108 Bead Sandalwood Prayer Mala is a large evergreen broad-leaved tree whose seed is traditionally used for prayer beads in Hinduism. Buddhist prayer beads or malas are similar to other forms of prayer beads used in various world religions and therefore the term “Buddhist rosary” also appears.
The beads are traditionally counted at 108 in the Buddhist tradition representing mankind’s mortal wants. The number is related to Shakyamuni Buddha’s instruction in the Mokugenji Sutra to King Virudhaka to produce such beads and recite the Three Jewels of Buddhism. For brevity or informality, later Buddhist sects would either keep the number of beads or divide them into consecutive twos or fours.
Depending on one’s local culture, a decorative tassel is occasionally tied to the beads flanked by talismans or amulets. Because prayer beads are frequently painted with pigment several ancient systems attribute to them a Sangha consecration ceremony to “open the eyes” for the aim of obtaining Enlightenment unique to each believer’s Karma.
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