Benefits of Rudraksha Mala
A Rudraksha Mala or Shiv Jaap mala is a string of prayer beads commonly used in Hinduism, Jainism, Sikhism, Buddhism and Shintō for the spiritual practice known in Sanskrit as Japa. The rosary is usually made from 108 beads, though other numbers are also used. Malas are used for keeping count while reciting, chanting, or mentally repeating a mantra or the name or names of a Deity. 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 as tight on the string when used. If more than 108 repetitions are to be done, then sometimes in Tibetan traditions grains of rice are counted out before the chanting begins and one grain is placed in a bowl for every 108 repetitions. Each time a full mala of repetitions has been completed, one grain of rice is removed from the bowl. Often, practitioners add extra counters to their malas, usually in strings often. These may be positioned differently depending on the tradition; for example, some traditions place these strings after every 10th bead. This is an alternative way to keep track of large numbers, sometimes going into the hundreds of thousands, and even millions.
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.
There are numerous explanations why there are 108 beads, with the number 108 bearing special religious significance in a number of Hindu, Buddhist, and Jain traditions.
27 Constellations x 4 Padas (parts) = 108
12 Zodiac Houses x 9 Planets = 108
Upanishads or the Scriptures of the Vedas = 108
There are special qualities or characteristics of Arihantas 12, Siddhas 8, Aacharya’s 36, Upadyayas 25 and Sadhus 27 which total to 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