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Rudraksha

From times immemorial Rudraksha beads have been worn and worshipped by sadhaks for their spiritual and bio-medical properties. They come in various facets or mukhis. These beads have found mention in ancient literatures like Shiva Puran, Rudrakashabalopnishad and Shri Gurucharitra. The science behind Rudraksha beads was well understood and respected by the Vedic Rishis. Today unfortunately, as is true with any spiritual subject including Yog, people for their own selfish and commercial interests have introduced a lot of misconceptions around these beads. A buyer comes across large quantities of rudraksha beads of various facets at enormous rates but without any proof of their authenticity.

Based on years of exploration and experience, we bring you information on rudraksha beads from authentic sources. According to Shiva Puran, rudraksha trees, the favourites of Lord Shiva, grow in Gouda Land. In the present era, it is the area of the gangetic plain on the southern border of Asia to the foothills of the great Himalayas and middle area of Nepal.

The Legend

According to the ancient text Devi Bhagwat Puran, there was a demon known as Tripurasur who was very strong and had Divine energy and power. Due to these qualities he became proud and started to trouble deities and sages. No one was able to defeat this strong demon in war. On seeing his immoral actions Lord Brahma, Lord Vishnu and other deities prayed to the Lord of Lords Mahadev Shiva to destroy the evil Tripurasur. Lord Shiva closed his eyes and meditated for some time. When he opened his lotus-shaped eyes, tears fell from them onto the earth. Wherever his tears fell, a rudraksha tree grew. The fruits that grow on this tree are known as rudraksha beads. Lord Shiva then used his lethal, divine weapon known as Aghor and destroyed Tripurasur.

According to another ancient text Shiva Mahapuran, Mata Parvati asked Lord Shiva about the origin of the rudraksha. Lord Shiva answered that he had done penance for a thousand years. Tired of keeping his eyes closed for so long Lord Shiva opened his eyes and tears fell from them and from these tears the rudraksha tree was born. The seeds of the tree were distributed on the earth. Hence the word rudraksha comes from two Sanskrit words ‘rudra’, a synonym for Lord Shiva and ‘aksha’ meaning tears.

Botanical Background

Rudraksha is a fruit of the plant Elaeocarpus angustifolius. 360 species are known worldwide under the genus Elaeocarpus including rudraksha. Elaeocarpus species are found in Nepal, India, Indonesia, Sri Lanka, Tibet, China, Australia, South America and South Africa.

Today there are three types of rudraksha available- Nepalese type (the most popular), Indonesian and the Indian. In the world market of rudraksha, 75 percent are from Indonesia, 20 per cent from India and other countries, and barely 5 per cent from Nepal. Nepalese rudraksha are hard, compact and look very beautiful due to their high lustre. However, these are rare and costly. Indonesian rudraksha are smaller in size in comparison to the Nepalese beads. Clefts in these beads are inconspicuous and their malas are convenient to wear. The lndia round rudraksha generally lack lustre and are commonly known as Indian rough beads.

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 environment and specifically, the location of the rudraksha trees plays a key role in their growth and properties. Rudraksha trees are easy to grow, and once established, a rudraksha tree will last for years with little tending.

It’s not a seed

Rudraksha is not a seed, but a fruit. The fresh fruits of rudraksha are deep blue in colour and look magnificent. Therefore the rudraksha plant is also popularly known as the blue marble fruit plant. Its beautiful colour is not caused by any plant pigment, but is due to the microstructural character of the cuticle and light interference. The blue colour is because of the reflection of light from the cuticle. This phenomenon is very rare in the plant kingdom.

As the fruits mature, this blue colour slowly changes to deep grey to black. The dark coloured fruits are soaked in water for a few days to soften the fibrous fruit skin. After removing this dark cover, we get the hard, stony endocarp of the fruit that we know as the rudraksha bead.

Rudraksha are of four colours: sandy white, yellowish, reddish brown and black. However they can also be of mixed colours. They also have varying facets or mukhis, which may vary from 1 to 24. The total number of seeds present in a rudraksha fruit are generally equivalent to total number of mukhis (clefts). Rudraksha having 27, 32 and 34 facets have also been recently reported.

Large variations in the shape and size have been observed in rudraksha. Very rarely, naturally joined beads are also available. Ishwar or Brahma, Gauri-Shankar, Ganesh-Gauri, Shiva-Ganesh, and Trijuti or Gauripath are examples of such naturally joined beads.

Biomedical properties

The seed of the rudraksha tree is credited to possess mystical and divine properties. Necklaces made of rudraksha beads are considered auspicious as well as powerful, and are supposed to have profound astrological and health benefits. According to ancient thought, rudrakasha beads have several amazing powers to cure the human body medically as well as spiritually.

Scientifically, the rudrakasha beads are dielectric as they store electrical energy and also possess permanent magnetic properties. The dielectric and magnetic properties of the rudraksha seeds impart positive charges in the bioelectrical system of the human body in a life­-supporting manner. As a result, the electrical make-up of the body changes.

These beads also have the property of diamagnetism. Diamagnetism is the phenomenon wherein a material acquires temporary magnetic property in the presence of an external magnetic field. Therefore, the rudraksha beads can induce holistic healing.

Though the powerful effect of the rudraksha beads has been a known phenomenon in Vedic knowledge, it is only since the late eighties that their effect has been more widely acknowledged, after the research done by a group of scientists led by Dr Subas Rai, of the Institute of Technology, University of Benaras, India.

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