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everything you need to know about japa malas

What is a japa mala?

a japa mala or mala is a set of beads commonly used by hindus and buddhists, usually made from 108 beads (109th bead being called the sumeru bead), though other numbers, usually divisible by 9, are also used. the malas can be made from many different types of natural woods like plain wood to other holy objects like tulsi, rudraksha bead, lotus seeds, turmeric etc. malas are used for keeping count while reciting, chanting, or mentally repeating a mantra or the name or names of a deity. this practice is known in sanskrit as japa. always use the mala correctly and energize it before starting to wear it. during meditation, mantras are typically repeated hundreds or even thousands of times. the mala is used so that one can focus on the meaning or sound of the mantra rather than counting its repetitions. one repetition is usually said for each bead while turning the thumb clockwise around each bead, though some traditions or practices may call for counterclockwise motion or specific finger usage. when arriving at the head bead, one turns the mala around and then goes back in the opposing direction. there are typically knots between each bead. this makes using the mala easier as the beads will not be so tight on the string when you use them.

Why does my japa mala have 108 japa beads?

there are numerous explanations why there are 108 beads, with the number 108 bearing special religious significance in a number of hindu traditions.

  • the four parts (charans) of each of the twenty-seven lunar asterisms (nakshatras) that is 27 x 4 equals one hundred and eight. these are represented by 108 beads in the mala. this reminds one of the fact that the vedic teachings have to be propagated to these 108 places.
  • the beads symbolize the 108 sensate foci in our body.
  • an average person breathes 21,600 times a day. if a seeker gives half these breaths to worldly activities then he should devote atleast the remaining half, that is 10,800 breaths to spiritual practice. so, chanting of a minimum of 100 turns (malas) of a mala consisting of 108 beads should be done everyday
  • they represent the 108 upanishads.
  • the names of vishnu and shiva in the mahabharat are also 108.
  • the major psychiatric illnesses according to the ayurveda too are 108.
  • the number of the deities of knowledge and the various sciences is 108 as well.
  • as per hindusim, there are 108 auspicious moments(muhurts) in a year and the couplets of the three vedas also equal 108.

What is the sumeru bead in my japa mala?

the 109th bead on a mala is called the sumeru, bindu, stupa, or guru bead. counting should always begin with a bead next to the sumeru. in the hindu, vedic tradition, if more than one mala of repetitions is to be done, one changes directions when reaching the sumeru rather than crossing it.

what is a japa mala made of?
a wide variety of materials are used to make mala beads, though there are common standards. beads made from the seeds of the rudraksha tree are considered sacred by saivas, devotees of siva, while beads made from the wood of the tulsi plant are used and revered by vaishnavas, followers of vishnu. others use wood or seeds from the bodhi tree or seeds of the lotus plant. semiprecious stones such as carnelian and amethyst may be used, as well.

how do i correctly use my japa mala?
hindu tradition holds that the correct way to use a mala is with the right hand, with the thumb flicking one bead to the next, and with the mala draped over the middle finger. the index finger represents ego, the greatest impediment to self-realization, so it is considered best avoided when chanting on a mala.

the japa mala should always be drawn towards oneself which chanting or meditating. observe what one experiences when the mala is pushed away from oneself as against drawing it to oneself. a majority experience distress. the reason for this is that when drawing the mala towards oneself the vital energy, pranvayu is active while when pushing it away the vital energy,  samanvayu is active. more bliss (anand) is experienced when the pranvayu is active in comparison to the samanvayu.

how do i energize my japa mala?
japa mala is an auspicious product & we believe one should energize the same before using it for the 1st time to gain maximum benefits. the energizing procedure is very simple & one need not depend or trust anyone blindly to perform this act. there are many vendors who claim to energize the mala before dispatching which may actually haven’t been done….moreover you are wearing the mala for your benefit so it would be great if you do not depend on anyone & take the extra effort to perform this auspicious & simple ritual on your own. we believe that you are wearing the mala for your benefit out of your belief, faith & respect, so we personally recommend that it is best if you energize it yourself , rather than trusting anyone


  • choose an auspicious day.
  • place the japa mala on a fresh unused plate.
  • sprinkle (not wash) the japa mala with unboiled fresh milk and then followed by clean water while chanting the mantra “om”.
  • wipe the japa mala dry with a clean cloth.
  • offer incense and flowers & offer prayers for your well being.
  • chant the mantra “om” minimum of 9 times or in multiple of nine times upto 108 times.
  • after completion of the above described steps take the japa mala in your hand & thank the lord for giving you the opportunity to wear a japa mala, pray for your well being, wear your mala chanting “om” 9 times.
  • keep your japa mala close to your body and regularly use it to meditate so that a strong spiritual bond is formed between you and your mala.
  • never exchange or give away your mala to anyone else as this unique bond will thus be disturbed.

How do i clean and care for my japa mala?

one should keep in mind that it is a natural product & subject to wear & tear if not handled & taken care of properly it can give way. one should avoid mishandling like throwing the bead / mala or playing with it as its contours might chip off or the bead might crack. here are a few tips that would help to maintain the bead.

  • as most of the japa mala beads (except rudraksha) are smooth to touch, they do not attract dust and dirt like rudraksha does (due to its natural contours and edges). therefore they do not require a special cleaning ritual.
  • if they are kept in their bag and are used frequently, the natural oils of the fingers will clean them automatically during the process of meditating.
  • if you feel the need, you can wipe them gently with a clean moist cloth and ensure it is completely dry before using or storing it again.

respecting and getting the most out of my japa mala
in order to ensure that you enjoy your japa mala to its fullest and ensure its longevity, we have compiled a short list that will guide you in forming a strong spiritual bond with it.

  • anyone can wear malas, without any discrimination of caste, creed or sex
  • as malas are extremely holy, maintain their sanctity treating them with respect, care & love.
  • keep them away from any kind of dirt, do not touch it with unclean hands and do not keep in a dirty place.
  • take the mala off while sleeping & keep in a pouch or a plate in your altar or in any clean or pure place leaving it undisturbed. resume wearing them in the morning after bath and cleansing.
  • one should not interchange their mala with anyone. the mala and its possessor form a bond which should not be disturbed.
  • malas should not be worn while having sex and by women when they are menstruating.
  • malas can be kept in house, office, factory, or any place of work or pooja room (altar) to get positive energy flow in the same premises.
  • malas are a tool of meditation. meditate with the mala by chanting “om” or any holy mantra often to form a strong spiritual connection with it.
  • never lose faith in your mala, it is said that it positively gives effects.

What is om?

om or aum is of paramount importance in hinduism. this symbol is a sacred syllable representing brahman, the impersonal absolute of hinduism — omnipotent, omnipresent, and the source of all manifest existence. brahman, in itself, is incomprehensible; so a symbol becomes mandatory to help us realize the unknowable. om, therefore, represents both the unmanifest (nirguna) and manifest (saguna) aspects of god. that is why it is called pranava meaning that it pervades life and runs through our prana or breath.

om in daily life
although om symbolizes the most profound concepts of hindu belief, it is in use daily. hindus begin their day or any work or a journey by uttering om. the sacred symbol is often found at the head of letters, at the beginning of examination papers and so on. many hindus, as an expression of spiritual perfection, wear the sign of om as a pendant. this symbol is enshrined in every hindu temple premise or in some form or another on family shrines.

it is interesting to note that a newly born child is ushered into the world with this holy sign. after birth, the child is ritually cleansed and the sacred syllable om is written on its tongue with honey. thus right at the time of birth the syllable om is initiated into the life of a hindu and ever remains with him as the symbol of piety.

the eternal syllable
according to mandukya upanishad (an ancient hindu text), “om is the one eternal syllable of which all that exists is but the development. the past, the present, and the future are all included in this one sound, and all that exists beyond the three forms of time is also implied in it”.

the music of om
om is not a word but rather an intonation, which, like music, transcends the barriers of age, race, culture and even species. it is made up of three sanskrit letters, aa, au and ma which, when combined together, make the sound aum or om. it is believed to be the basic sound of the world and to contain all other sounds. it is a mantra or prayer in itself. if repeated with the correct intonation, it can resonate throughout the body so that the sound penetrates to the centre of one’s being, the atman or soul.

there is harmony, peace and bliss in this simple but deeply philosophical sound. by vibrating the sacred syllable om, the supreme combination of letters, if one thinks of the ultimate personality of godhead and quits his body, he will certainly reach the highest state of “stateless” eternity, states the bhagavad gita (an ancient hindu text).

the vision of om
om provides a dualistic viewpoint. on one hand, it projects the mind beyond the immediate to what is abstract and inexpressible. on the other hand, it makes the absolute more tangible and comprehensive. it encompasses all potentialities and possibilities; it is everything that was, is, or can yet be. it is omnipotent and likewise remains undefined.

the power of om
during meditation, when we chant om, we create within ourselves a vibration that attunes sympathy with the cosmic vibration and we start thinking universally. the momentary silence between each chant becomes palpable. mind moves between the opposites of sound and silence until, at last, it ceases the sound. in the silence, the single thought (om) is quenched; there is no thought. this is the state of trance, where the mind and the intellect are transcended as the individual self merges with the infinite self in the pious moment of realization. it is a moment when the petty worldly affairs are lost in the desire for the universal. such is the immeasurable power of om.

how to type it on your computer

try this! to get the om symbol on your computer screen, open ms word and key in backslash ( \ ) in wingdings font. you will type in om!

What is tulsi and what benefits can it give me?

tulsi is thought to be the most sacred of woods in india and indian worship, and the plant of tulsi is believed to be the incarnation of the divine itself. the tulsi mala is made of the wood or the seeds of tulsi and is used for name chanting and worship. moreover, the tulsi mala is said to have incredible spiritual and physical healing powers apart from helping the mind to focus during prayers.

the tulsi mala can be worn on the neck or tied around the fist. the benefits of the leaves of tulsi is well proven, and owing to its spiritual and physical healing powers, the touch of the tulsi wood acts as a rejuvenator for the stressed mind and brings the spiritual self of a person closer to god. on top of that, wearing the tulsi mala is supposed to bring good luck and fortune to the devoted wearer. tulsi clears the aura, and its subtle smell fills the heart with sensation of the divine. the tulsi mala is used to worship lord ram and krishna, different incarnations of lord vishnu who is believed to be the creator and the beloved of the tulsi.

the health benefits of ingesting tulsi are numerous:

  • it works as a powerful antioxidant thereby helps in preventing early aging signs and makes the skin young.
  • acts as an anti bacterial and anti parasitic.
  • tulsi impacts nervous system providing strength, relieves stress and pain.
  • it work as an appetizer and promotes digestion by helping in secretion of digestive enzymes.
  • it helps in preventing flatulence and avoids constipated stool.
  • it is an effective natural cure for upper respiratory tract infection (urti).
  • it is very useful in bronchitis and asthmatic conditions.
  • it works as antibiotic eliminating the bacteria.
  • regular ingestion of tulsi s said to help keeping diabetics in check.
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