In recent years, many devotees have taken to the policy of compromising the classic look; specifically dropping the sacred marking on the forehead and other parts of the body. It comes to us as a surprise in the light of the following statements from Srila A.C Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada, the founder of the Hare Krishna movement in the western countries.
IF YOU DON'T ACCEPT, LEAVE US
Prabhupada: Caitanya Mahaprabhu, when His students used to come without tilaka, so He refused to see his face. He refused to see his face. He said it is a crematory ground. Devotee (2): Why is that? Prabhupada: There is no "why." If you accept it, accept. If you don't accept, leave us, leave us. There is no "why." Devotee (2): Then that is... Prabhupada: You are not following strictly. You cannot ask why.
Room Conversation -- June 26, 1975, Los Angeles
DON'T JUMP OVER TO A HIGHER STAGE
Sanketya. Just like sometimes on the street some outsider, seeing you, they chant Hare Krsna only by the symbolic, sanketya. Because they see: "They have got tilaka, kunti." Therefore these things are required. Don't become immediately paramahamsa -- no tilaka, no kunti and no bead bag. This is not good.
Srimad-Bhagavatam 6.2.13 -- Vrndavana, September 15, 1975
FOLLOW IN THE FOOTSTEPS
Prabhupada: And you must see that what you are doing, that is according to the principle which all other sadhus and devotees do. They have tilaka, and you say, "I have no tilaka." That is not sadhu-marganu. Sadhu-marganugamanam. They have kanthi. You say, "I can avoid it." That is not sadhu-marganugamanam. So, from very beginning, if you disobey, then how you'll make progress? Then?
Room Conversation -- January 27, 1977, Bhuvanesvara
IT'S PART OF THE REGULATIVE PRINICPLES
Pure devotee is always free from the four principle restrictions, and he has a tilaka on his forehead. At least these symptoms indicate one's purity in Krishna Consciousness. If one is not following these principles, he is not considered to be a pure devotee.
Letter to: Gurudasa -- Allston, Mass 23 May, 1968
IT'S REQUIRED AND GOOD FOR PREACHING
As soon as they see these Hare Krsna movement people, they also chant, "Hare Krsna," giving a chance to the others. The dress is also required. You should be always equipped with tilaka, kunti, and sikha, sutra. Then, as soon as a common man sees, "Oh, here is a Hare Krsna man. Hare Krsna," he'll chant. Automatically you give a chance to chant Hare Krsna.
Srimad-Bhagavatam 3.28.19 -- Nairobi, October 29, 1975
AND IT LOOKS VERY NICE
The newspaper reporters advertise about these boys and girls as the "bright faced,'' and actually it is so. By nature these American boys and girls are fair complexioned or white. They are beautiful also, and when they take to Krishna Consciousness with symbols of mala and tilaka they appear to be coming directly from Vaikuntha Planets.
Letter to: Madhava Maharaja -- Los Angeles 21 January, 1970