The Secrets of the Mala:(Rosary) By Sri Radhakrishnan Srimali
Posted November 16, 2008on:
The Secrets of the Mala:(Rosary)
By Sri Radhakrishnan Srimali
Abridged and paraphrased by Sri Dharam Ramkissoon
From ‘The Jyoti’ magazine
Published by the Ramakrishna Centre of South Africa
The Japa-Mala occupies a special position in Mantra-Sadhana (the spiritual disciplines consisting of repeating sacred syllables), because it is through the Mala itself that Japa is most effective. Firstly, the Mala is used to keep count of Japa or the repetition of sacred syllables. Secondly, during Sadhana, the mind as always, through its very nature, tends to wander. It is through the Mala, that the wandering mind can be quickly recollected or brought back to the thought of the deity or object of meditation.
Faith and reverence are the essentials of Upasana or worship. It will not be out of place to maintain this reverential attitude towards the Mala itself. It should not be used carelessly or kept in an unclean place or touched by the feet or left hand. Even though it is a lifeless object, it is an instrument through which God is remembered and an aid in spiritual upliftment. Therefore it should be regarded with reverence.
The scriptures say that the merit that accrues from repeating God’s name is multiplied 8 times when done on the segments of the fingers; 10,000 times when done on a Mala of precious stones or crystals; 100,000 times when done on a Lotus-Mala; but infinitely when done on a Rudraksha-Mala.
Ways of Doing Japa:
Japa may be done in three ways.
This involves the doing of Japa on the fingers and can be done on the fingertips. The second and more effective way recommended in the scriptures is by doing Japa on the segments of the fingers. One of the important rules to observe when doing this type of Japa is to keep the fingers together and not separate.
This involves the doing of Japa using the alphabet of the Sanskrit language. Detailed instructions for this type of Japa are given in the ‘Sanat Kumara Tantra’.
This is the most recommended and the most common way of doing Japa when a Mala (or Rosary) made of beads threaded together is used. The beads used are of various types. Malas are made of Rudraksh seeds, stems of the Tulasi (Basil) plant, shells, lotus plants, gold, precious stones, pearls, crystals etc.
Different types of Malas are used for different purposes. A Lotus-Mala is used to destroy enemies. A Kusa-Mala is used to destroy sins. A Silver-Mala is used to fulfil desires etc.
Different sects tend to use different types of Malas. The Shaktas, Shaivites and Smartas use the Rudraksha-Mala. The Vaishnavites use the Tulasi-Mala. The Ganapatis may use the ivory-Mala.
One complete Mala of any of the above three categories involves the repetition of the Mantra 108 times. The 109th bead called the Meru or summit acts as the guide. An important rule is not to cross over the Meru on completion of a Mala but retract and do the next Mala commencing at the point of finishing the previous Mala. Thus we work back and forth from the Meru. An important interpretation of this rule is that the Meru represents the Guru or Preceptor whose importance in any spiritual discipline is unsurpassed, and he should not be crossed in any circumstance.