WHAT IS MALA?
“WHEN YOU TRAVEL TO A FAR AWAY PLACE, ALONG THE ROAD YOU GO OVER MANY MILESTONES. EVEN IF THEY WERE NOT THERE, YOU WOULD REACH YOUR DESTINATION EQUALLY. BUT MILESTONES CONFIRM AND SHOW YOU ARE GOING IN THE RIGHT DIRECTION. ROAD AND STONES ARE ESSENTIAL TO ENSURE YOU REACH YOUR PSYCHIC DESTINATION. PEARLS KEEP AWARENESS ACTIVE AND KEEP THE PSYCHIC SYSTEM UNDER CONTROL. "
In Sanskrit japa means "to murmur", while mala means "garland, for leathers putting the two words together you have the perfect definition: '' The garland for whispering prayers''.
The jewel is in fact used to keep the mind centered during the repetition of a mantra or a prayer and is traditionally worn around the neck or left wrist to remind you to stay in the present moment or to bring your intentions to mind.You can also place it in the practice room to bring positive energies.
The Christian rosary is probably derived from the Indian mala: transliterating the Sanskrit alphabet into Latin and changing the short "a" with the long "Ā" we get JAPĀ, which no longer means prayer, but "rose". JAPĀ-MĀLĀ thus assumes the meaning of "crown of roses", which was then translated into Latin as "rosarium".
In Indian ashrams it is common to see meditators holding japa mala; its origin is very ancient, so much so that the Japamala are present in the Buddhist and Hindu religions. In Asia the first traces of it can be found painted in the frescoes found in the Ajanta caves, in the Maharashtra region, in central-western India and dating back to the second century. B.C., but being considered an emblem of Hindu gods and divinities, the rosaries probably originate from the beginning of these religions that date back more than 4,000 years of history.
The recitation of the mantra comes from the Vedic tradition preceding Buddha and it is in fact assumed that these tools are very ancient and have always been used by devotees in their meditation practices in order to remain focused on the sequence of mantras and as a practical system in the calculation of prayers. repeated.
Given their diffusion and antiquity, the malas have acquired a very profound and representative image.
The word mantra also derives from Sanskrit and is made up of man meaning "mind, thought, act of thinking, intellect, breath, living soul" and the syllable between means "who frees, who does, who acts, who protects". The mantra therefore represents a formula that frees the mind, a tool that frees thought. On a practical level, mantras are represented by a series of words which, if pronounced repeatedly, correctly and with the right mental intention, have the power to give a benefit to our mind and our life.
In addition to making the flow of the recitation tangible - be it prayers, mantras or sutras - they help to focus and direct all our attention on meditation, making us aware of what we say and which, like an uninterruptedly repeated litany, pervades us, bringing us into a state of mind that transcends habit. The repetition and the rhythm gives the tranquility and serenity that man has always sought in entrusting himself to his god, whatever he may be, with whom he aspires to find certainties, protection and comfort.
Furthermore, declamation involves our whole being: the hand that clutches is tied to the body, the murmuring affects the voice and the perception of divinity the mind. Therefore, the use of the rosary is not only a methodical and systematic practice that could suggest an empty doctrinal exercise, but a powerful link between man and his god, a symbol of an infinite cycle that unites the earth to the sky.
According to Swami Vishnudevananda, japa mala helps to be alert and acts as a focal point for physical energy. While repeating the chosen mantra, attention can be drawn to the ajna chakra, between the eyebrows, or to the heart chakra, the anahata. The repetition of the mantra helps to develop concentration and to awaken the spiritual dimension of the practice. One can repeat the mantra aloud (vaikhari japa) or mentally (manasika japa). Through japa mala it is possible to cultivate conscious attention by feeling united with divine power.
THE PRACTICE OF JAPA
The mala is held above the middle finger while the other 2 fingers are grouped together and detached from it. The fingers symbolize the Gunas, the 3 qualities of thought, temperament and action. The symbolism of this position recalls the transcendence of the world of illusion to gradually become aware of unity.
The hand with which to hold the mala is the right hand between the thumb, which symbolizes God, and the middle finger, in order to emphasize the fusion with the divine passing from one grain to another.
THE MEANING OF THE NUMBER 108
The traditional mala are composed of 108 grains (or submultiples: 54, 27, 9, typical of wrist japamalas), so much so that this number is considered sacred in many religions, including Hinduism, Buddhism, Sikhism and Jainism. . The Japa-mala Hindu rosary in the beginning consisted of simple ropes knotted regularly, so that the bindings were at constant distances, thus allowing a fluid flow. Subsequently they were made with the most diverse such as pearls, bones, seeds, wood ... always in number of 108 grains. There are many interpretations and meanings attributed to this figure, even if in reality one of the most correct definitions is that 108 is not a number but rather three expressions of reality:
1 is Brahma, the Supreme Consciousness, the Ultimate Truth; unity, uniqueness and truth.
0 represents the Cosmos, origin, empty, absolute, the Creation personified in the figure of Shiva but also the spiritual state of Samadhi, that is, that intimate and inner union between the one who meditates and the goal of his meditation, which leads to the purest states of the intellect, calm, wisdom, the prerogative of both Hindus and Buddhists.
8 indicates the creative force of Nature seen in its most significant manifestations such as the five elements - water, earth, air, fire, ether - combined with the three expressions of being: Ahamkara, which defines the I, one's individuality, the ego; Manas, the ability of the mind to have deep and analytical thinking, and Buddhi, the ability of the intellect to be above, to possess intuition and a lively and ready intelligence. It is cyclical, eternal and infinite. Among the other possible interpretations is that 1 is Bindu, the point from which creation begins and multiplicity develops; the 0 is Sunyata, the void understood as a state of liberation from Samasara, the interruption of the cycles of becoming; on the 8th finally it is Ananta, the infinite. And again: when the individual (1) reaches the state of annihilation of the ego (0), the infinite (8) fills him with energy and awareness.
And again, just to name a few ...