What are Mala Beads?
Mala Beads are a set of strung beads for meditation, mindfulness, counting mantra, prayer, yoga & reflection.
Buddhist malas are traditionally made of wood, bone or seeds but can be made of any material. We use a selection of materials to make malas including sandalwood, 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”.
The Symbolism and Spiritual Significance of Mala Beads
Mala Beads embrace the essence of tranquility and mindfulness; they are a revered symbol of spiritual awakening.
From their intricate craftsmanship to the profound impact they impart on the wearer, they encapsulate a timeless beauty that resonates with both the seeker and the admirer.
The captivating allure and spiritual significance of a japa mala is deeply-rooted in the connection to meditation, intention-setting and mindfulness practices. Crafted with precision and imbued with sacred energies, a Mala has become synonymous with holistic living and introspection.
The spiritual potential and aesthetic magnificence of these sacred beads, transcends their role as mere adornments to becoming powerful conduits for inner peace and self-discovery.
How many beads in a Japa Mala?
A mala necklace has 108 beads; this is an auspicious number as the Buddha taught the 108 defilements (also known as afflictions or impure thoughts).
Chant 100 mantras, then chant the extra 8 to allow for lapses in concentration.
The guru bead, or mother bead, is often larger or more decorative 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 or “marker” beads. They feature at 27 bead intervals to help with mantra counting. This is why some of our malas have 111 beads… 108 beads + 3 counter beads = 111 beads.
A mala counter is a clip on, or looped, marker to assist with mantra counting, we offer 2 types of counter –
108 Mala with End Beads or Tassel
~ End Beads ~
The 3 end beads is our signature style mala inspired by the Buddhist teachings –
~ the 3 Jewels (the Buddha, the Dharma & the Sangha)
~ the 6 Perfections (generosity, ethics, patience, enthusiastic perseverance, concentration & wisdom)
A snake knot or slide knot completes the end bead mala design.
~ Tassel ~
We hand make all tassels with 100% cotton or pure silk thread, available in a range of colours.
~ Feather Tassel ~
We also offer a range of malas with a hand made cotton feather tassel. The feather is a symbol of protection, strength, celestial wisdom, honour, trust & freedom.
How to use Mala Beads
Hold the beads in the left hand and use with gentleness and respect; they are sacred beads intended for spiritual practice.
Count one bead 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 during chanting and resume later. A mala counter clips neatly between the beads to indicate where you stopped chanting. (Or a tassel mala counter can be used too).
4. Complete a full circuit of the mala, then flip the mala round 180 degrees and resume chanting in the opposite direction so as not to pass over the guru bead.
Please store your mala in a mala bag when not in use.
Treat your mala with gentleness, care and respect, they are sacred beads designed for mantra recitation, please don’t wash or wear whilst bathing or sleeping.
To cleanse mala beads please read “How to Cleanse Crystals”.
108 mala necklaces feature a choice of 2 knots: an adjustable slide knot or a traditional snake knot.
1. Adjustable slide knot
The slide knot moves up and down to adjust the tension of the mala beads.
All mala bracelets feature an adjustable slide knot.
2. Traditional Tibetan snake knot
The tension of the mala beads is fixed. There is a 1cm+ gap in the thread to move the beads along whilst reciting mantra (this gap also applies to malas with tassels).
If you have a knot preference please let us know at the time of ordering.
Mala Beads Meaning & History
The ancient tradition of using a string of beads for practicing meditative principles originates from India during the time of Shakyamuni Buddha (c. 563–483 B.C.).
Different cultures & religions use rosary beads for prayer & mantra, meditation, yoga and for calming & balancing the mind.
Hold the mala, set the motivation or intention, then one at a time use the beads to chant, pray or say an affirmation.
Prayer beads help to focus concentration and keep the mind from wandering. Visualise a positive image, or deity, at the same time as feeling the beads & chanting – involving body, speech & mind.
May you be filled with loving kindness