Classed under the Śaiva Upaniṣads (Upaniṣads dealing with the aspects connected with Śaivism) and belonging to the Ṛgveda, the Akṣamālikā Upaniṣad is a minor work in prose. It deals with the ritual consecration of a japamālā or rosary. It is in the form of a dialogue between Prajāpati and Guha (also known as Skanda, Kārttikeya and Subrahmaṇya, son of Pārvatī and Śiva), the latter being the preceptor.
The japamālā can be made of beads of ten substances: coral, pearl, quartz, conch, silver, gold, sandalwood, seeds of putrajīvikā (Roxburghii), seeds of lotus and rudrākṣa (Elaeocarpus seeds). The string that holds them together can be made of gold, silver and copper, the three wires being twisted into one.
The Upaniṣad then gives the process of contemplation on various deities like Brahmā, Viṣṇu, Śiva and Sarasvatī as situated in the various parts of the japamālā. This is followed by a ritualistic process of cleansing the japamālā with pañcagavya, the five products of a cow like milk and curds. (See PAÑCAGAVYA.) Then comes a long section describing the infusing of each of the beads with the power of the deities presiding over the fifty alphabets of the Sanskrit language, by relating one bead with one letter of the alphabet. This is repeated again after 50 beads. The appropriate mantras or esoteric formulae to be used are also given.
After this, prayers are offered to the deities residing on earth, in the sky and in heaven, as also to the pitṛs or manes, to reside in the beads and make the japamālā holy and effective.
The Upaniṣad ends with prayer to the rosary thus consecrated and a eulogy of this science given in it.