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What is Rudraksha

Rudraksha is a genus of large evergreen trees with more than 360 species distributed in the tropical and subtropical regions of the world. The scientific classification of Elaeocarpaceae to which rudraksh belongs to is as follows :

Rudraksha Tree rudraksha Rudraksha Rudraksha Tree 7 300x300
Rudraksha Tree
  • Kingdom: Plantae
  • Division: Magnoliophyta
  • Class: Mangoliopsida
  • Order: Oxalidales
  • Family: Elaeocarpaceae
  • Genus: Elaeocarpus
  • Type: E. serratus Linn, Eganitrus, Roxb, etc.

These species are distributed in Madagascar, India, Sri Lanka, Nepal, Sikkim, Bhutan, Myanmar, Tibet, Thailand, Malaysia, Indonesia, northern parts of Australia, New Zealand, New Caledonia, Fiji, Philippines, Southern China, Japan and Hawaii. The islands of Borneo and New Guinea have a large concentration of the species. In the late nineteenth century a botanist, Dr. William Roxburgh, had classified the most popular variety of these trees found in Nepal while studying the flora of India and Nepal in his capacity as Director, Indian Botanical Garden, Kolkata. He is considered as an authority on Elaeocarpus ganitrus Roxb. commonly called rudraksha, which match the broad specifications given in our old religious texts. The above species of rudraksha are mostly found in Nepal and Indonesia as of now, as at other places there has been no organized plantation work.

The size of the beads varies according to the area where trees are located. For example, fruits of the Nepalese variety are largest in size and Indonesian variety the smallest. Rudraksha is the fruit of the E. ganitrus Roxb. The bead contains seeds inside and receive their nourishment from the central cavity. From this central cavity vertical clefts remain attached. While each cleft has separate compartment having one internal seed, the joint of these clefts protrude outside the body of the seed. This joint, visible from outside, is known as mukhi (facet). To understand it in a simple manner, a five mukhi bead will have five clefts having five internal seeds, a nine mukhi bead will have nine clefts and nine seeds, etc. The number of internal clefts should be the same as the number of mukh in any rudraksha. This is a good test to recognize a rudraksha having several facets (mukhi). Older texts like Shivapuran mention up to 14 mukhis only (Read More).

References : Kamal N Seetha (2014) The Power Of Rudraksha

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