Pope John Paul II visited New Delhi, India, 5-8 November, 1999. The above picture, taken at Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium, New Delhi, on November 7, is sourced from The Hindu newspaper group’s “Frontline” magazine, Volume 16, No. 24.


Pope John Paul II visited India February 1-10, 1986. I attended the Papal Mass for dignitaries and special invitees at the Sacred Heart Cathedral, as well as the celebrations at New Delhi’s Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium.



[Fundamentalist Baptist publishing ministry of David Cloud] August 28, 2008



Pope John Paul II received a Hindu tika (tilaka) when he arrived to say Mass in New Delhi, India (L’Osservatore Romano, February 2, 1986).


John Paul II received the mark of the adorers of Shiva

http://onetruecatholicfaith.com/Roman-Catholic-Articles.php?id=263&title=The+Heresies+of+John+Paul+II&category=Vatican+II+Apostasy&page=1 [Traditionalist]

On February 2, 1986, John Paul II received on his forehead the Tilac or Tika, the red powdery paste of the Hindus, the sign of recognition of the adorers of Shiva. This is total idolatry and apostasy. 


Apparently, the Pope had been misguided by Indian Church leaders about the significance of the application of tilak on one’s forehead inasmuch the same way as Rome had been earlier misguided by them about the meaning of rituals like the arati as well as other symbols and practices that were eventually permitted in or have found their way into the Indian rite of Mass.


Catholic Answers Quick Question, This Rock, April 1996


Q: Someone in the schismatic group the Society of St. Pius X told me that when the pope was in India he had his forehead anointed by a Hindu “priestess of Shiva” and that there is a photo to prove it. Is this true?

A: There is a photo of the Pope having his forehead anointed by an Indian woman, but she was a Catholic, not a Hindu priestess! She was giving the Pope a traditional Indian form of greeting known as “Aarti,” which has no more religious significance than a handshake does in Western culture.
A letter dated November 22, 1994, from the Pontifical Council for Social Communications explains the custom and its role in Indian society:
“Indian Catholics . . . use ‘Aarti’ when a child returns home after receiving First Holy Communion and when a newly married couple are received by their respective families. Nowadays, ‘Aarti’ is often performed to greet the principal celebrant at an important liturgical event, as it was on the occasion shown in the photograph. On such occasions, ‘Aarti’ is usually offered by a Catholic married lady and certainly not by a ‘priestess of Shiva’ as has been alleged.”
The letter, by Archbishop John P. Foley, went on to note: “Use of the ‘Aarti’ ceremonial by Indian Catholics is no more the worship of a heathen deity than is the decoration of a Christmas tree by American Christians a return to the pagan rituals of Northern Europe.”
Your friend in the Society of St. Pius X should check his facts before spreading such malicious gossip about the Holy Father (cf. Acts 23:1-5).



It appears that Catholic Answers/This Rock have made a Himalayan [pardon the pun] blunder. The “anointing of the forehead” is not the greeting with “Aarti” but the application of the tilak!

Furthermore, they and Archbishop Foley are incorrect in their statements that the Aarti “has no more religious significance than a handshake does in Western culture” and is akin to “the decoration of a Christmas tree” or areligious. One does not go around performing aarti in the manner that Westerners — and Indians too — offer handshakes!! Aarti is performed at solemn Hindu religious events!!!



By F. John Loughnan


“And Genghis Khan defeated Attila the Hun in battle…” (1)

Recently my wife and I partook of a periodic pleasant event – an excellent luncheon with friends of over twenty years; friends formed by mutual association with the interests of Archbishop Lefebvre and the Society of St Pius X. Although my wife and I have cut our association with the SSPX, we truly value our friendships, personally love our friends and have nothing but the best of wishes for their bodily and spiritual welfare.

Of course, over time, many things have been said upon which comments could have been made but, very often, it is prudential to hold the tongue. However, on the most recent occasion, certain statements were made which required the voice of dissent: for example, it was stated that Pope John Paul II was “given the mark of Shiva by a Hindu priestess.” Similar derogatory epithets are routinely thrown in by “traditionalists” generally, such as concerning the Pope kissing the Koran, the placing of the statue of Buddha on the altar at Assisi, the semi-nude Papal Mass in Papua New Guinea, the Lutheran/Catholic accord, the heresies of Vatican II, and so on.

For the purpose of this exercise (which is only an example as to how the wild claims of so-called “traditionalists” may be examined), I will consider the matters of “John-Paul II receives the sign of the adorers of the Hindu ‘God’ Shiva,” and […]. Pictures of these events, and of others which SSPX-ers criticize, have been widely distributed, both prior to and following the excommunication of Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre, and are found in the publications of not only the SSPX but also fundamentalist protestants and sedevacantist types such as Brother Michael Dimond, O.S.B.



The following extract is from James Akin’s “The Nazareth Resource Library”

[The “This Rock” Q&A above is reproduced here, and so omitted by me- Michael]

He was simply about to say Mass and received the traditional Indian form of greeting for the celebrant.” (2)

In the photos produced as “evidence” for the allegation, there is no way of actually SEEING what the mark was. All that can be seen is a woman putting her hand up to the Pope’s forehead. How can this be “evidence” that what was produced at the time was “the mark of Shiva” or anything else at all?

Anyway, this event (whatever it was) in no way impinges on the dogma of Papal Infallibility, which means that the Pope is incapable of teaching heresy as dogmatic truth, not that he is incapable of sin, of scandal, or of exercising bad judgement. Furthermore, the burden of proof of any allegation rests on the party making the allegation – not upon the defender of the Pope.


Preparatory to the PASTORAL VISIT OF HIS HOLINESS POPE JOHN PAUL II TO NEW DELHI on 5-8 November 1999, and LITURGICAL CELEBRATIONS celebrated by His Holiness POPE JOHN PAUL II, a document was prepared by Piero Marini, Titular Bishop of Martirano, Master of Papal Liturgical Celebrations. The document was dated 23 October 1999. The following is a small extract:

“…The Votive Mass of Christ the Light of the World is being celebrated precisely because the whole of India celebrates the Festival of Lights on 7 November. It is a happy coincidence. The festival is so called because of the illuminations that form its main attraction. The month of Karttika (the lunar month coming between October and November is the twelfth of the year), the most favourable time and atmosphere in the whole cosmos for a great celebration encompassing God, neighbour and nature in harmony. This month marks the end of rains and the beginning of new life; people of all walks of life begin afresh. People have time to build up their divine and human relationship under the benign gaze of nature. In the backdrop of this holistic atmosphere the ancestors of India started the non-sectarian feast of lights to celebrate life and thank God for all his blessings and the righteousness of his dealings with human beings. The Christian relevance of this festival of lights may be conceived thus: Jesus, who is the light of the world (Jn 8:12), by his death-resurrection-ascension, and the outpouring of the Holy Spirit, transferred us from the grip and Kingdom of darkness to the Kingdom of Light (1 Pt 2:9) and made us ‘Children of the light’. Paul says: ‘Live as children of the light’ (Eph 5:8). The Gospel imperative is therefore: Let your light shine so that all people may glorify God. Jesus says: ‘you are the light of the world’ (Mt 5:14). Christians celebrate this feast to thank God for this wonderful gift.

Adaptations for India:

“The Mass at the Stadium will have three Indian dances. Two will be at the entrance. The first will be a tribal dance leading the priests and bishops to the podium before the arrival of the Holy Father.
“The second will be a prayer dance leading the Cardinals after the arrival of the Pope into the Stadium.
“The third will be an offertory dance leading the persons with the offertory gifts to the altar.
“At the Doxology when the Holy Father takes the chalice and paten with the host, the Aarati, which is a sign of veneration, will be performed by a group of young ladies. The Aarati will consist of the following: Pushpa arati, waving a tray of flowers with deepak (light) in the center and the showering of flower petals; Dhupa Aarati-the homage of incense; Deepa Aarati-the homage of light, waving of camphor fire and the ringing of the bell…” (Emphasis added. F.J.L.) (3)

This, surely, is simply an adaption of the principle of inculturation. Several days ago we saw the secular celebration of St Valentine’s Day; it is interesting to see an example here of an earlier adaption of that principle:

“Tomorrow – St Valentine’s Day – had its origins in a pagan festival that celebrated an ancient lust lottery, the gruesome death of a Christian bishop and the love life of birds. In ancient Rome, the day celebrated Juno, the ‘ox-eyed’ queen of heaven, goddess of women, marriage and strangely, war. Part of the pagan ritual, timed for the start of the European spring when birds began to mate, involved young girls writing their names on pieces of paper and placing them on a drum.
“Boys would draw the names of girls, who would become their lovers until the next annual draw. Christian leaders later altered the practice. The lottery system was kept but the girl’s names were substituted with the names of saints. February 14 became associated with Valentine, a third century Roman pagan who converted to Christianity and may have become a bishop…” (4)

So! Just as what was good in paganism was used and adapted by the Church in the past, so too are Pope John Paul II and the Church endeavoring to adapt in the present time.

What IS the “mark of Shiva”?

From: “Hindu Fasts and Festivals” SHIVARATRI,
By Sri Swami Sivanda [sic]

“Sastri: That means that in the Turiya state he saw the Shiva Lingam or the mark of Shiva in the form of the inner lights. In other words, he had the vision of the Lord. That was an indication to him that he would realise the supreme, eternal abode of Lord Shiva in course of time.” (5)

From the Lefebvrites and Protestants 

The Australian monthly “Catholic” of January 1987 p.7 has a “Catalogue of Errors” of Pope John Paul II and the “post-Conciliar” Church. No authorship or reference is given for the catalogue, so it must be assumed to have been prepared by the Editor, Mr Silvester Donald McLean of Yarra Junction, Victoria, Australia. He writes:

“February 2, 1986.
“During his visit to India, as one could see in the media and on television, the Sovereign Pontiff received from the hands of an Hindu priestess, the sign of the Tilak. Less publicity was given to an act positively more serious: On February 5, at Madras, the pope received the imposition of the sacred ashes from the hands of a woman.”


Here, at least, Mr McLean makes no claim that the woman was “a Hindu priestess”! But, unlike Archbishop Lefebvre he attributes a greater seriousness to the “imposition of the sacred” ashes than to the alleged reception “ON HIS FOREHEAD THE TILAC OR TIKA, THE RED POWDERY PASTE OF THE HINDUS, THE SIGN OF THE ADORERS OF SHIVA.” (See below).
Among his “Catalogue of Errors” No. 3 states:

“January 25, 1983.
“This date saw the promulgation of the New Code of canon Law, which is suspect in many areas, in particular it raises the sanction of excommunication for all members of freemasonry.”

Now, just remember that Don McLean writes this in December 1986 in preparation for the Jan. 1987 issue of “Catholic”, and that the Code of Canon Law was promulgated on January 25, 1983.
In 1995, James J. Drummey published “Catholic Replies – Over 800 Questions Answered…” He deals with Freemasonry on p.116 thus:
[Prior to the 1983 Code of Canon Law]

“Freemasonry originated in London in the early 1700’s and has usually been hostile to religion in general and the Catholic Church in particular. Eight Popes have condemned it, beginning with Clement XII in 1738. During the 1970’s, there was a perception that Catholics could join Masonic lodges that were not anti-Catholic, but in 1980 the Sacred Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith called this perception false. The Congregation restated the ban on Masonic membership in a declaration issued on November 26, 1983, with the approval of Pope John Paul II.
“The declaration said that ‘the Church’s negative position on Masonic associations…remains unaltered since their principles have always been regarded as irreconcilable with the Church’s doctrine. Hence, joining them remains prohibited by the Church. Catholics enrolled in Masonic associations are involved in serious sin and may not approach Holy Communion. Local ecclesiastical authorities do not have the faculty to pronounce a judgement on the nature of Masonic associations which might include a diminution of the above-mentioned judgement.’

[After the 1983 Code of Canon Law]

“In June 1985, the National Conference of catholic Bishops called Freemasonry ‘irreconcilable’ with Catholicism because ‘the principles and basic rituals of masonry embody a naturalistic religion, active participation in which is incompatible with Christian faith and practice. Those who knowingly embrace such principles are committing serious sin.’ ”

Among other canons, Canon1374 provides that

“A person who joins an association which plots against the Church is to be punished with a just penalty; one who promotes or takes office in such an association is to be punished with an interdict.”

In his April 1985 issue of “Catholic”, Mr McLean editorialized on, inter alia, a pope being “suspect of heresy” even if he does nothing:

“The Sacrament of Order implants a character on the soul which cannot be removed. A priest for ever according to the Order of Melchisedech. But a pope forever? No. A pope may resign his office, or he can lose his office if he demonstrates formal, manifest heresy. Does this yet apply to Pope John Paul II? We shall not attempt an answer. (Emphasis added. F.J.L.) Certainly his attendance at Canterbury cathedral, his preaching in a Lutheran church in Rome, the homage he paid at Ghandi’s [sic] tomb, and the fact that he did not visit the shrine of St Francis Xavier whilst in India, makes him suspect. (Emphasis added. F.J.L.).”

Mr McLean and SSPX-ers all ought to take note also of Canon 1373″

“A person who publicly incites his or her subjects to hatred or animosity against the Apostolic See or the Ordinary because of some act of ecclesiastical authority or ministry, or who provokes the subjects to disobedience against them, is to be punished by interdict or other just penalties.”
The principal web-site for the SSPX in America is http://www.sspx.org/. It currently has a series of “answers” in its FAQ’s section at
In answer to Q7:  But shouldn’t we be following Pope John Paul II? the SSPX claim:

“February2, 1986
(The Pope) -had the sacred Tilac put on his forehead by a priestess of Shiva in Bombay.” (6)

The protestant “Deception In The Church Newsletter”, parrots the account from page 155 of “Peter Lovest Thou Me?” (Italics below):

“(17) Pope John Paul II Receives The Mark of “Aarti”, A Prayer To The Hindu Goddess Durga
This is a photo of the pope receiving the mark of a prayer “aarti” to the Hindu female godess Durga by a professing Christian Hindu woman. By the time this photo was taken, however, the pope had already been involved in a number of pagan rituals on his trip to India in 1986, including taking the mark of Shiva. Here is the documented quote: ‘Still at Madras on February 5, 1986, ‘A sugarcane, fashioned into the form of a cross, signifying a Hindu offering to a carnal god, was brought into the presence of the Pope. A little later, during the offertory procession, a coconut was carried to the altar, a typical Hindu offering, which they offer to their idols. Finally, a man placed sacred ashes on his forehead. IT WAS NOT A MATTER OF TILAC BUT OF SACRED ASHES OR VIBHUTI. (*164) THREE DAYS EARLIER, ON FEBRUARY 2, HE HAD RECEIVED ON HIS FOREHEAD THE TILAC OR TIKA, THE RED POWDERY PASTE OF THE HINDUS, THE SIGN OF THE ADORERS OF SHIVA. (*165) *164 ‘Msgr.’ Lefebvre, op. cit. p.177. *165 La Croix of February 6, and ‘I’ Express’ of February 7/13, 1986, with photo.’  The Catholic objections to this photo, and their deceptive tactics to try to hide what the pope did on the web, have unearthed even further evidence of the interfaith dabbling with demons by the papacy.” (7)
Here we see the male “Shiva” has been changed to the female “Durga” – but it is acknowledged, at least, that “the mark” was given “by a professing Christian woman” – NOT by a “priestess of Shiva”! However, again without producing any evidence the allegation of the Pope “taking the mark of Shiva” is repeated from “Peter Lovest Thou Me?“!!

The quote is from Archbishop Lefebvre in La Croix of February 6, and ‘I’ Express’ of February 7/13, 1986, with photo – which, presumably, is the same photo of the so-called “Hindu priestess of Shiva” putting SOMETHING (can anyone make out exactly what?) on the Pope’s forehead. Hang on! Didn’t they just say that she was “a professing Christian woman”? So, how could she also be a “priestess of Shiva”?
Then Archbishop Lefebvre says that “THREE DAYS EARLIER, ON FEBRUARY 2, (which is the day of the photograph of the “priestess of Shiva”) HE HAD RECEIVED ON HIS FOREHEAD THE TILAC OR TIKA, THE RED POWDERY PASTE OF THE HINDUS, THE SIGN OF THE ADORERS OF SHIVA.”

Given that the “sign of the adorers of Shiva” is the lignum [sic] or phallus of Shiva, (a penis-like sign or object) and
Given that Archbishop Lefebvre is alleged to have stated that the “sign of the adorers of Shiva” was “The Tilac or Tika” (a red powdery paste of the Hindus) –


The definition of “Tika” was precisely the same from the three sources listed in the Footnotes section below: (8):

“Tika – Mark on forehead signifying commitment to a spiritual ideal.”

Mani Vadadarajan writes: “Hindus themselves do not know what this (the dot on forehead) means. I certainly do not; it is worn nowadays as a cultural symbol with minor religious overtones. Indian Christians, Jains, Parsis, and Sikhs also often wear the ‘bindi’ on their forehead. If anyone offers an interpretation, it is likely to be a modern one that is not based on tradition.” (9)
The opening paragraph in the FAQ on Hindu Net answer to “What does the red dot on the forehead mean?” states:

“The ‘Red dot’ on the forehead is not always only red and nor is it always a dot. The dot is called ‘Kumkum’ or ‘Bindi’, and when worn by men it is called ‘Tilak’ (mark). Usually Hindu women, priests, monks and worshippers wear it. Men wear it on auspicious occasions such as Puja (ritual worship), or marriage, or Arati (waving of lights) on festive occasions such as on Bhaai-duj, Karvaa Chaud or Paadwaa or Dasshera) or while embarking on, or upon return from a voyage or a campaign. It is also worn by Jains and Buddhists (even in China).
“Like all Hindu symbols, ‘red dot’ has multiple meanings which are all valid at the same time.” (10) (Emphasis added- F.J.L.).

Pardon me for now asking: How does the reception of this “mark” make the Pope deserving of the venom accorded to him by the SSPX-ers, protestants and similar. When St Valentine died in 270 the pope of the time was Pope Felix I (269-274). Do we have to start questioning the propriety of Pope Felix I now? It appears that the pope following him, Pope Eutychian, “decreed that only beans and grapes be blessed at Mass.” (Heck! We’ll soon become cross-eyed at this rate!). (11)

Global Hindu Electronic Network (GHEN)

A series of e-mail messages on the Newsgroup section of the above web-site discuss the Tilac and its meaning. The series may be accessed from the reference provided below and then by activating the “Thread”. The messages were in answer to the following question:
>I’d like to post what I hope is not an insensitive question: can someone tell me what the red dots on some women’s foreheads mean? I’ve been told I think they signify that the woman is married. It is common in Indian tradition for a married Hindu woman to always have there ‘kumkum’ on her forehead and in the start of the partition of her hair. Unmarried Hindu girls usually would wear a dot on their foreheads, but usually this will be of some other colour, and will not be the authentic ‘kumkum’ powder. Similarly, widows would not normally wear anything on their forehead; at least not the red ‘kumkum’; alternately that they have to do with devotion to Shiva, and that they are a caste mark. Are one or both of these true? Are there some additional cultural things that don’t “officially” go with the mark but everyone understands?>
A summary of the answers is that, the Tilak (also known as “Bindi”) is a cosmetic used by married women, usually a red “dot”. The Tilak may be used by men or women. When used by men, it is larger and more egg shaped. Widows do not use the mark. In religion the action is generally considered to bestow honor upon the recipient. In some parts of India, black marks or even ashes are used instead of red powder.
But, what if…?

What if the mark made on the Pope’s forehead was inappropriate? The Pope is not only the spiritual Father of the world’s Catholics, he is also a head of State – the Vatican City. As such he is required to meet diplomats and all sorts of people – Catholic and non-Catholic, believer and atheist. Let us suppose he greets a dignitary from England who just happens to be a Freemason, and in grasping the Freemason’s hand received a masonic grip. Is the Pope thereby contaminated? Does that indicate that he accepts the principles of Freemasonry? Indeed not! Similarly, if he have been approached by a “priestess of Shiva” (if, indeed, there are “priestesses of Shiva”) and that woman greets him, and places on his forehead an inappropriate mark, which the Pope is unexpecting and which corresponds with what can truely be described only as “a mark of Shiva” – can that possibly mean that the Pope thereby embraces the principles of Shivaism? Again, no; also bear in mind the explanations offered by the Pontifical Council for Social Communications and the Master of Papal Liturgical Celebrations.

Bad Memories

These accusations can be traced back to Archbishop Lefebvre and the accounts provided in ‘La Croix’ of February 6, and ‘I’ Express’ of February 7/13, 1986, with photo.  But, Archbishop Lefebvre’s judgement cannot be taken as always being reliable. He claimed that he did not sign two of the Vatican Council II’s documents. Fr. Brian Harrison, in the columns of “Catholic” and “The Latin Mass” magazine issued a challenge on three separate occasions to SSPX-ers to actually inspect the actual documents to view the Archbishop’s signature thereon. Has that been done? Guess what!
But another item of interest has just surfaced in that last few days. Mr Gerald Wilson of Greensborough, Victoria presents an interview with Fr. Patrick Fox, CM, in Issue No. 3 February 2000 of “Judica Me Deus“. Fr. Fox is an Order priest in the Archdiocese of Sydney who has never said the new Mass – in fact he has a celebret to say the Tridentine Mass.

Very recently, Fr. Fox celebrated his sixty years in the priesthood. His Jubilee Mass was, however, boycotted by some SSPX people who normally attended his Mass at East Lindfield because Fr. Fox chose the Lewisham Choir instead of the SSPX choir at Rockdale. According to Fr. Fox, the boycott continues.
However, that is not the heart of the interview. When Mr Wilson attempted to draw from Fr. Fox his reaction to the excommunication and schism of the Society of St Pius X, Fr. Fox repeated four times within two columns on page 8: “I have not studied (or read) the documents sufficiently.” Now, for a person who is not only in charge of his own soul but also those for whom he says the Tridentine Mass to declare that, in respect of such an important matter “I have not studied (or read) the documents sufficiently,” – that is unbelievable, but perfectly illustrates the tunnel-vision of the typical Lefebvrite supporter.
Given the scandal provided to the world by the so-called “traditionalists” towards the Vicar of Christ, our spiritual Father (“Honor thy father…”) – to whom does the obligation belong to provide the documentation that the mark made on the Pope’s forehead was the “aarati” or “the Tilac” or “the mark of Shiva,” and that the person who made that mark was a “married Catholic woman” or “a priestess of Shiva”? […]


1. A remarkable statement by one of the party; remarkable in view of the fact that over 700 years separated the lives of Genghis Khan (c. 1162-1227) and Attila the Hun (c. 406-453). But even more remarkable statements were yet to come!

2. The Nazareth Resource Library. http://www.cin.org/users/james/questions/q003.htm

3. http://search.vatican.va/news_services/liturgy/documents/ns_lit_doc_05111999_new-delhi_en.html

4. Bryan Patterson, Sunday Herald Sun, February 13, 2000

5. http://www.sivanandadlshq.org/religions/shivaratri.htm

6. The Society of St Pius X, USA. http://www.sspx.org/html/maq_q7.html

7. Deception In The Church. http://www.deceptioninthechurch.com/ditc27.html

8. http://terapanth.com/glossary_indian.htm, http://www.hubcom.com/tantric/glossary.htm,

9. Hindu Net. http://www.hindunet.org/srh_home/1997_3/0186.html

10. Hindu Net FAQs. http://www.hindunet.org/srh_home/1996_9/msg00176.html

11. Chronology of Christianity (1AD – Present).


1. I completely concur with the statements of F. John Loughnan [I have highlighted them in blue color] that a) the Pope is not “incapable of sin, of scandal, or of exercising bad judgement“, and that

b) the Pope is not in complete control of all public situations that he is exposed to.

To support that, I reproduce the following concerning liturgical abuse [dancing during the Mass]:

Adoremus Online Edition – Vol. IX, No. 7: October 2003



Wide-ranging questions on the Liturgy were answered by Cardinal Francis Arinze at a conference in July 2003 sponsored by the Apostolate for Family Consecration. […]

I saw in one place — I will not tell you where — where they staged a dance during Mass, and that dance was offensive. It broke the rules of moral theology and modesty. Those who arranged it — they should have had their heads washed with a bucket of holy water! [Laughter]
Why make the people of God suffer so much? Haven’t we enough problems already? Only Sunday, one hour, they come to adore God. And you bring a dance! Are you so poor you have nothing else to bring us? Shame on you! That’s how I feel about it.
Somebody can say, “But the pope visited this country and the people danced”. A moment: Did the pope arrange it? Poor Holy Father — he comes, the people arranged. He does not know what they arranged. And somebody introduces something funny — is the pope responsible for that? Does that mean it is now approved? Did they put it on the table of the Congregation for Divine Worship? We would throw it out! If people want to dance, they know where to go.



2. F. John Loughnan writes, “In the photos produced as “evidence” for the allegation, there is no way of actually SEEING what the mark was. All that can be seen is a woman putting her hand up to the Pope’s forehead. How can this be “evidence” that what was produced at the time was “the mark of Shiva” or anything else at all?” Every Indian knows that the woman in the photograph was applying “tilak” or kumkum on the forehead of the Pope.

3. Much of the explanation was about the arati or aarati. The ritual in the photograph is not an arati.

4. F. John Loughnan presents three references to support his position that the dot, bindi or tilak, is a cultural phenomenon and not religious/Hindu. I respond:

a) He would be hard put to find any more. See my point no. 5 below.

b) One cited reference of his ends thus, “Like all Hindu symbols, ‘red dot’ has multiple meanings which are all valid at the same time.” I cite from the very same site, from the very next word onwards:

Let us explore them:

1. By one simple interpretation it is a cosmetic mark used to enhance beauty.




2. In meditation, this very spot between the eyebrows (Bhrumadhya) is where one focuses his/her sight, so that it helps concentration. Most images of Buddha or Hindu divinities in meditative pose with their eyes nearly closed show the gaze focused between eyebrows (other spot being the tip of the nose – naasikagra).

3. All Self-realized saints from India (such as Saint Jnaneshwar, Saint Tukaram) as well as West describe their experience of seeing ‘a bright flame (Jyoti)’ of the size of a little finger tip at this spot. They ‘see’ this jyoti both with their eyelids closed and even with the eyes open, hence the term ‘seer’. This is the mystical meaning behind Kumkum. ‘Siddha Siddhant Paddhati’ of Gorakshanath (circa 11th century) describes a linga-shaped jyoti at the spot.

4. Swami Muktanand writes ‘auspicious Kumkum or sandal wood paste is applied (between the eyebrows) out of respect for inner Guru. It is the Guru’s seat.
There is a chakra (center of spiritual energy within human body) here called Ajna (Aadnyaa) chakra meaning ‘Command center’. Here you receive the Guru’s command to go higher in Sadhana (spiritual practice) to the ‘Sahasraar’ (seventh and final chakra) which leads to Self-realization. The flame seen at the eyebrow is called ‘Guru Jyoti’. (From Finite to Infinite, by Swami Muktananda, SYDA Foundation, S. Fallsburg, NY, 1989, pp. 88-89)

5. The encyclopedic dictionary of Yoga informs that this ‘Ajna Chakra’ is also called as the ‘Third eye’. This center is connected with the sacred syllable ‘Om’ and presiding it is ‘ParaaShiva’. After activation of this center, the aspirant overcomes ‘Ahamkar’ (ego or sense of individuality), the last hurdle on the path of spirituality (Encyclopedic dictionary of Yoga, by Georg Fuerstein, Paragon House Publications, NY, 1990, p. 15). Thus the monks apply the auspicious mark of Kumkum on the forehead as an act of worship to the inner Guru to overcome ego. It is also the same reason why married women wear the ‘red dot’. After marriage Hindu women give up their name. They take the pains of pregnancy and delivery, yet the child carries father’s name. This selfless sacrifice is done out of love, and for the sake of family and society. It is for this reason wearing the red dot is considered a sign of ‘Soubhagya (good fortune)’, because sacrificing you ego and performing selfless action out of love is considered a sacred act and a good fortune… Shastryji also mentions tilak as the ‘third eye’ of Shiva and reminds that Shiva destroyed Madan (God of desire) by opening the third eye.

c) A second cited reference of his, quotes one Mani Varadarajan as saying, “Hindus themselves do not know what this (the dot on forehead) means“. That claim is utter nonsense and does not even merit a rebuttal.

The reference ends thus, “If anyone offers an interpretation, it is likely to be a modern one that is not based on tradition.” Why did F. John Loughnan stop with that? I cite from the very same site, from the very next word onwards:

In strictly religious ceremonies, many Hindus place some other symbol on their forehead as a sign of their faith. Among South Indian Vaishnavas, it is common for men and women to both wear sri churnam (a vertical red line) on religious occasions. The sri churnam represents the presence of God’s grace in the form of the Divine Mother Lakshmi. South Indian Saivas also tend to wear vibhuti (sacred ash) on religious occasions or when visiting the temple. However, this is usually not to the exclusion of the bindi.

The Pope’s Mass WAS a religious ceremony, and there are many elements in the Indian Church that make use of every opportunity to introduce Hindu symbols and rituals in the liturgies.

The Pope was an unwitting victim to the strategies of this group.

d) F. John Loughnan has unfortunately resorted to selective quoting [quote-mining] in an otherwise excellent Catholic apologetics article. The three web sites referenced by him [http://terapanth.com/glossary_indian.htm, http://www.hubcom.com/tantric/glossary.htm, and
http://www.missionindia.org/glossary/religion/] in footnote 8 are not opening and hence I am unable to check out his citation ““Tika – Mark on forehead signifying commitment to a spiritual ideal.”” If the exact same words are in all three links, they are probably from a common larger source. It also means that he has cited the same source thrice, not very substantiative!

If I were able to locate it, I am confident that it would have information that would support my contention that the dot or bindi or tilak is HINDU, not simply “Indian”.

5. I have scoured the internet and my research library seeking information, any information which says that the bindi or tilak is a purely Indian cultural phenomenon. While I didn’t find a shred of evidence that says that, I found tons of evidence to the contrary. My findings are compiled in a separate article titled, “BINDI OR TILAK MARK ON THE FOREHEAD-INDIAN OR HINDU?


The bindi/tilak is Hindu, and so is the arati.

MAY 15, 2012

Categories: Hinduisation of the Catholic Church in India

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