left arm the (form of the) iron club is seen imprinted in Kali Age.

34. If the (symbols of) iron club and the discus are imprinted, the benefit is the same as that which is mentioned for visiting the Liṅga near Cakrasvāmin in Ānandapura (Vadnagar in North Gujarat).

35. If the body of anyone is marked with my weapons with Gopīcandana clay, what will he do by going to Prayāga and oṃer Tīrthaś?

36. Whenever a body marked with the conch etc. is seen, I get delighted and I burn his sins.

37. If the imprints of the conch, discus, iron-club and lotus are present on anyone’s body every day and night, he is identical with me.

38. In Kali Age, if anyone imprints himself with the weapons of Nārāyaṇa and then performs any meritorious deed, it becomes equal to Meru: there is no doubt about it.

39. If anyone is marked with the weapon Śaṅkha, O son, and he performs a Śrāddha, what is offered to the Pitṛs has everlasting benefit. Even if the Śrāddha is deficient in its procedure, it becomes perfect and complete.

40. Just as fire bums wood on being strongly impelled by the wind, so also on seeing sins my weapons burn them.

41 -42. Especially in Kali Age, he who wears a gold or silver seal

inscribed with my name of eight syllables (viz. oṃ nārāyaṇāya namaḥ) and with conch and my other weapons, should be known as one equal to (my ideal devotee) Prahlāda. Otherwise, he is not dear unto me.

43-44. A Brāhmaṇa who has the seal of Nārāyaṇa, whose body is marked with conch etc., who has a garland made of Dhātrī fruits or Tulasī twigs, who (has recited) the twelve-syllabled mantra and on whose body the weapons have been imprinted is equal to me. He is a Vaiṣṇava.

45. If a Brāhmaṇa whose body is imprinted with the conch takes food in any person’s house, O my son, I too eat his food along with (his) Pitṛs.

46. If on seeing a person marked with Kṛṣṇa’s weapons one does not honour him, his merit acquired in the course of twelve years will go over to Bāṣkaleya (descendant of demon Bāṣkala).

47. If a person marked with Kṛṣṇa’s weapons dies in a cremation grounds O bestower af honour, his goal is the same as is proclaimed for one who dies in Prayāga.

48. In Kali Age, if anyone’s body is always embellished with my weapons, the Devas including Vāsava resort to him.

49. If a man is marked with my weapons and performs my worship, I always, dispel his thousands of offences.

50. If a man makes a wooden seal well-marked with my weapons and puts imprints thereof on his body, there is no other Vaiṣṇava who is equal to him.

51. If a man has in hs hand a metal seal marked with the eight-syllabled name (Mantra) along with (the imprints of) conch; lotus, etc., he is worshipped by Suras and Asuras.

52-53. The seal of Nārāyaṇa was formerly worn in his hand by Prahlāda, (it was also worn) by Vibhīṣaṇa, Bali, Dhruva, Śuka, Māndhātṛ, Ambarīṣa and by Mārkaṇḍeya and other Brāhmaṇas. O bestower of honour, after making their bodies imprinted by the conch and other weapons they have propitiated me and the great desired reward has been obtained by them.

54. I stay in that body of a person which is imprinted with Gopīcandana-clay and is marked with conch, discus, lotus, etc.

55-59. The intelligent devotee should get a discus made of gold, silver, copper, bell metal or iron and wear it. It must have twelve spokes and six angles. It must be embellished with three folds. The clever devotee should make the Sudarśana discus like this. The conch, the discus and the iron-club are to be worn like the sacred thread always, particularly by Brāhmaṇas and still more particularly by Vaiṣṇavas.

As is the sacred thread or the tuft, so is the discus along with the imprints. (Everything done by) a Brāhmaṇa devoid of the discus and the imprints shall be futile.

The Vedas ever declare that the body marked with my discus is sanctified. Havya and Kavya should be offered to one who is marked with the discus. The coat of mail marked with my discus cannot be broken or pierced by Devas or Dānavas. He is invisible to all living beings, enemies and Rākṣasas too.

60. If the coat of mail (or amulet) marked with my discus is present on anyone’s body, no inauspicious thing will occur to him or to his house, sons and others.

61. Those who know the Vedas know that a Brāhmaṇa should wear Sudarśana on his right arm and the conch on the left arm.

62-66. The different weapons shall be separately consecrated with their respective Mantras and installed; the iron club is to be worn (imprinted) on the forehead; the bow and the arrows on the head; the Nandaka (sword) in die middle of the chest; the conch and the discus on the two arms. One should always wear the discus etc. After wearing them the excellent Brāhmaṇa shall say thus: “Whatever sons, friends, wife, etc. I possess is dedicated to the satisfaction of Viṣṇu along with my body.” Thereafter he should live the whole of his life sincerely doing the duties of his own (caste and stage). He will always obtain his desired things through my unswerving devotion.

67. One should look at the sun after seeing faces of base men who censure a person on seeing him marked with the conch and discus. He must also utter the name of Śrīkṛṣṇa. Otherwise he does not become pure.

Footnotes and references:


VV 2-13 describe the materials used for Puṇḍra marks and the efficacy of each material.


Kurujāṅgala:A forest-country situated in Sirhind NW of Hastināpura. At the time of Mbh Hastināpura was its capital (Mbh, Ādi 94.49 also 108.1-16).


VV 14-22 describe importance of Ūrdhva-Puṇḍra mark.


The devotee should identify bis person with that of the Lord. Hence imprints (with Gopīcandana etc.) of Viṣṇu’s weapons, incarnations etc. arc recommended in vv 23-66. The special importance of Sudarśana (discus) print is given in vv 55-61.


The island Bati (Byet) on the extremity of the gulf of Cutch in Gujarat. Viṣṇu is said to have destroyed demon Śaṅkhāsura here. (De 177)

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