The history of mala beads

The Mala is the rosary or rosary of Buddhists, a faithful companion of the practitioner who often holds it by hand, wrapped around his wrist or around his neck like a necklace.
The word mala means in Sanskrit “a necklace of flowers” or “garland of pearls”. It is a rosary with 108 beads and has different meanings depending on the country. The reason for this number, however, remains somewhat of a mystery.

Very common in India in relation to the sacred (deities usually have 108 names), its use seems to go back to the time before christ. The most likely time is based on the data of Indian astrology and therefore a cosmic dimension. There are two different hypothesis.

– Like other ancient societies, India is considering a lunar Zodiac of 27 signs. Either 27 constellations called “naksatras”, in which the star of the night remains one day, since its sidereal revolution is composed of 27 days. 108 is made by multiplying these 27 constellations with the 4 quarters of the moon.

– 108 is the result of multiplying the 12 signs of the Zodiac by the 9 planets

Other ideas exist. Especially the one that connects with the Yoga data, where it is estimated that 10,800 is the number of breaths performed during the twelve hours, that is to say a full day or a full night.

Of the 108 trials that the Buddha has undergone in order to attain enlightenment and the 108 names of the Buddha – of the 108 passions that the faithful must overcome in order to approach his ideal of meditation and asceticism.

Parts of malas

There are 3 beads sized sometimes slightly larger than the others named “marker beads” which with the head ball divide the mala into 4 sections of 27 beads each.

The cord, on which all the beads are strung, must theoretically be made of a braid of several threads:

– 3 threads symbolize the “three bodies” of the Buddha (Absolute body, Body of glory, Body of emanation)
– 5 sons symbolize the “wisdom” or “5 families” of Buddha,
– 9 sons symbolize the Primordial Buddha Vajradhara and the 8 great bodhisattvas.

If added to the mala, The counter and its ten rings are used to account for the hundreds or thousands of mantras recited. This is usually completed by a small “vajra”, or skillful means and compassion, and by a small bell, or knowledge and emptiness. The mala is held with the left hand. It is made by bringing the pearls to oneself, in order to pull the beings out of suffering. Each turn ends at the pearl Guru, then without crossing it, the mala is returned to return in the other direction.

Although the mala has 108 pearls, each turn counts as one hundred. Each turn ends at the pearl Guru, then without crossing it, the mala is returned to go in the other direction. Although the mala has 108 pearls, each turn counts as one hundred; The remaining eight being “offered” for possible mistakes made during the recitation.

For more information on mala history go here and read the article.