A mala is a string of beads that are used to focus the mind in japa meditation to count mantras, breaths, or prayers. For thousands of years, malas have been used to help spiritual aspirants with their religious and spiritual practices.

Mala is a Sanskrit word that means garland. A full mala contains 108 beads and one guru or meru bead. The guru (teacher) or meru (mountain) bead is generally larger than the other counting beads. It provides a starting and ending point while counting repetitions of the mantra.

Malas vary from one tradition or another but even though the construction of a mala may be different, their common use is to help the aspirant count the repetition of mantras, breaths, or prayers.


In Buddhist and Hindu traditions, malas usually consist of 108 beads and are used to count a repetition of mantras or breaths. In the Catholic tradition, rosaries have 59 beads (half-mala) and are used to assist the devotee in guiding their prayers through the different mysteries of the life of Christ.


Kriya Malas


A Kriya Mala consists of 108 beads and is typically broken into nine 12-bead segments to make counting more effective in the specific practices of the Kriya Yoga technique handed down to us by Babaji. Kriya Yoga was reintroduced to the modern world by Lahiri Mahasaya.  


“The cries of many bewildered worldly men and women have not fallen unheard on the ears of the Great Ones,” Mahavatar Babaji responded to Lahiri Mahasaya’s request to initiate into the technique more widely. “You have been chosen to bring spiritual solace through Kriya Yoga to numerous earnest seekers. The millions who are encumbered by family ties and heavy worldly duties will take new heart from you, a householder like themselves. You must guide them to see that the highest yogic attainments are not barred to the family man. Even in the world, the yogi who faithfully discharges his responsibilities, without personal motive or attachment, treads the sure path of enlightenment.”


Kriya malas are often made with Rudraksha seeds, known to carry spiritual properties and benefits for the spiritual aspirant. Other beneficial materials for malas are sandalwood and a large variety of gemstones, both precious and non-precious, commonly used with a wide range of meanings typically associated with the different gemstones.


After a silence, Babaji added, “Repeat to each of your disciples this majestic promise from the Bhagavad Gita: Swalpamasya dharmasya, trayata mahato bhoyat – Even a little bit of the practice of this religion will save you from dire fears and colossal sufferings.”  


Follow these links to learn more about Kriya Yoga and meditation. 

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