Sandalwood attracts the energy of Saraswati Devi for purity and higher awareness, and the divine aroma of sandalwood is one of the three scents that encourages subtle energy to rise through the sushumna nadi. Japa malas, or "prayer beads," consist of 108 beads held together by a sacred thread, along with a "guru" bead which is attached to the tassel. The beads represent your individual mantras or prayers, the thread represents your unbroken state of concentration, and the guru bead reminds you of the divine grace that gently removes all your blockages and limitations as you strive to move forward on the spiritual path. Not only does a japa mala help you count recitations of mantras, but the material used for the beads will help to energize your body, mind and spirit. The electrical energy contained in the beads is transmitted into your body through the very sensitive fingers as you hold the mala in your hand. The thumb is related to our connection with God, and the fourth (ring) finger contains a very pure spiritual nectar. The mala beads stimulate this nectar nadi, causing a stream of divine energy to flow from the ring finger all the way up the arm and into the heart. Thus, all the blood passing through the heart is charged with nectar, which then gets carried to the rest of the body with each heartbeat. While malas are traditionally used for counting mantras, they can also be worn around the neck as a sacred necklace. The beads will attract cosmic energy and transmit that energy into the body of the wearer. The 108 beads in the mala will purify and energize the 108 main subtle energy centers in the auric body, thus keeping you in a refined and elevated state. Wearing a mala during any sacred ceremony, like a puja, homa or meditation, will help you to attract and retain the divine vibrations of that ceremony. Whether used for japa or worn as a sacred necklace, this sandalwood mala will help you to release all negativity and attract all positive and auspicious energies. Your spiritual qualities will flower beautifully, your meditation will deepen, and your awareness of the Divine will expand. The more mantras and prayers you recite with this fragrant sandalwood mala, the more divine energy you will attract into your life for peace, truth and loving compassion. How to Use a Mala for Mantra Japa Japa malas are traditionally used during the practice of japa, or mantra repetition. It is important to hold the mala in the right hand, draped over either the third or fourth finger. Amma recommends using the fourth, or ring finger. Start with the bead immediately adjacent to the guru bead and tassel. Use your thumb to pull the mala over your ring finger (towards your body), one bead for each mantra. So as you chant each mantra, you hold one bead gently between the thumb and ring finger. As you finish each mantra, pull the mala towards you with the thumb, and then hold the next bead. When you reach the guru bead again, you know you have completed 108 recitations. If you will be continuing your japa, it's important to switch the mala around before starting the next round, so that the last bead you held becomes the first bead held for the next round. When you recite mantras, the powerful energy of the sacred seed sounds causes a lot of purification to take place. As the negativity is purified, it must be released. Switching the mala around helps in this process of releasing negativity. If you don't switch the mala around, a practice known as "crossing the guru bead," negativity can actually build up. So in order to ensure maximum purification and spiritual progress, make sure not to cross the guru bead. For more information on the use and care of japa malas, please see The Spiritual Significance of Malas and Murtis.