The thought of rudraksh evokes a picture of wooden bead or seed type structure in our mind. It is the bead or mala which is worn by the sadhus or babas. But it is not only a bead or seed but one which contains sacred and spiritual values which makes it the most powerful and awesome bead ever.
Rudraksha has caught the attention and interest worldwide due to its mystical properties. It is known since times immemorial. Rudraksha is a Hindu word which means "the eyes of Shiva". According to mythology, the Hindu god Shiva meditated on the welfare of all mankind and cried tears of compassion, peace and joy which fell on earth in crystallized form as seeds. The divine qualities of this bead were first noted in ancient Hindu scriptures. They bring peace of mind; protect against evil doers and spirits; and bless with peace and prosperity.
The word Rudraksha is used for the fruit as well as the tree. In Sanskrit Rudraksham means Rudraksha fruit as well as Rudraksha tree. It is a Sanskrit word which means "Rudra-eyed" and it is the name of the dark berries of Elaeocarpus ganitrus, used to make prayer beads.
Rudraksha tree grows on mountains and hilly region of Nepal, Indonesia, Java, Sumatra and Burma. Its leaves are green in colour and the fruits are brown in colour with a sour taste. The Rudraksha fruits also possess spiritual values.
It can be worn singly or in multiples in the form of malas, necklace, bracelet or as arm band. It is not only used by Hindu religious saints many celebrities, artisans, students and businessmen wear for various purposes. It is worn by sadhus who have attained special powers and identifies them as devotees of God. Many wear Rudraksha for its good omen, many wear just for good health. There are a number of people who wear it without knowing its significance but are attracted to it only due its rate natural beauty which is rare in Nature.
A joint study and research conducted by a group of scientists of Banaras Hindu University in coordination with Department of Biochemistry, Electrical Engineering, Psychiatry, General Medicine and Psychology has satisfied scientists regarding the powers of Rudraksha and proved that Rudraksha have electromagnetic, para-magnetic, inductive dia-magnetic and dynamic polarity or the ability to change its polarity. Rudrakshas also possess anti-ageing properties because of their electromagnetism.
The bead of Rudraksha are also mentioned in the Ayurveda. They possess curative properties for a number of diseases such as the unprecedented exposure of body cells to electromagnetic waves created by cell phones, the electronic gadgets and processes or the diseases that born out of the changing lifestyles in term of food work schedules and stress and offer a protective shield to the body. Rudraksha beads have proved to be very powerful in transforming one's personality and outlook in a positive way.
Apart from the bead of Rudraksha, the outer skin of the fruit and leaves and bark of the Rudraksha tree are used for making a number of useful herbal products.
A rudraksh is truly unmatchable in natural beauty and contains energy and usefulness which is good for the body as well as the mind. It is truly a bio-jewellery that has its own beauty and power.
Legend behind Rudraksha
Ancient Hindu scriptures associate Rudraksha with Lord Shiva. Rudraksha is believed to have direct blessings of Lord Shiva.
It is composed of two words - 'RUDRA' and 'AKSHA'. Rudra is the name of Lord Shiva and Aksha means 'tear'. Thus, literally Rudraksha means the tear of Lord Shiva.
Lord Shiva occupies the highest place in the Hindu religion and He is the "Creator" of Rudraksha. Rudraksha symbolises spirituality, power, and makes the wearer fearless and arogya (without any disease) and provide peace and prosperity. It is worn by lord Shiva as an ornament in his jata (locks of hair), as necklace, as wrist band and armband.
We get the details about Rudraksha in number of "Granthas" and "Shastras" (the holy books of Indian Mythology). There are various stories about 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
As per Srimad Devi Bhagwat Puran
Rudraksha came into existence by the tear of lord Siva. Devi Bhagwat Puran says that there was a Demon known as Maya who became very powerful and had divine energy and power. Due to these qualities he became proud and started to trouble deities and sages. He was unbeatable and not could contain him in war. He built three towns which were made up of three different metals of gold, silver and iron. These towns were non-destroyable and known as Tripur. After ruling these towns by him and his two brothers he was known as Tripurasur. Then, he started crusade against gods and defeated the god king Indra. He looted treasures of the gods and ruled Eden. Being helpless and powerless Indra and other gods went to Lord Brahma for help. Lord Brahma expressed his helplessness and advised to go to lord Vishnu for help. The gods went to lord Vishnu but he too expressed his inability to beat the demon but told the gods to take the help of lord Shiva. All gods including Brahma and Vishnu went to beg help from Lord Shiva to destroy Tripurasur and his non-destroyable towns.
Brahma, Vishnu and all gods explained their grief to lord Shiva and prayed him to ruin Tripurasur and his towns. Shiva agreed to lead the war against the demon. He ordered a special chariot to executed demon Tripurasur. Chariot was made of earth; wheel was made of sun and moon. Lord Vishnu himself became arrow of Shiva's arch and Lord Brahma became the charioteer. Once he was prepared, he led the gods along with Brahma, Vishnu and Indra to the war. On reaching the place, he took the Rudra (angry) roop (form and pose) and demolished all the devils with one arrow. After the battle was over, all the gods went to the Himalayas to rest. Then lord Shiva began meditation and when he opened his eyes, tears from his eyes fell over Sitsail hill. After some time, these grew into trees later and fruits grew on the trees over time, which were known as rudraksh beads.
Another religious text Shiva Mahapuran, mentions another story behind the creation of rudraksh. Once Parvati the divine consort of Lord Shiva asked lord Shiva about the origin of Rudraksha. On hearing her question Shiva said that he did penance for a thousand years. Tired of keeping his eyes closed for so long, he opened them. At that time, a few of his 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. When he woke up from meditation, he opened his eyes and instantly tear drops fell on the earth. On reaching earth, tear drops took the form of a seed which later grew into Rudraksha tree.
Another ancient story explains the origin of Rudraksha as the result of lord Shiva’s grief. The myth says that once upon a time, 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 his wife, "Gauri". In doing so, he was crying and his tears were falling on the earth. These tears took the form of a seed and grew into Rudraksha tree.
Although there are many other different accounts regarding Rudrakshas in Shiv Puran and other Pauranic scriptures, one thing among them is common which says:-
"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. Ancient Vedic scriptures speak of different circumstances that led to the creation of Rudra but all are centred on Lord Shiva and tears falling from his eyes.
Types of Rudraksha
These magical beads are found in different types and not two are same in shape. That is why Rudraksha is differentiated into 1 to 27 categories based on facets or mukhs and have their own effects and properties.
Every Rudraksha has Mukhis which differ in numbers. A mukh or facet is a line or groove which crosses one end of Rudraksha to the other. These lines originate at the top which is called Brahma and this part connects the fruit to the tree. The middle portion is known as Vishnu and the bottom portion is known as Shiva, where the lines end.
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 available in different sizes but larger rudrakshas are more auspicious and effective ones (15mm and above) and have natural hole in it. The surface of an original bead is not over – thorny and has good hardness.