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Numbers of Rudraksha to be worn

Numbers of Rudraksha to be worn

There are two approaches to determine how many rudrakshas one should wear. In the first approach, one can follow what the epics say about the number of beads to be worn on specific body parts like the neck, the wrist, the arm and so on. The second approach is to follow the traditions practised in the society in which one lives or the family to which one belongs, as these have also got evolved based on beads’ availability and experiences. The number of rudrakshas to be worn on different parts of the body as recommended in our epics is summarized as follows:


Body parts/organs No of beads Epic sources
Shikha (crown hair) 1 Shrimad Devibhagavata
(both right & left)
12/12 Shrimad Devibhagavata
Neck 32 Shrimad Devibhagavata
Forehead 40 Shrimad Devibhagavata
(both right & left)
6/6 Shrimad Devibhagavata
Chest 108 Shrimad Devibhagavata
Shoulders 500 Shrimad Devibhagavata
(sacred thread)
108 Shrimad Devibhagavata
Body parts/organs No of beads Epic sources
Neck 2 rows Shrimad Devibhagavata
Other parts of the body e.g. as earrings,
crown, waist belt, in abdomen, etc.
3 rows Shrimad Devibhagavata
Crown 550 Shiva Puran
Crown 1,100 Shiva Puran
Yajnopaveet (sacred threat) 360 (3 rows)
& 120 each
Shiva Puran
I (crown hair) 1 & 3 Shiva Puran
(both right & left)
6/6 Shiva Puran
Neck 101, 50, 32 Shiva Puran
(both righ & left)
11, 16, 24 Shiva Puran
Karpoordvara 11 Shiva Puran
(both right & left)
11, 12 Shiva Puran
Yajnopaveet (sacred thread) 3 strings each of 108 Shiva Puran
Waist region 5 Shiva Puran
Forehead 30, 40 Shiva Puran
Shoulders 500 Shiva Puran
Heart (chest) 108 Shiva Puran
Forehead 30 Shiva Puran
Neck region 36 Shiva Puran
(both right & left)
16/16 Shiva Puran
Body parts/organs No of beads Epic sources
(both right & left)
12/12 Rudrakshajabalopanishad
Shoulders 15 Rudrakshajabalopanishad
Yajnopaveet (sacred thread) 108 Rudrakshajabalopanishad
Neck region 2, 3, 5
& 7 rows
Crown _ Rudrakshajabalopanishad
Kundal (as earring) _ Rudrakshajabalopanishad
Wrists _ Rudrakshajabalopanishad
Waist 300 (mean)
500 (medium)
1,000 (best)
(both right & left)
4/4 Nirunayasindhu
Neck region 32 Nirunayasindhu
Forehead 40 Nirunayasindhu
(both right & left)
6/6 Nirunayasindhu
(both right & left)
12/12 Nirunayasindhu
(both right & left)
16/16 Nirunayasindhu
Sikha (crown hair) 1 Nirunayasindhu
Heart (chest) 108 Nirunayasindhu

The total number of rudrakshas to be worn over the body also varies in different epics. For example, it can be 108, 249, 1,000, 1,008 or 1,111 rudrakshas. The picture shows our house priest wearing a rudraksha meditation dress with 1,111 beads. We have made a meditation dress with 2,780 rudrakshas (after consulting different epics and with the highest number mentioned in them for a particular part of the body) for wearing over head, arms and wrists, heart, neck, waist, ears and eyes. Wearing such a divine and powerful dress and performing meditation will lead to calm and serene feeling from within. However, it is not practical for all to use such large number of beads on a regular basis. My suggestion is to use as many rudrakshas as possible and make it a point to choose larger beads for wearing over chest to get better acupressure effect. The malas on the neck must go up to the level of the heart at the minimum and it should be two inches above the navel as maximum length.

It is necessary to understand the difference between a mala and a combination of beads. The main differences are:

  • A mala, whether for wearing or for jap, is continuously strung with beads with gaps for knots only. Generally, a mala has only one type of bead; for example, a rudraksha mala will have only rudrakshas and a tulsi mala will have only tulsi beads. 
  • A combination can be in the form of a thread or silver/ gold chain around neck and beads at the bottom. Different materials can be used in a combination, e.g. gems can be used along with rudraksha. Sphatik beads can also be used in some regularity for adjusting length or for good looks. Wearing of different materials (which are accepted as useful and may have some curative or divine properties) is perfectly right for spiritual purposes. One can wear tulsi, sphatik, sandalwood, keharwa (amber) and rudraksha malas separately, if one has faith in a particular God (Shiva, Durga, Vishnu, Ram, Krishna, etc.). However, if these materials are being used for health purposes, it is advisable to consult an expert. For example, those suffering from asthma are not advised to wear sphatik along with rudraksha.
  • Some people get taabeej (talisman) made from some source, which they consider very powerful while others choose tiger nails (though these are banned, some get them from old stocks or through inheritance). Many are found choosing metal pendants of Shree Yantra, Ganesh, Hanuman, Krishna or any God or Goddess and become confused whether to wear these with rudraksha. Our opinion is that as rudraksha is a natural and holy product having no specific branding, it can be used with devotion for worshipping any God or Goddess.   
  • People wearing fake rudraksha beads are advised that they should remove such beads after it is confirmed as fake or spurious by any expert or by oneself as anything, which is not genuine, is likely to give negative influence.
  • Further, in accordance with family traditions or due to mindset, many do not use tulsi and rudraksha beads together. There is nothing wrong in wearing these holy materials together. We find that in Hindu culture a lot of effort has been made in the past to bring Shaivaites and Vaishnavaites together. There are temples in which Hari (Vishnu) and Har (Shiva) are worshipped in a unified form. Goswami Tulsidas had composed Harishankari verse to offer unified prayers of Lord Shiva and Lord Ram. It is included in Vinayapatrika, which is one of the finest works of poetry in Hindi literature. In Ramcharitmanas, which is the greatest work of this poet, Lord Ram says “anyone calling himself my devotee and by conviction is an opponent of Lord Shiva will be condemned and he is destined to get punishment within this life and also in the next life” Shaligram shilas, which are revered by Vaishnavaities, have been used to make Shivalinga and several efforts have been made to bring these two sects into one fold. Lord Krishna has worshipped Lord Shiva and vice versa. Lord Vishnu had offered one of his eyes when He fell short of one lotus flower while worshipping Lord Shiva and Lord Shiva has worshipped Lord Vishnu. Therefore, rudraksha is not confined to only Shaivites. I feel a majority of people in our country accept this view.

Shiva Puran defines a meditation dress as:

  • Three strands of 120 rudrakshas, each to be worn across the chest as Yagnopaveet, one strand of 108 rudraksha for chest, 11 rudraksha each on both wrists and arms (total 44), six rudrakshas on each ear, five rudrakshas on naval, 32 rudrakshas on throat, and 550 rudrakshas on head. This way, a total of 1,111 rudrakshas make a meditation dress and is considered auspicious for attaining rudrahood.

Shrimad Devibhagwat: 

  • One on the tuft, 30 on the head, 36 on the neck, 16 on each arm (total 32), 12 on each wrist (total 24), 50 on the shoulders, and 108 as Yagnopaveet. In addition, some rudrakshas should be worn around the neck to make the total number to 300. As per this epic, 300 numbers of rudrakshas is the minimum, 500 is recommended and 1,000 is the best.


  • One on tuft of hair (shikha) 30 on head, 36 on neck,16 each on arms,12 each on each wrists,15 on shoulders, 108 as Yajnopaveet and 2×108 or 3×108 or 5×108 or 7×108 around neck.

In general, it can be said that epics recommend the use of as many rudrakshas as possible.
In case of a mala for jap, use 27+1, 54+1 or 108+1 beads. Those believing in numerology should consider the following numbers as auspicious for different objectives (for jap only):

        32 or 30 for wealth

        100 for thousands of mahapurashcharans       

        102 for merits and knowledge

        104 for health and strength

        107 for final liberation (nirvan or moksha)

        108 for righteousness (dharma), wealth, desire and the final liberation.