Bodhi Mala is a buddhist prayer bead used for prayers and recitation of mantras by devotees. The mala allows the user to keep track of how many prayers or mantras have been recited with minimal conscious effort, allowing for greater focus on the prayer itself. Here we learn about the religious importance and uses of this sacred prayer bead.
The word “Bodhi Mala” is derived from two Sanskrit words: “Bodhi” and “Mala”. The word “Bodhi” connotes a spiritual awakening, while “Mala” is a circular loop made of prayer beads widely used for meditation and prayer. The Bodhi Mala is named after the Bodhi tree, which is the tree under which the Buddha is said to have attained enlightenment. According to Buddhism, it was after meditating for several days under the Bodhi tree in Bodh Gaya, India, that Buddha achieved enlightenment.
The Bodhi Tree
The Bodhi Tree is a sacred fig tree which was located in Bodh Gaya, Bihar, India. It is said that Siddhartha Gautama, the spiritual guide who later took the name Buddha, acquired enlightenment or buddhahood beneath this tree around 500 BCE.
Although the actual tree under which Siddhartha Gautama meditated is no longer in existence, the term “bodhi tree” is also used to refer to revered fig trees that are still standing. The most popular example of an existing tree is the Mahabodhi Tree growing at the Mahabodhi Temple in Bodh Gaya, which is also considered as a descendant of the original tree.
Religious Importance Of Bodhi Mala
The Bodhi mala is revered as a holy object that symbolizes the Buddha’s teachings and the possibility of everyone’s spiritual awakening. The mala is frequently used to focus the mind and foster concentration during meditation and chanting exercises. It is thought that repeating mantras while counting the mala beads has a powerful cleansing effect on the mind, eradicating negative mental states and fostering positive ones. Some of the importance of the Sacred Mala is explained below:
- Spiritually Drawing Near To Buddha
This sacred mala is made from the seeds of the Bodhi tree, which is the tree under which the Buddha attained enlightenment. Using this mala spiritually links Buddhists to Buddha and his sacred teachings.
- Signifies the journey to enlightenment
The 108 beads of Bodhi Mala represent the 108 defilements or mental afflictions that devotees must overcome to achieve enlightenment. By using the mala while reciting mantras or prayers devotees can focus their minds on their journey towards enlightenment and overcome obstacles that may come.
- An aid for meditation and prayer
This sacred mala is a very useful aid for meditation and prayer, helping Buddhists to cultivate mindfulness, reduce distractions, and develop concentration.
- Cultivate compassion and kindness
Through the use of the mala during meditation and chanting one can promote compassion, kindness, and generosity in their hearts. By cultivating these qualities and training their minds during meditation, Buddhists can develop a greater sense of empathy and love towards others.
- Representation of the Three Jewels
The Bodhi Mala is a representation of Buddhism’s Three Jewels: the Buddha, the Dharma (teachings), and the Sangha (community of followers). The Mala can help Buddhists strengthen their connection to these three fundamental elements of their faith.
How To Use Bodhi Mala
Usually while meditating a person holds the mala in his left hand. With each recitation of a mantra one bead is pulled forward. The meditator uses his thumb to move the mala beads.
It is considered very auspicious to hold the mala to one’s heart. This gesture is said to give protection to devotees with merits and virtues. The largest bead in the mala is called the guru bead and after 108 recitation of a mantra, one reverses the direction as a symbol of respect to it.
Uses of Bodhi Mala
Bodhi Mala is a popular religious object that has been used for centuries by Buddhists and other meditation practitioners. The 108 beads of the Mala can be used for counting repetitions of a mantra or affirmation during meditation, aiding in concentration and focus. Additionally, Bodhi Mala can be used as a constant reminder of one’s spiritual commitments throughout the day. It can also be used for prayer, whether reciting traditional Buddhist prayers or personal ones.
While it can be also considered as a piece of jewelry, its significance goes beyond mere adornment. Though it is not forbidden to wear it as a necklace or bracelet the sacred mala should be treated with reverence and as having religious importance.
Some more uses explained below:
Keeps Mind Focused
The repetitive action of moving the beads while reciting a mantra or prayer helps to focus the mind, reduce distractions, and promote concentration.
Increases Mental Alertness
The use of the Mala encourages the practitioner to be mindful of their breath, their body, and their thoughts. It helps them to be present in the moment and to cultivate a sense of awareness and clarity.
Calms and Releases Stress
Using the Mala during meditation or prayer can be soothing and calming, promoting relaxation and reducing stress levels.
The Mala is an aid to enhance spiritual practice, helping the practitioner to deepen their connection to their faith, to cultivate compassion and gratitude, and to develop a greater understanding of the teachings of the Buddha.
The Bodhi Mala represents the path to enlightenment, reminding the practitioner of their spiritual goals and inspiring them to continue their journey towards spiritual growth and realization.
In general, the Mala is said to help in all around spiritual, mental and emotional wellbeing and is considered a valuable aid in spiritual practice.
The Bodhi mala is a wonderful and significant accessory for anyone on a spiritual journey, whether used for chanting mantras, counting breaths, or just as a reminder to stay mindful. It has gained popularity among spiritual searchers all over the world due to its rich symbolism and history.
1.How To Choose A Bodhi Mala?
Ans.To choose the right Bodhi Mala, look for the material, color, aura, design, and energy that matches your personal preferences and spiritual instincts. Choose a Mala that feels comfortable to use and complements your personality. Explore different options until you find the one that feels right for you.
2.How should I care for my Bodhi Mala?
Ans. Taking care of Bodhi Mala requires cleaning it regularly with a soft cloth to remove dirt and oil. You should store the mala in a clean, safe place, away from extreme heat or cold. Avoid getting it wet , as water can damage the beads and the string that holds them together.
3. Should I wear Bodhi Mala as Jewelry?
Ans. Though it is not forbidden to wear Bodhi Mala as a necklace or bracelet, the bodhi mala is a sacred object and should be treated with respect and revered as holy.