Hari Om! I praise the Effulgent State of Absolute Peace, belonging to Sri Maharudra, which is to be known through the Rudraksha Jabala Upanishad.
The Rudraksha Jabala Upanishad
There are varying pieces of information about the so-called ‘right’ way to choose and wear Rudraksha, and a string of supposed disasters than can happen by wearing the beads ‘wrongly’.
We need not get misled by the claims of mere mortals when there is an authentic Upanishad “The Rudraksha Jabala Upanishad” in Sama Veda.
This Upanishad was originally written in Sanskrit and is part of the Sama Veda.
It makes up one of the 108 Upanishadic scriptures and is in the form of a profound conversation between Lord Kalagni Rudra and the revered sage Sanatkumara (sage Bhusunda).
The Upanishad begins with an invocation to Brahman, the Supreme Reality for the well-being of the physical body, the prana (life force), and speech.
It concludes beautifully with a prayer of peace. The sage Sanatkumara (Bhusunda) asks Lord Kalagni Rudra various questions about Rudraksha beads, including their origins, spiritual properties, how to wear them and the benefits of wearing them.
For the original version in the Sanskrit Devanagari script, please refer to this Upanishad within the Sama Veda.
A summary on the important parts: (The Rudraksha Jabala Upanishad)
The five-faced Rudraksha (panchmukhi) may be worn by everyone for overall spiritual well-being.
In the Upanishad, Lord Kalagni Rudra describes the benefits of the one-faced to the fourteen-faced type of beads in great detail.
However, the five-faced beads have general positive vibrations which will suit all users.
Lord Kalagni Rudra says, “The five-faced Rudraksha represents Panchabrahman, the five-faced form of Shiva (Sadyojata to Isana). The wearer of this bead attains the grace of Panchabrahman and relieves himself of the sin of homicide.”
We can choose the type of benefits we want according to the number of faces on the beads. For instance, the wearer of a three-faced Rudraksha obtains the blessings of Agni for the three types of sacred fires.
Seeing, handling and uttering the word ‘Rudraksha’ results in amazing spiritual benefits and blessings.
The recommended colors for Rudraksha beads are white, yellow, red and black. I find that the red and black are the most common.
Do note that fresh Rudraksha seeds will darken considerably after drying, and this is normal. For instance, red seeds will darken to a deep brown. Also, be wary of ‘painted’ or dyed seeds.
The best beads are those that are not treated with chemicals, heat or paints.
Always choose beads that are well-shaped and undamaged. Broken, cracked, misshapen seeds or those damaged by worms cannot be used.
The best type (quality) of Rudraksha beads have a natural hole. According to the Upanishad, a bead which has a man-made hole is secondary in quality, so wear the best type you can realistically obtain.
Rudraksha beads are best strung on white silk or cotton thread. Some gurus have also said that gold and silver wire are okay to use, and generally these metals are good conductors of spiritual vibrations.
There is no ‘incorrect’ way to use Rudraksha. There are no ill-effects of wearing any type of Rudraksha.
Nowhere in the Upanishad does Lord Kalagni Rudra mention any negative consequences of wearing Rudraksha.
Rather, the Upanishad focuses on the various types of positive effects exuded by the beads; it provides enough information for one to personally decide on the type he or she needs most.
No restrictions are mentioned for the use of Rudraksha during menstruation. A woman’s bodily energy field changes during the menstruation cycle. The effects vary from person to person, so women are recommended to make their own decisions based on their individual bodily energy during menstruation.
There is no mention of any ill-effects of wearing Rudraksha as a non-vegetarian. However, bearing in mind the cyclical flow of Rudraksha’s energy in the form of a mala (rosary), it is best to refrain from non-vegetarian food as much as possible.
Rudraksha amplifies one’s own bodily energy and vibrations, and as the consumption of meat is highly tamasic, it would be wise to reduce the consumption of non-vegetarian food and eventually cease it altogether.
The Rudraksha Jabala Upanishad
(Original source: the Sama Veda)
Sage Bhusunda (Sanatkumara) asked Lord Kalagni Rudra: “What is the origin of the Rudraksha seeds, and what are the effects of wearing them?”
Lord Kalagni Rudra answered:
“When, in order to destroy the Tripura demons, I closed My eyes, tears fell from them to the ground and became Rudrakshas for the benefit of all.”
“Merely uttering their name (Rudraksha) produces the benefit of giving 10 cows in charity. The seeing and handling of them produces twice the said effect. I am unable to give it any higher praise.”
Sage Bhusunda asked: “Where do Rudrakshas come from? What are their names? How are they to be worn by men? How many faces do they have? What are the mantras to be chanted when wearing Rudraksha?”
Lord Kalagni Rudra answered: “I closed My eyes for a period of a thousand divine years. From My closed eyes, tears fell down on the earth. These drops became the great Rudraksha trees of the plant kingdom for the purpose of blessing My devotees.”
“The wearing of Rudraksha removes the sins of the devotees committed during the day and night. Seeing it (Rudraksha) produces one lakh of virtues, and handling it, one crore. The wearing of it by man results in one hundred crores of virtues, the wearing and making japa (chanting) beads of it results in one hundred million crores of virtues.”
“Rudraksha seeds which are as big in size as Amla fruits are the best. Rudraksha seeds which are the size of Badari fruits are declared by the wise to be second-best. The third-best seeds are the size of Bengal grams. Thus are My instructions.”
“By the command of Shiva the trees have sprung up from the earth in four classes, namely, Brahmana, Kshatriya, Vaisya and Sudra, and each type (Rudraksha) brings benefit to its own order.”
“The white Rudraksha seeds are called Brahmana beads, the red ones the Kshatriya beads, the yellowish ones the Vaisya beads and black ones, Sudra beads. The Brahmanas should wear the white ones, the Kshatriya the red ones, the Vaisya the yellowish ones and the Sudras the black ones.”
“The ideal bead is that which is well-shaped, well-sized and has thorns. One should reject six kinds, namely those that are damaged by worms, broken, without thorns, diseased, produces a hollow sound or is not well-shaped.”
“The best type of Rudraksha is that which has a natural hole. One which has a hole made by man is secondary in quality.”
“The wise should wear on his body and limbs a garland of beads that are well-formed and of a good size, strung on a white silk or cotton thread.”
“The bead that produces a golden colour when tested against a rubbing stone is the best, and this should be worn by worshippers of Shiva.”
“One should wear a single Rudraksha in the tuft of his hair, 300 on the head. He should make a garland of 36 for his neck, of 16 for each arm, and of 12 for each wrist. He should wear 500 on his shoulders. One should make a garland of 108 in the form of the sacred thread (Yajnopavita).”
“One should suspend from his shoulders a garland of beads consisting of two or three, five or seven rounds. He may wear the same on the head, on and around the ears, neck, arms, wrists, and across the shoulders like the sacred thread. He should wear it especially around the waist.”
“One should always wear Rudraksha, regardless if one sleeps or eats.”
“The wearing of 300 is said to be the lowest; of 500 ordinary, and of 1000 the best.”
“He should wear it on the crown, chanting the mantra ‘Isana’; on the shoulders Tatpurusha’; on the neck and against the heart ‘Aghora’. Recite the Aghora Bija Mantra while putting it on the wrists. One should wear a garland of 50 around the waist while chanting the Vyomavyapi mantra. He should wear, in all the places related to sense organs, a garland of five or seven beads, chanting the Panchabrahman and its supplementary mantra.”
Sage Bhusunda then addressed Lord Kalagni Rudra: “Tell me about the different kinds of Rudrakshas, their nature, the result of wearing them, and also about their different faces (mukhis). Tell me about those that drive out evils and those that give desired objects.”
Lord Kalagni Rudra answered: “The following are the slokas pertaining to these.”
“The one-faced Rudraksha represents the Supreme Reality. One who wears it with completely controlled senses merges with the Supreme Reality.”
“The two-faced one, O best of sages, represents Ardhanarisvara (the form of Shiva united with Shakti). One attains the grace of Ardhanarisvara by wearing this bead.”
“The three-faced bead represents the three sacred fires. Agni, the fire god, becomes pleased with him who wears this.”
“The four-faced Rudraksha represents the four-faced god, which is Brahma. Brahma becomes ever pleased with him who wears this.”
“The five-faced Rudraksha represents Panchabrahman, the five-faced form of Shiva (Sadyojata to Isana). The wearer of this bead attains the grace of Panchabrahman and relieves himself of the sin of homicide.”
“The six-faced Rudraksha has Kartikeya (Muruga) and Ganesha as its presiding deities. The wearer of this Rudraksha will enjoy great wealth and very good health. One should wear it to heighten intellect.”
“The seven-faced Rudraksha has the Saptamatrikas (seven mother goddesses or deva shaktis) as presiding deities. The wearer of this Rudraksha will enjoy great wealth and very good health. It blesses the wearer with purity and mental clarity.”
“The eight-faced Rudraksha has the Ashtamatrikas as its presiding deities, as well as the goddess Ganga. It also represents the eight-fold form of nature (the five elements plus mind, ego, and matter) known as the eight Vasus. The wearer of this bead will attain the grace of all the above gods and goddesses, and become truthful in nature.”
“The nine-faced Rudraksha has the nine Shaktis as its presiding deities. The mere wearing of it pleases the nine Shaktis.”
“The ten-faced Rudraksha represents the ten forms of Yama. Merely looking at it will decrease sins – there is no doubt in this.”
“The eleven-faced Rudraksha has the eleven forms of Rudra as its presiding Deities. The deities increase the prosperity of the wearer.”
“The twelve-faced Rudraksha represents Maha Vishnu and also the twelve Adityas. The wearer of it is accordingly blessed.”
“The thirteen-faced Rudraksha has Kamadeva as its presiding deity. The wearer of it attains the grace of Kamadeva in achieving all that he desires.”
“The fourteen-faced Rudraksha originates from the eye of Rudra (a form of Shiva). It blesses the wearer with good health and aids in the elimination of all diseases.”
“The wearer of Rudraksha should avoid prohibited food such as liquor, flesh of the boar, onion and garlic.”
“By wearing Rudrakshas during eclipses, Vishusankranti (the end of Mina and beginning of Mesha Masa), new moon, full moon and other such auspicious days, one is freed of all sins.”
“The root of the Rudraksha tree is Brahma, the fibre of it is Vishnu, the top is Rudra and the fruits are all the Devas.”
Sage Sanatkumara (Bhusunda) asked Lord Kalagnirudra: “O Lord! Tell me the rules for wearing Rudraksha beads.” At that time, Nidagha, Jadabharata, Dattatreya, Katyayana, Bharadvaja, Kapila, Vasishtha and Pippalada all came before Lord Kalagnirudra.”
Lord Kalagnirudra asked them, “Why have you all come here?”
They replied: “We wish to hear the rules of wearing Rudraksha beads.”
Lord Kalagnirudra said: “From the eye of Rudra, the Rudrakshas have come forth. Sadashiva (Rudra) closed His eye of destruction, and from that eye came forth the Rudrakshas.”
“The mere utterance of the name ‘Rudraksha’ brings forth the spiritual benefit of 10 cows given in charity. The Rudrakshas have as much virtue as that of the bright Bhasma.”
“By handling Rudraksha, and by the mere wearing of it, one acquires the spiritual benefit of 2000 cows given in charity. Wearing Rudraksha on the earlobes will result in the benefit of 11,000 cows given in charity, and the wearer will attain the spiritual state of the eleven forms of Rudra. Wearing Rudraksha on the head brings forth the benefit of one crore of cows given in charity. Of all the places on the human body, the benefits of wearing the beads on the earlobes is beyond speech to describe,” replied the Lord.
“He who studies this Upanishad daily, regardless if he is a boy or youth, becomes great. He acquires the blessings to become a universal guru and teacher of mantras.”
“One should perform fire sacrifice (homa) and worship (puja or archana) while reciting this Upanishad.”
“One should tie a single Rudraksha, received from a spiritual master or Guru, on the neck, right arm or in the tuft of his hair. This Rudraksha is called Mrityutaraka or ‘crosser of death’ (liberation from death).”
“Even the gift of the Earth surrounded by the seven continents is not sufficient to pay dakshina (spiritual fee) to that Guru. The gift of a cow, given to that Guru with sincerity, is appropriate as a spiritual fee.”
“A Brahmana who recites this Upanishad in the evening purges himself of the sins committed during the day. Recitation in the noon removes the sin committed over six births. The study of this Upanishad in the morning and evening removes the sins accumulated during many births; this action also brings forth the spiritual benefit of six thousand lakhs of Gayatri Mantra japa (chanting). He also purifies himself of his greater sins .”
“He gets the benefit of bathing in all the holy waters. He becomes freed from the sin of associating with fallen and corrupted men. He becomes the sanctifier of 100,000 generations of his lineage, and he attains the spiritual state (Sayujya) of Shiva. He never returns to this world, he never returns. Om, Truth.
~Thus ends the Rudraksha Jabala Upanishad, as included in the Sama Veda.~
How To Know that your Rudraksha Beads Are Genuine
It’s not difficult to tell real Rudraksha beads (or seeds) from fake ones if you know what to look for.
The best way to be sure, of course, is to pick fresh Rudraksha fruits and get the seeds out of them yourself.
However, if you decide to purchase Rudraksha seeds (or have received them from someone), read the steps below to learn how to differentiate the genuine ones from the fakes.
Note: Remember, Rudraksha seeds must not be chemically treated, heated, dyed or painted as these damage the subtle spiritual vibrations of the seeds.
How to Know if Your Rudraksha Beads are Genuine
Weight. Real Rudraksha seeds feel heavier than they look. The weight of the seed is focused at the core.
Roll it around in your palm and you’ll be able to feel this.
Fake beads carved from wood are light and have no noticeable core weight.
They sink in water. Genuine Rudraksha beads always sink in water. If they float, they’re likely fake.
In rare circumstances, genuine beads treated with strong chemicals may also float (this is due to damage done by the chemicals; it’s best not to use these beads).
Hair-like fibres. Look very closely at your Rudraksha seeds. Genuine Rudraksha beads have a ‘thorny’ surface, and between the thorns you should be able to see some hair-like fibres. These come from the dried pulp of the fresh fruit. It’s rare for anyone to be able to completely scrub away the pulp from the seed, so if the seed looks too ‘clean’, it may be fake.
Color. Rudrakshas naturally come in creamy-white, yellow, dark red and black. Remember that drying darkens the seeds, so it’s natural to see shades of dark gold, dark brown, reddish browns and brown-black.
Beware of odd or bright colors like chilli red, orange and purple. The seeds may be genuine, but coated with dye or paint.
Shallow grooves and ‘chunky’ thorns. The uniqueness of Rudraksha lies mainly in the way the surface thorns are formed. These are usually fine, but irregular in a way that makes it very difficult for human hands to replicate (by carving). Use your judgement when it comes to this; natural thorns are almost impossible to copy perfectly.
Shape. Rudraksha seeds are not always round, especially those with more than five faces, but the seeds generally have a round-oval shape. Familiarize yourself with Bhadraksha seeds, so you can recognize and avoid them (Bhadraksha seeds should not be worn as they don’t have the right spiritual vibrations).
Energy and vibration. Some people are sensitive enough to feel the spiritual energy and vibrations emitted by Rudraksha seeds. Try meditating with the seed (or seeds) in the palms of your hands. Rudraksha seeds radiate positive, grounding, serious vibrations. The energy can feel like a human pulse. With deeper spiritual practice, you’ll be able to feel these vibrations.
Number of faces (mukhi). Among the most expensive Rudraksha beads sold commercially are the one-faced (ekmukhi) and certain other types claimed to be ‘rare’ by the sellers.
Keep the following in mind: one-faced Rudraksha seeds are extremely rare, so there are high chances of you purchasing an expertly-made fake seed.
Rudraksha trees themselves are not very common these days, and the most trees produce the five-faced seeds.
The more faces a bead has, the higher your chances of being cheated. Besides, if you read the Upanishad, even the more common seeds (three to nine faces) give great spiritual benedictions and blessings.
This is Kali Yuga, the age of tamasic values and corruption, so be careful when you make decisions and be wary of claims that are too good to be true.