What are Mala Beads?
Mala Beads are a set of strung beads used for meditation, mindfulness, counting mantra, prayer, yoga & reflection.
Buddhist mala beads are traditionally made of wood, bone or seeds but can be made of any material. We use a selection of materials to make our malas including sandalwood, rosewood, bodhi beads, rudraksha and genuine gemstones.
We hand knot our malas and individually bless each one with the multiplying mantra OM RUCHIRA MANI PRAVARTAYA HUM
Mala is a Sanskrit word meaning garland. The Tibetan word for mala is threngwa.
Mala beads are sometimes referred to as prayer beads, rosary beads or Japa mala, japa is a Sanskrit word meaning “repeat internally”.
A mala necklace is made with 108 beads; this is an auspicious number as the Buddha spoke of 108 defilements (also known as afflictions or impure thoughts). After reciting 100 mantras eight extra mantras are recited to allow for any that were chanted when concentration lapsed.
The guru bead, also known as the mother bead, is usually a larger or more decorative bead and usually has 3 holes with a collar bead next to it. The guru bead is the 109th bead and is not counted during mantra recitation.
108 Tibetan prayer beads often have 3 extra beads known as “counter” beads placed at 27 bead intervals – these are to aid the mantra counting process (this is why some of our malas have 111 beads… 108 beads + 3 counter beads = 111 beads).
A mala counter can also be used to assist with mantra counting, we offer 2 types of counter –
108 Mala with End Beads / Tassel
We make our 108 bead mala necklaces with a choice of end beads or cotton tassel.
~ End Beads ~
The 3 end beads is our signature style mala, we were inspired to use these numbers symbolically from the Buddha’s teachings – the 3 Jewels (the Buddha, the Dharma & the Sangha) & the 6 Perfections (generosity, ethics, patience, enthusiastic perseverance, concentration & wisdom). The end bead malas are finished with either a snake knot or slide knot.
~ Tassel ~
We hand make all our tassels with 100% cotton thread, available in a variety of colours.
How to use Mala Beads
Mala beads are generally held in the left hand and used with gentleness and respect; they are sacred beads intended for spiritual practice.
One bead is counted for each recitation of the mantra, starting with the first bead next to the “guru” bead. The guru bead, or mother bead, is often larger and usually has 3 holes.
1. Start with the first bead next to the guru bead, recite the first mantra whilst holding the first bead between thumb and finger.
2. Pull the next bead towards you with your thumb and chant the mantra again; then repeat.
3. Tibetan mala beads often have 3 counter beads at 27 bead intervals. The counter bead is a good place to stop chanting and resume later. A mala counter can easily be used to indicate where you stopped counting as it neatly clips on between the beads. (Or a tassel mala counter can be used too).
4. After completing a full circuit of the mala flip the mala round 180 degrees and resume chanting with the beads in the opposite direction so as not to pass over the guru bead.
Our 108 mala necklaces are made with a choice of 2 knots: an adjustable slide knot or a traditional snake knot.
Adjustable slide knot
The slide knot moves up and down to adjust the tension of the mala beads.
All our mala bracelets are made with an adjustable slide knot.
Traditional Tibetan snake knot
The tension of the mala beads is fixed (we leave a 1cm+ gap in the thread to allow for moving the beads along whilst reciting mantra)
Most of our 108 mala product pages list which knot is used, if you have a knot preference please let us know at the time of ordering.
History of Mala Beads
The ancient tradition of using a string of beads for practicing meditative principles is believed to originate from India during the time of Shakyamuni Buddha (c. 563–483 B.C.).
Rosary beads are used throughout different cultures & religions for the repetition of prayers & mantras, for meditation, yoga and for calming & balancing the mind.
The mala beads are held in the hand, the motivation or intention is set, then one at a time the beads are used to chant, pray or say an affirmation.
The prayer beads help to focus concentration and keep the mind from wandering. A positive image, or deity, can be visualised at the same time as feeling the beads & chanting – involving body, speech & mind.