What are mala beads?
Malas (or garlands of prayer beads) originated in India and have been used in spiritual meditation for thousands of years. With its origins in Buddhism, Hinduism and yoga, it is believed that Indian seers began using mala beads in the 8th century BC to help focus while meditating and to recite mantras (prayers). Mala beads are often found in the form of necklaces and bracelets consisting of 108 beads, with most malas having a larger 109th bead at the centre of the design. This is known as a guru bead and acts as a marker for the start and end of a mantra or prayer cycle.
What are mala beads made out of?
Traditionally, the beads in a mala are made up of dried Rudraksha seeds. The Rudraksha tree is an evergreen tree that can be found in the Gangetic plain in the foothills of the Himalayas to Nepal, South and Southeast Asia, parts of Australia, Guam, and Hawaii. The seeds come from its inedible blueberry-like Rudraksha fruit and there are many legends connecting it with the Hindu deity, Shiva.
As each culture has their own types of prayer beads, other common materials used for mala include different types of woods, seeds and semi-precious stones. In modern times, crystals have been incorporated into mala to combine crystal healing properties with meditation and intention setting.
Why do malas have 108 beads?
In the yogic tradition, a full cycle of 108 repetitions is counted on the mala – hence, having 108 beads. Yoga Journal has listed a number of explanations as to why 108 is a sacred number. Some interpretations of the number include:
- 108 is regarded by Vedic mathematicians as the number of the wholeness of existence
- The Sanskrit alphabet comprises of 54 feminine and 54 masculine characters
- 108 Marma points cover the human body – these correspond to the 7 chakras
- Some believe there are 108 stages on the journey of the human soul
Where to buy malas in Australia?
Here is a list of 11 local small businesses in Australia that offer a fine selection of malas for sale.
Lush Mala Beads
Earth and Soul
Seeds of Wonder
I Love Chakra
Luna and Soul