Identification of Rudraksha : The main issue now is how to ascertain the genuineness of the bead and how to do the classification – Haridwar, Nepal, South India, Indonesia-as mentioned.Unfortunately, traditional sellers of rudraksha do not share the information on proper methods of identifying genuine beads for reasons best known to them. Most of the details I am going to narrate are known to these people..In spite of this, I must say that only in certain typical cases some real expertise is called for in identifying the bead. For example, rare beads like Trijuti, 14 or higher mukhi rudrakshas are often available as fakes and complications arise because of the higher levels of skill used by unscrupulous elements in creating the fake beads like joining a section inside the bead. In some cases, even the genuine bead may have inherent aberrations in structure.
There is no equipment developed so far, which can be readily used to check the genuineness or otherwise of a rudraksha. And it is quite unlikely that such equipment will be invented as the product to be tested is a seed of a fruit with varied structures depending on the sources of its origin. The electro-magnetic power flow is so subtle that even after setting up some standards for flow of energy; it is not likely to give results due to variations in parameters.
It is, therefore, necessary to adopt an indirect route to check for fake beads so that the chances of getting a spurious one are minimized.
Higher than 7 mukhi and Up to 21 mukhi
Mala beads 10 mm and Below
Others (2 mukhi Nepal, 1 mukhi Chandrakar, Sawar etc.)
This assessment is based on our experience of this market. It is therefore noticed that if we can identify one mukhi and Gaurishankar properly in about 80% of the cases, we can save ourselves from getting a fake rudraksha.
For all practical purposes, the one mukhi round variety rudraksha from Nepal cannot be found easily. Almost all traders with whom I have interacted and who have been in this business for several decades have not even seen a round variety of one mukhi rudraksha. Though, it finds mention in all the epics, it has remained an enigma. Even the old collections from ashrams and sadhus or princely families do not seem to have such a rudraksha. If we go by the old epics, then one mukhi Nepal variety remains as one of the biggest mysteries of our times.
There are several assumptions, myths and stories relating to the Nepal one mukhi rudraksha, some of which are:
Let us evaluate some of the possibilities while evaluating a one mukhi rudraksha in terms of references in the epics:
There are cases where all the lines in a rudraksha do not naturally get completed from one end to other and only one line remains open and clear. Many people accept such a rudraksha as a one mukhi. Such a judgment is disputable and it is a matter of conviction to assume that this bead as one mukhi. This happens more often in a four mukhi rudraksha and some times in three or five mukhi rudrakshas too. A genuine rudraksha is devoid of any tampering and each bead must have a natural hole. If such a bead is cut horizontally, it shall show 5, 4 or 3 compartments depending on the mukhis it possesses. Therefore, scientifically such a bead cannot be a one mukhi; however the rarity of round one mukhi rudraksha compels people to settle for the any available alternative.
In some two mukhi Nepal variety rudraksha, the second line either does not gets completed fully or it is mechanically suppressed (by putting a vice over the fruit mouth on the tree itself before it ripens). Such a bead is also accepted as one mukhi by many. The shape of such beads is not round as that of a genuine one mukhi. In my opinion, a genuine one mukhi rudraksha is one on which there is no tampering and there is only one clear line.
Rudraksha mentioned in Puranas may be from regions other than Nepal. For example, the one mukhi bead from Indonesia. There are several rudraksha species and beads from these trees must have come to the notice of our wise saints. We now know that one mukhi from Indonesia is a genuine bead in this category. Though rare, these are available.
It is quite likely that the trees must have stopped producing this highly valuable variety because of environmental changes resulting from pollution and the felling of old and rare trees. As the quantity of such beads is low, beads from the past are not visible now. The rudraksha kept at the Pashupatinath temple in Kathmandu is one among the rarest of beads. It has been noticed that even Indonesian one mukhi is not produced on a regular basis every year. Some trees produce it very rarely, once in four or six years. It is also possible that nature has some unknown cycle or method to produce these rare beads.
The Sawar is two beads naturally joined into one. Similarly, a Gaurishankar has two beads, one of which is essentially a one mukhi. This one mukhi bead is considered as a genuine one mukhi bead by some and they prefer to cut it out from the whole and wear it separately. Usually, there will be a hole in this bead and the shape is half moon. In many instances, the Sawar is used directly as a one mukhi bead without cutting the one mukhi out from the twin bead.
As regards one mukhi rudraksha of Nepal, the following points must be borne in mind:
A genuine one mukhi rudraksha from Indonesia can be obtained if one has the right source. It is a small bead (max. 10 mm long and 5 mm in central width) having an oblong shape . It resembles the two mukhi of Indonesia but the exception is that the one line is complete on one side and on the other side it partially exists as the closing loop of the bead. In two mukhi rudraksha, both the lines clearly exist.
We have dissected Indonesian beads of all mukhs and have noticed that the number of inner holes equals the number of mukhs outside. One mukhi rudraksha has one hole inside, while a two mukhi rudraksha has two holes and so on. In the case of Chandrakar one mukhi, it has one wide opening (not a hole). Such is the case with two or three mukhi Chandrakar too. Even Haridwar two, three and four mukhi rudrakshas have only one opening inside This is a valid test to verify the mukhs in a rudraksha and it is fully relevant for Nepal or Indonesian beads, which also follow other characteristics as given in our ancient epics.
In my opinion, Indonesian one mukhi rudraksha is the best choice as on date for those aspiring to get one mukhi genuine rudraksha.
Sometimes, we come across nearly round rudraksha-like seeds having sharp protrusions and thorns. And many a times, these beads would be having one mukh. However, these could be light in weight and would not be having a natural hole. Such beads are not accepted as rudraksha.
It is common on the streets of pilgrim centre and in large shops in places like Rishikesh, Haridwar and Banaras for fake one mukhi rudrakshas to be openly sold using marketing gimmicks. Some of the ashrams too indulge in this practice. In several shops in Rishikesh, it is common to see such fake beads to be reverentially kept on red clothes with a rich spread of vermilion. The salesmen will tell you that the sacred rudraksha will not be shown until morning, which will usually convince a naïve person of the genuineness of the bead. In most cases, such beads could be made from two or three mukhi Hardwar/Dehradun variety by removing one or two lines using some sharp tools. A large number of fake one mukhi rudrakshas is also made from five mukhi Nepal beads by removing four lines
An artisan creating a fake one mukhi rudraksha will do the work only on such beads on which the lines are not deep, thus retaining the round shape even after removing four of the five lines. Such rudraksha beads are available from Assam area. One of the gimmicks is to stick the price of the bead over the lines so that a gullible person will not be able to look at the lines closely.
There are also people working on Sheesham or some other wood to carve rudraksha-shaped beads depicting trishul, snake, Om or Shivling and with one line with a deep groove. It is learnt that there are full-fledged workshops where such spurious beads are produced. I have witnessed people being cheated up to Rs one lakh for each such fake bead just because the buyer is ignorant and gullible.
Bhadraksha beads found in Uttar Pradesh and Western Bihar areas of India are often used to make fake one mukhi rudraksha beads. Bhadraksha is a flat bead having texture and grooves resembling rudraksha but it can be easily identifiable. Mostly, bhadrakshas have two faces (sometimes even 3 mukhi bhadraksha is also found) and these are used to make one mukhi rudraksha by removing the line on one side and carving forms of a Shivaling/yoni or snake on the other
One mukhi Chandrakar (half moon) variety of rudraksha has become popular in the last 15 to 20 years as a substitute to one mukhi rudraksha. It belongs to the Elaeocarpus Serratus species and not the Roxb species, the accepted genuine rudraksha as per the old epics. This is not a bhadraksha as it is not flat in shape.
One mukhi Chandrakar is often considered as an alternative to one mukhi round Nepal variety. However, it is a matter of faith as it cannot be having the properties – like the natural hole, texture, density and shape of the original one mukhi rudraksha. In terms of internal structure, it has just one wide compartment. Even the two, three or four mukhi Chandrakars too have only one compartment inside which is contrary to the accepted norm of recognizing the mukh in a typical Roxb variety. For wearing, it is clamped using a specially designed cage and hole is never drilled.
It is found that there is lot of publicity for one mukhi Chandrakar variety on TV channels. This is an exaggeration of the properties of this variety. All the claimed benefits are of the one mukhi rudraksha of Nepalese or Indonesian variety only and users must bear in mind that the half moon-shaped bead cannot match the characteristics of the genuine one mukhi rudraksha. Some of the samples of fake rudrakshas made from ordinary wood, betel nuts or seeds of wild berries and having the figures of Shivling, snakes, moon, or Om.
Gaurashankar is one of the rudraksha varieties whose fakes are available in large numbers. It is estimated that about 10% of the entire fake rudraksha market consists of this variety. Usually two beads (five or six mukhi) are taken and cut flat on edges and these are then glued together using superior adhesives so that the joined pieces do not come off even when these are treated with boiling water. Even ordinary wood is used to carve the rudraksha. In some cases, the individual pieces are joined in sections to outsmart the experts. An effective examination of a Gaurishankar is as follows:
Rudrakshas of eight mukhis and above are often made out of lower mukhi beads. The most common method is to carve additional lines. For example, a 13 mukhi rudraksha can be easily made from an 11 mukhi rudraksha, a 14 mukhi rudraksha from 12 mukhi rudraksha and so on. This gives higher margin for the seller. For example, a 10 mukhi rudraksha may sell for Rs1,500, but if two additional lines are created to make it a 12 mukhi rudraksha, it can easily fetch him Rs 3,000. The profit is often distributed among the artisans, the trader and the retailer. If only one additional line is carved, the margin could be around Rs 800. Again, it depends on the mukhs. For example, if a 14 mukhi rudraksha is made from a 13 mukhi rudraksha by adding one line, the effort can get as much as Rs 5,000 per bead. It will require very close and expert examination to identity the additional line as the line tend to get merged with the natural lines.
Often the additional line is made after heating the tool, which will normally be very sharp so that a clear line is created without any blurring.
The artisans, who create fake beads, are experts in their own way. It is for them to decide where to create the additional lines to avoid suspicion. Usually, the additional lines are created at the end of the longitudinal portion as there is more availability of space here. The artisan has also to be careful so that the lines do not look straight as created by a sharp instrument and they have to be serrated and the depth of the lines should match that of original lines.
It is unfortunate that unscrupulous elements are using this divine bead to exploit the gullibility of people. Even educated people are fooled by these elements, who pass on spurious seeds like betel nuts and berries as genuine rudrakshas. It is my advice that people should take extreme care and look for any minute differences in the size, shape and depth of the lines and reject such beads outright.
One way is to follow the X-ray technique whereby one can see the internal structure without damaging the beads. This test can work without much complication for rudrakshas up to nine mukhis but for higher mukhi beads, it may not give 100% correct results due to the overlapping of the internal seeds. This technique needs to be further refined and developed as this is the only non-destructive procedure to verify the number of mukhis. For 10 mukhis and above, taking X-rays from different angles may help to count the inner seeds. CT scanning is the other way to help, but it is more expensive.
In absence of any scientific method as of now, it is advisable to follow the simple procedures given above for checking the originality of the beads. In simple words following can be said about checking:
1. A good and perfectly matured rudraksha should sink in water but this does not mean that all rudrakshas that do not sink in water are fake. Minutely check for the lines or the joints before coming to a conclusion.
A genuine rudraksha can also float in water if there is a hole in it and when air is trapped or if the bead has got dehydrated due to aging. There are some varieties of genuine rudraksha whose density is not enough to make it sink or which have been plucked from tree before maturity.
Therefore, this test has limitations and should not lead to your final word but one it can ensure that the seed was fully ripe and belongs to a heavy variety.
2. Rotating the bead between two copper coins is also not a correct procedure as any bead having surface like that of rudraksha and having grooves and ups and downs can rotate in this condition.
3. Other tests like seeing whether the milk in which a bead is immersed does not ferment or the bead comes to the top automatically when kept in bag full of grains are not scientifically correct.
4. Proper examination of the bead with one’s own eye is the best method available for which one does not have to be an expert. Do not buy a round one mukhi, even if it is available covered with a skin or with leaves or accept it if given free. Do not buy a Gaurishankar having flat end-to-end joint. The groove in a Gaurishankar should join from inside as depicted in several figures shown. Higher mukhi beads (8 mukhi and above) should be examined carefully for additional artificially-created lines. Lines should be on mountains and not on ridges with certain exceptions.
5. In case of doubt, a destructive test by cutting the seed horizontally and counting the seeds inside will offer a conclusive proof. The number of seeds should be equal to the number of lines. Here again, it is absolutely necessary to understand that if the seed inside is not fully developed, and then you shall see only a point instead of a seed. Normally, the inner seed is located just opposite the line. In some cases the inner seed is too large resulting from fusion of two seeds. This type of test can be useful for seeds up to 10 mukhis. Beads of higher mukhis should be examined and tested using special skills and counterchecking using CT scan techniques.
Some of the non-destructive tests like X-ray or CT-scan can be indicative but the methods are not perfected as of now and hence cannot be accepted as foolproof. These tests can be done correctly for beads up to 8 mukhis but beyond that it may require patience and skill to count the internal seeds or additional checking using detailed visual inspection. One needs to engage an expert for this purpose.
6. Boiling in water for a minimum of two hours shall bring out whether the bead is created using an artificial joint. A perfect bead should remain uniform in color even after the boiling process.
7. Always follow the guidelines to procure perfect beads, which are not damaged, have hard body, have thorny yet smooth surface and have natural hole (for highest quality beads). The color of the bead may be any, but it should be uniform throughout.
8. Predominant etching of Om, Shivling or Trishul should indicate that it is spurious although in some genuine beads such etching occurs, but in a very natural and merging manner.