Monday, October 29, 2012

Hindu Prayer Beads (Part 2)

Hindu Prayer Beads
Photo Credit: Hein Bratt
by Angela Magnotti Andrews

Using Hindu Malas
In addition to 32 or 108 round mala beads, most Hindu prayer strands also include one larger bead called the Guru, Seva Mother, or Mother Bead. { Khalsa} In Hinduism, a Guru (teacher), an essential person in a student’s life, is often tasked with the role of assigning specific mantras.

This larger bead represents the sacred attachment between the teacher and his student. Therefore, the Guru Bead is a sacred bead that should not be crossed during the recitation of prayers. If a supplicant reaches the last mala bead and wishes to continue, he must turn the strand around and begin again in the other direction.

Hindus follow a sacred practice in using their prayer beads, which begins with holding them in the right hand with the strand draped over the middle finger. Ancient Hindus believed that using the index finger was in poor taste and would increase karmic debt, so modern practice includes keeping the index (and the pinky) finger completely away from the beads.

Using the thumb to slide each bead across the fingertips of the middle and ring fingers, the devotee establishes connection between his brain and the nadis (vital energy centers) of his fingers while repeating the name of the god he wishes to honor. Supplicants believe that repetition of these mantras will create a heat that incinerates karma. {Khalsa}

Read Part 3
1. Adams, Tom. “Prayer Beads—Tibetan Mala.” Eastern Healing Arts (website). Copyright 2004-2010. Accessed October 26, 2012.
2. Khalsa, Dayakaur. “Mala Beads.” Mala-beads (website). Accessed October 29, 2012.
3. Paul, LoriAnn V. “How to Pray With Muslim Prayer Beads: Thikr, Dhikr, Zikr, Tasbih, Tespihi, Subha, Misbaha.” Hearts to Heaven (website). Accessed October 26, 2012.
4. Rosary Workshop. “Journaling the Bead: A History of the Rosary.” Accessed October 20, 2012.
5. S, Anamika. “Hindu Prayer Beads for chanting Mantras.” HubPages. Last updated June 17, 2012.
6. Winston, Kimberly. Bead One, Pray Too. New York: Moorehouse Publishing, 2008.

*Clip-art courtesy of The Graphics Fairy


  1. You did a great job explaining something this complex.

    1. Thank you so much, Mom! I'm glad I was able to explain it so well.

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