A Mala or a rosary is a symbol of devotion. There are 108 beads in it. A man takes 21,600 breaths in a day. If we subtract hours of the night then we are left with 10,800 breaths. According to this the religious teachers said man should recite God's name 10,800 times a day. But God's name recited once with faith is equivalent to 100 times. And so on the basis of this argument it was decided to have 108 beads in a rosary. A religious person can do his/her daily chores with God's name at every breath. No karma can come in his/her way. A person who uses his mala with faith can call for God's blessing.
We have received the body of a human being after good action of many lives. It is a sign of foolishness to waste such a valuable life only in worldly pleasures. God has made our body. Mind, wisdom, actions, ear, eye, tongue, hand, leg, etc. are his gifts. The true yagna is to do good work by coordinating harmoniously all these gifts. The true yagna or devotion is done when man lives with the intention of welfare of not only human beings but also of animals, birds, insects, trees, minerals, i.e., the welfare of all. Such man prospers by receiving God's love and blessings.
One puts water and prashad on tulsipatra at the time of making offerings to God and then he says: "This is not mine, I am offering you what is yours" After that we take this offering as Prashad. On the same basis this body is not mine but it is given by God. Tulsipatra should be put on the body to show the intention of submission to God. Since this is not easy and practical everyday, our religious teachers made a mala of tulsi beads and recommended that we wear them on our necks. On waking up in the morning we see this mala and it reminds us: "This body is not yours, it has been offered to God, and so you should only do that which pleases God" i.e., do good deeds. So religious teachers inspire people to do good deeds by making them wear the mala. This is the importance of tulsi mala.
People have forgotten the true reason for having a mala these days. Today the mala has become just a symbol of some sects. It will be a great service to humanity if people, by understanding its wider meaning of the welfare of whole mankind, can revive the bhakti offered to God through the mala.