Malas & Jewelry

 

Prayer or Meditation beads have been traditionally used in many cultures and faiths, such as: Hinduism, Buddhism, Catholicism, Islam, Sikhism and still others. The number of stones or beads corresponds directly to the tradition it is designed for.

 

In Hinduism, Buddhism and Yogic tradition Malas (or Japa beads) are stones, seeds, beads, wood or bone strung together in specific numbers (usually 108, as there is a great significance to that number) and used for meditation, reciting mantras, or words of power, prayers, affirmations. The large Guru (Meru - Mountain) bead represents the beginning and the end of the Mala when counting repetitions.

 

Some interpretations on the significance of the number 108:

  • Said to be the number of the wholeness of existence

  • The Sanskrit alphabet has 54 letters. Each letter has a masculine (Shiva) and feminine (Shakti) energy (54 x 2 = 108)

  • There are said to be 108 earthly desires in mortals.

  • It is said we have 108 feelings (36 related to the past, 36 related to the present, and 36 related to the future).

  • Astrology. There are 12 constellations and 9 arc segments. There are 12 houses and 9 planets. (12 x 9 = 108)

  • The diameter of the sun is 108 times the earth.

  • The average distance of the Sun and the Moon to Earth is 108 times their respective diameters

  • There are 108 Upanishads and Marma points (sacred places of the body)

  • From the heart there are 108 main nadis (veins) going from the heart to the extremities.

  • It is believed that there are 108 pithas, or sacred sites, throughout India.

  • A bell is chimed 108 times in Buddhist temples in Japan to finish the old year and welcome the new one.

  • In Yoga, Sun salutations are often performed in nine rounds of the 12 postures which totals 108 poses.

 

Other types of Prayer Beads:

  • Prayer or worry beads also called Misbaha, Tasbih, or Subha, In Islam, are strung with 99 beads representing each name of Allah. Some consist of 33 beads relating to a hadith that calls on Muslims, after they have prayed, to repeat subhanallah (glorious is God) 33 times, alhamdulillah (all praise be to God) 33 times and Allahu Akbar (God is great) 33 times. 

  • Catholic rosaries are made with five decades (sets of ten beads), divided by larger beads, with a set of five beads and a crucifix attached at one point. This resulted in a total of 59 beads, plus the crucifix.

  • Eastern Orthodox prayer ropes consist of 33, 50, or 100 either knots or beads, the most common being 100 (three sets of 33 plus a connector/pendant). There are rare ones that have 150, 300, or 500. Many have a tassel attached for the purpose of drying tears. They are also sometimes called “Chotki.”

  • Oriental Orthodox ropes have 41, 64, or 100 beads.

  • Anglican prayer beads have 33, divided into four groups of seven with larger beads dividing the groups.

  • Protestant sets usually consist of 34 beads plus a pendant: four groups of seven divided by larger beads, plus a ‘tail’ of two beads culminating in the pendant.