Mala necklaces are more than just beautiful adornments that people are donning around the globe. Malas are powerful and symbolic tools for meditation that are steeped in symbolism and meaningful tradition.
Malas are strands of 108 beads plus a “guru” bead that are traditionally used for prayer and meditation. The mala necklace is a popular yoga jewelry and accessory for those who are into meditation. Designers of mala necklacesuse various gemstones that are believed to be imbued with sacred meanings and potent energies in order to attract more people to use them.
A mala necklace has 108 beads, a number that has been considered sacred in Hinduism. Designers of mala necklaces believe that the number 1 represents God, the universe, or a person’s highest truth; 0 stands for humility in spiritual practice and emptiness; while the number 8 stands for timelessness and infinity.
The number 108 is significant across different cultures and disciplines. The number 108 is the form of the architecture of sacred texts that are central to eastern philosophy and to yoga. As pointed out by the yoga scholar Shiva Rea, the Rig Veda is composed of 108 chapters. The primary Tantras are 108, while the Upanishads are also 108. Their texts are written in Sanskrit that is comprised of 54 letters, each letter having both the masculine and feminine forms. When we multiply 54 by 2, we arrive at the number 108.
When a person wears a mala necklace, it offers him a wearable reflection of something in his own journey. The mala beads, therefore, becomes whatever the person who wears it intends for it.
The importance of 108 beads
In the field of religion and other disciplines, the number 108 has plenty of significance.
Ayurveda and other religions
In Ayurveda, there are 108 marmas or sacred places in the body, which identify the intersections of matter and consciousness. The various points can awaken and align with the vital energy when they are manipulated. In the Vedic tradition, the number 108 denotes the wholeness of the universe, with the number being the representative of the solar’s masculinity, zero as the representative of the lunar’s femininity, and the number eight as the representative of the infinite nature of all things. The mala bead necklaces used by Buddhists, Hindus, and some Sikhs consist of 108 beads.
Mathematics and astronomy
In the field of mathematics, the number 108 is favored for its infinite division potentials and countless patterns. The number 108 can be divided by the total of its parts and most of the proper divisors, making it almost a perfect number.
In the field of astronomy, the sun’s diameter is about 108 times that of the earth’s diameter. The distance from the planet Earth to its solar star is about 108 times the diameter of the sun. the same parallel relationship also exists between the earth and the moon.
The significance of the gemstones
Malas are traditionally made with various gemstones. Each gemstone has a different meaning, property, and energy. Some mala makers are fond of using pearls, with the addition of other semi-precious stones that empower the strands with specific emphasis.
Pearl is a preferred stone for malas because they symbolize the grace that man creates in line with the idea that the oyster creates its greatest form of art from an irritant. It is in this light that man decides to love even at the prospect of that love breaking their hearts. To us, love is meeting the challenge of compassion, which makes life worth living.
A person who wears a mala that is made of gemstones makes the mala what he wants it to be. It is made possible by engaging the energy of the pearls and the gemstones with prayers, hopes, and dreams.
The 108 mythology in mala beads
There are popular reasons behind the number 108 in mala jewelry
- Chakras. There are seven chakras or energy points in the body. It is believed that there 108 energy lines that connect to the heart, with one path believed to be the way to self-realization.
- Letters. It is a common practice to recite the mantra in the ancient script of India – Sanskrit. The Sanskrit alphabet is composed of 54 letters, with each letter having a masculine and a feminine version, or a total of 108.
- Mantras. The mala beads are used while chanting your mantra during your meditation. It is believed that you have completed your mantras once you reached the number 100. There are 8 extra beads which are the allowance for errors. Looking at the extra 8 from a different perspective, they are intended to be your offering to your guru.
- Desires. It is believed that there are 108 earthly desires in a human being.
- Astrology. There are 12 constellations and 9 arc segments. There are also 12 houses and 9 plants. When 12 is multiplied by 9, the answer is 108.
- Time. It is believed that humans have 108 feelings. Of these feelings, 36 are related to the past, 36 are related to the present, and 36 are related to the future, for a total of 108.
Mala beads for meditation
Anyone can use mala necklaces for meditation. Even beginners can easily get used to the practice by following these steps:
- Select a quiet and comfortable spot. Sit comfortably, making sure that the spine is in a straight position. Keep the eyes closed and breathe deeply. Doing so will you to align and center yourself with your intention.
- Use a mantra as you sit comfortably and with your eyes closed. You can chant your mantra either silently or aloud.
- Your right hand in holding your mala. Make sure to drape the mala between your index and middle fingers. Beginning from the guru bead, start counting each bed using your thumb while reciting your mantra. While traveling through around the mala, you will be able to recite your mantra 108 times until you reach again the guru bead.
- You may want to continue your meditation even you reach the guru bead. But instead of passing through the guru bead, you can reverse direction and go through the process all over again.
Next time you see a person wearing a mala necklace or you observe a person quietly meditating in one corner while holding his meditation necklace, it is easier now to understand why the mala has 108 beads. The 108 beads in a mala are not just a random number. They are full of meaning and history.
Most of all, wearing a Mala symbolizes a person’s willingness to change and become a better person by working on it a little each day.