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Mala beads are of special significance in the mantra chanting in Hinduism, Buddhism and Muslim devotees. These beads bring peace and harmony into one’s existence by chanting along mantra for speedier recovery. Beads are made from Rosewood, Sandalwood, and other materials that hold much importance in a religion. It is purposively believed that once the yogi sits down for yoga with mala beads in the form of Japa Yoga, he is already on the path of recovery and salvation. The mala beads chanting provide energy and heat that becomes dharma, which in turn washes karma to lead to salvation. The Japa Yoga has special rules and regulations of high results if followed properly. The purpose of Japa Yoga is to awaken psychic awareness. For this reason a mala of beads is best used. The Japa Yoga consists of beads as milestones while mala being the road. Thus, the mala and milestones together bring about the essential directions for a yogi to reach their psychic destination. The beads maintain psychic awareness and keep the person engrossed in Japa Yoga.
There are a number of bead types for different malas. For lord Vishnu the beads used are of Holy Basil, for Shri Durga - Red Sandalwood Beads, for Shri Lakshmi Devi - beads used are of Lotus seeds while for Lord Shiva - Rudraksha Beads are used. The instructions for keeping mala safe, its use with Japa Yoga are important aspects which cannot be left open ended with kids. So while using japa from mala beads one needs to be cautious.
Mala beads are also used as fashion accessory for many males and females. These malas adorn the ripe culture of evolved individuality which one can wear for confidence. Mala beads are involved in a lot of mystery. They are available in many varieties of colors and materials. While they are best used by the person who is holding them, they also provide different benefits and meaning as per their use. As indicated above mala is a string of beads for meditation, or to count mantra’s up to a total of 108 set of repetitions. Many people do not find meditation as an easy task. In their schedule of daily lives they find repetitions of mantras difficult for a period of time. The mala provides a good approximation to the much needed anchor for an individual practicing yoga. This is a divine practice of chanting mantra or doing meditation with the help of beads in the form of a mala. Use of mala for meditation purposes has become the main support in many modern day families all over the world. The proper procedure for a Japa Yoga using mala beads is narrated as through.
The mala is held in either of the hands, and starting with the guru thread the mantra is recited holding each bead in between the thumb and one of the fingers. After one full recitation of the mantra with the beads you end up on the guru bead and after saying a prayer starts again. Usually index finger is not to be touched during recitation as it indicates the karma to get polluted again. Middle finger indicates patience and ring finger is for health and nervous system while the little finger is for communication and intelligence.
Mala is thus a simple rendition of an exclusive bead or beads arranged as a garland. In Japa Yoga the repetitions of mantra or phrase is a japa. A Hindu japa mala consists of 108 and one bead with a knot. This number has several meanings;
27 Constellations x 4 Padas (parts) = 108
12 Zodiac Houses x 9 Planets = 108
Upanishads or the Scriptures of the Vedas = 108
Thus, when we recite or recount number 108, we are actually remembering the entire universe. This reminds us of the fact that the universal self is omnipresent, that is the innate nature of the self. There is also an additional bead called the sumeru, meru bead or guru bead. This bead is separate from the main mala. The 108 beads are main universe while the guru bead is separate; indicating the transcendental nature of universal self. The tassel after the bead indicates a meditative state called Turiya. This is a transcendental state beyond the three states of waking, dream and deep sleep.
These mala beads are circular in fashion; signifying infinite birth and death cycle. So, the high goal of escaping this cycle is to permanently merge with the Universal self, with use of Japa Yoga and mala beads. The philosophy of Japa Yoga is thus entwined with that of mala beads; professing a large amount of faith, allowing a greater purpose by giving it an important aspect of our tradition, and likewise many others.
For devotees from Hinduism, Muslim and Buddhism , chanting Mantras with Mala Beads is very religious. This process provides them peace, trust and harmony. They are from Rosewood, Sandalwood and other materials which are considered holy in religions. It is believed that once the yogi sits down for yoga with mala beads in the form of Japa Yoga, he is already on the path of recovery and salvation. If japa yoga is done following all the rules and regulations then it can yield high results.
Mala Beads can be used as fashion statements also. It is a unisex accessory. Mala beads define your confident and evolved personality. They are present in different colors and varieties. Mala can be a rendition of an exclusive bead or number of beads arranged. Repetition of mantra is known as Japa in Japa Yoga.
Mala beads hold deep meaning with them. Their design and count have an important significance related to universe and humans.
This article is from a collection of articles written by faculty / teachers / community of Ajarya Yoga Academy. You may visit www.ajarya.com to read more such articles.
Sovik, Rolf, Moving Inward: The Journey to Meditation, Himalayan Institute Press, New York, July –Aug 2007
Karan, How to use a mala for meditation, www.spiritvoyage.com, Mar 15, 2010.
Saraswati, S Japa Yoga, www.yogamag.net, March 1977.