Why are Rudraksha seeds so highly valued?
Rudraksha seeds have been highly prized for centuries. Worn for protection and used for prayer even today, their popularity now extends out of the East into the West. You can often spot Rudraksha seed malas on the wrists or around the necks of yogis. Far from being a fashion statement, these seeds hold properties that could bring you both physical and spiritual benefits.
The story behind the name
In Sanskrit Rudra is another name for the god Shiva, and ksha means teardrops. Brought together, Rudraksha refers to the teardrops of Shiva.
This links to the Vedic scriptures, which tell of Shiva sitting in deep meditation on the well-being of all living creatures. As he became aware of the suffering, he shed tears of compassion. These tears are said to have turned into Rudraksha seeds when they reached the earth and sprouted into trees that formed the sacred Rudraksha seeds.
According another legend, Lord Shiva had three eyes, representing the sun, the moon and fire respectively and it is said that the Rudraksha seeds formed from these eyes. The ones from his solar eye are brown and there are 12 types. The seeds from his lunar eye are lighter and there are 16 types. The seeds formed from his fire eye are black and there are 10 types.
The scientific name of these evergreen trees is Elaeocarpus ganitrus and they are indigenous to the Himalayas in India and Nepal. They are also common in other areas across Southeast Asia with rich, volcanic soil.
The many faces of Rudraksha seeds
Rudraksha seeds have faces or mukhis on them. The mukhis are segments that can be seen on the outside of the seeds, indicated by thin lines running from the top to the bottom.
The number of faces on each seed ranges between one and 36. They range in size between three and 40 millimetres. The more faces and the smaller the bead, the rarer it is.
Two mukhi to 14 mukhi Rudraksha are fairly common to find. Seeds with only one face, or with more than 14 faces, are rare and often expensive.
According to Ayurveda, the amount of mukhis on a seed influences its medicinal uses. For example, one mukhi seeds are believed to cure headaches, heart disease, blood pressure and diseases in the right eye. These seeds are also said to increase your mental concentration as it symbolises Lord Shiva. Some seeds (with two and 15 muhkis in particular) are used for conceiving and fertility, while seeds with five mukhi are said to treat diseases related to your liver, kidney, feet, thighs and ears.
(As always, please do not use this as medical advice and seek guidance from a professional if you need to.)
The holes are drilled through Rudraksha seeds in the same direction as the lines that form the mukhi. The seeds are then tied into a mala. Drilling the holes like this allows the energy (or prana) to flow unobstructed through the mala and the seeds on it.
The many benefits of Rudraksha seeds
Using and wearing Rudraksha seeds and malas made from Rudraksha seeds have a number of benefits.
Science is starting to confirm what many ancient sages and yogis have known as their truth for centuries or even longer.
Far from just being a spiritual seed, scientific research has found they hold electromagnetic properties (amongst others).
In 2012 Kumar Naresh and his colleagues published a paper titled ‘Rudraksha: A Review of Mythological, Spiritual and Medicinal Importance’. In this paper they go into the “powers” of these electromagnetic properties, sharing with us that the seeds have been shown to work as a natural tranquilizer and that wearing a Rudraksha rosary has been proven to help relieve stress, insomnia, anxiety, depression and poor concentration.
They also found that wearing Rudraksha seeds can lower body temperature and, if worn around the heart, can assist with keeping your blood pressure under control, as well as regulating your heartbeat.
Moving away from the science and hard facts, there are many that believe that you can use Rudraksha seeds (and Rudraksha malas) to charge your soul with shakti (or spiritual power) which helps you to express the divine power and wisdom in the physical world.
Rudraksha seeds create a protective space around you. While eliminating negativity it invites in abundance and prosperity. The seeds help you along your journey to enlightenment by changing your Karma while guiding you along the path to enlightenment.
Real versus fake Rudraksha seeds
Sadly, it is becoming common for rare Rudraksha seeds to be artificially manufactured. This is especially true for seeds with one mukhi.
Luckily there are a few ways that you can confirm whether it is the real deal. You can cut the seed horizontally. If the inside has as many segments as faces on the outside it is real… and you have just destroyed a very rare and powerful seed.
A safer option is to place the seed between two copper coins or chips. A real Rudraksha seed will rotate slightly because of its magnetic properties. Another test is to place the seed in water. Real Rudraksha seeds will sink in water.
Rudraksha seeds and meditation
As well as looking beautiful, Rudraksha malas are a great tool to use during meditation, especially Japa meditation.
Japa meditation combines the properties of the seeds with the repetition of a mantra. Rudraksha malas usually have 108 seeds along with an additional, larger bead called a guru bead. As you chant and meditate on the mantra you slide your fingers along the seeds every time you complete the mantra. This helps you to keep count without being distracted from your chanting, releasing you from distractions caused by your mind and thoughts so you can enter into a deeper meditation.
Looking after your Rudraksha malas
Once you are the proud owner of a new Rudraksha mala bracelet of necklace it is recommended that you cleanse and bless your mala before you use it.
You can sanctify your seeds by chanting a specific Beej mantra or empowering verse over it. Examples of Beej mantras can be found here.
You might also like to cleanse your seeds by smudging your mala using the smoke of white sage or Palo Santo.
Enjoy your very own spiritual cocoon
While the Rudraksha seed might seem like an innocent and unassuming seed that is rather plain-looking it holds the ability to support your body, your mind and your psyche – all the while bridging the gap between the spiritual and the physical.
These amazing little seeds continually absorb positive energy, storing and magnifying it over time to create a spiritual cocoon for the wearer. The longer the seeds are worn, and the more they are used for meditation, the more powerful the seeds become and the stronger your own personal cocoon becomes around you.
Rudraksha mala necklaces and bracelets
Rudraksha malas come in all designs, form those strung with just the seeds themselves to more intricate designs that combine the properties of the seeds with the power of crystals.