“I am the Awareness that makes itself all forms, just as one long cotton thread can have thousands of knots but remains one thread, without any second or third knot as something other than itself.”
~ Bhagavad Gita VII:7
In long ago days, a Mala was made of one continuous string, the beads formed by tying 108 knots in the string. The ends of the string were joined together into a Sumeru or Guru, signifying the unity or Oneness of all the individual knots. The sole purpose of a Mala ~ and just to emphasise its significance, it would have been one of a very few select items in an ascetic’s possession ~ was to focus the mind, to enhance the recitation of Mantra, and to awaken a meditative state and the vision of Oneness.
A Mala is so much more than just the ornamental jewellery it has transmogrified into in our present day: it is a faithful friend to the one who meditates and sings My Sweet Lord’s name. A Mala facilitates concentration and focus in meditation. It enables one to stay true to the sound and meaning of Mantra, and to awaken an exalted state in meditation. Pretty high-powered jewellery!
Mantra ~ a Sanskrit word which when literally translated means ‘mind release’ ~ is a sound or word which disengages mind’s attention from the external realm of forms and things and thoughts. Mantras evolved from the experimentation and insight of enlightened yogis, aware that their sounds and vibrations created a lucid and peaceful state of mind, inviting an awakening of the source space. Pretty high-powered sound, be it resounding, whispered, unspoken, unstruck.
Mantra can be a single syllable or vibration: Hum ~ the sound echoing throughout the universe; or Om ~ the essence or source of sound, thought, and word. The whole universe is absorbed in Om.
Or it may be a collectivity of sounds ~ in Sanskrit, or Celtic, or a language of familiarity ~ which invite special blessings into meditation and life. Just hearing My Sweet Lord by the iconic and visionary George Harrison, I am transported.
Mala and Mantra both are based in an external or outer realm of existence. Starting a meditation session with Mala is an ideal way of turning the attention from the physical, formed level of existence and consciousness ~ which is based in divisiveness or sense of duality ~ to Mantra, which is a more subtle level of perception. And then to meditation ~ the action of closing the eyes and seeing what remains. Although meditation appears at its outset to lie in the realm of action and thought, its super power is that, when given focus and faith, it offers freedom from form, from engagement, from thought, from identification as an individual being meditating, and introduces awareness pure ~ that Being alone is, everywhere just the same. “…the Awareness that makes itself all forms."
Mala Mantra Meditate: one action, one vision, one whole. No one aspect is separate from another.
But it is only ultimately in meditation that the body will be settled, the breath stilled, and the mind withdrawn from the outward march of the senses and turned toward its inner, infinite, formless source. Therein, the being sees all, knows all as his own sweet Self, and rests in his true nature ~ pure, free, forever.
Urvashee Saakshee ties Malas. Sings Mantra. And meditates. And in between moments, she tries to stay away from trouble.
A good life.