The term Rudraksha (Elaco carpus seeds) literally means the eye of Rudra. They are worn especially by the devotees of Siva and also strung in the form of a rosary to aid in the recitation of japa. The Vidyesvara Samhita of Siva Purana gives an elaborate treatment to the various aspects of the worship of Siva. In so doing it takes into consideration Sivas name, the holy ashes (vibhuti) and the rudraksha beads. The three are very holy and are on a par with Triveni, the confluence of the three holy rivers (Vidyesvara Samhita 23.10). Thus they are integral.
Origin of Rudraksha
Sage Suta addresses Saunaka and describes the glory of rudraksha saying that it was propounded formerly by Siva himself to the goddess in order to help the worlds.According to this account, Siva had been performing penance for thousands of years. Out of sport (lila), he opened his eyes, wanting to help the worlds, and then drops of tears (asrubindu) fell from his half-closed eyes. It was from these tear drops that the rudraksha plants came into e x i s t e n c e a n d t h e y b e c a m e i m m o b i l e (Vidyesvara Samhita 25.5-7).
Padma Purana has a slight variation about the origin (1.59.131-135). Tripura a demon in Kritayuga after having killed the gods and destroyed the worlds stayed firm in the intermediate region (antariksapuri). Siva heard the pleas of gods and stringing his bow with an arrow he killed the demon whom he saw with his divine eye. Drops of perspiration (svedabindu) fell from (the body of) Siva who was tired with exhaustion (vyakula). The great rudraksha was produced from these drops.
T h e t h i r d v e r s i o n i s f r o m t h e Devi Bhagavata (Skanda 11). Here it is said that Siva sat with open eyes thinking as to how he should kill Tripura. He sat for thousands of years and after a long time winked and tears dropped down from which the rudraksha tree originated. Twelve types of rudrakshas came from the sun-eye of Siva, 16 from the moon-eye and 10 from the fire-eye. The first ones were blood-coloured, the second white and the third black.
W h e r e a r e t h e rudrakshas g r o w n ? According to Siva Purana, those that are grown in Gauda are the favourites of Siva. They are also grown in Mathura, Lanka, Malaya (a mountain range in the west of Malabar), Sahya (a mountain range), Kasi and other places (Vidyesvara Samhita 25.9-10).