Repeating a mantra with or without counting devices such as malas, is known as japa. It is a practice used by aspirants of all religions as a powerful tool to control the mind. They exercise their mind by doing prayers or japa, often with rosaries or malas.
In Tantric japa one repeats a mantra for a prescribed number of times such as 1.000 times, 10.000 times, 12.500 times or 125.000 times. In order to keep account of the number of repetitions made, grains of rice are used that can be combined with malas. The grains of rice are counted and put in a metal pot. Each time a mala is completed, one grain of rice is removed from the remaining number of grains.
Malas get charged with energy after they have been used for japa frequently. If one has done 125,000 repetitions of the mantra on a mala, it becomes charged with energy (siddha), and by wearing it one gets energy from it. It is in fact the same energy one has put in it while doing the japa.
- Malas should be used by the right hand (only one hand should be used)
- The index finger and the little finger should not touch the beads.
- The beads should be held by the middle finger and should be turned with the help of the thumb.
- Malas always have an extra bead hanging outside the row of beads, whose total number is usually 108. This 109th bead is called Sumeru.
- The sumeru bead of malas should never be passed. It thus becomes a static point in these malas.
- The aspirant should start the mala at the first bead next to sumeru and should end on the last bead before sumeru.
- If the aspirant has to do the mala twice (or more), he should turn it and make the last bead become the first bead for starting the second round
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