akshamala
   An akshamala is a necklace of seeds or beads used for keeping track of a prayer litany, in other words, an Indian rosary. SHAIVITE akshamalas are typically made of the rudraksha (Eleocarpus ganitrus) seed—spherical, brownish red, with a texture similar to that of a peach pit. VAISHNAVA akshamalas are typically made of seeds of tulasi, the Indian basil plant, sacred to Vaishnavites. Akshamalas can also be made of coral, crystal, or other gems; some TANTRICS use small skulls carved of ivory. Many akshamalas have 50 beads to corre-spond with the number of letters of the alphabet. Others have 108 or other numbers of beads.
   Further reading: Kim Kaur Khalsa, Mala Meditation for Physical, Mental, and Spiritual Prosperity: Yogic Use of Malas (Prayer Beads) to Maintain a State of Union with the Infinite Based on the Teachings of Yogi Bhajan (Los Angeles: Sacred Gems, 1994).

Encyclopedia of Hinduism. . 2007.

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