Rudraksh is a sacred bead which has been used by people in India for thousands of years. It is known for its holy and mystical properties. This bead is the seed of a tree known by the same name and it is found in the mountainous regions of Nepal, Indonesia, Java, Sumatra and Burma. Its leaves are green in colour which change into orange and brown before falling. The fruits are brown in colour with a sour taste. The Sanskrit word ‘rudraksh’ means ‘the eyes of Shiva’. Botanically, it is the berry of the Elaeocarpus ganitrus and used to make prayer beads.
The bead is believed to have been created when Lord Shiva meditated on human welfare and dropped tears during the process. These tears fell on earth and acquired crystallized form and rudraksh trees were created.
It is particularly found in Hardwar in India. It is commonly worn by sadhus in India and symbolises the fact that they have attained spiritual levels. These have high spiritual powers and known for their healing powers. It is the most powerful spiritual bead ever. It is known and famous all over the world for its holy properties. They are believed to bring peace of mind to the wearer, protect against evil and bless the wearer with peace and harmony.
Rudraksha can be worn either singly or in multiples in the form of malas or necklace, bracelet or as arm band. It is not only used by Hindu religious saints but its users include celebrities, artisans, students and businessmen. Sadhus who wear them are believed to have attained special powers and to recognise them as devotees of God. Many wear Rudraksha for its good omen and many wear for good health. There are a number of wearers who wear it without knowing its qualities as an ornament only because of its rare beauty.
Its properties have been accepted by those believing in the scientific school of thought who are now convinced regarding the powers of these beads. A joint study conducted by a group of scientists of Banaras Hindu University in coordination with Department of Biochemistry, Electrical Engineering, Psychiatry, General Medicine and Psychology have accepted the power that these beads hold after conducting studies according to their criteria. Their methods found these beads to have electromagnetic, para-magnetic, inductive dia-magnetic and dynamic polarity or the ability to change its polarity. Rudraksha have anti-ageing properties based on their electromagnetism.as well as Ayurvedic medicinal properties.
These beads bead possess healing properties for many diseases that involve humans, like the exposure of body cells to electromagnetic waves created by cell phones and other electronic gadgets, processes, the modern lifestyle such as food habits, work schedules which are only contributing to diseases and stress. Rudraksha beads have many other powerful properties in transforming one's personality and outlook for the positive.
All parts of rudraksh including the outer skin of the fruit and leaves and bark of the Rudraksha tree can be used for making useful herbal products.
Rudraksh is unmatched in natural beauty which is full of energy and usefulness both for body and mind. Its aura and glow is unparalleled in day light or night time.
Legend behind Rudraksha
Hindu scriptures associate Rudraksha with Lord Shiva. Rudraksha is believed to be the direct blessings of Lord Shiva.
It is made up of two words - 'RUDRA' and 'AKSHA', forms which is the name of Lord Shiva and Aksha means 'tear', meaning the tear of Lord Shiva.
Lord Shiva is considered the "Creator" of Rudraksha which symbolizes spirituality, power, that make the person fearless and arogya (without any disease) and provide peace and prosperity. Rudraksha is worn by lord Shiva as an ornament in his jata (locks of hair), as necklace, as wrist band and armband.
The details about Rudraksha is found in a number of "Granthas" and "Shastras" (the holy books of Indian Mythology). There are various stories which explain the origin of Rudraksha. One can find the greatness and detailed literature about the properties of Rudraksha in ancient Vedic scriptures like, Padam Purana (Chap 57), Mantra Maharnava, verses 158-174, Jabbalaoapanishada, Maha Shiva Purana, Srimad Bhagwata, AkshaMaalikaoapnashida, Mantra Maharnava, and etc.
- Padma Purana, Chap. 57
- Mantra Maharnava, verses 158-174
- Rudraksha Jabala Upanishad
- Siva Purana (Vidyesvara Samhita), Chap. 25
- Srimad Devi Bhagavatam, 11th Skanda, Chap. 3-7
According to Srimad Devi Bhagwat Puran
Rudraksha came into existence because of tear of lord Siva. According to Devi Bhagwat Puran there was a Demon known as Maya who was very strong and possessed divine energy and power who misused his power and became all-powerful. No one was able to defeat this strong demon in war. He built three towns of gold, silver and iron which were non-destroyable and known as Tripur. After ruling these towns by him and his two brothers he was known as Tripurasur. He started crusade against gods and easily defeated god's king Indra. As a result, Indra went lord brahma for help but he expressed his helplessness and directed them to lord Vishnu who also told about his inability to defeat Tripurasur and directed them to lord Shiva. Lord Shiva agreed to help and ordered a special chariot which was made of earth, the wheel was made of sun and moon. Lord Vishnu became the arrow and lord brahma became the charioteer. The then proceeded and acquired a furious form and destroyed with one arrow. After the war, all went to the Himalayas to rest and lord Shiva began meditation and when he opened his eyes, tears from his eyes fell on earth and acquired the form of rudraksh.
According to another religious text Shiva Mahapuran, Parvati the divine consort of Lord Shiva asked him the origin of Rudraksha. On hearing this Shiva said that he did penance for a thousand years. Tired of keeping his eyes closed, Shiva opened them. A few teardrops fell to the ground and the Rudraksha tree came into existence.
According to another Puran, once lord Shiva went into deep meditation for a long period for the well-being of all living beings. After waking from the state of meditation, he opened his eyes and his tear drops fell on the earth and took the form of seed which became rudraksh tree.
One ancient story says that once Lord Shiva was very upset and depressed due to the death of "Gauri", his wife. He started crying and roaming here and there in search of "Gauri". And while searching too he was crying and his tears were falling on the earth which took the form of a seed and grew into Rudraksha tree.
There are also many other different conceptions regarding Rudrakshas in Shiv Puran and other Pauranic scriptures but one thing is upheld in all of these that:-
"DIVYA VARSHA SAHASRAM TU CHAKSHURUNMEELITMAYAA,
PASCHANMAAKULAKSHIBHYAH PATITA JALBINDAVAH"
SHIV UVACH: - "For one thousand divine years I kept closed my eyes then tear drops fell from my eyes."
"TATRASHRUBINDTO JAATA MAHARUDRAKSH VRISKSHKAH
MAMAAGYAYAA MAHASEN SARVESHAM HITKAMYAYAA"
Those drops of tear which fell from my eyes gave birth to the tree of Maharudraksh on my command for the benefit of all.
There are different circumstances in ancient scriptures regarding the origin of these beads but all are centred on Lord Shiva.
Types of Rudraksha
The magical Rudraksha are found in different types. If we closely examine the beads of Rudraksha we find every rudraksh is different. So they are classified into 1 to 27 categories called mukhis.
Every Rudraksha has cells or Mukhis which differ in numbers. A mukh or facet is a line or groove which runs from one end of Rudraksha to the other end. The Rudraksha bead has a top portion which is called Brahma. The middle portion is known as Vishnu and the bottom portion -is known as Shiva.
On the basis of these mukhis the Rudraksha may be classified into 1 to 27 mukhis. In ancient epic like Shiv Puran, Shri Mad Devi Bhagwat, and Padmpuran etc. Rudraksha up to 14 Mukhis have been described along with their effects and purposes for which they are useful. Higher Mukhi Rudraksha from 15 to 27 Mukhis have also been found in the later countries their benefits recorded as per experience of the learned people. There are other Rudraksha like Gauri Shankar (two Rudraksha having naturally joined on the tree), Ganesha (a Rudraksha having trunk like protrusion on its body) Sawar (a Gauri Shankar in which one bead has only one line or Mukhi), Trijuti (three Rudraksha beads joined naturally on the tree.
Rudraksha are of different sizes but the bigger ones are better (15mm and above) and have natural hole in it. The surface of the bead should not be over - thorny and hard.
Shrimad Devi Bhagwat says that simply watching or touching a rudraksh is beneficial. Many examples prove the splendour and power of Rudraksha. It can make one rich, change one's faith as well as influence people. It can cure diseases like cancer and ease personal traumas.
Shiva Purana describe Rudraksha's origin as Lord Shiva's tears. He had been meditating for many years for the welfare of all creatures. On opening the eyes, hot drops of tears rolled down and the mother earth gave birth to Rudraksha trees. Lord Siva has many aspects indicated by His 1,008 names Lord Siva is responsible for creation, evolution and dissolution. Lord Siva destroys the world by dancing and new creation begins. This activity of His dance gives rise to the appearance of Narayan and causes creation again.
Rudraksh in botanical sense
According to "Shiv Purana", Rudraksha was the favourite tree of Lord Shiva which grew in Gauda land (present day Gangetic plains to foothills of Himalayas).
According to research, these trees are mostly found in South Eastern Asian Islands of Java, Sumatra, Borneo, Bali, Iran, Java, Timor (Indonesia) and parts of South Asian Kingdom of Nepal, Sri Lanka, Burma, Myanmar, Tibet, Thailand, Malaysia, India, and northern parts of Australia, New Zealand, New Calidonia, Fiji, Philippines, South China, Japan and Hawaii.
Botanical Name: Elaeocarpus Ganitrus Roxb.
Type: E. serratus Linn, Eganitrus, Roxb, etc.
Eleocarpus: Eleocarpus is a Greek word which combines the words Elaei and Carpus. In Greek, Elaei means 'wild olive' tree and Carpus means 'fruit' so the seed of fruit from wild olive like trees is known as Elaeocarpus.
In India Rudraksha is spelt differently in different languages.
Sanskrit, Hindi & Marathi
The Rudraksha tree grows in Manila, Philippines, Myanmar, North-East India, Bangladesh, Nepal and Bhutan. However, it is chiefly found in Eastern Nepal due to suitable climatic conditions.
Around 70% of the Rudraksha trees are found in Indonesia, 25% in Nepal and 5% in India. It has numerous properties which include - a major stress reliever, circulatory problems reducer and the best beads, the berry (Elaeocarpus Ganitrus) was first spotted in Indonesia and is now grown in Nepal and Hardwar.
Rudraksha is a large, evergreen broad-leaved tree which grows in the tropical and sub-tropical regions at altitudes from the sea level to 2,000 meters above the sea level. It is a perennial tree which grows throughout the year.
Size of Tree
The Tree of Rudraksha is about 50-200 feet high but could be 14.60 meters to 29.20 meters tall depending on the area and the climate. It is 1.22 meter at the diameter.
Shape of Rudraksha Tree
The trunk of the tree is cylindrical and has a greyish white and rough textured bark. The leafy crown of a Rudraksha tree is pyramidal in shape.
Rudraksha leaves resemble mango tree leaves and its length is about 17.78 centimetres and width is between 2.54 centimetres to 4.45 centimetres. The leaves are shinning green on the upper side with a dull leathery dorsal side. These leaves are light green in the beginning and turn into deep green at the time of maturity and change into yellowish red before turning grey coffee colour and falling. This cycle of leaves continues all over the tree round the year.
Rudraksha flowers are white with fringed petals and they appear in April-May. They have mild aroma or fragrance like raat ki rani. The flowers of the Rudraksha appear in bunch but smaller than that of leaf.
Rudraksha fruits appear in June and ripen by August-October but it occurs only when the tree is seven to eight years old. Rudraksha fruits are green in colour and globular in shape with the size of the fruit being 2cms to 4cms in diameter. On maturity the colour of fruit turns into bluish violet from green and then into deep brown and then finally into black in colour.
The bead is inside the fruit. It is hard and tubercled and has very hard rough surface having uneven grooves and a long cavity in the centre from the point where it is main part is attached to the stem. The bead contains seed/s inside and receives their nourishment from the central cavity. From the central cavity vertical clefts are attached. Each cleft has separate compartment and have one internal seed. The joint of these cleft preludes outside the body of the seed which is visible from outside. This joint is known as mukhi or dhari or facet.
Cultivation of Rudraksha Trees
Rudraksha farming is a difficult process because of the slow sprouting process. Depending on the humidity of the soil, it usually takes 1-2 years for a tree to sprout. Rudraksha is grown in subtropical climatic regions with temperature ranges of 25-30 degree centigrade. The tree ripens after 7 years. A single Rudraksha tree bears beads in all different faces or mukhis at the same time. The higher mukhis or faces are very rare. Most common Rudraksha bead is the five faceted or panchmukhi. Rudraksha up to 21 mukhis are found and documented. But 22 to 29 mukhis have also been obtained.
The types of beads depend on the environment and location of the tree and the Himalayan beads seem larger, heavier and more powerful due to the environment they grow in.
Elaeocarpus trees are planted for ornamental purposes as bunches of blue fruits all over the tree are very attractive.
Family of Elaeocarpaceae :
The family of Elaeocarpaceae has six important taxa.
1. Elaeocarpus Ganitrus : It is found in Nepal, Malaysia, Indonesia and smaller number in northern region of Bihar Assam Bengal and Arunachal Pradesh. In ancient scriptures they are considered as pure and authentic.
2. E. Floribundus Blume : The bark of these tree is used to cure the diseases of gums.
3. E. Olingus Mast : Its fruit is used in treatment of ulcers, rheumatic pneumonia, leprosy and piles. Its wood is suitable for making matchboxes.
4. E. Petiolatus Wall : The juice of its leaves is used to cure sunstroke and its roots are used to cure fever.
5. E. Serratus Linn : The leaves of this Rudraksha is used to cure rheumatism and as an antidote to poison.
6. E. Tuberculatus : The bark of the tree is used to cure haemetemesis and indigestion while the seed is used as a remedy of typhoid fever and epilepsy.