The Shiva Purana

by J. L. Shastri | 1950 | 616,585 words

This page relates “greatness of rudraksha” as found in the Shiva-purana, which, in Hinduism, represents one of the eighteen Mahapuranas. This work eulogizes Lord Shiva as the supreme deity, besides topics such as cosmology and philosophy. It is written in Sanskrit and claims to be a redaction of an original text consisting of 100,000 metrical verses.

Disclaimer: These are translations of Sanskrit texts and are not necessarily approved by everyone associated with the traditions connected to these texts. Consult the source and original scripture in case of doubt.

Chapter 25 - The greatness of Rudrākṣa

[Sanskrit text for this chapter is available]

Sūta said:

1. O sage Śaunaka, highly intelligent, of the form of Śiva, noble-minded, please listen to the greatness of Rudrākṣa. I shall explain it briefly.

2. Rudrākṣa is a favourite bead of Śiva. It is highly sanctifying. It removes all sins by sight, contact and Japas.

3. O sage, formerly the greatness of Rudrākṣa was declared to the Goddess by Śiva, the supreme soul, for rendering help to the worlds.

Śiva said:

4. O Śivā, Maheśāni, be pleased to hear the greatness of Rudrākṣa. I speak out love for you from a desire for the benefit of the devotees of Śiva.

5-7. O Mahesāni, formerly I had been performing penance for thousands of divine years. Although I had controlled it rigorously, my mind was in flutter. Out of sport, I being self-possessed just opened my eyes, O Goddess, from a desire of helping the worlds. Drops of tears fell from my beautiful half-closed eyes. From those tear-drops there cropped up the Rudrākṣa plants.

8. They became immobile. In order to bless the devotees they were given to the four Varṇas devoted to the worship of Viṣṇu

9-10. Rudrākṣas grown in Gauḍa[1] land became great favourites of Śiva. They were grown in Mathurā, Laṅkā, Ayodhyā, Malaya[2], Sahya[3] mountain, Kāśī and other places. They are competent to break asunder the clustered sins unbearable to the others, as the sacred texts have declared.

11. At my bidding they were classified into Brahmins, Kṣatriyas, Vaiśyas and Śūdras. These Rudrākṣas are of auspicious nature.

12. The colours of the four types of Rudrākṣas are respectively white, red, yellow and black. All people shall wear the Rudrākṣa of their own Varna.

13. If they desire their benefit, namely worldly pleasures and salvation and if the devotees of Śiva wish to gratify Śiva they must wear the Rudrākṣa.

14. A Rudrākṣa of the size of an Emblic myrobalan (Dhātrīphala) is mentioned as the most excellent; one of the size of the fruit of the jujube tree (Badarīphala) is spoken of as the middling.

15. O Pārvatī, lovingly listen to this from a desire for the benefit of the devotees. The meanest of Rudrākṣas is of the size of a gram according to this excellent classification.

16. O Maheśvarī, even the Rudrākṣa which is only of the size of the fruit of the jujube accords the benefit and heightens happiness and good fortune.

17. That which is of the size of the emblic myrobalan is conducive to the destruction of all distresses. That which is of the size of a Guñjā (the berry) is conducive to the achievement of the fruit of all desires.

18. The lighter the Rudrākṣa, the more fruitful it is. Each of these is fruitful and that of a weight of one tenth is considered by scholars as the most fruitful.

19. The wearing of Rudrākṣa is recommended for the sake of destroying sins. Hence that which is conducive to the achievement of every object has to be worn certainly.

20. O Parameśvarī, no other necklace or garland is observed in the world to be so auspicious and fruitful as the Rudrākṣa.

21. O Goddess, Rudrākṣas of even size, glossy, firm, thick and having many thornlike protrusions yield desires and bestow worldly pleasures and salvation for ever.

22. Six types of Rudrākṣas shall be discarded:—that which is defiled by worms, is cut and broken, has no thornlike protrusions, has cracks and is not circular.

23. That which has a natural hole from end to end is the most excellent; that which is bored through by human effort is the middling one.

24. The wearing of Rudrākṣa is spoken of as conducive to the destruction of great sins. If eleven hundred Rudrākṣas are worn on the person, the man assumes the form of Rudra.

25. Even in hundreds of years it is impossible to describe adequately the benefit derived by wearing eleven hundred and fifty Rudrākṣas.

26. A devout man shall make a coronet consisting of five hundred and fifty Rudrākṣas.

27. A person of pious nature shall make three circular strings in the manner of the sacred thread, each having three hundred and sixty beads.

28. O Maheśvarī, three Rudrākṣas must be worn on the tuft and six in each of the ears right and left.

29-30. Hundred and one Rudrākṣas shall be worn round the neck; eleven Rudrāksas shall be worn round each of the arms, elbows and wrists. Devotees of Śiva shall have three Rudrākṣas in the sacred thread and round the hips five Rudrākṣas shall be tied.

31. O Parameśvarī, the person by whom so many Rudrākṣas are worn is worthy of being bowed to and adored by all like Maheśa.

32. Such a person while in contemplation shall be duly seated and addressed “O Śiva”. Seeing him, every one is freed from sins.

33. This is the rule regarding eleven hundred Rudrākṣas. If so many are not available, another auspicious procedure I mention to you.

34-36. One Rudrākṣa shall be worn on the tuft, thirty on the head, fifty round the neck; sixteen in each of the arms; twelve round each of the wrists; five hundred on the shoulders, and three strings each having hundred and eight in the manner of the sacred thread. He who wears in all a thousand Rudrākṣas and is of firm resolve in performing rites is bowed to by all Devas like Rudra himself.

37-39. One Rudrākṣa shall be worn on the tuft, forty on the forehead, thirty-two round the neck; hundred and eight over the chest; six in each of the ears; sixteen round each of the arms; O lord of sages, according to the measurement of the forearms, twelve or twice that number shall be worn there. A person who wears so many, out of love, is a great devotee of Śiva. He shall be worshipped like Śiva. He is worthy of being always honoured by all.

40. It shall be worn on the head repeating Īśāna[4] mantra; on the ears with Tripuruṣa[5] mantra; round the neck with Aghora[6] mantra and on the chest also likewise.

41. The wise devotee shall wear the Rudrākṣa round the forearms with Aghora Bīja mantra. A string of fifteen beads shall be worn on the stomach with Vāmadeva mantra.[7]

42. With five mantrasSadyojāta etc. three, five or seven garlands shall be worn. Or all beads shall be worn with the Mūla mantra[8].

43. A devotee of Śiva shall refrain from eating meat, garlic, onion, red garlic, potherb, Śleṣmātaka, pig of rubbish and liquors.

44. O Umā, daughter of the mountain, the white Rudrākṣa shall be worn by the brahmin, the red by the Kṣatriya, the yellow by the Vaiśya, the black by the Śūdra. This is the path indicated by the Vedas.

45. Whether he is a householder, forest-dweller, ascetic or of any Order, none shall go out of this secret advice. Only by great merits can the opportunity to wear the Rudrākṣa be obtained. If he misses it he will go to hell.

46. The Rudrākṣas of the size of an Emblic myrobalan and those of lighter weight but depressed with thorns, those eaten by worms or without holes and those characterized by other defects shall not be worn by those wishing for auspicious results. They shall avoid small ones of the size of gram. O Umā, Rudrākṣa is an auspicious complement to my phallic image. The small one is always praiseworthy.

47. People of all Varṇas and Āśramas even women and Śūdras can wear Rudrākṣa at the bidding of Śiva. The ascetics shall wear it with the Praṇava.

48. If any one wears it during the day he is freed from sins committed during the night; if he wears it during the night he is freed from the sins committed during the day. Similar is the result with its wearing during morning, midday or evening.

49. Those who wear Tripuṇḍra, the matted hair and the Rudrākṣa do not go to Yama’s abode.

50-52. [Yama’s directive to his attendants:—] “Those who wear at least one Rudrākṣa on their heads, Tripuṇḍra on the forehead and repeat the five-syllabled mantras shall be honoured by you all. They are indeed saintly men. You can bring the man here who has no Rudrākṣa on his person, and no Tripuṇḍra on his forehead and who does not utter the five-syllabled mantra. All those who have the ash and Rudrākṣa shall be honoured always by us after knowing their power. They shall never be brought here”.

53. Yama commanded his attendants like this. They too remained quiet agreeing to it. In fact they were surprised.

54. Hence Mahādevī, the Rudrākṣa as well as the person who wears it is my favourite. O Pārvatī, even if he has committed sins he becomes pure.

55. He who wears Rudrākṣa round the hands and arms and over the head cannot be killed by any living being. He shall roam in the world in the form of Rudra.

56. He shall be respected by the Gods and Asuras always. He shall be honoured like Śiva. He removes the sin of any one seen by him.

57. If a person is not liberated after meditation and acquisition of knowledge he shall wear Rudrākṣa. He shall be freed from all sins and attain the highest goal.

58. A mantra repeated with Rudrākṣa is a crore times more efficacious. A man wearing Rudrākṣa derives a hundred million times more merit.

59. O Goddess, as long as the Rudrākṣa is on the person of a living soul he is least affected by premature death.

60. One shall attain Rudra on seeing a person with Tripuṇḍra, his limbs covered with Rudrākṣa and repeating the Mṛtyuñjaya mantra[9].

61. He is a favourite of the five deities[10] and a favourite of all gods. O beloved, a devotee shall repeat all mantras wearing a garland of Rudrākṣas (or counting on the beads).

62. Even the devotees of Viṣṇu and other deities shall unhesitatingly wear the Rudrākṣa. Especially the devotee of Rudra shall wear Rudrākṣas always.

63. Rudrākṣas are of various types. I shall explain their different classifications. O Pārvatī, hear with great devotion. These Rudrākṣas bestow worldly pleasures and salvation.

64. A Rudrākṣa of a single face is Śiva Himself. It bestows worldly pleasures and salvation. The sin of brahmin-slaughter is washed off at its mere sight.

65. Where it is adored, Fortune cannot be far off. Harms and harassments perish. All desires are fulfilled.

66. A Rudrākṣa with two faces is Īśa, the lord of devas. It bestows the fulfilment of all desires. Especially, that Rudrākṣa quickly quells the sin of cow-slaughter.

67. A Rudrākṣa with three faces always bestows means of enjoyment. As a result of its power all lores become firmly established.

68. A Rudrākṣa of four faces is Brahmā Himself. It quells the sin of man-slaughter. Its vision and its contact instantaneously bestow the achievement of the four aims of life.

69. A Rudrākṣa with five faces is Rudra Himself. Its name is kālāgni. It is lordly. It bestows all sorts of salvation and achievement of all desired objects.

70. A five-faced Rudrākṣa dispels all sorts of sins such as accrue from sexual intercourse with a forbidden woman and from eating forbidden food.

71. A Rudrākṣa with six faces is Kārtikeya. A man who wears it on the right arm is certainly absolved of the sins of brahmin-slaughter and the like.

72. A Rudrākṣa with seven faces, O Maheśāni, is called Anaṅga. O Deveśī, by wearing it even a poor man becomes a great lord.

73. A Rudrākṣa with eight faces is called Vasumūrti and Bhairava. By wearing it a man lives the full span of life. After death he becomes the Trident-bearing lord (Śiva).

74. A Rudrākṣa with nine faces is also Bhairava. Its sage is Kapila. Its presiding goddess is Durgā of nine forms, Maheśvarī Herself.

75. That Rudrākṣa shall be worn on the left hand with great devotion. He shall certainly become Sarveśvara like me.

76. O Maheśānī, a Rudrākṣa with ten faces is Lord Janārdana Himself. O Deveśī, by wearing it, the devotee shall achieve the fulfilment of all desires.

77. O Parameśvarī, a Rudrākṣa with eleven faces is Rudra. By wearing it one becomes victorious everywhere.

78. One shall wear the twelve-faced Rudrākṣa on the hair of the head. All the twelve Ādityas (suns) are present therein.

79. A Rudrākṣa with thirteen faces is Viśvedeva. By wearing it, a man will attain the realisation of all desires. He will derive good fortune and auspiciousness.

80. A Rudrākṣa with fourteen faces is the highest Śiva. It shall be worn on the head with great devotion. It quells all sins.

81. O daughter of the king of mountains, thus I have explained to you the different types of Rudrākṣas based on the number offaces. Please listen to the mantras with devotion.

Om Hrīṃ obeisance Single-faced
Om obeisance 2 faces  
Klīṃ obeisance 3 faces  
Om Hrīṃ obeisance 4 faces  
Om Hrīṃ obeisance 5 faces  
Om Hrīṃ Huṃ obeisance 6 faces  
Om Huṃ obeisance 7 faces  
Om Huṃ obeisance 8 faces  
Om Hrīṃ Huṃ obeisance 9 faces  
Om Hrīṃ obeisance 10 faces  
Om Hrīṃ Huṃ obeisance 11 faces  
Om Krauṃ Kṣauṃ Rauṃ obeisance 12 faces  
Om Hrīṃ obeisance 13 faces  
Om obeisance 14 faces  

82. For the achievement of all desired objects, the devotee shall wear the Rudrākṣa with mantras. He shall have great devotion and faith. He shall be free from lethargy.

83. The man who wears the Rudrākṣa without mantra falls into a terrible hell and stays there during the tenure of fourteen Indras.

84-85. On seeing a man with the garland of Rudrākṣas, all evil spirits, ghosts, Piśācas, witches like Dākinī and Śākinī, other malignant spirits, evil charms and spells etc. fly away suspecting a quarrel.

86. Seeing a devotee with the garland of Rudrākṣas, O Pārvatī, Śiva, Viṣṇu, Devī, Gaṇapati, the sun and all the Gods are pleased.

87. Thus realising its greatness the Rudrākṣa must be worn well, O Maheśvarī, repeating the mantras with devotion to make virtues flourish.

88. Thus, the greatness of ash and Rudrākṣa that bestow worldly pleasures and salvation, was explained to Girijā by Śiva, the supreme soul.

89. The persons who apply ash and wear Rudrākṣa are great favourites of Śiva. Enjoyment of worldly pleasures and salvation are certainly due to their influence.

90. He who applies ash and wears Rudrākṣa is called a devotee of Śiva. A person devoted to the Japa of the five-syllabled mantra is a perfect and noble being.

91. If Mahādeva is worshipped without the Tripuṇḍra of ash and without the garland of Rudrākṣa, he does not bestow the fruit of cherished desire.

92. Thus, O lord of sages, whatever has been asked has now been explained. The greatness of ash and Rudrākṣa bestows the luxuriant fulfilment of all desires.

93. He who regularly listens to the highly auspicious greatness of ash and Rudrākṣa with devotion shall attain the fulfilment of all desires.

94. He will enjoy all happiness here. He will be blessed with sons and grandsons. In the next world he will attain salvation. He will be a great favourite of Śiva.

95. O lordly sages, thus the compendium of Vidyeśvara-saṃhitā has been narrated to you all. As ordered by Śiva it bestows achievement of everything and salvation.

Footnotes and references:


 Gauḍa-deśa, according to Skandapurāṇa, was the central part of Bengal extending from Vaṅga to the borders of Orissa:

vaṅgadeśāṃ samārabhya bhūvaneśāntagaḥ śive |
gauḍadeśaḥ samākhyātaḥ sarvavidyāviśāradaḥ ||


Malaya: a mountain range on the west of Malabar, the western ghats, abounding in sandal trees.


Sahya: It is one of the seven principal ranges, the other six being Mahendra, Malaya, Sūktimat, Rikṣa, Vindhya and Pāripātra or Pāriyātra.


Vājasaneyisaṃhitā (of Śuklayajurveda) 39.8.


Ibid. 17.11.


Ibid., 16.2


TA. 10.44.1; Mahā 4.17.2.


The five-syllabled mantra “Namaḥ Śivāya” is the basic mantra of Śiva.


Vājasaneyisaṃhitā (of Śuklayajurveda) 30.60.


The five deities referred to here are: the sun, Gaṇeśa, Goddess Durgā, Rudra and Viṣṇu. Cp.

ādityaṃ gaṇanāthaṃ ca devīṃ rudraṃ ca keśavam |
pañcadaivatamityuktaṃ sarvakarmasu (?) pūjayet ||

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