Over the past few days, a bright red dot – likely an allergic reaction to something – has developed just above the bridge of my nose, between my eyes. Looks like a tilak, the sandalwood paste marking worn on the forehead by Hindus. But it is a little sore and oozy. Probably because I keep scratching it.
So naturally it got me thinking about Stigmata (ex-Catholic, remember).
Generally stigmata is an affliction/blessing which has historically been attributed to various Catholic saints down through the ages, mostly those who were vehemently devout. It is characterized by bleeding of the palms and sometimes the side of the abdomen, mimicking the wounds of the Christ on the crucifix.
I am not the devout Hindu bhakti that I aspire to be, feel the calling to be, so don’t read into this. I am not making any claims for myself. But being that my oozy wound is in the natural position of a tilak, I wondered if there were ever any Hindu cases resembling stigmata, or in any other religious traditions. I figured with the various mythologies regarding a savior who died for the sins of the world, there should be a few out there. (There is not really anything in Hinduism about a savior who died for our sins, and certainly not by crucifixion, so that is why I say “resembling” stigmata).
Apparently Buddhist art is peppered with images resembling stigmata. I don’t know a lot of that history. But in Hinduism, the only case I have found was that of Chaitanya Mahaprabhu, a Vaishnava saint of the 15th-16th centuries, who in some traditions is worshiped as an incarnation of Lord Krishna. It seems in moments of extreme spiritual bliss, the saint would bleed for various points in his skin. This sounds remarkably like the accounts of the stigmata of Catholic saints such as Francis of Assisi.
Has anyone heard of any other non-Catholic stigmata-like phenomenon?