What is a Rudraksha Mala?
Rudraksha is a seed of a specific tree that grows in a certain altitude in the mountains. It is found in South Asia, especially in the Himalayas, in India, and the Terai region of Nepal, as well as in Burma, and in South-East Asia in Thailand and Indonesia. Rudraksha trees are also found in certain regions of the Nilgiri mountain range in South India. But the Rudraksha seeds found in the Himalayan region are considered to be of the best quality because of the effect the particular soil and atmosphere have.
The term “rudraksha” is a compound of “rudra” and “aksha.” Rudra is one particular form of Shiva, also known as the Roarer. “Aksha” means “tear drops”. The legend goes that once, Shiva, after many millennia of meditation, opened his eyes. Such was the bliss and ecstasy that pervaded his body, that a tear drop trickled from his eye and fell to the ground, to become a Rudraksha tree.
The Isha Shoppe has several Rudraksha’s including five-faced and two-face (or Dwimukhi), as well as Gauri Shankars. They are consecrated in the Dhyanalinga and are tested for authenticity.
Everything in the existence vibrates in a unique way. For spiritual seekers, a Rudraksha’s vibration has been identified as greatly supportive on the path to mukti or liberation. It is said that if one wears a Rudraksha mala for three to six months, it becomes one with his/her body. After one or two years of wear, it is like an extra organ that functions in a way that enhances one’s receptivity to grace.
Grace is a driving force that is always there, otherwise there would not be any life. But one can make use of it consciously or unconsciously. A Rudraksha is a very important tool if one wants to strengthen their connection with Grace. One cannot thrive if he/she is not available to Grace. Grace brings about a certain effortlessness and ease in life.
The benefits of Rudraksha Malas
Wearing a Rudraksha can certainly be of assistance towards your overall health and well-being. But it works on many other levels as well.
1. For people that travel often and tend to eat and sleep in different places, a Rudraksha can be very useful as it has the power to create a protective shield of your own energy. You may have experienced that when you first visit some places, it is difficult to fall asleep. This may happen in certain places, but in other spots – though they are still unfamiliar – you can sleep very easily. In other words, the reverberation of a place may suit your energy or not. Wearing a Rudraksha modulates these effects so that the impact that a place or external situations can have on you is reduced. This has been of great significance in the past for ascetics and monks, who traditionally had a rule that they were not to sleep in the same place twice. In a somewhat similar fashion, today, the modern way of living requires people to be constantly on the move. Wearing a Rudraksha mala can assist in creating an atmosphere of ease wherever one is.
2. Furthermore, Rudraksha beads and malas were utilized as a very useful tool for ascetics in the past for identifying the quality of drinking water. What they would do, to understand whether the water they found is drinkable or not, is to let the Rudraksha mala hang above the water. When the water is drinkable, the mala would tend to rotate in a clockwise direction (when seen from above), and when it is not drinkable, the mala would rotate in a counter-clockwise direction.
3. Similarly a Rudraksha can be used to identify the quality of a particular item of food. In yoga, food is classified in three categories; positive, negative, and zero pranic food. Prana means the vital life energy in the body. When food increases the prana in the system, it is termed positive pranic, and when it depletes the prana, it is called negative pranic or non-pranic. Zero pranic food does not affect the prana in any way. When holding a Rudraksha mala above a positive pranic food item such as fresh fruits, it rotates clockwise, and when it is held above a negative pranic item, such as chili or onion, the Rudraksha rotates counter clockwise. When food is zero pranic, the mala does not rotate at all, or may sway slightly from side to side.
4. The Rudraksha also helps against certain negative influences. For example, in the Atharva Veda, one of the Vedas, many processes are described, which could be used by unscrupulous people to cause harm to another person through negative energies. If somebody has command over this, they can cause suffering or even death. Rudraksha has the power to protect against these negative energies. Even if one thinks that there can be nobody who would harm him, they would not be totally safe. There is always the risk of being subjected to these energies by mistake when they are directed at someone else. There is no reason for fear for such things but a Rudraksha can protect against such instances on the rare occasions when they may occur.
5. A Rudraksha is also very supportive for this involved in certain practices like chanting of a mantra etc.
Overall, for one who is working to grow spiritually or is practicing yoga, a Rudraksha can be a wonderful and very important support. For spiritual seekers who need every manner of help, no matter how small, a Rudraksha is one more significant tool.
How to wear a Rudraksha Mala
Rudraksha beads are usually tied together in a mala. Typically the mala is made of 108 beads. A 109th bead is also included, called the bindu. If this extra bead is not there, then the energy tends to become cyclical and it can cause dizziness if one is susceptible to such influences.
A Rudraksha can be worn at all times. It is best to remove it though, when one takes shower with hot water or chemical soap, because the beads may get damaged. Otherwise, if the water is cold and the soap is of natural ingredients, it is even beneficial to let the water flow over it and upon your body.
Silk or cotton threads are normally used to tie the mala but they should be changed every 6 months because the thread gradually gets frayed. One can also use copper, silver or gold; but it happens quite often that, during the process of “threading the Rudraksha beads and binding them to the metal chain, the workman may bind them too hard and accidentally cause the inside of the beads to crack. This is something that should not happen. One should not wear a mala if even one bead is cracked.
Choosing the right Rudraksha & number of beads
A Rudraksha bead can have between 1 to 21 faces and each kind is used in different situations. For most people though, in normal daily situations, a five-faced or panchamukhi Rudraksha is appropriate.
It is not conducive to wear an unsuited or inappropriate one as it can cause some disturbance to the person’s energies. For example, if one decides to wear ekmukhi – which is a single-faced rudraksha – a person could cause serious trouble for themselves. In general, ekmukhi tends to direct a person’s energies in one direction, towards spiritual upliftment. If one has other diversions, such as business, money, inappropriate food or drink, then this can cause tremendous conflict. Besides, when one wears an ekmukhi, the person’s energies will be such that they would rather be alone. That is why it is said that when somebody in a family situation wears the ekmukhi, they will leave their home in 12 days.
Special beads are only to be given by one who has a deep understanding of their properties. A Guru energizes a Rudraksha according to the person who receives it. It is energized in different ways for people in family situations and for monks and ascetics.
The panchmukhi, the five-faced Rudraksha, is suitable for everyone regardless of sex and age. It works towards your general well-being, health and freedom. It also has the ability to lower the blood-pressure and bring calmness and alertness in the human body and mind.
The six-faced beads are conducive for children under the age of 12 as it brings about a certain calmness and focus. Most importantly, adults respond to the child in a beneficial manner, and give them the right kind of attention and support.
The Gauri-Shankar is a kind of Rudraksha that has the ability to balance and activate Ida and Pingala in the system. It is also known for bringing prosperity which may not be necessarily associated with material wealth. If a person is balanced and sensible, prosperity can come in many different ways.
The Dwimukhi is a two-faced Rudraksha, and are generally used by two a couple who are married.
Generally, for most Rudraksha beads, the smaller the bead, the more potent its energy and effect on the body.
There are also certain beads known as spathikas. These are not rudraksha beads, and are white in color. They are very good at cooling the body, and can be worn by those who have heat problems.
Where can you find authentic Rudraksha Malas?
Sadly, a significant percentage of the Rudraksha trees in India were felled in British times to provide timber for Railway sleepers when train tracks were laid in the Himalayan regions. Their population has gone down dramatically. Most Rudraksha beads in India therefore come from Nepal.
In the tradition, identifying Rudraksha and the associated jobs were handled by families that would hand down the profession from generation to generation. This profession was treated as a sacred duty and the undertaking was handled with utmost sanctity. These individuals were trained to identify one kind of Rudraksha from another and knew many aspects of this craft.
However, in recent times, as soon as Rudraksha became popular and the demand rose during the 1960s, thanks to the influx of many Americans. This resulted in blatant commercialism, and unscrupulous elements began to pass off anything as Rudraksha, including plastic reproductions. Besides, people even used badraksha as Rudraksha. A badraksha is the seed of a tree that looks almost exactly the same as a Rudraksha seed. However, it has the exact opposite effect of a rudraksha on a human being and can cause damage to one’s energies. The badraksha is a poisonous seed that should not come in contact with the body but they are widely sold unfortunately. It is said in mythology that this sort of thing is a result of entering into the age of Kali Yuga, the last and lowest of the four ages of Satya Yuga, Treta Yuga, Dwapara Yuga and Kali Yuga. Mythology aside, it is very important that one acquires their rudraksha from a trusted source.
The Isha Shoppe has several Rudrakshas including five-faced and two-face (or Dwimukhi), as well as Gauri Shankars. They are consecrated in the Dhyanalinga and are tested for authenticity.