What is a Rudraksha?

Mythology and History

The word Rudraksha has its mythological beginnings in the Sanskrit words Rudra and Aksha meaning ‘Lord Shiva’ and ‘Tear drops’ respectively.

According to Shiva Purana, Lord Shiva once went into deep meditation for the well being of all living creatures. When he woke up, he opened his eyes and tear drops fell on the Earth. These tear drops took the form of seeds that later on became the Rudraksha tree.

Another tale about Rudraksha tells about Lord Shiva destroying the fortress of the demon Tripurasur. Lord Shiva had to use a very powerful weapon – Aaghor to kill Tripurasur. This weapon created mayhem and destructed everything. On realizing the hapless plight of living beings, tears fell from Lord Shiva’s eyes in compassion. Thus, Rudraksha tree was formed. Rudraksha literally stands for the eyes of Shiva implying that it was pleasant to the eyes of Rudra.

Lord Shiva is always portrayed wearing rosaries of Rudraksha beads on his head, arms and hands. With this came the religious, spiritual, physical and materialistic significance of Rudraksha. It is believed that the seed of Rudraksha contains the secrets of entire evolution of the cosmos within it.

According to Hindu scriptures the bead was created from tears shed by Lord Shiva (an important deity of Vedic age) when the world was facing destruction. The legend says that tears from his eyes dropped onto the ground in different places on earth and produced Rudraksha trees.

Today, the bead is widely used by spiritual leaders and those seeking the spiritual path because it is said to have electromagnetic power, which affects both the physical and mystical aspects of the wearer. The bead’s scientific name is Elaeocarpus ganitrus (Roxb). The clefts on its surface are called mukhis. Most of the Rudraksha’s powers are associated with the number of faces it has. This can vary from one to 21, though four, five and six-faceted beads are the most common. Each type has its own characteristics.

The beads are mainly found in Nepal, India and Indonesia.The top quality beads come only from trees in Nepal. Each seasonal harvest of Rudrakshas usually yields plenty of the two to sixteen-faceted beads but only one or two of the ones with more faces, with the 21-faceted bead being particularly rare. Rudraksha is like a transmitter that can tap into the energy fields in a way that helps the wearer to compensate for any energy depletion by increasing energy levels.

On the physical plane, the brain is the centre of the energy and power that help control the body by maintaining a correct balance between the various internal organs. If you look closely at a Rudraksha bead, you will see that its structure is very similar to the brain – this is one reason why the bead was recognized by ancient sages and seers in India as a divine fruit.

Modern day researchers have proven that the bead has powerful electromagnetic, paramagnetic and inductive properties that vary according to the different faces. It creates specific electric impulses that are sent to the brain stimulating certain centres that then transfer information to the neurophysiology. This is the main way in which the bead has an impact on the human body.

These electromagnetic impulses can affect the heartbeat, blood pressure, stress levels and hypertension on a physical level. On the mental level, the bead’s impulses can relieve anxiety, depression, mood disorders and neurotic conditions, while on the spiritual level, it promotes meditation and enlightenment.