A rudraksha is the seed of the Eliocarpus ganitrus tree and plays an important role in a spiritual seeker's life.
Sadhguru: Rudraksha is the seed of a particular tree species which usually grows at a certain altitude in the mountains – mainly in the Himalayan region. Today, they are mostly found in Nepal, Burma, Thailand or Indonesia. They are there in some parts of the Western Ghats in South India, but the best quality (and the ones we use) come from a certain altitude in Himalayas because somehow the soil, atmosphere, and everything influences it. These seeds have a very unique vibration.
Usually the beads are strung together as a mala. Traditionally, they believe the number of beads is 108 plus one. The extra bead is the bindu. There must always be a bindu to the mala, otherwise the energy becomes cyclical and people who are sensitive may become dizzy. An adult should not wear a mala with less than 84 beads plus the bindu. Any number over that is fine.
When you string them, it is best that they are strung with either a silk thread or a cotton thread. If you wear it with a thread then it is good to take care to change the thread every six months. Otherwise one day the thread may snap and your 108 beads will go all over the place. If you want to use copper, silver or gold also it is fine
The mala can be worn all the time. You can even wear it when you shower. If you take cold water baths and are not using any chemical soap, it is especially good for the water to flow over it and upon your body. But if you are using chemical soaps and warm water, it loosens on the string after sometime.
Benefits of Wearing Rudraksha
For someone who is constantly on the move and who eats and sleeps in various places, rudraksha is a very good support because it creates a cocoon of your own energy. You might have noticed that when you go to a new place, sometimes you can fall asleep easily, whereas in certain other places you cannot fall asleep even if you are physically tired. This is because, if the situation around you is not conducive to your kind of energy, it will not let you settle down. For sadhus and sanyasis, places and situations could trouble them because they were constantly moving. One of the rules for them was never to put their head down in the same place twice. Today, once again, people have started eating and sleeping in different places because of their business or profession, so a rudraksha can be helpful.
Another thing is, sadhus or sanyasis living in the forest cannot drink water from just any pool because many times in nature, the water may be poisoned or contaminated with certain gases. If they were to drink it, it might cripple or even kill them. If a rudraksha is held above the water, if the water is good and drinkable, it will go clockwise. If it is poisoned, it will go anticlockwise. It is also a way of checking the quality of food. If you hold it above any positive pranic substance, it will move in a clockwise direction. If you hold it over any negative pranic substance, it will move in anti-clockwise direction.
Rudraksha: A shield against negative energies
It is also a kind of shield against negative energies. It is possible for some people to use negative energies to cause harm to someone else. This is a whole science by itself. One Veda, the Atharvana Veda, is all about how to use energies to your advantage and to someone else’s detriment. If somebody who has mastery over this wants to use it, so many things – extreme suffering and even death can be caused.
A rudraksha is a kind of shield against this. You may think nobody will do negative things to you, but it is not necessary that it should be targeted at you. Let us say somebody did it to the person sitting next you, but he is not receptive to it. Now you may get it because you are sitting next to him. It is just like when two people are shooting at each other on the street, they do not intend to shoot you, but you may get shot. Similarly these things also can happen. It is not intended for you, but it can happen if you are in the wrong place at the wrong moment. There need not be a huge fear about such things, but a mala is a kind of protection from that.
Ek mukhi, panchmukhi Rudrakshas & more
The number of faces a bead can have varies from a single face up to 21 faces. They are used for different purposes, so it would be improper to just buy something in the shop and put it on the body. Wearing the wrong type could disturb one’s life. A lot of people want to wear an ek mukhi (our Avatar Mala) which has only one face because it is very powerful.
People say if you wear an ek mukhi, you will become very detached, it will make your energies in such a way that you will want to be alone or with very divine company. It doesn’t make you compatible to be with worldly people. If you have to wear other kinds of special beads, it is best that it is received from someone who knows these things and can guide you to wear the most appropriate one for your spiritual development. For a Yogi the Ek (1) Mukhi is a boon, and is deeply treasured, it also acts as a big protection.
Five-faced beads or panchmukhi is safe and good for everyone – man, woman and child. It is for general wellbeing, health and freedom. It lowers your blood pressure, calms your nerves and brings a certain calmness and alertness in your nervous system. Children below 12 years of age can wear six-faced beads. It will help them calm down and be more focused. Above all they will receive the right type of attention from the adult.The Gauri-Shankar is a certain kind which brings balance between your Ida and Pingala. Generally, people believe it will bring them prosperity. Prosperity need not necessarily mean just money. It can come in so many ways. You may not own anything but still you can be prosperous in your life. If you are a balanced person and you function sensibly in your life, prosperity may come. It happens when energies function well. A Gauri-Shankar balances and activates your Ida and Pingala.
If you have chosen to purify your life, a rudraksha is a good tool and aid, a little support on the way. When someone is walking the spiritual path, he wants to use every little support on the way to enhance himself, and it is definitely a very good support.
A spiritual teacher usually energises a rudraksha for the recipient.
Genuine Rudraksha Malas
Traditionally, malas were always dealt with by people who held it as a sacred duty in their lives. For generations, they did only this. They also made their living out of it, but fundamentally it was like a sacred duty of offering it to people. But once the demand became too much, commerce came in. Today in India, there is another seed called badraksh which is a poisonous seed, which grows extensively in Uttar Pradesh, Bihar and that area. To look at, both these seeds look the same. You cannot make out the difference. Only if you take it in your hand and if you are sensitive, you will know the difference. This should not be worn on the body, but these are being sold as authentic beads in many places. So it is important that you get your mala from a trusted source with a spiritual vibration.
We would like to thank Sadhguru for this valuable discourse. Text is bold and italics has been added. For more valuable Yoga information isha.sadhguru.org