Rudrākṣa (रुद्राक्ष) refers to the sacred beads to be worn on the body, according to the Śivapurāṇa 1.23. In the Purāṇas much importance is attached to Rudrākṣa. In Devī Bhāgavata, Skandha 11, there is a story stating how Rudrākṣa came to be honoured in this way. This blog contains the following sections:
- What is Rudraksha?
- Rudraksha Tree
- Greatness of Rudraksha
- Rudraksha Story
- Rudraksha Benefits
- Who can wear Rudraksha?
- 14 Types of Rudraksha
- 1 Mukhi Rudraksha – Ekamukhi Rudraksha
- 2 Mukhi Rudraksha – Dwimukhi Rudraksha
- 3 Mukhi Rudraksha – Trimukhi Rudraksha
- 4 Mukhi Rudraksha – Chaturmukhi Rudraksha
- 5 Mukhi Rudraksha – Panchamukhi Rudraksha
- 6 Mukhi Rudraksha – Shanmukhi Rudraksha
- 7 Mukhi Rudraksha – Saptamukhi Rudraksha
- 8 Mukhi Rudraksha – Ashtamukhi Rudraksha
- 9 Mukhi Rudraksha – Navamukhi Rudraksha
- 10 Mukhi Rudraksha – Dashamukhi Rudraksha
- 11 Mukhi Rudraksha – Ekadasamukhi Rudraksha
- 12 Mukhi Rudraksha – Dwadvadashamukhi Rudraksha
- 13 Mukhi Rudraksha – Trayodasamukhi Rudraksha
- 14 Mukhi Rudraksha – Chaturdashamukhi Rudraksha
- How NOT to wear Rudraksha
What is Rudraksha?
Rudra means Shiva and Aksha means eye. Therefore Rudraksha, which is considered to be the eye of Shiva, has great significance. It is believed that if one wears Rudraksha according to rules, one’s sins will be abated and thereby one will get many benefits and one will be close to the divine. There is a passage in the Devi Bhagavatam where Narayana Maharshi reveals to Narada that if one wears rudraksha with 32 on the neck, 40 on the head, 6 on the ears, 12 on the hands, 16 on the arms, 1 on the eye, 1 on the forehead, 100 on the chest, then one is truly the Lord Himself. If one wears Rudraksha other than according to the rules, it will cause more harm than good.
Before wearing the rudraksha mala, some rules have been prescribed by our ancestors. Only by wearing the rudraksha mala according to those insructions will we get proper benefit from it. It is said that a mala using multi-faceted Rudrakshas does not give as much results as a mala with single-faced Rudraksha.
A mala worn around the neck should not be used for chanting, a mala for chanting should not be worn around the neck either, the rosary should be kept separately. The number of rosary can be fixed according to the convenience of the person chanting and it should not be less than 27.
Of the 300 species of Rudraksha tree (Elaeocarpus), 35 are found in India. The principal species of this genus is Elaeocarpus ganitrus, which has the common name of “rudraksha tree”, and is found from the Gangetic plain in the foothills of the Himalayas to Nepal, South and Southeast Asia, parts of Australia, Guam, and Hawaii.
Elaeocarpus ganitrus trees grow to 60–80 ft (18–24 m). They are evergreen trees which grow quickly, and as they mature their roots form buttresses, rising up near the trunk and radiating out along the surface of the ground.
Rudraksha (scientific name: Elaeocarpus ganitrus) is actually a stonefruit, the dried stones of which are used as prayer beads by Hindus (especially Shaivas), as well as by Buddhists and Sikhs. The Rudraksha tree is mostly found in Nepal and Northern Indian regions.
Greatness of Rudraksha
Since ancient times, Indian Rishis wore Rudraksha on their bodies. Rudraksha, a symbol of piety and purity, is believed to have tremendous medicinal and spiritual properties. The Shiva Purana has a chapter that details the greatness of Rudraksha beeds. It is presented as a conversation between Lord Shiva and Goddess Parvati. The following are select quotations in an abridged form.
Those who wear Tripuṇḍra, the matted hair and the Rudrākṣa do not go to Yama’s abode.Verse 49, Chapter 25 – The greatness of Rudrākṣa, Shiva Purana
If a person is not liberated after meditation and acquisition of knowledge he shall wear Rudrākṣa. He shall be freed from all sins and attain the highest goal.
A mantra repeated with Rudrākṣa is a crore times more efficacious. A man wearing Rudrākṣa derives a hundred million times more merit.Verse 57-58, Chapter 25 – The greatness of Rudrākṣa, Shiva Purana
This chapter of Shiva Purana generously enlists the various aspects of greatness of Rudraksha. Some of it is covered under the subsequent sections of this blog.
This is how the Devi Bhagavatam Ekadasa Skandha sees a mythological story that suggests Rudraksha becoming a Pujya object.
Once upon a time there was a very powerful and mighty demon lord named Tripura. He defeated the gods and demigods and became the sole ruler. The devas who were saddened by this went to Lord Shiva and complained. Lord Shiva closed his eyes and meditated on how to kill Tripura and opened his eyes after a thousand divine years. Then tears fell from the eyes. It is from these vapor points that the Rudraksha trees were formed.
From Lord Shiva’s sun eye (Surya Netra) twelve Rudrakshas, from moon eye (Chandra Netra) sixteen Rudrakshas, and from fire eye (Agni Netra) ten types of rudrakshas were born respectuvely.
Those arising from the sun’s eye are red- colored. White rudrakshas also emerged from the lunar eye. The color of those born from the eye of fire is black. In the Puranas Tripura was killed by Lord Shiva himself. Thus Mahadeva got another name Tripuranthaka.
Rudraksha has the following benefits. Various sins are removed by wearing it. Rudraksha is worn as a remedy for Kalasarpa dosha found in horoscopes. Rudrakshdharana protects the body like a shield. It gives peace and refreshment to the mind. Venomous animals and other harmful creatures will not come near the one who wears, and his mind will be concentrated, his face will be prosperous and peaceful. One’s sayings will happen, they will be respected by all; evil powers, mantra powers used with evil purpose, etc. will not be affected by the one who wears Rudraksha .
A study at Banaras Hindu University has shown that Rudraksha can strengthen the aura of the body. Based on this study, newspapers reported that Rudraksha has the ability to regulate heart rate through the influence of aura.
Rudraksha can be worn for pleasing the deities, liberation from past sins and curing ailments. The number of beads of the rudraksha mala will also make a difference in the results.
Who can wear Rudraksha?
Lord Shiva says in the Shiva Purana that, people of all Varṇas and Āśramas including women can wear Rudrākṣa at the bidding of Śiva. The ascetics shall wear it with the Praṇava. There are rules prescribed on who should wear which type of Rudraksha and how, which is beyond the scope of this blog. Therefore, The Cowherd recommends seeking the advice of your Guru before taking decisions on whether to wear Rudraksha or which Rudraksha to wear.
Can women wear Rudraksha?
In ancient times, women were prohibited from wearing Rudraksha. It is said in the Puranas that at that time Rishi’s wife used to wear Rudraksha and perform puja rituals. Women are advised to take off their necklaces during menstruation. The three-faced rudraksha tied to their thali (mangal sutra) and worn by them helps to bring prosperity and longevity to the house. It is good for childless women to wear two-faced Rudraksha for fertility. In some scriptures, it is said that they should wear Rudraksha only after their menstruation. The Cowherd recommends seeking the advice of your Guru before taking decisions on whether to wear Rudraksha or which Rudraksha to wear.
14 Types of Rudraksha
Shiva Purana talks about fourteen types of Rudraksha. The following is a brief description of each of those obtained from the Malayalam Wikipedia Page on Rudraksha and English translation of Shiva Purana titled The Shiva Purana, by J. L. Shastri | 1950.
1 Mukhi Rudraksha – Ekamukhi Rudraksha
1 Mukhi Rudraksha or Ekamukhi Rudraksha is one of the most precious and difficult one to obtain. A Rudrākṣa of a single face is considered Lord Śiva Himself. It bestows worldly pleasures and salvation. The sin of brahmin-slaughter is washed off at its mere sight. In this rudraksha, serpents, trident and Shiva lingam can be seen. It is believed that by wearing Ekmukhi Rudraksha (1 Mukhi Rudraksha), one can overcome the senses and attain Brahman knowledge. Ekamukhi Rudraksha is best for wealth, happiness, prosperity and wish fulfillment.
2 Mukhi Rudraksha – Dwimukhi Rudraksha
2 Mukhi Rudraksha or Dwimukhi Rudraksha, ruled by the moon, is seen as an incarnation of the Ardhanariswara concept of Shiva Parvati. It is believed that if one wears it, one will curb one’s own desires and awaken the Kundalini. Wearing Dwimukhi Rudraksha is good for strengthening marital relationship and removing mental disorders. A Rudrākṣa with two faces is Īśa, the lord of devas. It bestows the fulfilment of all desires. Especially, 2 Mukhi Rudraksha quickly quells the sin of cow-slaughter.
3 Mukhi Rudraksha – Trimukhi Rudraksha
It is believed that 3 Mukhi Rudraksha or Trimukhi Rudraksha, the goddess of fire, burns away all sins. Understanding this results in worshiping the Trinity. It is said that if women wear Trimukhi Rudraksha along with thali (mangal sutra), they will be blessed with good luck and long life. It is also auspicious for the full blessings of the trinity of Brahma-Vishnu-Maheswara. 3 Mukhi Rudraksha (Trimukhi Rudraksha) always bestows means of enjoyment.
4 Mukhi Rudraksha – Chaturmukhi Rudraksha
4 Mukhi Rudraksha or Chaturmukhi Rudraksha, considered the form of Brahma, is good for increasing ability, memory and intelligence. Wearing this 4 Mukhi Rudraksha is also said to cure skin related diseases. It is good for academic success, memory and concentration. A Rudrākṣa of four faces is Brahmā Himself. It quells the sin of man-slaughter. Seeing it and touching it instantaneously bestow the achievement of the four purusharthas of life.
5 Mukhi Rudraksha – Panchamukhi Rudraksha
A Rudrākṣa with five faces (5 Mukhi Rudraksha or Panchamukhi Rudraksha) is Rudra Himself. Its name is kālāgni. It is lordly. It bestows all sorts of salvation and achievement of all desired objects. It is believed that Panchamukhi Rudraksha (5 Mukhi Rudraksha), is effective for relief from blood pressure, indigestion, indigestion, diabetes, kidney and ear diseases. A five-faced Rudrākṣa (5 Mukhi Rudraksha) dispels all sorts of sins such as those that accrue from sexual intercourse with a forbidden woman and from eating forbidden food.
6 Mukhi Rudraksha – Shanmukhi Rudraksha
6 Mukhi Rudraksha – Shanmukhi Rudraksha, that represents Lord Karthikeya, is believed to increase wisdom and eliminate unhealthy competitiveness. The 6 Mukhi Rudraksha (Shanmukhi Rudraksha) is an excellent remedy for heart pain, mental disorder, cramps and female related diseases. If students wear Shanmukhi Rudraksha it will help them to pay more attention in studies and retain memory. A man who wears 6 Mukhi Rudraksha on the right arm is certainly absolved of the sins of brahmin-slaughter and the like.
7 Mukhi Rudraksha – Saptamukhi Rudraksha
It is believed that if one wears 7 Mukhi Rudraksha (Saptamukhi Rudraksha) which is of Goddess Mahalakshmi, one will get rid of financial problems and get rid of untimely death. Wearing it is good for intellectual development, mental strength and relief from depression. 7 Mukhi Rudraksha is also effective in curing Shani-dosha. By wearing Saptamukhi Rudraksha, even a poor man becomes a great lord by wearing it.
8 Mukhi Rudraksha – Ashtamukhi Rudraksha
It is believed that 8 Mukhi Rudraksha, i.e., Ashtamukhi Rudraksha, that represents Lord Ganesha, will remove obstacles and bring success. It is best to wear the 8 Mukhi Rudraksha during Ketu Dasha. Wearing the Ashtamukhi Rudraksha can ward off the dangers of Rahu-dasha and cure skin diseases, eye diseases and lung diseases. . A Rudrākṣa with eight faces (8 Mukhi Rudraksha) is called Vasumūrti and Bhairava. By wearing it a man lives the full span of life. After death he becomes the Trident-bearing lord (Śiva).
9 Mukhi Rudraksha – Navamukhi Rudraksha
Representing Navadurga deity, this Rudraksha (9 Mukhi Rudraksha or Navamukhi Rudraksha) is good for getting the favor of Navagrahas. It is believed that wearing Navamukhi Rudraksha will produce fertility and prevent heart diseases, skin diseases and small pox. It is best for women to wear it on the right hand. Lord Shiva said, “A Rudrākṣa with nine faces is also Bhairava. Its sage is Kapila. Its presiding goddess is Durgā of nine forms, Maheśvarī Herself. That Rudrākṣa shall be worn on the left hand with great devotion. He shall certainly become Sarveśvara like me.”
10 Mukhi Rudraksha – Dashamukhi Rudraksha
It is believed that 10 Mukhi Rudraksha (Dashamukhi Rudraksha), which represents the deity Janardhana, will save us from dangers and ward off evil spirits such as Brahmarakshas. It is said that wearing 10 Mukhi Rudraksha will change the vastu dosha of the house. This Dashamukhi Rudraksha is very helpful in preventing cough, spasm, tension and heart diseases. A Rudrākṣa with ten faces (10 Mukhi Rudraksha) is Lord Janārdana Himself. By wearing it, the devotee shall achieve the fulfilment of all desires.
11 Mukhi Rudraksha – Ekadasamukhi Rudraksha
Wearing this 11 Mukhi Rudraksha, i.e., Ekadasamukhi Rudraksha, is effective in getting rid of accidental deaths and achieving success in all fields. Prevention of many diseases related to women is also attributed to 11 Mukhi Rudraksha. It is good for fertility, gives wisdom, knowledge, knowledge of languages and an adventurous life. A Rudrākṣa with eleven faces (Ekadasamukhi Rudraksha) is considered Rudra Himself. By wearing it one becomes victorious everywhere.
12 Mukhi Rudraksha – Dwadvadashamukhi Rudraksha
The 12 Adityas are the deities representing this Rudraksha. 12 Mukhi Rudraksha (Dwadvadashamukhi Rudraksha) is auspicious for a good ruler and for the prosperity of industry and commerce. People who wear Dwadashamukhi Rudraksha to please God, shine like the sun and gain upper hand. 12 Mukhi Rudraksha is very helpful in preventing jaundice. One shall wear the twelve-faced Rudrākṣa on the hair of the head. All the twelve Ādityas (suns) are present therein.
13 Mukhi Rudraksha – Trayodasamukhi Rudraksha
This rudraksha, an avatar of Devendra, is believed to increase luck and beauty. It is said that if women wear it, their wishes will come true. Also, 13 Mukhi Rudraksha bestows health, honor, family happiness, wealth, contentment, procreation and prosperity. A person who wears the Trayodasamukhi Rudraksha can do whatever good he or she thinks in the mind. A Rudrākṣa with thirteen faces (13 Mukhi Rudraksha) is Viśvedeva. By wearing it, a man will attain the realisation of all desires. He will derive good fortune and auspiciousness.
14 Mukhi Rudraksha – Chaturdashamukhi Rudraksha
It is said that if one wears this 14 Mukhi Rudraksha (Chaturdashamukhi Rudraksha) which is ruled by Saturn, the sixth sense will be awakened and one will get inner knowledge. The wearer of 14 Mukhi Rudraksha will be kept away from all dangers and sorrows and will be saved from demons, ghosts and evil spells. This Chaturdashamukhi Rudraksha signifies health and wealth. Also, it is said to be good for Navagraha preeti. A Rudrākṣa with fourteen faces (14 Mukhi Rudraksha) is the highest Śiva. It shall be worn on the head with great devotion. It quells all sins.
How NOT to wear Rudraksha
Although lots of benefits are attributed to the Rudraksha, Lord Shiva also cautions how not to wear this sacred bead. He said that the man who wears the Rudrākṣa without chanting the appropriate mantra falls into a terrible hell and stays there during the tenure of fourteen Indras.
Therefore, The Cowherd recommends seeking the advice of your Guru before taking decisions on whether to wear Rudraksha or which Rudraksha to wear.