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Rudraksha Beads: A Yogi’s Perspective

rudraksha beads

The major focus of the yogi’s thoughts is his interior consciousness and the inner processes of yoga sadhana. Yet some external factors can be helpful in his sadhana. One thing which has long been considered beneficial to the yogi’s general state of health and awareness is the wearing of a rudraksha mala–a garland-string of one hundred and eight rudraksha beads, each of which is separated by a knot on the thread on which they are strung.

The word “rudraksha” is commonly considered to mean “eye of Rudra (Shiva),” but it can also mean “saving protection (raksha) of Rudra (Shiva).” This second meaning is the one most relevant to the yogi.

Rudraksha beads are the round seeds of the rudraksha tree. There are many kinds of rudraksha beads according to the number of facets or “faces” each possesses. These faces are determined by the number of vertical lines on the bead. All rudraksha beads have a definite effect on the wearer, but the specific effect of these beads varies according to the number of their faces.

The benefits of Rudraksha beads for yogis

For the yogi, the most beneficial rudraksha beads are those with five faces, for they possess a perfect balance of the five subtle elements (panchabhutas): ether (akasha), air (vayu), fire (agni), water (ap), and earth (prithvi). As a result, each bead possesses a subtle electromagnetic field which stabilizes, harmonizes, elevates and strengthens the five energy levels or “bodies” (koshas) of the yogi: the anandamaya, jnanamaya, manomaya, pranamaya and annamaya bodies or levels. In this article I am writing about the five-faced rudraksha beads and their effects and benefits.

The number of beads worn by the yogi is also meaningful. When a mala consists of one hundred and eight beads (plus a “meru” bead where the two ends meet–usually with a tassel), it produces a stable field of subtle energies in his entire complex of bodies, and therefore also stabilizes, harmonizes, elevates and strengthens his mind and body. So effective is this physically, that physicians in India prescribe the wearing of a rudraksha mala to alleviate high blood pressure.

Pointers for wearing a rudraksha mala

Therefore, when a yogi wears a rudraksha mala he is profoundly benefitted on many levels. Consequently he should wear them at all times–twenty-four hours a day. It is essential, however, that all the beads touch his skin directly and not worn outside the clothing. Beads worn outside the clothing are just for show, but they will have very little benefit–if any. Rudraksha beads are sacred–not jewelry or costume enhancements.

It is also essential that the beads be very clearly marked–that is, the vertical marks are clearly seen. Beads without very clear vertical lines are not beneficial and should not be worn. Also, all the beads must not be flawed in any way, such as having some part of the bead broken off.

It is my experience that one of the benefits of a rudraksha mala is its ability to act like a lightning rod and absorb negative and unbalanced energies in the yogi’s aura and any such energies that may enter his environment and affect him. Once I was in a very dangerous situation, and my rudraksha mala that was strung on gold wire suddenly divided into three parts and fell off! More than once I have felt negative energies being drawn into the beads. Therefore, you should occasionally cleanse them from such negative energies by holding them under cold running water for a few minutes. That will literally wash away the negative energies. (The warm water of a shower will not clear the beads of negative energies.)

Another point: size of beads. Beads an inch or so in diameter are easily gotten, but their size makes them a nuisance in a string of one hundred and eight beads. Smaller beads are definitely more desirable, and many yogis in India consider them to be more effective than the big beads. (Some believe that the smaller they are the more effective they are, but that is not my experience, though I prefer and wear reasonably small beads.)

Where do you get them (and not)?

Now comes the question: Where can you get genuine, high quality rudraksha beads? There are seeds that look like rudraksha, but do not have any vertical lines and are worthless. Strings of these are sold by dishonest dealers even in holy pilgrim cities such as Haridwar. Some yoga groups in America have been deceived and sold them to their members believing they were genuine.

First: here is where you do not get them. Do not get them from online “rudraksha specialists” that peddle superstitious nonsense about how miraculous beads are that have more than five facets. (They can have up to twelve facets.) All their prices are outrageous robbery. Also they sometimes sell combinations of beads that are for special purposes, such as getting money, etc. This is voodoo, not dharma or yoga. Often their websites have photos of people claiming special knowledge of rudraksha beads and their various magical effects who will personally “consult” with you. If you like carnival sideshows, go ahead. But I have warned you.

So where do you get them? I am sorry to say that you will have to search online and scrutinize the photographs of the beads offered to see if they are of good quality. And if you get poor quality beads when you order, send them back immediately and demand your money be returned. For this reason it is good to shop on Amazon because they return your money when you send purchases back to them.

What we did a few years ago was this. We found a European source on Etsy and ordered beads to string ourselves. (One of our sadhus knows how.) This has been most satisfactory. If you do not know how to string and knot beads and do not know anyone who does, you might check with bead shops or jewelry stores that may know people who string beads for them. (Some years ago we did this and got our beads strung and knotted that way.)

You can certainly be a yogi and not wear rudraksha beads, but they are very definitely a benefit I would not want to be without.

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