The trees were majestic. As we were walking through the streets of the holy town, I was amazed (and confused) with the vast variety, types, colors, sizes and prices of the Rudraaksha seeds. I promptly called GuruMaa that night, and She directed me to the right place in Haridwar. I also came across several books on this topic and with blessings from GuruMaa, this article aims to simplify and summarize the key merits of the Rudraaksha seeds, and its use for improving our mental and physical health, and curing diseases.
Rudraaksha trees grow mainly in the Himalayas in India and Nepal, and are also found in Indonesia.
The origin of the word 'Rudraaksha'
The word 'Rudraaksha' is derived from two words: 'Rudra' and 'Aaksha.' The word 'Rudra' is formed by the combination of 'Ru' and 'Dru.' 'Ru' means roaring. 'Dru' means rhythmical movement or dance. Therefore, 'Rudra' means a dancing and roaring person. Also, note that Lord Rudra is one of the direct manifestations of Lord Shiva. The word 'Aaksha' means tears. Thus, 'Rudraaksha' means that which is produced out of the tears of Rudra, a dancing and roaring person.
The myth behind the Rudraaksha trees
Once, Lord Rudra was performing a great penance for thousands of years. One day he opened his eyes slightly, and drops of tears fell from his half-closed eyes. From these teardrops cropped up the Rudraaksha trees, which produced small fruits. The Rudraaksha beads are found inside the fruits. According to 'Padma Purana,' in the Krthyug, a demon named Tripura had killed the Gods, and after destroying all the worlds, remained firmly in command in the region between the Heaven and Earth due to boons from Lord Brahma. Lord Rudra was soon apprised of the situation, and killed the demon with an arrow form his bow. Drops of perspiration fell down from the body of Lord Rudra, from which cropped up the Rudraaksha plants.
The merits of the Rudraaksha seeds
According to the Padma Purana, a human being obtains a lakhfold merit by seeing a Rudraaksha bead, a crorefold merit by touching it, and ten crores of merit by wearing it on his/her body. You can get spiritual merits by reciting hymns using the Rudraaksha mala. A human being that holds a Rudraaksha on his body becomes free of all sins.
The different types of Rudraaksha seeds
Faces of the Rudraaksha beads are recognized on the basis of the number of lines originating from the top of the bead. These lines form the faces of the beads. If you want to feel and see the different types, please request GuruMaa to show you some at our Ashram in NY. Now, let us understand these in greater detail: (Note that each mukhi has its own method of worship, with the right mantras and the right day of the week or lunar month. I will not be able to cover all this in this article).
1. Ek Mukhi (or one-faced):
It is considered the mother of all Rudraaksha. It gives all worldly enjoyments and finally salvation. Goddess Laxmi will never depart from the place where puja of Ek Mukhi is being performed. All the evil spirits are destroyed. A human being obtains Ek Mukhi due to religious merit, and due to Rudra's favor.
This bead represents Lord Rudra and his consort Goddess Parvati. This bead helps the wearer concentrate his/her mind, and increase spiritual power. Pregnant women can have easier deliveries of their baby if they wear this bead around the waist.
This bead represents the Lord of Fire (Agni), and is used for avoiding bad luck, disease-free bodies, and protection from destructive weapons, acquiring wealth and education. It cures fever if you wear a mala of 108 three-faced beads.
This bead represents Lord Brahma. It is believed that if this bead is boiled in milk, and one drinks the milk for 20 days, then the person's mind will be purified, and all worries will be removed. He can also become an expert of various knowledges.
This bead is used to please the five Brahmaas. The wearer can have success in all walks of life, ward off disease, and if you wear three such beads, you will make profit and acquire wealth. The paanch mukhi bead is used to cure high blood pressure.
This bead represents Lord Kartikeya, younger brother of Lord Ganesh. Men should wear it on the right arm, and women should wear it on the left. This bead is known to have healing qualities to cure hysteria, fits, etc. for women. It is also useful to attain spiritual 'siddhi.'
This bead represents the Sapta Rishis (or seven sages), and helps the wearer to attain wealth, respect, and spiritual power. Some also believe that it represents Ananta, the king of serpents.
This bead represents Lord Ganesh. The wearer of this bead is blessed with all the comforts of life, truthfulness, and longevity. The wearer will also be able to develop or excel in writing skills.
This bead represents Bhairava, Yama, and Kapil Muni. It is worn on the left arm, especially during Navratri.
This bead represents Lord Vishnu. The wearer is protected from the evil influence of all planets. Severe coughs can be cured when the patient takes a paste created when rubbing this bead on the stone with milk.
This bead represents Lord Indra. It has eleven strengths of eleven deities, and when kept in your safe, enormous wealth starts pouring in. Females can wear this bead to obtain blessings to give birth to a son.
This bead also represents Lord Vishnu. Sun will always be favorable to the wearer, and will provide him/her with all kinds of wealth and comforts.
This bead represents the Vishwa-devaas. The wearer of this bead attains moksha, and is able to fulfill all desires in life. If a man gets this bead, then he is will bestowed with good luck, and is free from all sins.
This bead represents Lord Shiva and Lord Hanuman. It cures several diseases. If you boil it in milk, and drink the milk for 20 days, it will free you from worries.
Rudraaksha beads of up to 36/37 mukhs are said to exist, but are very uncommon. Furthermore, conjoined Rudraakshas also exist. The Rudraaksha joined together naturally is called Gauri Shankar. This bead has the beneficial properties of the one-faced and 14 faced beads.
Wear with care
a. The wearer and worshipper of Rudraaksha should not smoke, drink, eat non-vegeterian food or have illicit sex.
b. Mala that is worn around the neck should have 54 or 108 beads. Japa mala can be small (27 beads). Many believe that neck mala cannot be used as Japa mala and vice versa.
c. Do not wear the mala when you go to bed.
d. Clean your mala regularly.
e. The beads should be stringed using gold or red or black thread.
f. Some astrologers suggest wearing the right mukh bead according to the ruling planet (e.g. Ek Mukhi for Sun, Two mukhi for Moon etc.).
g. Beware of imitations!
Healing qualities of the Rudraaksha beads
Rudraaksha beads are believed to produce energy, and are known to have magnetic effects. Spiritual healers use Rudraaksha beads as body-scanners to detect defects in your body. A powerful Rudraaksha bead is capable of curing acute pain, and can also cure diseases like fits, hyper-tension, high blood pressure, etc. as described above.
There are a number of fake beads in the market place, so please consult your Guru before you acquire one, and Rudraaksha obtained with blessings from spiritual people are most beneficial. Wish you success with your Rudraaksha beads!
Rudraksh by S M Khatri
Rudraksha by Narain Bhatia
Rudraaksha, The Mystic Seed by K T. Shubhakaran