What is a Japa Mala?

in Japa Mala, Reference

Japa mala

Japa Mala – Prayer Beads of the East

A Japa Mala is a chain of prayer beads – the Oriental version of a rosary – used both by Hindus and Buddhists as a counting tool while reciting prayers and mantras. A japa mala typically consists of 108 beads – in Buddhist practice, it is made out of wood, precious and semi-precious gems, gold, seeds, and animal bones.

During meditation, mantras are repeated over and over, often hundreds or thousands of times – a process known as ‘japa’. This form of chanting is said to generate Tapa, the spiritual energy that leads the practitioner to walk the path of Dharma in his daily life and ultimately leads to enlightenment.  The mala (‘garland’) allows one to dwell on the mantra’s meaning without simultaneously having to keep count of the repetitions, as every time the mantra is uttered, the fingers automatically move to grasp the next bead.

In Buddhist iconography, prayer beads are seen on specific Buddhist deities like Amitabha and Avalokitesvara. Wrathful deities are sometimes portrayed holding malas made of skulls.

View our collection of Malas & Mala Bracelets