What is Mala Prayer Beads Meaning?

Author: Jessica Tracy

What is the meaning of Mala Prayer Beads

What Are Mala Beads?

The word mala means “garland” which is the ancient Sanskrit word for prayer beads.

It consists of 108 beads that are kept together with a string, with one Guru bead which is larger than the rest.

The Guru bead acts as the starting and ending marker for the mantra chanting. In some cases, the prayer beads might have special stones or different shaped beads than the rest to specify that you have reached the 1/4th marker.

Mala beads also known as Buddhist beads, were traditionally used in prayer and meditation. They were intended for spiritual healing. Mala beads were used in various ways by different religions and cultures.

Why are there 108 beads on a mala?

  • In Buddhism, the number 108 is a sacred figure which represent the number of defilements, and desires we must overcome to reach enlightenment.
  • There are normally 108 steps in many Buddhist temples.
  • In Zen Buddhism, 108 bells are rung during a New Year celebration, as a reminder of 108 temptations we need to transcend on our way to nirvana.
  • According to Ayurvedic medicine there are 108 marma points in the human body, which are responsible for our overall health and distribution of prana energy from 72,000 nadis.
  • In Hinduism figure 108 corresponds to the number of Brahma's names (Hindu Creator God). During a practice called namajapa, disciples. of this faith recite Brahma's names, as a form of sacred practice.
  • When you split the number 108 into individual digits, 1 represent unity, 0 represents nothingness, and 8 is a sybomol of infinity.
    Therefore 108 can be interpreted as holistic number which symbolizes our entire Universe.
    When you multiply 12 astrological signs by 9 planets in our Solar System the result is number 108.

What Are The Benefits Of Using Mala Beads?

You don't have to be religious to reap the benefits of the prayer beads. For people who use them, just the repetition of the recitation of a mantra can bring them closer to tranquillity. It has been seen that by using them, the respiration process of the body slows down and you get to feel more relaxed.

Why does a person meditate?

To be relieved from all of the worldly problems, give a thinking mind a break and to connect to your higher self. Meditation considerably improves the mood and ability to focus your mind.

Different types colour in prayer beads represents a different intentions. You can use them during your meditation practice to balance your energies, manifest your dreams or work on any of your chakras.



How To Use Mala Beads?

The steps might look relatively easy, but it takes time, practice and dedication use mala beads to their maximum potential. The more you will practice, the more you will learn to truly connect with your mind, body and spirit.

Let's begin:

  • Find a quiet and comfortable spot and sitting position.
  • Close your eyes and take some deep breaths, try to align yourself with your intention.
  • Choose a mantra and recite it quietly or out loud.
  • Hold your Mala Prayer beads in your right hand. The thumb is used to count each bead, starting with the Guru (biggest) bead.
  • Every time you touch a new bead, recite a mantra.
  • Each bead gets its own inhales and exhales.
  • Keep on doing it till you have gone around and are back at the Guru bead.
  • If you want another go, start in reverse.

Alternatively, you could just forget the mantra and meditation part. Wear mala beads all day long as necklaces or bracelets, to reap the benefits.

It can be with you as a reminder of the intention it carries. Do remember, different types of prayer beads are used to achieve different things.

Mala Prayer Beads Today

In modern yogi times, mala beads used as necklaces or bracelets have significantly increased in popularity.
Unlike the old times, people nowadays use them as jewellery, decoration or to help in their meditation. 

If you are interested in getting a mala beads for your spiritual practice, have a look at some of the beads available in our store.

Prayer Beads Meaning in Different Religions

Counting prayer beads became a practice embraced by many religions all over the world. Let's take a quick look at the history of prayer beads and their meaning across different cultures.

Prayer Beads Meaning in Hinduism

Many historians believe that the use of prayer beads originated in India around 185 B.C. and it was first adopted by the world's oldest religion - Hinduism.

Hindu prayer beads are called mala and they consist of 108 beads, which corresponds to the number of Brahma's names. 
Brahma is one of 3 main Hindu Gods, (other 2 Hindu Gods are Vishnu and Shiva) known as a Hindu Creator God.

Hindu mala prayer beads are very often made out of rudraksha seeds (which in Sanskit means "Shiva's eyes") or from tulsi (sacred basil used by Vishnu followers).

Prayer Beads Meaning in Buddhism

Buddhism adopted the practice of counting prayer beads and repeating mantras from Hinduism.
Buddhist prayer beads are also called mala and they consist of 108 beads, which represents number of defilements we must overcome to attain enlightenment.

Buddhist malas are normally made out of black, round beads (used by Burmese monks), sandalwood, seeds, precious stones or animal bones (Tibetan Buddhist use yak bones)

Prayer Beads Meaning in Christianity

The word bead originates the Anglo-Saxon word bede, which translates to "prayer". 

Prayer beads have been introduced to Christianity by Saint Dominic.
Dominicans are believed to play a big role in spreading the catholic belief in the power of rosary.
Original prayer beads were made out of rose petals and rosary comes from the word rosarium, which means "crown of roses".

Dominican rosary is divided into set of 10 beads, known as decades.
Each decade corresponds to 1 Hail Mary preceded by 1 Lord's Prayer and followed by 1 Glory Be.

Prayer Beads Meaning in Islam

It is unclear how prayer beads entered Islams, but some people believe that they were adopted from Buddhism.

Prayer beads used by Muslims consist of string of 33, 66 or 99 beads with 1 "leader" bead.

Prayer beads in Islam are called subhah, which means "to exalt" and they represents the 99 names of Allah found in the Koran.
Muslim recite all of these names to invite Allah's blessings.


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2 thoughts on “What is Mala Prayer Beads Meaning?

  1. avatar Jessica Tracy says:

    Thank you Angie! 😇

  2. avatar Angie says:

    Very nice and thorough without bring “preachy”. Thanks

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