WHAT IS A RUDRAKSHA?
Rudraksha means “the one that is capable of looking at and doing everything. Rudraksha is a Sanskrit word made up of “Rudra”, which means “Shiva” and “Aksha”, which means “Tears”, summing up to ‘the tears of Lord Shiva’. Botanically, Rudraksha beads are the seeds of the Rudraksha fruit obtained from Rudraksha trees. These beads are covered by an outer shell of blue color on fully ripening. It is kept in water for a number of days and then Rudraksha is taken out after peeling off the pulp and brushing it clean.
Rudraksha is a rare gift of nature to mankind in the sense that most beads come with a natural hole drilled in the centre, as if nature intended man to use the rudraksha bead to form a chain. Such rudraksha beads are considered especially auspicious. Rudraksha is often believed to symbolize the link between earth and heaven, between man and god. Hence Rudraksha is the object of veneration and also a source to reach the higher self.
THE STORY BEHIND RUDRAKSHA
There are two legends behind the origin of Rudraksha.
- According to the Devi BhagwatPuran, there was a demon named Tripurasur, who was endowed with divine energy and strength. He became extremely proud of his powers and began troubling other deities and sages. Upon seeing this, Brahma, Vishnu and other deities prayed to Lord Shiva to destroy Tripurasur. When Shiva heard of this, he decided to go into deep meditation for some time, but when he opened his eyes, tears fell from them on earth. Wherever his tears fell, a Rudraksha tree started growing. After this, Lord Shiva got up to destroy Tripurasur with his weapon known as ‘Aghor’.
- Another legend says that once Lord Shiva’s consort, Parvati asked him about the origin of Rudraksha. Upon hearing this, Shiva narrated Paravati the story of his long penance and meditation when he kept his eyes shut for a very long period of time. He went on to say that when he opened his eyes after that long duration; tears fell from them and resulted in the growth of Rudraksha trees. The seeds of this tree were subsequently distributed as beads later.
RUDRAKSHA AND ITS RELIGIOUS SIGNIFICANCE
The Rudraksha is one of the most widely used and auspicious religious symbol, as well as a way to be one with Lord Shiva. Its religious significance is as follows:
- The mantra of Lord Shiva Mahamrityunjaya can only be chanted on a Rudraksha Mala/ Rosary.
- The person who wears a Rudraksha mala is like Rudra (Lord Shiva) himself. He eats, drinks just like Rudra himself and all his sins are vanished.
- The usage of Rudraksha bead is free from any divisions or restrictions based on one’s caste. It can be worn by all individuals of any caste or varna.
- No pleasure is considered greater in the world than wearing a Rudraksha. It is a sin to criticize a wearer of Rudraksha.