Written by Sri Swami Chandrashekarendra
"Rudraksa" means the eye of Rudra or Siva. "Rudraksa-mala" is a
"garland" (rosary) made up of such "eyes". "Aksa" means eye. In Tamil
the rudraksa is called "tirukkanmani"[the sacred pupil of the eye]
What is the meaning of "aksamala" or "sphatika-aksamala"? Here the
word "aksa" is not taken to mean the eye but the letters of the alphabet
from "a" to "ksa". In the Sanskrit alphabet "a" comes first and "ksa"
comes last. To learn the "A" to "Z" of a subject means to have a
grasp of it. To convey the same idea in Sanskrit we say "a-karadi
There are 50 letters from "a" to "ksa". So an aksamala
consists of 50 beads. There is of course a 51st bead which is bigger
the rest and it is called "Meru". The sun, the legend goes, does not go
beyond the Meru mountain during his daily journey. When we make one
round thus, muttering the name of the Lord or a mantra, first clockwise
up to the Meru and then anticlockwise up to the Meru again, we will have
told the beads a hundred times.