Natural Tibetan Copper Naga Shell Mantra Bead Wrist Mala
This colorful and bold wrist mala is a great addition to any outfit! Three different beads make up this traditional wrist mala: bone, mother of pearl, and copper naga shells beads. Each bead is hand carved with a Tibetan Om Mani Padme Hung mantra.
This wrist mala is adjustable and strung on red cord. It can adjust from 7 1/2 to 9 inches. The beads vary in size from 8-10mm.
Malas the translation from Sanskrit as “heavenly garland,” Malas are used to count mantras, prostrations, names of the Buddha, sacred prayer, or affirmations.
A mala’s true benefit is activated when your bright awareness brings your intention and commitment to the recitations.
What are Malas?
Malas are used for keeping count while reciting, chanting, or mentally repeating a mantra or the name or names of a deity.
Malas are ubiquitous in Tibetan Buddhist communities all over the world, wrapped around wrists or dangling from fingers, accompanying the humming recitations of mantras like “Om Mani Padme Hum”, Om Tare Tuttare Ture Soha, or Om Muni Muni Maha Muniye Soha. In Tibetan we call them trengwa.
Since a common part of Tibetan Buddhist practice is repeating (mentally or out loud) certain mantras thousands or even hundreds of thousands of times, it is useful to use your rosary for counting off the number of prayers, like a spiritual abacus. Even if you are not actively counting, the repeated recitation of the mantra while proceeding bead by bead through the mala serves to focus and calm the mind.
The most common type of mala is a string of 108 beads, made of precious or semi-precious stones, wood, seeds, or bone. Each time you work your way around the mala, saying a mantra for each bead, you are considered to have completed 100 mantra recitations. The extra 8 beads are “spare” to make up for any miscounts or mistakes you may make along the way.
There is also a head bead, one that is larger than the others, and it is often called a “guru bead.” Some believe that this bead has a special significance, as representing one’s guru, for example, but very practically, this bead is the starting point for the circuit, and is not counted among the 108 total.
Sometimes, malas will have some extra precious stones added at various intervals, like some turquoise or coral for example. These are sometimes added at intervals you can use for counting, like after 27 beads for example, so that you know you are 1/4 of the way through one circuit. These counter beads are extra, so your total bead count would be 111 rather than 108.
There is also a smaller, wrist-sized mala, made of 27 beads for example, that is often used when doing prostrations. In this case, the smaller size is wrapped around your hand and repeated 4 times. One can make other configurations, of 21 or 22, for example, and that is not a problem, as long as you can use your mala for counting.
How to Hold and Count with your Malas
We want to say, as is often true in Tibetan culture, that there are no strict rules when it comes to malas and the way to count your mantras. Everybody does it slightly differently. There are common ways of doing things but these do not matter nearly so much as your intention and your attitude of prayer. If you are praying from your heart while using your mala, you are doing the right thing!
Although some sources recommend using the mala in your left hand, some Tibetans also hold them in the right hand. If you have a prayer wheel in one hand and a mala in the other, it is more common to hold your mala in the left hand and the prayer wheel in the right.
To use your mala, start with the first bead next to the “guru” bead. Hold the bead between the index finger and thumb, and recite your mantra once out loud or silently. Then move on to the next bead with a rolling motion of your thumb, recite your mantra again and repeat. When you get to the guru bead again you have completed 100 mantras without needing to count each one.
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