Tibetan Beads Mala
Tibetan Beads / prayer beads appeared in the Buddhist tradition in Asia sometime after the development of the Mahayana (The Great Vehicle Path). There is a sutra (thread of knowledge) in which a King prays to the Buddha for a simple practice to help ease his suffering from various difficulties and the Buddha responded by telling him to string 108 seeds and recite the three part refuge prayer upon them. Hindus who converted to the Buddhist faith brought their malas with them from India to China, Japan , and eventually Tibet. The mala/ prayer beads was one of the main tools used to focus ones mind and devotional aspirations. These "garlands" of sacred sound vibration were recited over and over.
The mala itself becomes empowered with spiritual energy as a result of these mantric recitations and further aids ones practice. This devotional practice became part of Buddhism.Conventional Buddhist tradition counts the beads at 108, signifying the mortal desires of mankind. The number is attributed to the Mokugenji (soapberry seed) Sutra wherein Shakyamuni Buddha instructed King Virudhaka to make such beads and recite the Three Jewels of Buddhism. In later years, various Buddhist sects would either retain the number of beads, or divide them into consecutive twos, fours, for brevity or informality.
A decorative tassel is sometimes attached to the beads, flanked by talismans or amulets depending on one's local tradition. Because prayer beads are often painted in pigment, various traditional schools attribute a consecration ritual by the Sangha to the beads, to "open the eyes" for the purpose of achieving Enlightenment unique to the Karma of each believer.
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