Welcome to Sacred Beads from Sacred India

Greetings from us to you. Welcome to Sacred Beads from Sacred India. We are Pauline and Paul, and you can learn all you need to know about us on the Sacred Beads from Sacred India: An Intro page, or the Who are Pauline and Paul? page.

Sacred Beads from Sacred India grew out of what we have called our Journey of Healing. Which is to say, we have decided to reach out for a more authentic life based on spiritual values, service to Life wherever and whenever we are able, as well as meaningful connection with other people and with the world. With all that in mind, we recently spent five months in India, mainly in the wonderful holy town of Rishikesh right on the Ganges.

While there, but especially in Rishikesh, we fell in love with Mala, or beads used for prayer and chanting by a range of religious groups, including Buddhists and Hindus. In addition, these Mala, dazzled us with the huge range of beautiful gemstones and crystals they are made from.

So, to cut a long story short, we Continue reading

What does OM mean? What is it used for? And why is it so powerful?

A number of religious traditions believe that it was a word that brought the Universe into being. In the Christian Bible for example we read:

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the word was God

Similarly, Hindus believe that Brahman (the absolute reality, the essence of the Universe and that which brought all that exists into being) saw that it was one, but questioned:

May I become many?

In other words, the creator was questioning its ability to create. This question started a vibration which eventually became a sound: OM (sometimes written as AUM). And it is this sound that initiated the creation of the physical universe.

Om for my BoyOM is the primordial sound which is said to hold all of creation as well as being all of creation. It is God, and contains God. As such it is used in so many mantras as the first word or syllable. It is also called the smallest mantra.

A mantra is a sacred sound consisting of a word, or set of words and is usually repeated (often with the help of Mala or Prayer Beads) as a means of improving concentration and focusing the mind in meditation.

Using OM as a standalone mantra may have many other benefits apart from aiding in meditation. It is said that chanting OM for even ten minutes can calm the mind, the body and improve mood. In order to chant in this way, it is best to actually vocalise the OM. Simply breath in deeply, and as you exhale elongate the two letters: OOOOOOOOMMMMMMM. The combination of the O and M as it is spoken in this manner, sets up a specific vibration which they say vibrates at the same frequency as all life, and this is where its healing properties come from. (There are numerous scientific and technical sites on the Internet detailing this)

In its alternative spelling of AUM, this sound represents the waking state, the dream state and the deep sleep state. The fourth state of Turiya or bliss, is said to exist in the silence between each utterance of OM. This is why we should pause, leaving a small time gap of a couple of seconds between each repetition and making sure to inhale deeply before the next repetition. This state of bliss, is sometimes described as the point at which the chanter may identify with Brahman or the Creator spirit

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This mala is in Paul’s personal collection and has a fine OM pendant attached

As mentioned, OM is used to begin many mantras in both Hindu and Buddhist practises. In future posts we will examine some of the most popular mantras. Do you have a mantra you use? Which is it? And why do you use it? Does it do what you want it to?

We’d Love to hear from you

 

 

Peace and Blessings from us to you.

What are Mala? And what are they used for?

Mala are beads strung together to form necklaces and bracelets of varying lengths. The word Mala is Sanskrit and means garland. In English, Mala are also known more commonly as Prayer Beads or Rosaries. While in Buddhist and Hindu traditions Mala consist of 108 chanting beads, the actual number of beads varies widely according to the tradition using them as well as other factors, and is in itself a fascinating subject that we will explore in another post.

Mala are used as aids in prayer and meditation. The user will recite a mantra (either a sacred word such as Om, or a set of sacred words. Again a subject for another post), reciting it once as she or he passes each bead through the fingers.

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Counters are sometimes added to Mala so users can keep track

Or in many traditions, the beads are used as a way to count the number of times that the user chants the name or names of God or other deities. Buddhist Mala often come with counters tied to the beads to aid in the recital of prescribed numbers of repetitions.

Mala are worn most often as necklaces, though in a number of traditions, they are wound around the user’s wrist. Other, smaller mala (fewer beads) may be carried in the hand of the user as a reminder to pray or to remember God. With this in mind, Mala now come in convenient bracelet, or Wrist Mala version.

Prayer beads are used all over the world by a number of religious traditions: Hindus, Buddhists, Muslims, Taoists, Christians (most notably Roman Catholics, but other denominations use rosaries. Once again a lively and interesting study for another post at another time). Sacred Beads from Sacred India provide Mala that are usually used by both Hindus and Buddhists (having their origins in India), but there is nothing to say that a person from any (or no) religious tradition may use them.

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Hindu pilgrim chanting on the banks of the Ganges in Rishikesh

Traditionally, Mala have been made from a whole range of materials, most commonly wood, such as Sandalwood, Tulsi, and the seeds of the Rudraksha tree. But they have always been produced from more expensive materials such as precious and semi-precious stones, crystals and other fine jewels. For this reason, many people value Mala as being fine jewellery pieces in their own right.

Of course there is no reason one cannot use the beads for chanting (called Japa: another Sanskrit word that means the repetition of a mantra or holy name in a meditative manner) and as aesthetically pleasing items of jewellery. Then, there are the therapeutic qualities that can be attributed to each of the stones, jewels, woods and other materials the mala come in. Hate to repeat myself, but that too is a big subject that we will look at in several upcoming posts.

I hope you’ve found this little introduction to Mala and their use interesting. Of course we’ve only touched the surface in this post, but it’s a good starting point for anyone wanting to find out more.

Peace and blessings from us to you.