I would like to know about whether Tripundra is mentioned in any of the Smritis?
Does any Smriti talk about Tripundra? Does any Smriti ask Brahmins to keep Tripundra?
It is mostly not mentioned in the Smritis but widely mentioned in Puranas and some Upanishads. But while searching I found that it is mentioned in the Sankhayana-grihya-sutra Adhyāya II, Khaṇḍa 10:
Every day in the evening and in the morning,
He establishes the fire (in its proper place), wipes (with his hand the ground) round (it), sprinkles (water) round (it), bends his right knee,
41. (And puts fuel on the fire with the texts,) 'To Agni I have brought a piece of wood, to the great Jātavedas; may he, Jātavedas, give faith and insight to me. Svāhā!
'Firewood art thou; may we prosper. Fuel art thou; splendour art thou; put splendour into me. Svāhā!
'Being inflamed make me prosperous in offspring and wealth. Svāhā!
Thine is this fuel, Agni; thereby thou shalt grow and gain vigour. And may we grow and gain vigour. Svāhā!'
Having then sprinkled (water) round (the fire),
He approaches the fire with the verse, 'May Agni (vouchsafe) to me faith and insight, not-forgetting (what I have learned) and memory; may this praiseful Jātavedas give blessing to us.'
[7. He makes with ashes the tripuṇḍhra sign (the sign of three strokes) which is set forth in the (treatise on the) Sauparṇavrata, which is revealed, which agrees with the tradition handed down by the ancients, with the five formulas 'The threefold age' (see above, I, 28, 9), one by one, on five (places), viz. the forehead, the heart, the right shoulder and the left, and then on the back.]
- He who approaches the fire after having sacrificed thus, studies of these Vedas, one, two, three, or all.
Since this scripture is a Dharma Shastra, so the answer is YES.
There is mention of importance of tripundra in Puranas. An example is given below.
The Lord said thus :-"O excellent-faced lady, a person who applies Bhasman is on a par with my son Ganesa. What is repugnnant to them should be eschewed. A householder who is devoid of Brahman (Vedic knowledge) and who does not wear the caste mark Tripundra falls into the depths of hell. All his holy rites of worship, charitable gifts and holy ablutions are in vain like the Homa performed in the ashes."
Linga Purana II.18.60-62
Hence, in the course of all holy rites, the learned men shall wear the caste mark Tripundra.
Linga Purana II.18.63
I am not sure if Tripundra is a caste mark as claimed by the translator J.L> Shastri or sect mark of the Saivites.
56-61. Having thus procured the sacred ash and having taken it (in his hands), the knower of the hymns should clean it with Om and should get it hallowed with seven hymns. (He should apply it) to his head with (a hymn addressed) to Īśāna. (He should apply it) to his face with (the hymn) Tat Puruṣa. He should hallow the chest with the Aghora (hymn) and, the private parts with the Vāma (hymn), the feet with the Sadyojāta hymn, and the entire body with Om. Then he should dust the entire body from the soles of his feet to his head (with sacred ash). Then he should sip water, and should put on a white, washed garment. Having sipped water again, he should do his rites fully. Then having taken the sacred ash and cleaned it with (the utterance of) Om, he should, recollecting (Śiva) the three-eyed one, the support of the three qualities, the creator of the three (Vedas) and the mighty one, with the hymn Namaḥ Śivāya, put the mark consisting of three lines (Tripundra) on his forehead.
Those to whom god Siva is dear, those who are devoted to Siva, and those who revel in worshipping the feet of Siva, and those who wear the tripundra mark (three horizontal parallel lines of ashes) on their foreheads, are indeed prominent Bhagavatas.
60b-63. He who applies Tripuṇḍra on the forehead (has the merit of) bathing in every holy river or lake in this world such as the rivers Gaṅgā etc.
He who applies Tripuṇḍra on the forehead has the merit of one by whom seventy million great Mantras beginning with the five-syllabled one and crores of Śiva Mantras causing salvation have been recited.
He who applies Tripuṇḍraka redeems a thousand predecessors and a thousand yet to be born in his family. 64. In this world, he will enjoy all pleasures, a long life and freedom from illness and at the close of his life he will die peacefully. 65-69. He will then attain a splendid divine body possessing the eight valuable Aiśvaryas (such as Aṇimā etc.), will ride in a divine aerial chariot. He will be served by hundreds of celestial damsels. He will enjoy pleasures in different worlds in turns, in the regions of Vidyādharas, Siddhas, powerful and energetic Gandharvas, and the worlds of Indra and other Guardians of the world. He will enjoy in the cities of Prajāpatis and finally reach Brahmā’s region where he rejoices for a hundred Kalpas. He will then sport about in the region of Viṣṇu for the duration of the life of three hundred Brahmās. Thereafter he attains Śiva’s world and enjoys himself there for endless years. He gets merged into Śiva. He is not born again.
Srimad Devi Bhagwatam 11.12.:
1-20. Śrī Nārāyaṇa said :-- O Devarṣi Nārada! Hear now the great secret and the fruits of besmearing one’s body with ashes, yieding all desires.
The study of the Vedas, Sacrifices, Charities, asceticisms, vows and fastings of that man, who does not use the Tripuṇḍra, all become fruitless. Without using Bhaṣma (ashes) if one wants liberation, then that desire is equivalent to live after taking poison. There is no doubt in this. The Creator has not made the forehead vertically high nor round; but he has made it slightly slanting and curved fit to have the Tripuṇḍra. Making thus the forehead, the Creator wants, as it were, to inform everyone that every one ought to use Tripuṇḍra marks; the curved lines also are made visible for this purpose. Still the igorant illiterate man does not put up the Tripuṇḍra. Unless the Brāhmaṇas use the curved Tripuṇḍras, their meditation won’t be successful; they will not have liberation, knowledge, nor their asceticism would bear any fruit. . .
I hope this clarifies all the queries. Prd..