Kanthi mala

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A kanthi mala, or simply kanthi, is a necklace worn by some adherents of Hinduism.

In Vaishnavism[edit]

Hansadutta Swami of ISKCON wearing tulsi kanthi mala.

Followers of Gaudiya Vaishnavism wear kanthi malas made of Ocimum tenuiflorum (known in Hinduism as tulsi or tulasī).[1] Most Vaishnavas will be given their kanthi by their guru at the time of diksha, or spiritual initiation.

It is said Krishna – who is revered as svayam bhagavān, or the monotheistic God, in Gaudiya Vaishnavism – was very fond of tulsi, and as such the plant is worshipped as "Tulasī devi" by followers of Krishna.[1] Tulsi devi is considered to be "one of Krishna's most intimate servants"[2] and provide protection to his devotees, and as such, Gaudiya Vaishnavas will try to avoid removing their tulsi kanthis under any circumstances.

In Shaivism[edit]

Shaivites wear kanthi mala made of rudraksha.[1] The name "rudraksha" is derived from the Sanskrit rudrākṣa, meaning "Shiva's eyes".

In other traditions[edit]

Kanthi malas are also worn by followers of the Swaminarayan Sampraday and the Kabir panth. Swaminarayan instructed his followers to wear a double-stranded kanthi made of tulsi, symbolising Radha–Krishna, while Kabir instructed his disciples to wear triple-stranded kanthis – symbolising the Hindu trinity of Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva – with one large bead made from either tulsi or rudraksha for Satya Purush, the "supreme lord who dwells within, who is above all else."[3]


  1. ^ a b c Simoons, Frederick J. (1998). Plants of life, plants of death. p. 14. 
  2. ^ devi dasi, Govinda. "Tulasi Devi, Beloved of Krishna". 
  3. ^ Behramji Merwanji Malabari, Krishnalal M. Jhaveri, Malabari M. B (1997). Gujarat and the Gujaratis. Asian Educational Services. ISBN 81-206-0651-5. Retrieved May 7, 2009.  Page 264