Rudraksha beads bear a great spiritual, religions and materialistic significance. As per Hindu belief system, Rudraksha is symbol of link between earth and heaven. It is believed that it contains the secrets of evolution of entire cosmos within itself (Chaturvedi B K, 2004). For centuries, the Hindu sages believe that one can cultivate mental, physical and spiritual prowess to attain fearlessness to achieve the ultimate enlightenment (Seetha K N, 2008). Shiva Purana has highlighted divine properties of Rudraksha beads. It channelizes positive flow of energy and leaves a rejuvenating and calming impression on our mind and body. Hence, it is worshipped and worn for seeking benevolence of Lord Shiva and the benefits it holds.
Rudraksha tree is common name of the 300 species of Elaeocarpus ganitrus, 35 are found in the Gangetic plain in the foothills of the Himalayas to Nepal, South and Southeast Asia, parts of Australia, Guam, and Hawaii. Rudraksha (dried herbal fruit), chemically contain alkaloids, flavonoids, tannins, steroids, triterpenes, carbohydrates, and cardiac glycosides.
Scientific studies have been conducted world-wide and discovered that Rudraksha due to its Electro-Magnetic properties works magically on our body. A scientific study reported that the electromagnetic properties of Rudraksha beads activate body’s energy wheel, which in turn influences the bioelectrical properties of human body and heals various chronic diseases like blood pressure, heart rate, diabetes, gynaecological problem, neurological disorders, mental problem, insomnia and rheumatism. The Rudraksha have been found to balance/neutralize any excess charge deposited on human body.
One of the best-known research papers was published by Dr. Suhas Roy of the prestigious Indian Institute of Technology in Banaras, India. Dr. Roy's research confirmed that the healing powers of Rudraksha beads flow from their electro-magnetic properties. When Rudraksha beads are placed over the heart, they act to stabilize the heartbeat. Similar to magnets, the beads work on the principle of Dynamic Polarity. Blood circulation and heart beat automatically induce a magnetic field around the body and particularly the heart region. Depending on the polarity and intensity of this induced magnetic field, Rudraksha beads transmit subtle electrical and inductive impulses with opposing polarity and intensity. Accordingly, a proportionate balancing force is exerted on the heart to regulate it if it starts beating above or below normal rates. This action helps to ensure ideal blood circulation in the body.
Scientific researches have concluded that Rudraksha beads are anti-asthmatic, anti-depressant, anti-anxiety, anti-diabetic, anti-inflammatory, anti-convulsant, anti-hypertensive, anti-microbial, anti-ulcerogenic, anti-oxidant, analgesic, etc.
Rudraksha finds mention in Hindu texts – Upanishads, Shiva Purana etc. In Shiva Purana, it is mentioned that after performing penance for thousands of divine years, when Shiva opened the eyes, drops of tears which cropped up the Rudrakṣa plants. These Rudrakṣas are of auspicious nature.
The colours of the four types of Rudrakṣas are respectively white, red, yellow and black which are worn according to their own Varna (Brahmin, Kshatriya, Vaishya and Shudra respectively). The Rudrakṣa of the size of an Emblic myrobalan (awla) is excellent; one of the sizes of the fruit of the jujube tree (bair) is medium class; one of the sizes of a gram is lower class. (7-15)
That which is of the size of the emblic myrobalan is conducive to the destruction of all distresses. That which is of the size of the berry is conducive to the achievementof the fruit of all desires. The lighter the Rudrakṣa, the more fruitful it is. The wearing of Rudrakṣa is recommended for the sake of destroying sins. Six types of Rudrakṣas shall be discarded - that which is defiled by worms, is cut and broken, has no thorn like protrusions, has cracks and is not circular. That which has a natural hole from end to end is the most excellent; that which is bored through by human effort is the middling one. (17-23)
Rudrakṣas based of faces are of various types as under (63-82):
Rudraksas should be worn after being consecrated with the mantra. All evil spirits, ghosts, witches like Dakini and Sakini, other malignant spirits, evil charms and spells etc. fly away on seeing a man with the garland of Rudrakṣas. Seeing a devotee with the garland of Rudrakṣas, Shiva, Viṣhṇu, Devi, Gaṇapati, the sun and all the deities are pleased. (Shiv Purana - Vidhyeshwara Samhita chapter 25 Shloka 84-86).
If eleven hundred Rudrakṣas are worn on the person, the man assumes the form of Rudra. A devout man shall make a coronet consisting of five hundred and fifty Rudrakṣas. A person of pious nature shall make three circular strings in the manner of the sacred thread, each having three hundred and sixty beads. Rudrakṣas must be worn on the tuft, the ears, round the neck; round each of the arms, elbows and wrists. (Shiv Purana - Vidhyeshwara Samhita chapter 25 Shloka 28-30)
Rudraksas shall be worn on the head repeating “Ishana” mantra; on the ears with “Tripuruṣa” mantra; round the neck with “Aghora” mantra and on the chest; round the forearms with “Aghora Bija” mantra; round the stomach with “Vamadeva” mantra. Or all beads of Rudraksas can be worn with the “Panchakshara” mantra. (Shiv Purana - Vidhyeshwara Samhita chapter 25 Shloka 40-42)
A devotee of Shiva shall refrain from eating meat, garlic, onion, red garlic, potherb, Sleṣmataka and liquors. (Shiv Purana - Vidhyeshwara Samhita chapter 25 Shloka 43)
People of all Varṇas and asramas even women can wear Rudrakṣa at the bidding of Shiva. The ascetics shall wear it with the Praṇava. (Shiv Purana - Vidhyeshwara Samhita chapter 25 Shloka 47)
Those who wear Tripuṇḍra, the matted hair and the Rudrakṣa do not go to Yama’s abode. (Shiv Purana - Vidhyeshwara Samhita chapter 25 Shloka 49)
Reference: Shiv Purana - Vidhyeshwara Samhita chapter 25 Shlokas
When the great lord of asuras Shumbha was slain there by the Devi, Indra and other devas led by Agni, with their object fulfilled and their cheerful faces illumining the quarters, praised her, (Katyayani).
The Devas said (Chapter – 11):
‘O Devi, you who removes the sufferings of your suppliants, be gracious. Be propitious, O Mother of the whole world. Be gracious, O Mother of the universe. Protect the universe. You are, O Devi, the ruler of all that is moving and unmoving. You are the sole substratum of the world because you subsist in the form of the earth. By you, who exists in the shape of water, all this (universe) is gratified, O Devi of inviolable valour!
You are the power of Vishnu and have endless valour. You are the primeval maya, which is the source of the universe; by you all this (universe) has been thrown into an illusion. O Devi, if you become gracious, you become the final cause of emancipation of the world.
Salutation to you, O Devi Narayani, you who abides as intelligence in the hearts of all creatures and bestows enjoyment and liberation. You who, in the form of minutes, moments and other divisions of time, brings about change in things, and have (thus) the power to destroy the universe. You who are the good of all good, O auspicious Devi, who accomplish every object, the giver of refuge, O three eyed Gauri! You who have the power of creation, sustenance and destruction and are eternal. You are the substratum and embodiment of the three gunas. You who intent on saving the dejected and distressed that take refuge under you O you, Devi, who removes the sufferings of all!
Salutation to you, O Narayani, you who are good fortune, modesty, great wisdom, faith, nourishment, and Svadha, you who are immovable O you, great Night and great Illusion.
Salutation to you, O Narayani, you who are intelligence and Sarasvati, O best one, prosperity, consort of Vishnu, dark one, the great nature, be propitious. O Queen of all, you who exist in the form of all, and possess every might, save us from error, O Devi.
Salutation to you, Devi Durga! May this benign countenance of yours adorned with three eyes, protect us from all fears.
When satisfied, you destroy all illness but when wrathful you put an end to all the longed-for desires. No calamity befalls men who have sought you. Those who have sought you become verily a refuge of others. Who is there other than you in the sciences, in the scriptures, and in the Vedic sayings to light the lamp of discrimination? (Still) you cause this universe to whirl about again and again within the dense darkness of the depths of attachment. Where raksasas and snakes of virulent poison (are), where foes and hosts of robbers (exist), where forest conflagrations (occur), there and in the mid-sea, you stand and save the world. O Queen of the universe, you protect the universe. As the self of the universe, you support the universe. You are the (goddess) worthy to be adored by the Lord of the universe. Those who bow in devotion to you themselves become the refuge of the universe. O Devi, be pleased and protect us always from fear of foes, as you have done just now by the slaughter of asuras. And quickly destroy the sins of all worlds and the great calamities, which have sprung from the maturing of evil portents. O Devi you who remove the afflictions of the universe, be gracious to us who have bowed to you. O you worthy of adoration by the dwellers of the three worlds, be boon giver to the worlds.’
The Devi said, ‘O Devas, I am prepared to bestow a boon. Choose whatever boon you desire in your mind, for the welfare of the world. I shall grant it.
The devas said, ‘O Queen of all, in this same manner, you must destroy all our enemies and all the afflictions of three worlds.’
Devi said: -
When the twenty-eighth age has arrived, in the Vaivasvata Manvantara, two others great Asuras shall be born, Shumbha and Nishumbha. Then born as the offspring of Yasoda’s womb in the cowherd Nanda’s house, and dwelling on the Vindhya mountains, I will destroy them both. And again, becoming incarnate in a very terrible form on the face of the earth, I will slay the Vaipracitta Danavas; and when I devour those fierce and great Vaipracitta Asuras, my teeth shall become red like the flowers of the pomegranate. Hence the gods in Svarga and men in the world of mortals praising me shall always talk of me as “Red-toothed (Raktdandika).” Men will therefore call me Nandaja.
And again, after a period of a hundred years during which rain shall stop, praised by the munis I shall be born, but not womb-begotten, on the earth. Then because I shall behold the munis with a hundred eyes, mankind shall therefore celebrate me as “Hundred-eyed.” Next, I shall support the whole world with the life-sustaining vegetables, which shall grow out of my own body, during a period of heavy rain. I shall gain fame on the earth then as Sakambhari (Shatakshi); and in that very period, I shall slay the great Asura named Durgama. I shall be called as Durga. When Aruṇakṣa shall work great trouble in the three worlds, I shall take a bee-like form, the form of innumerable bees, and shall slay the great Asura. Since I shall be taking the form of a bee and killing the demon Aruṇa, men will glorify me as Bhramari. Again, I shall take a terrible form and devour the Rakṣasas. I shall then be famous as Bhima Devi. Whenever there is harassment caused by the Asuras I shall surely incarnate and work for your welfare.
Thus, whenever trouble shall arise caused by the Danavas, at each such time I shall become incarnate and accomplish the foes’ destruction.
Devi said (Chapter 12):
And whoever with mind composed shall praise me constantly with these hymns, I will quiet down every trouble for him assuredly. And those who shall celebrate the destruction of Madhu and Kaiṭabha, the slaughter of the Asura Mahiṣa, and the slaying of Shumbha and Nishumbha likewise; and those also who shall listen in faith to this poem of my sublime majesty on the eighth day of the lunar fortnight, on the fourteenth and on the ninth, with intent mind, to them shall happen no wrong-doing whatever, nor calamities that arise from wrong-doing, nor poverty, nor indeed deprivation of their desires. Never shall he experience fear from enemies, from robbers, nor from kings, nor from weapon or fire or water-flood. Hence this poem of my majesty must be read by men of composed minds and listened to by them always with faith, for it is the supreme course of blessings. Now may this poem of my majesty quell all kinds of calamities, which arise from grievous pestilence, and the three-fold portent.
Where this poem is duly read constantly at my sanctuary, I will never forsake that place, and there my presence is fixed. At the offering of the sacrifice (Bali), and during worship, in the ceremonies with fire, and at a great festival, all this story of my exploits must verily be proclaimed and listened to. I will accept with kindliness both the “Bali” worship that is paid, and the oblation by fire that is offered, by him who understands or him who understands not. And at the great annual worship that is performed in autumn time, the man, who listens filled with faith to this poem of my majesty, shall assuredly through my favour be delivered from every trouble, and be blessed with riches, grain, and children. From listening to this poem of my majesty moreover come splendid issues and prowess in battles, and a man becomes fearless.
When men listen to this poem of my majesty, enemies pass to destruction, and prosperity accrues, and their family rejoices. Let a man listen to this poem of my majesty everywhere, at a ceremony for securing tranquility, and after seeing an ill-dream and when planets are greatly eclipsed. Thereby portents turn into calm, and dreadful eclipses of the planets, and an ill-dream which men have seen; and a sweet dream appears. It produces peacefulness in children who have been possessed by the demon that seizes children, and it is the best promoter of friendship among men when union is dissolved; it is the most potent diminisher of the power of all men of ill livelihood; verily through reading it, comes the destruction of Rakṣasas, goblins and Pisachas. All this poem of my majesty brings a man near unto me. And by means of cattle, flowers, arghya offerings and incenses, and by the finest perfumes and lamps, by feasts given to brahmins, by oblations, by sprinkled water day and night, and by various other objects of enjoyment, by gifts yearly— the favour which comes by such means, such favour is won from me when this story of my noble exploits is once heard. When heard it takes away sins and confers perfect health.
This celebration of me preserves created beings from future births, even this story of my exploits in battles, the annihilation of the wicked Daityas. When it is heard, no fear, that is caused by enmity, springs up among men. And the hymns which have composed, and those composed by brahmin ṛiṣhis, and those composed by Brahma bestow a splendid mind. He who is surrounded by a raging fire in a forest or on a lonesome road, or who is encompassed by robbers in a desolate spot, or who is captured by enemies, or who is-prowled after by a lion or tiger or by wild elephants in a forest, or who is under the command of an enraged king, or who is sentenced to death, or who has fallen into bonds, or who is whirled around by the wind, or who stands in a ship in the wide sea, or, who is in the most dreadful battle with weapons falling upon him, or who is afflicted with pain amidst all kinds of terrible troubles— such a man on calling to mind this story of my exploits is delivered from his strait. Through my power lions and other dangerous beasts, robbers, and enemies, from a distance indeed, flee from him who calls to mind this story of my exploits.
The Rishi said:
Having, spoken thus the adorable Chaṇḍika, who is fierce in prowess, vanished there, while the gods were gazing indeed on her. The gods also relieved from fear, their foes being slain, all resumed their own dominions as before, participating in their shares of sacrifices.
And the Daityas—when Shumbha, that most fierce foe of the gods, who brought ruin on the world and who was peerless in prowess, had been slain by the goddess in fight, and Nishumbha also great in valour was slain —all came to Patala.
Thus, that adorable goddess, although- everlasting, yet taking birth again and again, accomplishes the safeguarding of the world, O king. By her this universe is bewitched she verily gives birth to the universe. And when besought, she bestows knowledge; when gratified, she bestows prosperity.
All this egg of Brahma, O king, is pervaded by her, who is Mahakali at Mahakala, and who has the nature of the Great Destroying Goddess. She indeed is Mahamari at the fated time; she indeed is creation, the Unborn; she indeed the Eternal gives stability to created beings at theirs fated time. She indeed is Lakṣhmi, bestowing prosperity on the houses of men while she abides with them; and she indeed when she is absent becomes the goddess of Fortune unto their destruction. When hymned and worshipped with flowers, and with incense, perfumes, and other offerings, she bestows wealth and sons, and a mind brilliant in righteousness.
The ṛiṣhi said (Chapter 13):
I have now related to you, O king, this sublime poem the Devi-mahatmya. Such majestic power has the goddess, by whom this world is upheld. Moreover, knowledge is conferred by her who is the adorable Vishnu’s Illusive power. By her you and this vaishya and other men of discrimination, and celebrated men are bewitched; and others shall become bewitched. Go unto her, the supreme queen, as to a place of refuge, O great king. She indeed, when propitiated by men, bestows enjoyment, Svarga and final emancipation from existence.
Having heard this his speech, king Suratha fell prostrate before the illustrious ṛiṣhi who performed severe penances, and being down-cast by his excessive regard for self and by the deprivation of his kingdom, went forthwith to perform austerities; and the vaishya, O great muni, in order to get a vision of Amba, took up his station on a sand-bank in a river; and the vaishya practiced austerities, muttering the sublime hymn to the goddess. They both made an earthen image of the goddess on that sandbank, and paid worship to it with flowers, incense, fire and libations of water. Abstaining from food, restricting their food, concentrating their minds on her, keeping their thoughts composed, they both offered the sacrifice (Bali), offering also sprinkled with blood drawn from their own limbs. When they continued with subdued souls to propitiate her thus for three years, Chaṇḍika, who upholds the world, well-pleased spoke in visible shape.
The goddess spoke:
What do you solicit, O king, and you rejoicer of your family, receive all that from me; I shall bestow it.
Then the king chose a kingdom that should not perish in another life, and in this life his own kingdom wherein the power of his enemies should be destroyed by force. Then the vaishya also, whose mind was down-cast, chose knowledge, — to be wise, knowing ‘what is mine,’ and ‘what I am,’— knowledge that causes the downfall of worldly attachments.
The goddess spoke:
O king, you shall obtain thine own kingdom in a very few days, after slaying thine enemies; it shall be steadfast for you there; and when dead, you shall gain another life from the god “Vivasvat, and shalt be a Manu on earth, by name Savarṇika. And O excellent vaishya, I bestow on you the boon which you has sought of me; knowledge shall be yours upto full perfection.
Having thus given them both the boon that each desired, the goddess vanished forthwith, while extolled by them both in faith. Having thus gained the boon from the goddess, Suratha the noble kṣattriya shall obtain a new birth through the Sun and shall be the Manu Savarṇi.
Bija Akshara Mantra
A japa of a mantra. A mantra has a rishi who gave it to the world, a meter, which governs the inflection of the voice and a devata, or supernatural being higher or lower, as its informing power. The bija, seed is a significant word or series of words, which gives it a special power. In Kaliyuga, japa is the easiest way to the realization of God. The mode of repetition of a mantra with feeling and in a particular manner, a definite number of times, with right observances, until a fixed number of japa is reached, in order to obtain substantial benefit out of the mantra, is called purashcarana. The practitioner has to observe certain rules and regulations in regard to purashcarana and has to undergo a perfect dietetic discipline, also in accordance wth those injunctions. The mantra when it is mentally recited in this manner will bring to the sadhaka all that he desires within its jurisdiction (provided it is spiritual and for the welfare of humanity).
The sadhaka should sit facing either the east or north, during japa. During nights, he must face north. Padma, siddha, swastika, sukha or vir asana is recommended for japa. Cotton cloth, silk, deer skin or tiger skin most preferred should be used as seat, which will bring saubhagya, jnana and early siddhi.
It should be borne in mind, that japa done during the time of solar or lunar eclipses will produce a tremendous effect and hence, this rara opportunity should not be missed by anybody, whenever it offers itself. During the six seasons of the year, one should perform japa, before noon, at noon, after noon, at midnight, in the early morning and in the evening respectively.
The japa of amantra reduces the force of sankalpa. It attenuates the mind. The mind becomes thread-like (state of tanumanasi), the third Bhumika or stage of jnana). It fills the mind with sattva guna, peace, purity and strength. It develops the will-force.
Suka, Sanaka and preferred sages, endowed with great powers of Yoga, enjoyed the Bliss of the supreme by the power of nama. Narada, Prahlada, Sri Hanuman, Sri Sita Devi, Ajamila, Gajendra, Ganika etc. attained moksha by the efficacy of the Divine name.
Japa is a very great purifier. It checks the force of the thoughts current moving towards objects. It forces the mind towards God, towards the attainment of the Eternal. Japa eventually helps in obtaining darshan of God. Japa regulates the unsteady vibrations of five sheaths. Japa changes the mind-stuff from worldliness to spirituality, from rajas and activity to sattva and illumination.
Seed Sanskrit syllables (bijakṣara) are the quintessence of mantra, containing infinite meaning in a single syllable. Regular chanting of beej mantra in the prescribed way can help enhance the spiritual powers of people and enable them see the true light in front of them leading their journeys. Like a seed transform from a tiny speck into a mature, complex plant, these simple-sound seeds within us form the foundation of mighty growth and spiritual evolution.
Mantras harnesses the mind in order to connect with the inner self and, thus, the divine. Chants of mantras create thought-energy waves, and the organism vibrates in tune with the energy and spiritual appeal of a chant. Scientists say that when a mantra is chanted rhythmically, it creates a neuro-linguistic effect. Such an effect occurs even if the meaning of the mantra is not known.
Some bija mantras are made up of compound letters, such as the mantra Hrim. The bijas of the mahabhutas or elements i.e., of the devata or the presiding intelligence of the elements, viz. ether, air, fire, water and earth, are respectively Ham, Yam, Ram, Vam and Lam. Panchadasi or panchasakshari mantra is of 15 letters. Shodashi or Sodasakshari mantra is of 16 letters.
Reference: Voice of Babaji – by V T Neelakantan, S A A Ramaiah, Babaji Nagaraj