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What is Rudraksha ?

The term "Rudraksha" finds its etymological origins in the combination of "Rudra," signifying Lord Shiva—the revered Hindu deity responsible for all living beings, and "aksha," meaning eyes. Intriguing Hindu legends, as well as sacred texts like the Shivapuranas, recount the tale of Lord Shiva's profound meditation, during which He eventually opened His eyes. This act of awakening was so spiritually fulfilling that a solitary tear trickled from the divine eye of Shiva and, astonishingly, blossomed into the magnificent Rudraksha tree. It is firmly believed that adorning a Rudraksha bead bestows upon the wearer the divine protection of Lord Shiva.

The term "Rudraksha," derived from the Sanskrit words "Rudra" and "Akasha," roughly translates to "Rudra's eyes" in English, underscoring its connection to the tears of Lord Rudra or Shiva. These seeds hold a time-honored role as prayer beads in the realms of Hinduism and Buddhism. Rudraksha beads emanate from several species of towering, evergreen broad-leaved trees within the Elaeocarpus genus, with Elaeocarpus ganitrus being the primary species employed in the crafting of organic jewelry and malas.

Rudraksha beads, as a botanical product, encompass a composition of carbon, hydrogen, nitrogen, oxygen, and trace elements, forming a harmonious blend. Rigorous analysis conducted through C-H-N Analyzer and Gaschromatography has revealed their elemental composition: 50.031% carbon, 0.95% nitrogen, 17.897% hydrogen, and 30.53% oxygen.

The Rudraksha tree, classified scientifically as ELAEOCARPUS GANITRUX ROXUB and belonging to the TILLIACEAE family, is a grand and enduring evergreen species. Its habitat spans from the coastal regions to altitudes reaching up to 2,000 meters. This remarkable tree flourishes naturally and abundantly in tropical and subtropical zones, showcasing its perennial nature. These majestic trees typically attain heights ranging from 50 to 200 feet.

Common Names of Rudraksha across languages

  1. Sanskrit, Hindi & Marathi : Rudraksha

  2. Bengali: Rudrakaya

  3. Kannada: Rudrakshi

  4. Tamil: Akkamrudrakai

  5. Telugu: Rudraksha Halu

  6. English: Woodenbegar

According to old mythology " Siva Purana" that the favorites of Lord Siva , Rudraksha trees grow in Gouda Land which in present era is the area of the Gangetic Plain on the southern border area of Asia to the foothills of great Himalaya and middle area of Nepal. Thus, starting from Manila, passing through Myanmar, plains as well as low hills, its habitat extends to Bengal, Assam and adjoining north-eastern states, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Nepal. In present era Rudraksha trees are basically localized in Nepal and the southern part of Asia.

Although Rudraksha are grown and found in Nepal, these are mainly localized to the eastern part of Nepal due to climatic suitability.

Rudraksha Plant Elaeocarpus is a large genus of evergreen trees. It has nearly 36 sister species, including Rudraksha. All trees bearing white flowers with fringed petals developing into drupaceous fruit resembling olive. The main trunk of the Rudraksha tree is cylindrical. Its section is circular. The bark is grayish-white and rough in texture with small vertical lenticels and narrow horizontal furrows.

The branches of Rudraksha spread in all directions in such a way that when growing in a natural habitat, the crown takes the shape of a pyramid. The leaves of Rudraksha are shining green above and dull coriaceous below. The flowers are ovoid, conical, elongate, nearly 1 to 2 cm in diameter. These appear in April-May. The fruit is globose and drupaceous having a fleshy exterior. The inside of the bead is hard and tubercled. The fruit starts appearing in June and ripens by August to October.

General Information About Rudraksha Trees

  • Found at altitudes up to 3,000 meters above sea level.

  • Thrive in narrow openings rather than open ground.

  • Leaves resemble those of tamarind or nux vomica but are longer.

  • Produce one to two thousand fruits annually, which are often referred to as amritphal "Fruits of Nectar.

The below sections cover key information about Rudraksha:

1. Plantation & Care

Farming of Rudraksha is a difficult process due to its slow sprouting from the beads which usually takes about 1 to 2 years depending on the humidity of soil. Rudraksha is basically grown in subtropical climatic region with temperature ranges from 25 to 30 degree centigrade. Once Rudraksha are planted it starts giving fruit after 7 years and thereafter for long time.

In the single tree, Rudraksha beads comes in all different faces at the same time but higher mukhis or faces are vary rare to find where most of Rudraksha beads are five faces Rudraksha beads come in seasonal pattern every year around mid august to mid October from the tree.

The Himalayan Beads simply seem to be larger, heavier, and more powerful due to the environment they grow in. So it is a certainty that the environment and specifically the location of the Rudraksha Trees plays a key role in their growth. Rudraksha trees are easy to grow and once established, a Rudraksha tree will last for years with a little care.

2. Local Belief & Benefits

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.

3. 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. If somebody who has mastery over negative energies wants to use it, so many things – extreme suffering and even death can be caused. A Rudraksha is a kind of shield against this.

4. Spiritual use

Rudraksha beads are the material from which malas or Rosery are made. The term is used both for the berries themselves and as a term for the type of mala made from them. In this sense, a Rudraksha is a rosary, used for repetitive prayer (japa), a common aid to worship in Hinduism and Buddhism. Rudrakshas is also used for the treatment of various diseases in traditional Indian medicine.

Seeds show variation in the number of grooves or compartments or MUKHI’S on their surface, and are classified on the basis of the number of divisions they have. Different qualities are attributed to Rudraksha based on the number of grooves, or "faces" that it has. A common type has Five divisions or five mukh, and these are considered to be symbolic of the five faces of Shiva. It can only be worn with a black or red string or, rarely, a gold chain.

Rudraksha malas have been used by Hindus and Buddhists as rosaries from at least the 10th century for meditation purposes and to sanctify the mind, body, and soul. The word rudraksha is derived from Rudra (Shiva—the Hindu god of all living creatures) and aksha (eyes).

One Hindu legend says that once Lord Shiva opened His eyes after a long period yogic meditation, and because of extreme fulfillment He shed a tear. This single tear from Shiva’s eye grew into the Rudraksha tree. It is believed that by wearing the Rudraksha bead one will have the protection of Lord Shiva. The Rudraksha fruit is blue in colour but turns black when dried. The central hard rudraksha uni-seed may have 1 to 24 faces But the species found in INDONESIA reported from 1 mukhi & up to 38 MUKHIS.

5. References in Hindu Mythology

Creation of the Rudraksha tree from the tears of grief shed by Shankar (or Shiva) upon seeing the unrighteous conduct of demon Tarakasur’s sons, and their destruction by Shiva :

Through their righteous conduct and devotion to Shiva, Tarakasur’s sons Tadinmali, Tarakaksh and Kamalaksh, attained divinity. After some time, seeing that they have returned to their original unrighteous conduct, Shankar was grief-stricken, and His eyes were filled with tears.

A few of these tears fell onto the earth; a tree sprang up from these, which came to be known as the Rudraksha tree. Later, Shiva destroyed the sons of Tarakasur. That’s why people have a very much believe in these RUDRAKSHA BEADS.

6. Significance of RUDRAKSHA MALAS

Usually, the beads of Rudraksha are strung together as a Mala. Traditionally, it is believed that the number of beads used should be 108 plus one. The extra bead is the bindu or MERU PARVAT. If the mālā lacks a bindu OR MERU PARVAT, the energy is said to become cyclical and wearers who are sensitive may become dizzy.

When the beads are stringed, it is advised that they be strung with either a silk thread or cotton thread. If the Rudraksha is threaded, it is advised to change the thread every six months to prevent the thread from snapping and the 109 beads from scattering. The rudraksha mala may also be strung with either copper, silver or Gold typically by a jeweler. A common issue with malas wired with such metals is the mala being tied too tightly. This may result in the insides of the rudraksha seeds cracking and crumbling from excessive pressure. Thus, it is necessary to ensure that the mala is tied loosely.

The mala can be worn all the time, including when showering. When bathing in cold water baths without chemical soaps it is beneficial for the water to flow over it and upon the body. Wearing the mala while in contact with chemical soaps and warm water is best avoided, however, as it can result in the Rudraksha becoming brittle and eventually cracking

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