There are many kinds of Mala used in spiritual and meditation purposes.
1. Lotus-seed Mala (Kamal Gatta Mala) - This mala is used for the worship of the Goddess Lakshmi for Jaap or to Chant her Mantra. There is special importance to chant her Mantra with Lotus and Seed mala.
2. Turmeric Mala - It is used to perform Anusthan (special prayers) and destroy enemies and succeed in law suits. If a man has fallen prey to Jaundice, he should wear garland of 8, 10 beads of turmeric, he would surely be cured.
3. Putra Jeeva mala - It is used in Sadhana for having an off spring in the family.
4. Sandalwood Garland & Mala - Mala made of white sandal wood is used for peace and empowering rituals and for worshipping other deities. Sandal wood garland is good for welcoming and for giving honor. Red sandal wood (Rose wood) mala is used in worship of Lord Ganesh and Goddesses.
5. Tulsi Mala and Kanti (Neck Mala) - This mala is regarded as the best for worshipping Lord Vishnu, Ram and Krishna. According to Ayurveda, it is very useful in diseases related to throat. It is also used for the purification of the body.
6. Conch Mala - It is used for special tantrik purposes.
7. Baijanti Mala - It is used by the devotees of Lord Vishnu and for chanting Mantras for worship of goddess Lakshmi.
8. Quartz (Sphatik or Crystal) Mala - It is the best mala for counting beads while chanting Devi Mantras. If it is worn, the mind becomes pacified and quiet. He who wears it, becomes pacified and quiet. He who wears it, becomes favorite of Lord Shiva.
9. Rudraksha Mala - It is very effective and is used in all kinds of rituals while worshipping gods, goddesses and nine planets. If any particular mala is not available, Rudraksha Mala is could be used without any hesitation only with exception of mantras of killing others (maran) and yakshni Sidhi. Thus it is regarded as the best of all rosaries.
10. Navratna Mala - This is used to pacify nine planets. There are nine precious stones corresponding to the nine planets in it. It gives mental peace, when it is worn.
11. Coral Mala - It is used during sadhana or worship of Lord Ganesh, Hanuman, and Lakshmi and Mars planet. It is also useful for people who are prone to anemic condition.
Similarly there are many rosaries made of semi-precious stones for different planets. For example there are garlands of Garnet, Pearl, Jade, Onex, Sunehla, Blue Sapphire, Topaz Onex, Topaz Zircon, Cat's eye Emethyst, Rose Quartz, Tiger, Agate and Moonstone. These malas are very useful in pacifying the inimical planetary influences in one's life. Crystal mala in used regarding it as Shiva-Shakti incarnate, Rudraksha as Lord Shiva, Pearl the moon incarnate. Rudraksha-coral mala is worn regarding as incarnate of Lord Shiva and Hanuman. Thus they are used to count Mantras of different deities and are worn to attain peace of mind and happiness.
A Rudraksha rosary is most commonly prepared from five faced beads that are available most abundantly and also in various sizes. In Devi Bhagwat Puran one can read about method of preparation of Rudraksha mala for counting beads while chanting mantras. The main mouth (whole side) part of a Rudraksha is called Brahma, the middle part Rudra (Shiva) and the hind part Vishnu. Thus the Trinity form of Lord Rudra gives the worldly pleasures and salvation to man in this world.
Lord Shiva's mantra "Om Namah Shivaya" or any other mantra chanted with Rudraksha mala gives unlimited benefits as told in Shiva Purana.
The number of the beads of mala depends on the aim of chanting mantras. The mala of 108 + 1 = 109 beads is regarded the best to count mantras. There are three kinds of malas. One of them includes 108 beads + 1 bead called sumeru. The other one includes 54 beads + 1 sumeru. If it is counted twice, it completes one mala. The third kind of mala includes 1/4 beads of a full garland i.e. 27 beads + 1 sumeru. This is called 'sumarni'. Four times of this mala completes one full Mala of 108 beads. This sumarni is good for the man who remains always busy with chanting mantras and meditation. It is easily portable. Garland of 132 beads is useful for performing rituals to get riches. A rosary of twenty five beads renders Moksa (liberation); that of thirty beads renders wealth, that of fifty beads renders prosperity and that of fifteen beads is helpful in spells for a malevolent purpose. While wearing a rosary of 27 beads if a man does rituals, he gets a crore times more benefit. Vopadeva states in Padarth-Darsa that one who wears thirty two Rudrakshas in neck , forty on forehead , six in each ears , twelve in each wrists , sixteen in each arm , four on each eye , one hundred and eight over the chest, himself becomes NeelaKantha (Shiva).
There is a mention of merits of rosary in chanting mantras (mystic syllables) by the combination of different fingers for different purposes in some other mystic literatures. It is said that in handling the rosary only forepart of the fingers should be used. There is a prominent bead, which is normally the central portion of the rosary and is called Meru. The Sadhaka while rotating the rosary should not overtake this Meru while counting and from there he should count the recitations in the reverse order.
The Method of Counting Beads: - Japa, the counting of beads, should be done after covering the mala. Mala should be kept always in a cotton bag (Gomukhi) and during the counting of beads of mala; the hand should be inside the gomukhi. While counting mantras the mala should not touch the ground at any time. There is another method for Japa - Take a copper bowl filled with water and now half of the beads of the mala remain in hand and rest of the mala beads must remain sinking in the water. Now cover the hand with a cloth and start to do the japa. After complete the japa (reciting the mantra), this water should be sprinkled in the house, in the courtyard and it should be drunk. Doing so the person gets happiness and he marches towards salvation.
Besides the Puranic versions for the uses of Rudraksha, there is mention of merits of their rosary in chanting mantras (mystic syllables) by combination of different fingers for different purposes in some other mystic literatures (Shubhankaran, 1991). It is held that in handling the rosary only fore part of the fingers should be used. There is a prominent bead, which is normally the central portion of the rosary and is called the Meru. The person should not overtake this Meru while counting and from there he should count the recitation in the reverse order. While counting the rosary should be revolved in a direction towards the person.
Mantra for the attainment of final salvation or religious perfection should be recited by revolving the rosary with thumbs and Index finger (also called Tarjani i.e. first finger or the finger of Jupiter). The finger of Jupiter is also used for destroying enemies. Mantras for peace should be recited with the help of thumb and second finger (also called Madhyama or finger of Saturn) and for the attainment of mantra siddhi with thumb and third finger or ring finger or finger of Sun). Thumb is used for final emancipation, finger of Jupiter for the prosperities through trading and business; finger of Saturn for wealth and happiness; finger of Sun for peace and finally anamika or finger of Mercury for all types of mantras, Siddhis, etc. Revolving rosary with thumb, middle and ring finger helps attaining peace and mental tranquility.