The Akshamala Upanishad is one of the minor Upanishads of Hinduism, associated with the Rigveda. It is one of the 14 Shaiva Upanishads, which are related to the worship of Lord Shiva. The Upanishad describes akshamala, or rosary, and its importance in Japa, the meditative repetition of a mantra. A mantra is a sacred word or sound that is used as a tool for the mind to achieve spiritual goals.
Mantra repetition is one of the most powerful and simple forms of meditation, as it helps to focus the mind, calm emotions, and connect with the divine. Using a rosary for mantra repetition can enhance the practice by providing physical support, a symbolic meaning, and a vibrational energy. In this blog post, we will explore the teachings of the Akshamala Upanishad and learn how to use a rosary for mantra repetition.
According to the Akshamala Upanishad, there are different types and colors of rosaries, each with their own significance and suitability for different mantras. The text mentions five types of rosaries: rudraksha (made from seeds of a sacred tree), crystal (made from quartz), pearl (made from shells), gold (made from metal), and lotus seed (made from seeds of a sacred flower).
The text also mentions five colors of rosaries: white (for purity and peace), red (for power and passion), yellow (for wisdom and prosperity), black (for protection and detachment), and mixed (for harmony and balance). The type and color of the rosary should match the nature and purpose of the mantra. For example, a rudraksha rosary is suitable for mantras related to Lord Shiva, while a crystal rosary is suitable for mantras related to Goddess Lakshmi.
To choose a rosary for mantra repetition, one should consult a guru or an expert who can guide them according to their personal needs and preferences. Alternatively, one can also follow their intuition and choose a rosary that appeals to them. Once chosen, the rosary should be consecrated by washing it with water, milk, honey, or ghee, and then offering it to one’s chosen deity with prayers and incense. The rosary should be treated with respect and devotion, as it represents the divine presence.
To use a rosary for mantra repetition, one should sit in a comfortable posture, preferably facing east or north, and hold the rosary in their right hand. The index finger should not touch the beads, as it represents the ego. The thumb should move the beads one by one, starting from the bead next to the meru or guru bead, which is larger than the rest.
The meru bead marks the beginning and end of one round of mantra repetition. One should not cross over or reverse the direction of the Meru bead. The mantra should be repeated either silently or aloud with each bead while focusing on its meaning and vibration. One should complete at least one round of 108 beads per session but can do more if desired. The rosary should not be worn around the neck or wrist during mantra repetition, as it may distract or disturb the practice.
There are many mantras that can be used for mantra repetition, depending on one’s goal and inclination. Some examples are:
- Om: The most universal mantra, representing the sound of creation and the essence of all existence.
- Om Namah Shivaya: A five-syllable mantra dedicated to Lord Shiva, meaning “I bow to Shiva”.
- Om Namo Narayanaya: An eight-syllable mantra dedicated to Lord Vishnu, meaning “I bow to Narayana”.
- Om Shanti Shanti Shanti: A three-fold mantra for peace in oneself, in others, and in the world.
- Om Mani Padme Hum: A six-syllable mantra dedicated to Avalokiteshvara, the bodhisattva of compassion, meaning “The
(1) Akshamalika Upanishad – Wikipedia. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Akshamalika_Upanishad
(2) Akshamalika Upanishad – Vyasa Mahabharata. https://www.vyasaonline.com/akshamalika-upanishad/
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(4) Mantra Yoga: Definition, Benefits and Technique • Yoga Basics. https://www.yogabasics.com/learn/yoga-101-an-introduction/mantra-yoga/
(5) Why Mantra Repetition Is Powerful And Important To Yoga. https://www.doyou.com/why-mantra-repetition-is-powerful-and-important-to-yoga/
(6) Mantram Repetition: a Portable Practice for Being Mindful. https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s12671-020-01440-4