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Mala Counters, Bhum Counters, and Malas
Buddhism, along with many other traditions use prayer beads as a form of practice. Depending on your Buddhist lineage tracking and counting exact number of mantras is not important or required. Vajrayana (Tantric Buddhism) requires that a student follow his or her lineage’s traditional instructions to the letter, and this includes performing definite numbers of various activities, including the saying of prescribed numbers of mantras. Mala and Bhum Counters help support and track this committed devotional practice.

Mala Counters
Mala counters are designed to help track and count large number of mantra reciations. In many Tibetan and Vajrayana traditions keeping exact track of your mantras is part of a tried and true rigorous method that works on the person at many different levels. There are many ways to track and count mantras including writing then down on paper, using an older style clicker counter, and more recently using your smart phone. Having Mala Counters and Bhum Counters on your Mala keeps everything together for easy tracking and exact counting.

Buddhism, along with many other traditions use prayer beads as a form of practice. Depending on your Buddhist lineage tracking and counting exact number of mantras is not important or required. Vajrayana (Tantric Buddhism) requires that a student follow his or her lineage’s traditional instructions to the letter, and this includes performing definite numbers of various activities, including the saying of prescribed numbers of mantras. Mala and Bhum Counters help support and track this committed devotional practice.

Mala Counters
Mala counters are designed to help track and count large number of mantra reciations. In many Tibetan and Vajrayana traditions keeping exact track of your mantras is part of a tried and true rigorous method that works on the person at many different levels. There are many ways to track and count mantras including writing then down on paper, using an older style clicker counter, and more recently using your smart phone. Having Mala Counters and Bhum Counters on your Mala keeps everything together for easy tracking and exact counting.

One full turn around your Mala reciting a mantra counts as one hundred. The extra eight beads are your “buffer zone” for simple miscounts. When you finish one cycle of mantras (one hundred mantra recitations) move one counter bead on one of your Mala Counters (side A). When you finish ten cycles that is one thousand mantras. Now move all ten counter beads to their original position and move one of the other counter beads on the other Mala Counter (side B). This marks one thousand mantras recited. Once you do this ten times you have accomplished ten thousand mantras.

The most traditional set of Mala Counter have a Bell and Dorje at the end. You can pick one side to count the 100’s and the other side to count the 1000’s. My personal preference is to count hundreds on the Dorje side and thousands on the Bell side.

Each set of Mala Counters can count up to ten thousand mantras. At that point you can reset the Mala Counters and begin working on your next set for that mantra or start another. The use of a Bhum Counter will help you track tens of thousands of mantras.

Bhum Counters
Bhum Counters are small “clips” which are used between the beads on your mala to count large amounts of mantras. Sometimes called “million marker” counters, these clips can be used for tracking tens of thousands, hundreds of thousands, and millions of mantras. Starting at the Guru Bead and working in one direction move the Bhum Counter one bead for every ten thousand mantras. When the Bhum Counter has moved all the way around the Mala you have accomplised over one million mantras.

Traditional Mala Counters can count up to ten thousand. After this is accomplished you can use a Bhum Counter to track and keep count of each set of ten thousand. Each time you accomplish ten thousand mantras you can move the Bhum Counter one more bead. Additionally you can pair-up Bhum Counters for tracking and counting millions of mantras. This is done buy using one Bhum Counter for marking ten thousand and another for marking one million mantras.

108 Bead Buddhist Malas
The word mala means “garland” or rosary in Sanskrit. Prayer beads have been used by practitioners from many disciplines for thousands of years. Buddha himself recommended the mantra mala practice as a path to enlightenment for ordinary people. Malas are employed to count mantra recitations and to focus one’s awareness and concentration during practice. Counting mantras occupies the hand (body), reciting mantra occupies the voice (speech) and visualization of the deity occupies the mind. By focusing these three aspects of ourselves onto the practice at once, the benefits are multiplied and the merit accumulates.

The most common set of Buddhist Prayer Beads or Malas are numbered at 108 beads not counting the Guru Bead. However, malas of smaller numbers of beads are also used depending on need or preference. Malas numbering 9, 18, 27, and 54 beads can be used in a similar way.