> If you use a mala, how is it contructed? How many beads? Is there a guru
> bead? Marker beads? How are they arranged? What stones, seeds, etc. are
> used? How are they placed? Are there counters? Etc. Also for what group
> practice is this kind of mala used?
Talking from a Vishnavite point of view:
1. There are 108 beads and the Krishna bead. The 108 beads represent the
108 Gopi's who represent Bhakti (loving devotional service to Krishna).
2. The Krishna bead is the starting point and you pay your respects to your
Guru Maharaj and to the line of succession and to Krishna to cleanse you of
sinful reactions and to protect you if you commit any offenses when
chanting that you were not aware of.
3. The beads are made from Tulsi because Tulsi Maharani is a surrendered
soul and is always at the Lotus feet of the Lord. Therefore contacting
her when chanting also reminds us to surrender to Krishna.
4. There are counters that are seperate that count the rounds that you have
chanted. Your spritual master will let you know how many rounds to chant.
5. Reason for chanting is because Krishna is non-different to his name and
therefore chanting his name means you are in his company. It also means
that you are re-establishing your eternal relationship with him. Therefore
there is congregational chanting by the devotees such as :
Hare Krishna Hare Krishna
Krishna Krishna Hare Hare
Hare Ram Hare Ram
Ram Ram Hare Hare
Meaning that we are asking the Lord to allow us to serve him and to
re-establish our relationship with him, in simple terms.
Bonefide chanting breifly means:
1. To be sincere and to endevour to chant intentively.
2. To have faith in the Holy names.
3. To not misuse the Holy names.
You do not need any special qualifications to chant apart from the above
and faith is all important. Faith does not mean blind faith !!!