Prayer beads made of rudrakshas* (also spelled as rudrakshs) are very commonly used by Hindus. My grandfather had one which he used like rosary beads to count the number of times he had recited a mantra. TeleSkyShopping Network, a direct-to-home shopping outlet that sells various charms and amulets in North America for hundreds of dollars mentions the alleged “powers” of the one-faced or “ekmukhi rudraksha” in many of their television commercials.
First, it is useful to know what exactly a rudraksha is. The rudraksha seed comes from an eponymous broad-leaf evergreen found in South and Southeast Asia. The fruit is bright blue and generally of no interest, but the seeds are named according to shape and associated with various unsubstantiated divine powers. According to Indian mythology, when Shiva wept, his tears turned into the rudraksha.
Still with me? Now TeleskyShopping Network claims to sort through rudrakshas of one particular shape, bless them, claim that they have divine electromagnetic properties, and sell to you for around 150 dollars per seed. And as with other televised commercials there are testimonials portrayed by actors: a partial list of problems that the seed allegedly remedies includes illness, legal problems, failure in competitive exams, the “evil eye”, impotence, evil spirits, and unemployment. I’m curious how anyone ever dies with one around their neck, but I’ll leave that point for the experts.
They even have someone, presumably a paid actor, who plays a scientist in the commercial. This expert lets viewers know that the seed is “scientifically proven” to work. And because it is shaped like a brain, it is supposed to influence the brain by balancing the hormones. The argument that the shape of a remedy impacts a similarly-shaped organ in the body is not unique. In fact, a similar claim is made for the ability of the leaves of brahmi to improve memory and cognition. Proponents claim that because it is shaped like a brain, it exerts influence on the brain.
How to get rich by selling rudrakshas.
If you have access to the rudraksha tree then you do not need to read any further. You already have access to a goldmine that will provide for your children’s education and your retirement since the devout will always believe in the powers of the seed.
If you live outside of South Asia then you have to be a bit creative. Fortunately, people are gullible and with a bit of convincing you can probably pass off a seed of roughly similar size and texture as a rudraksha. For those living in temperate climates, I recommend the seeds of fruits like peaches or apricots.
For example, today I bought a pound of peaches from the grocery store. My idea is to wash and store the pits of the peaches after I’ve eaten the edible part of the fruit. Now, not only can I get my daily recommended allowance of Vitamin C, but I can also make some money on the side.
I encourage you to try it too. And if you don’t like peaches, then you can try cherries and claim that the seeds work just as well.
Do share your thoughts and if you have other ideas for passing off unwanted seeds for hundreds of dollars let me know!
*also spelled as rudraksh from Rudra (or Shiva) + aksha or (eye), though rude + rakshas (demon) sounds funnier.
This is the first installment of a new series of posts on schemes that will help you either get rich fast or get lynched by an angry South Asian mob.
Fair-use rationale for images: All images are low-resolution. Screenshots from commercial are used only for purposes of demonstration for no monetary gain where a free alternative does not exist. Copyright of original works resides with the original creators. Photos of peach was taken by me. The second photo of the peach is used with permission from SxC.