The Sacred Rudraksha
- May 8, 2021
By Vijita Mukherjee
Rudraksha means the tears of Rudra. For once, it is all in the name! From an evergreen tree found in the Himalayas and a few other mountains, these wrinkled brown seeds are said to have grown from the tears of Shiva himself.
Why did Shiva weep?
Some say that Shiva shed tears of ecstasy during meditation and these tears sprouted into the rudraksha trees when they touched the ground. Others believe that Shiva opened his eyes after several years of mediation and saw humanity suffering. Tears of compassion welled up in the divine eyes and wherever these tears fell, there budded the Rudraksha trees. Still, others maintain that these are tears of unimaginable grief, shed when Sati, Shiva’s beloved consort, was consumed in the ceremonial fire.
Illustration: Durgesh Velhal
Another story links the tears of Shiva to the intense meditation he undertook to destroy three demons, the Tripurasuras. These demons lived in three floating Purams or cities and were protected by a boon from Brahma. They could only be destroyed when their cities came into a single axis, which happened once in a thousand years. Shiva destroyed the demons and liberated them with a single arrow. Maybe it was the intense concentration with which he focussed as he readied himself to aim at the cities that his half-closed eyes (Ardha Nimeelita neetra) watered and that created the rudraksha.
Ecstasy, compassion, grief or destruction for liberation, whatever be the cause of those tears, the rudraksha is considered to be imbued with energies that are physically curative and spiritually uplifting. It has a special place in Indian mythology. People wear it as a necklace, a bracelet, as earrings, use it like a rosary or japamala to count their prayers or just treasure the fact...