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Rudraksha (IAST:Rudrākṣa) is a seed that is used as a prayer bead in Hinduism (especially in Shaivism), as well as other traditions, for example many people within western tradition also use Rudraksha. When they are ripe, rudraksha seeds are covered by a blue outer fruit and are sometimes called blueberry beads. The seeds are produced by several species of large, evergreen, broad-leaved tree in the genus Elaeocarpus, the principal of which is Elaeocarpus ganitrus. The seeds are associated with the Hindu Lord Shiva and are commonly worn for protection and for chanting mantras such as Om Namah Shivaya (Devanagari: ॐ नमः शिवाय; IAST: Om Namaḥ Śivāya). The seeds are primarily sourced from India, Indonesia and Nepal for jewellery and malas; they are valued similarly to semi-precious stones. Various meanings and interpretations are attributed to the beads with different numbers of segments or the locules of seed (mukh) [Sanskrit "मुख": face ], and rare or unique beads are highly prized and valuable.
Rudraksha is a Sanskrit compound word consisting of Rudra (Sanskrit: रुद्र) and akṣa (Sanskrit: अक्ष). Rudra is one of Shiva's vedic names and Akṣa means 'teardrops'. Thus defined, the name means "Lord Rudra's teardrops".
Sanskrit dictionaries translate akṣa (Sanskrit: अक्ष ) as eye. Sources like Satguru Sivaya Subramuniyaswami and Kamal Narayan Seetha also translate Akṣa as eye, in which case rudraksha would mean "Eye of Lord Shiva" or "Eye of Rudra".
Akṣa also carries definitions such as "the soul" and "religious knowledge"
Elaeocarpus ganitrus trees grow to 60–80 ft (18–24 m) and are found from the Gangetic plain in the foothills of the Himalayas to Nepal, South and Southeast Asia, parts of Australia, and Guam and Hawaii. Of the 300 species of Elaeocarpus, 35 are found in India. It is an evergreen tree that grows quickly. The rudraksha tree starts bearing fruit in three to four years from germination. As the tree matures, the roots form buttresses, rising up near the trunk and radiating out along the surface of the ground.
Elaeocarpus ganitrus roxb can be found from sea level to 3,000 m (9,800 ft). It tends to grow in narrow spaces rather than on open ground. Its leaves resemble those of the tamarind or nux vomica but are longer. It yields between 1,000 and 2,000 fruits annually. These fruits are also known as Amritphala, (Fruits of Nectar).
Rudraksha beads have between 1 and 21 lines (mukhi). In ancient times up to 108 mukhis was possible, nowadays up until 30 mukhi is still possible to find. 80% of all rudrakshas have four, five (most common) or six lines; those with a single line are rarest. Rudrakshas from Nepal are between 20 and 35 mm (0.79 and 1.38 in) and those from Indonesia are between 5 and 25 mm (0.20 and 0.98 in). Rudrakshas are white, red, brown (most common) yellow, and black, the same as Varna system.[circular reference]
Gauri Shankar are two rudrakshas naturally joined together. Ganesha have a trunk-like protrusion on their bodies. Sawar is a Gauri Shankar in which one bead has only one line, or a 1 mukhi riding on another. Trijuti are three rudraksha beads joined naturally. Other rare types include Ved (4 sawars on a bead) and Dwaita (two sawars on a bead).
List of Rudraksha
- 1 Mukhi Rudraksha
- 2 Mukhi Rudraksha
- 3 Mukhi Rudraksha
- 4 Mukhi Rudraksha
- 5 Mukhi Rudraksha
- 6 Mukhi Rudraksha
- 7 Mukhi Rudraksha
- 8 Mukhi Rudraksha
- 9 Mukhi Rudraksha
- 10 Mukhi Rudraksha
- 11 Mukhi Rudraksha
- 12 Mukhi Rudraksha
- 13 Mukhi Rudraksha
- 14 Mukhi Rudraksha
- Garbh Gauri Rudraksha
- Gauri Shankar Rudraksha
There is a long tradition of wearing 108 rudraksha beads in India, particularly within Shaivism, due to their association with Shiva, who wears rudraksha garlands. The mantra Om Namah Shivaya is repeated (japa) using rudraksha beads. Hindus have used Rudraksha malas as rosaries for meditation purposes and to sanctify the mind, body and soul.
Rudraksha beads may be strung together as a mala and used to count the repetition of a mantra or prayer in way similar to the use of rosaries in Christianity. Most garlands contain 108 beads plus one because as 108 is considered sacred and a suitable number of times to recite a short mantra. The extra bead, which is called the "Meru", bindu, or "guru bead", helps mark the beginning and end of a cycle of 108 and has symbolic value as a 'principle' bead. Rudraksha malas usually contain beads in combinations 27+1, 54+1, or 108+1. Devi-Bhagavata Purana describes the preparation of rudraksha mala.:64–65 The beads are commonly strung on silk, or on a black or red cotton thread. Less often, jewellers use copper, silver or gold wires. The rudraksha may be damaged if strung too tightly.
In religious texts
This section provides insufficient context for those unfamiliar with the subject.(June 2019)
- तं गुहः प्रत्युवाच प्रवालमौक्तिकस्फटिकशङ्ख रजताष्टापदचन्दनपुत्रजीविकाब्जे रुद्राक्षा इति । आदिक्षान्तमूर्तिः सावधानभावा । सौवर्णं राजतं ताम्रं तन्मुखे मुखं तत्पुच्छे पुच्छं तदन्तरावर्तनक्रमेण योजयेत् । Akshamalika Upanishad
Meaning: Sage Guha replied: (It is made of any one of the following 10 materials) Coral, Pearl, Crystal, Conch, Silver, Gold, Sandal, Putra-Jivika, Lotus, or Rudraksha. Each head must be devoted and thought of as presided over by the deities of Akara to Kshakara. Golden thread should bind the beads through the holes. On its right silver (caps) and left copper. The face of a bead should face, the face of another head and tail, the tail. Thus a circular formation must be made.
- अथ कालाग्निरुद्रं भगवन्तं सनत्कुमारः पप्रच्छाधीहि भगवन्रुद्राक्षधारणविधिं स होवाच रुद्रस्य नयनादुत्पन्ना रुद्राक्षा इति लोके ख्यायन्ते सदाशिवः संहारकाले संहारं कृत्वा संहाराक्षं मुकुलीकरोति तन्नयनाज्जाता रुद्राक्षा इति होवाच तस्माद्रुद्राक्षत्वमिति तद्रुद्राक्षे वाग्विषये कृते दशगोप्रदानेन यत्फलमवाप्नोति तत्फलमश्नुते स एष भस्मज्योती रुद्राक्ष इति तद्रुद्राक्षं करेण स्पृष्ट्वा धारणमात्रेण द्विसहस्रगोप्रदानफलं भवति । तद्रुद्राक्षे एकादशरुद्रत्वं च गच्छति । तद्रुद्राक्षे शिरसि धार्यमाणे कोटिगोप्रदानफलं भवति । Brihajjabala Upanishad
Meaning: Sage Sanatkumara approached Lord Kalagni Rudra and asked him, "Lord, kindly explain to me the method of wearing Rudraksha." What he told him was, "Rudraksha became famous by that name because initially, it was produced from the eyes of Rudra. During the time of destruction and after the act of destruction, when Rudra closed his eye of destruction, Rudraksha was produced from that eye. That is the Rudraksha property of Rudraksha. Just by touching and wearing this Rudraksha, one gets the same effect of giving in charity one thousand cows."
- तुलसीपारिजातश्रीवृक्षमूलादिकस्थले । पद्माक्षतुलसीकाष्ठरुद्राक्षकृतमालया ॥ Rama Rahasya Upanishad
- हृदयं कुण्डली भस्मरुद्राक्षगणदर्शनम् । तारसारं महावाक्यं पञ्चब्रह्माग्निहोत्रकम् ॥ Rudrahridaya Upanishad
Meaning: After prostrating himself before the celebrated form of Sri Mahadeva-Rudra in his heart, adoring the sacred Bhasma and Rudraksha and mentally reciting the great Mahavakya-Mantra, Tarasara, Sage Shuka asked his father Geat Sage Vyasa
- अथ हैनं कालाग्निरुद्रं भुसुण्डः पप्रच्छ कथं रुद्राक्षोत्पत्तिः । तद्धारणात्किं फलमिति । तं होवाच भगवान्कालाग्निरुद्रः । त्रिपुरवधार्थमहं निमीलिताक्षोऽभवम् ।निमीलिताक्षोऽभवम् तेभ्यो जलबिन्दवो भूमौ पतितास्ते रुद्राक्षा जाताः । सर्वानुग्रहार्थाय तेषां नामोच्चारणमात्रेण दशगोप्रदानफलं दर्शनस्पर्शनाभ्यां द्विगुणं फलमत ऊर्ध्वं वक्तुं न शक्नोमि । Rudrakshajabala Upanishad
Meaning: Sage Bhusunda questioned Lord Kalagni-Rudra: What is the beginning of Rudraksha beads? What is the benefit of wearing them on the body? Lord Kalagni-Rudra answered him thus: I closed my eyes for the sake of destroying the Tripurasura. From my eyes thus closed, drops of water fell on the earth. These drops of tears turned into Rudrakshas. By the mere utterance of the name of 'Rudraksha', one acquires the benefit of giving ten cows in charity. By seeing and touching it, one attains double that benefit. I am unable to praise it anymore.
- They who walk the twin paths of charya and kriya ever praise the twin feet of the Lord. They wear holy emblems—the twin rings in earlobes, the twin rudraksha garland around the neck—and adopt the twin mudras, all in amiable constancy. Tirumantiram 1423. TM
- Thinking of Him, great love welling up in their heart, if they finger the rudraksha beads, it will bring them the glory of the Gods. Chant our naked Lord’s name. Say, “Namah Shivaya!” : Tirumurai 3.307.3. PS, 217
Countries to which Elaeocarpus ganitreus Roxb is native.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Rudraksha.|
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