What is Mala?

Mala or Japa Mala are a form of Prayer beads, traditionally used in Buddhism and also in other religions and cultures.

They are used during meditation to assist the user to not only stay present in the moment, but to keep track of how many times a mantra is chanted, recited or repeated mentally or verbally.

Mala Necklaces have 108 beads, a Guru bead and a charm or tassel. There are variations to this number when making the Mala into a bracelet or a pocket Mala. However the number of beads should remain a multiple of 9 as this is a sacred number. Therefore, variations may contain 54, 27, 18 beads, etc.

Why 108 beads? There are believed to be a number of reasons behind the number 108.

  • 108 Beads allows for 100 repetitions of a Prayer / Mantra, with 8 extra beads in case of error when moving the fingers over the beads. 
  • According to traditional Buddhism, 108 represents the number of mortal desires of mankind which one must overcome to achieve Nirvana.  
  • The Sanskrit Alphabet contains 54 letters, each is Masculine and Feminine (Shiva or Shakti), meaning there are 108 letters.
  • The sun’s diameter is 108 times more than the Earth’s diameter. In addition, the distance going from the Earth to the Sun equals 108 times the Sun’s diameter. 
  • There is also an Astrological reference to the number 108. With there being 9 planets and 12 houses in Astrology. Multiply these numbers together and you get ..... you guessed it .... 108.
  • I could go on and on, but there are too many more reasons to list

The Guru Bead represents a teacher or spiritual guide associated with the Mala wearer.