The Beads Known as Shiva's Tears
According to legend, when Lord Shiva looked upon the suffering world, he shed a tear of compassion. From that tear grew the Rudraksha, which literally means “Rudra’s (Shiva’s) tears”. The name also means “Under the protection of Lord Rudra.”
Rudraksha beads are naturally occurring seeds of the Elaeocarpus ganitrus tree. Each is identified by the number of “faces” or “mouths” (called mukhis in Sanskrit) that it has, which are the furrows that run the length of each seed. The Vedic texts speak of beads with one to up to 38 faces, but normally there are one to 14 faces that are used. In ancient times these naturally forming beads would have been appreciated by the forest dwelling sages for the ease with which meditation beads could be made from them. They only need to be picked from the ground and cleaned before being strung. The holes by which they are strung are natural in all beads with four faces or more.
After some time it was noticed that the seeds had different features, like the various Vedic gods, such as four-headed Brahma, the six-headed Karttikeya, etc. Thus the number of faces indicate the presiding deity of that particular Rudraksha and the powers it was said to possess. The traditional attributes given to the Rudraksha bead were then recorded in the ancient Puranic histories which date back to the third millennia BCE.
Rudrakshas are thought to possess many healing properties as well as magical powers. Their use as medicine, whether ground up and combined with other medicines or worn, has been documented far into ancient times. Today most people choose to avail themselves of those medicinal effects by wearing Rudraksha garlands or malas. A Rudraksha mala is said to lower blood pressure, calm the nerves, cool fevers, quiet the disturbed minds of those affected with insanity and other mental disorders. Rudraksha malas are worn by pregnant mothers to protect their unborn children and cool the body. In Ayurvedic terminology Rudraksha lowers Pitta, reduces Kapha and calms Vata. Drinking water in which a single bead has soaked overnight is thought to introduce these medicinal effects as well.
It is most likely that in India you will see many yogis, munis, swamis and saints wearing strings of Rudraksha beads. The brown red bead has become quite popular. Today you will also see Rudraksha shaped into jewelry in the form of earrings, bracelets, necklaces, pendants and even buttons. It is also quite popular with Indian students as it is said to please the goddess Sarasvati, the goddess of learning, thus increasing the intellectual skills and communicative powers. It is also said to have anti-aging properties, and rejuvenate and revitalize the body, soul and mind.
Each Rudraksha has particular mantras and certain days of the week for its use. Radraksha can be worn or kept in a place of worship. They should be honored as a manifestation of the Divine. One should not wear Rudraksha to the toilet or during sex, and ideally they should be bathed in scented oil and worshiped daily.
Another story of how the Rudraksha came to be is described in the Devi Bhagavata, Skandha 11. Once there lived an asura demon chief who was mighty and valiant. His name was Tripura. He defeated Devas and deva chiefs and became emperor of the asuras. The Devas were much grieved because of him. They went to Lord Shiva and represented their grievances. Shiva thought for a while about how to kill Tripura, and sat with open eyes. This sitting continued for a thousand divine years. After this prolonged time Shiva winked his eyes and tears fell down from them. The Rudraksha tree originated from these tears. From the Sun-eye [the right eye] of Siva twelve types of Rudraksas came into being, from the moon-eye [left eye] sixteen kinds of Rudraksas developed, and from the fire-eye [in his forehead] ten kinds of Rudraksas originated. Those which originated from the Sun-eye are blood colored, those from the moon-eye are white Rudraksas, and from the fire-eye are black Rudraksas. It is said that boiled Rudraksa beads are considered for the Brahmins, red Rudraksa are for Kshatriyas, while white ones are for Vaisyas, and the black Rudraksha are for the Sudra varnas.
Genuine Rudraksha are quite rare, especially the more exotic varieties. Some beads are much rarer than others and therefore demand a higher price. The special traits of the different Rudraksha beads are described as follows:
The single faced Rudraksha is quite rare and is considered to be a manifestation of Lord Shiva. Hence the one faced Rudraksha bead should be worn on the neck or kept in a place of worship and should certainly be rubbed with pure scented oil daily. The daily morning worship of the single faced Rudraksha is said to bring about all auspiciousness.
Persons who keep one faced Rudraksha never run short of money, suffer from catastrophic diseases or sorrows. They become famous, wealthy and powerful. These Rudrakshas bring respect and honor to their wearers and create a general aura of favorable circumstances in all walks of life.
The one faced Rudraksha should be worn on a red thread or string enclosed in a gold or silver cap. The mantra om namo shivaya should be chanted when worshiping or wearing this Rudraksha and the best day to wear it is said to be Monday.
First rate quality single faced Rudrakshas are expensive and can be as high as $500 or more when available. The texts that describe Rudraksha state that there should be no consideration in the mind of the devotee that one bead may be stronger than another due to pricing in the market, size or other mundane attempts to measure the value of Rudraksha, which are directly Shiva himself, complete, absolute and immeasurable. Second rate quality seeds are said to possess the same powers. They are also available with silver caps ready for stringing.
Two Faced Rudraksha
The two faced Rudraksha is said to represent Shiva-Shakti, the Cosmic Creative Principle and His Consort, the Manifestive Material Potency. Shiva and Parvati Devi are the two greatest bhaktas (practitioners of the yoga of devotion) and this Rudraksha is said to be of use to those who wish to advance on this path.
The two faced Rudraksha should be worn on a red thread or a gold or silver chain. After touching it to the feet of a Shiva Linga or a deity of Durga Mata, it can be worn with reciting the mantra sri gauri shankaraya namaha.
Three Faced Rudraksha
The three faced Rudraksha is said to represent the manifest trinity of Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva, the presiding deities of Creation, Maintenance and Destruction respectively. Those who wear the three faced Rudraksha are said to please all of the gods, and nullify all inauspicious planetary influences.
The three faced Rudraksha should be washed in Ganges water and worn on three threads, white, yellow and red. It should be put on a Sunday after sunrise with the mantra om brahma vishnu mahesh devaya namaha.
Four Faced Rudraksha
Four faced Rudraksha is considered to be a representation of four headed Brahma, the Creator of the material universe. Students, poets, scientists and those seeking academic posts, are advised to wear this Rudraksha. Those who wear it will become esteemed in social circles, learned, respected and honored, people will seek them out for advice and they will be given great responsibility. It should be strung on a red thread and worn on a Thursday with the mantra om brahma devaya namaha.
Five Faced Rudraksha
The five faced Rudraksha is a manifestation of the five-headed Lord Shiva. It is the most common form of Rudraksha beads. Wearing it is said to satisfy all of one’s desires. It should be worn on a red thread after touching it to a Shiva Lingam while chanting the mantra om namaha shivaya on any day of the week. Japa (recitation of mantras) performed on a rosary of five faced Rudrakshas is always fruitful. The wearing of such a garland is also considered to be of great benefit.
Six Faced Rudraksha
The six faced Rudraksha is said to represent Lord Shiva’s powerful and benevolent son, Kartikeya. Kartikeya, who has six heads, is the Commander-General of the celestial armies. Known to protect children from childhood diseases caused by witches, ghosts and other subtle causes, he is quite fierce in the protection of those who take shelter of him.
Diseases of fire and blood are said to be alleviated by wearing this Rudraksha, including high blood pressure, all kinds of fevers, headaches, stomach problems, etc. For students and intellectual types the six faced Rudraksha is also recommended. It is also considered very useful in cases of mania and other mental disturbances, especially those with supernatural overtones.
Three seeds should be worn together for the greatest effect on Monday after touching it to a Shiva Lingam with the mantra om shivaya kartikeyaya namaha.
Seven Faced Rudraksha
The seven faced Rudraksha represents the seven forms of the Supreme goddess of Fortune, the Mother of the Universe, Sri Maha Lakshmi. This Rudraksha is said to bring money, luck and power to those who wear it. Those who are interested in success in business are recommended to wear this Rudraksha. The Lakshmi Rudraksha should be worn on a red thread after touching it to a Shiva Lingam while reciting the mantra om sri mahalakshmi namaha.
Eight Faced Rudraksha
The eight faced Rudraksha represents the popular elephant-headed son of Lord Shiva, Ganesh. Lord Ganesh, who possesses eight forms, is the god of talents, opportunity, marriage and good luck. He is said to remove obstacles from our life’s path as well as make smooth and strong our determination to succeed. Useful on special occasions as well as for daily use, the eight faced Rudraksha should be worn on a red thread on any day of the week with the mantra sada mangalam ganeshaya namaha.
Nine Faced Rudraksha
The nine faced Rudraksha represents the Goddess Durga, whose name means a “fortress” or “citadel”. Mother Durga, the Consort of Lord Shiva and who appears in nine forms, is the Great Goddess of the world and serves as the superintendent over those who are incarcerated here in this world. She wields twenty different weapons in ten different hands as well as her famous trident which represents miseries inflicted by the mind, the environment and other living beings. By wearing the nine faced Rudraksha it is said that she may relieve us of our burdens somewhat. This Rudraksha is especially recommended for women and Goddess worshipers and is said to grant them magical powers.
The nine faced Rudraksha should be worn on a Monday on a red thread after washing it in Ganges water with the mantra maha shakti nava durgaya namaha.
Ten Faced Rudraksha
The ten faced Rudraksha is sacred to Lord Vishnu, the worshipful deity of Shiva and Parvati. This Rudraksha is of greatest benefit to the worshipers of Lord Vishnu. Each face represents one of the ten principal incarnations of the Supreme Lord Krishna, which include the Tortoise, the Fish, the Boar, the half-lion and half-man, the Dwarf, Sita-Rama, Parashurama, Krishna Himself, Buddha, and Kalki.
This Rudraksha is said to relieve the wearer of mental disease and anxiety, nullify all inauspicious planetary influences and cure insanity. Those who wear the ten faced Rudraksha also become truthful, sharp-minded and pure. It should be worn on a red thread on a Sunday or Thursday with the mantra om namo bhagavatey vasudevaya.
Eleven Faced Rudraksha
Eleven faced Rudraksha represent the eleven Rudras, or the personification of universal anger that manifests at the end of the universe to destroy the cosmic manifestation. This Rudraksha is considered an acceptable substitute for the rare one faced Rudraksha. This Rudraksha removes all sorrows and disease and endows its owner with a long and happy life.
The eleven faced Rudraksha should be worn on a red or yellow thread before sunrise with the mantra sarva shaktim ishta devaya namaha. No more than one eleven faced Rudraksha should be worn at a time.
Twelve Faced Rudraksha
The twelve faced Rudraksha represents Surya, the Sun god who lives in twelve houses (the zodiac). Those who wear this Rudraksha are blessed with progeny, health, radiance, good fortune, beauty and eloquence. This Rudraksha should be worn on a yellow thread with the mantra om surya narayanaya namaha.
The Surya Rudraksha should be worn or put on during a Sunday at sunrise. Only one twelve faced bead should be worn at a time.
Thirteen Faced Rudraksha
The thirteen faced Rudraksha is a representation of Rajendradev, or Indra, the king of the gods. This Rudraksha affords the wearer all regard. It is said to advance a person into positions of leadership and is very important for those in administrative positions. It is also said to confer wealth, land and titles upon the wearer. It should be worn on a yellow thread, near the heart, with the mantra devya indra devaya namaha.
Fourteen Faced Rudraksha
The fourteen faced Rudraksha is an extremely rare manifestation of Lord Shiva, Mahadeva. Second only in potency to the one faced Rudraksha they often are more difficult to find. Considered to confer perfect health and happiness on those who wear it, the fourteen faced Rudraksha is very beneficial and extremely auspicious. For those who desire a radical change in their lives, this rare talisman can create a wondrous effect.
The fourteen faced Rudraksha should be worn on a Monday morning after washing it with Ganges water and touching it to a Shiva lingam with the mantra om nama shivaya.
Gauri-Shankara seeds are rare. They are two beads that have grown together in a pair. It is said to bring wealth, health and marital happiness into the home where it is worshiped. It is considered, by authorities, to be more effective than the one faced Rudraksha. Scented oil should be put on the Gauri-Shankara bead daily, and it should be worn on a red or yellow thread, after touching it to a Shiva Lingam, with the mantra om shiv shakti rudraya namaha.
Thirteen Bead Mala
This is a special Rudraksha collector’s talisman of great rarity, power and beauty. A mysterious and fascinating gift. It consists of one of each of the 13 different Rudraksha beads strung on a thread, spaced with smaller beads. It can be worn around the neck.
[This article is available at: www.stephen-knapp.com]
[Back to the "Articles" page]