Usually, while playing, tennis players swing their rackets. Similarly, table tennis players too swing their rackets once or twice till the opponents serve. Likewise, the batter moves his bat in the hand while at the crease. We might assume that these people are swinging their bats or rackets out of sheer habit and seemingly have got used to it or maybe they are just showing off their style. But in reality it is not so. There are many physical and psychological benefits to players when they swing their bats or rackets. American tennis player, coach and author Lawrence Shanet says that holding and turning and twisting the racket is not a just a habit. It has many advantages. He says from his long personal experience as a tennis player and coach that..
1) the player feels relaxed by holding and swinging the racket loosely in his hand.
2)It becomes easy for him to play his shots.
3) Also it affords him many options for playing the return shot and finally,
4) His hands will not sweat easily.
Doing this, the game becomes slightly lighter and easier for the player. So, we can observe that there are a number of benefits in swinging the racket or the bat while playing.
If turning a bat or a racket in one's hand can have so many benefits, then wouldn't there be benefits in turning the beads of a rosary in the hand?
Wouldn't there be a deeper significance in doing so? There are numerous benefits in turning the rosary in one's hand. When a person is turning the rosary in his hand, one should not think that the other person is idling or simply whiling away his time. Pramukh Swami Maharaj once said that it's better to become Mala Pradhan than Nana pradhan. That means the rosary and thought of God should be at the core in everyone's life, even above material and financial gains. Before trying to understand the benefits of turning the rosary, let us first try to understand what rosary actually is.
The rosary has been considered as the best medium for remembering God's name. The practice of rosary is found in Hinduism and many other religions as well. Although each religion has its own method, it has however been established by scholars that the practice of rosary found in religions other than Hinduism seems to have its origin in Hinduism.
The Mundaka Upanishad says:
‘अरा इव रथनाभौ संहता यत्र नाड्यः’
Just as the spokes are united at the hub of the wheel of the chariot, so the internal Nadis of the body are united with the heart. The Heart is the abode of God. The seer sages in their infinite wisdom gave rosary as a device to remember God and manifest Him in the heart and also explained the glory of chanting. At the root of the 108 beads of rosary is the main basis of the Tattva calculation of the Varaha Upanishad. Six Vikar, Six Urmi, Six Kosha, Six Ripu, Ten Senses, Four Anthakarana, Panchavishay, Panchabhuta, Ten Prana, Three States (waking-dream-deep sleep), Three Deha, Three Gunas, Three Karma, Three States (Childhood-Youth - old age), four subjects of conscience (resolve, perseverance, pride, conception), four emotions (Joy, empathy, friendship, ignorance), fourteen deities, nine planets, birth, death, purusha and maya - total: 108 elements. The Jivatma is very different. The sages associated with Japa the awareness that a seeker who is ready in God's presence cultivates from moment to moment. The Soul, which is above the 108 elements is its Meru.
It is said in Yogachudamani Upanishad that
पद्शतानि दिवारात्रि सहस्त्राण्येकं विंशति।
एतत् संख्यान्तिंत मंत्र जीवो जपति सर्वदा।।
A person breathes 21, 600 times in 24 hours. 12 of those hours are spent in everyday routine like studies, job, business etc. So the remaining 12 hours can be employed in worshipping God. That means 10, 800 breaths can be used in remembering the Almighty. If we can't even spare that much time, then we should, by removing the last two zeros, chant the name of God in at least 108 breaths.
Another belief is based on the discovery of 27 constellations by our sages. Each constellation has four phases which multiplies into 108, which is considered sacred. In Hinduism there is also a practice of honoring the names of saints, Dharmacharyas, Jagad Gurus etc. by prefixing 108 along with "Shri".
The third belief is rooted in astrology. It is based on dividing the entire universe into 12 parts. These 12 parts are given the number of 'Rashi'. Mainly 9 planets (Navagraha) have been considered in our scriptures. Thus the product of 12 zodiac signs and 9 planets is 108. This number proved to be representative of the whole world.
The fourth belief is based on the Solar cycle. There are 21,600 kalas (various phases) of the Sun in a year. The Sun stays in the summer solstice for six months and in the winter solstice for the remaining six months. So the total kalas of the Sun in each six month period is 10,800. Dropping its last two zeros gives the number 108. So the 108 beads in the rosary are symbolic of each position of the Sun.
Highlighting the importance of beads in the
Shivpurana, it is said that:
अष्टोत्तरशतं माला तत्र स्यावृत्तमोत्तमम्।
शतसंख्योत्तमा माला पञ्चाशद् मध्यमा।।
That is, the rosary of 108 beads is the best, while the rosary of hundred beads is second best and the rosary of 50 beads is just about satisfactory.
In the first chapter of Shiv Purana itself, in verse 28, it is said that chanting the name of God, while turning the rosary with the thumb begets salvation, with the index finger one's enemies are destroyed, with the middle finger one gets wealth and with the ring finger one gets peace.
This article is written and submitted to The E Today by Sadhu Amrutvadandas. We thank swamiji for his research and analysis and hope to see the awareness about life and peace being spread ahead to larger mass of our citizens.