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The Meaning of the Number of Buddha Beads

Buddha beads, also known as prayer beads, are tools used by Buddhists to count and bind their hearts when chanting Buddha; It is also an essential keepsake for Buddhist disciples when practicing. Today, many people who enjoy fashion or display individuality also wear a string of Buddhist beads, but they may not necessarily know the meaning of different lengths of Buddhist beads:


According to the records of the Tibetan scriptures, the highest quality Buddhist beads are 1080. Due to their length, these beads are only used by a very small number of virtuous monks and cultivators, or by famous monks as decorations in the Great Dharma, and are rarely used by others. The top grade Buddhist beads are 108 (110 for Tantric practitioners), the middle grade is 54, and the rest are 42, 21, 14, 36 for Pure Land Buddhism and 18 for Zen Buddhism.


The number of Buddhist beads has its own meaning: 1080, which includes 108 each in the Ten Dharma Realms; 108 grains represent 108 simple troubles, or the merits of 108 Buddhas, or 108 infinite samadhi, etc; 54 grains represent the realm of self-cultivation; 42 grains, representing the levels of Bodhisattvas in residence, movement, direction, and earth; 27 grains, representing the 27 sages of fame; The 21 grains represent the ten places that are inherent in Buddhism and the ten places for spiritual cultivation, as well as the Buddha’s fruit; Fourteen grains represent the fourteen forbearance (three sages, ten saints, and enlightenment) mentioned in the Renwang Sutra. The remaining 36, 18 and other Buddhist beads, some of which are only one-third or one-sixth of the 108, are for convenience in carrying, while others represent the 36 Heavenly Gang or 18 divine changes represented by the external world, without any other meaning.


A prayer bead is a Buddhist tool used for counting when reciting Buddhist names or mantras, hence it is also known as a “Buddhist bead” or “counting bead”. Usually, small round particles are made of fragrant wood, running through them in a string, and are also made of jade or agate.

The general number of beads is divided into 14, 18, 21, 27, 36, 42, 54, 108, and 1080. It is said that there are many troubles in the world. Just say “Namo amitabha” and dial a bead to relieve them. Because when chanting Buddha, one must eliminate all distractions and evil thoughts, and achieve a pure and pure heart, so prayer beads are also known as “heart clearing beads”. Buddhism says that “a sincere chant of ‘Amitābha’ can eliminate eight billion deadly felonies.”

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