The word Rudraksha has its etymological beginnings in the two Sanskrit words "Rudra" and "Aksha" meaning Lord Shiva and Teardrops respectively. According to "Shiva Purana", Lord Shiva once went into deep meditation for the well-being of all living creatures. When he woke up, he opened his eyes and tear drops fell on the Earth. These tear drops took the form of seeds that later on became the Rudraksha tree. Rudraksha therefore means 'The Tear of Lord Shiva'. The dry seed-capsules from the Rudraksha tree form the rudraksha beads, which are being used as a rosary and are also worn as a chain.
Lord Shiva is always portrayed wearing rosaries of Rudraksha beads on his head, arms and hands. With this came the religious and spiritual significance of Rudraksha. It is believed that the seed of Rudraksha contains the secrets of the entire evolution of the cosmos within it. The sages and yogis of the himalayas, who live according to the Eternal Natural Law of Sanatana Dharma, have always been wearing Rudraksha for centuries for a fearless life on their path to spiritual Enlightenment and Liberation.
Devotees dedicated to Lord Shiva always wear Rudraksha as rosaries which are used in meditation; it helps to maintain good health, to gain self-empowerment and a fearless life. Rudraksha are noted for their divine protection and are worn on the body singly or as chains (Mala).
Botanically, the holy rudraksha tree is known as 'Elaeocarpus ganitrus Roxb' and belongs to the family Tiliaceae, a large evergreen broad-leaved tree with a wide crown. Altitude-wise, its habitat starts from sea-coast and goes up to 2,000 meters. Geographically it is found growing naturally and abundantly in tropical and subtropical areas. The trees are perennial in habitat. The trees are almost 15 to 60 meter in height. This tree grows fast and carries these seeds/fruits within seven years. These trees are mostly found in abundance in Nepal, in the Himalayan slopes and also in parts of India, Indonesia and Malaysia. Its English name is Utrasum Bead Tree. In Indonesia the Rudraksha Tree is called Ganitri Tree or Jenitri Tree. Around 70% of the Rudraksha trees are found in Indonesia, 25% in Nepal and 5% in India.
Rudraksha beads are the seeds of the Rudraksha fruit obtained from Rudraksha trees. Rudraksha beads are covered by an outer shell of blue color on fully ripening, so they are also called blueberry beads and the sweet tasting fruitflesh can be used for treatment of various diseases. It is kept in water for a number of days and then Rudraksha is taken out after peeling off the pulp and brushing it clean.
Rudraksha is a rare gift of nature to mankind in the sense, that most beads come with a natural hole drilled in the centre, as if nature intended man to use the rudraksha bead to form a chain. Such rudraksha beads are considered especially auspicious. Rudraksha is often believed to symbolize the link between earth and heaven, between man and god. Hence Rudraksha is the object of veneration and also a source to reach the higher self.
Each seed also possesses from 1 to 38 vertical lines running down its surface, like the longitude lines on a globe. These lines are known as mukhi, or faces, and are natural formations of the seed. Seeds with one vertical line are known as Eka-mukhi (one facet), which are very rare; those with two lines are Dvi-mukhi (two facets), and so on. Each bead has different effects on the wearer, depending on the number of mukhi or faces it has. Each of the many types of Rudraksha Beads have a governing Deity and specific powers and properties.
As per the Vedic scriptures, Rudraksha beads possess mystical and divine properties and can nullify the effects of malefic planets to a great extent. They offer protection to the wearer. No other bead is considered to be as auspicious and powerful as a Rudraksha.
The unique properties and divine powers of Rudraksha have been described in the authentic Shastras like the Rudraksha Jabala Upanishad, Padma Purana, Shiva Purana, Devi Purana and Bhagavat Purana. The benefits of this miraculous bead have been flowing to the users/ wearers from time immemorial. Rudraksha, is the most powerful and awesome bead ever, offering protection to its wearer. This bead can help you achieve all you want - a healthy mind, body and soul, a wealthy life that many dream of and only some achieve, and a happy soul.
Rudraksha comes in many sizes and faces also called "mukhi" meaning "the clefts or furrows or faces on the surface". According to Shastra (Scripture) there are up to 38 mukhi or faces found on Rudraksha, but Rudraksha of 1 to 14 mukhi are the most commonly available ones. And 5 or 6 are the vast majority.
95% of the Rudraksha found are with 5 mukhi. It is very rough, hard and tough and can be boiled in hot water for hours without problem. This procedure is sometimes used for testing rare and expensive Rudraksha from the Market for it's genuineness. To verify the authenticity of the numbers of mukhi, an x-ray photo can be taken as well.
Each mukhi Rudraksha has unique properties and provides various scientific, medical and spiritual benefits.
Rudraksha comes in four basic shades: white, red, brown and black. The different colours relate to the social/ religious order of Varna-Ashrama-Dharma. White= for brahmana, red=for kshatriya, brown= for vaishya, black= for shudra.