*phew!* It’s Friday! And *whew!* You wouldn’t believe all the information I just gathered about these fine mala counters.
I have to admit, even though I have worked at Happy Mango Beads for over a year, I am still learning new things about some of our ethnic beads. I suppose that is one of the best things about my job, though – “you learn something new every day.”
Malas are strands of Tibetan beads used by Buddhists as a way of counting mantra recitations. Mantras include “om mani padme hum” and “om tare tuttare ture soha”, among others, and can be said mentally, or out loud. A common part of Tibetan Buddhist practice is to recite mantras thousands of times, so malas aid in keeping track of just how many mantras have been recited – a “spritiual abacus”, if you will. Typically, a mala has 108 beads, accompanied by a “guru bead”. The guru bead is not counted, but acts as a stopping point where one then turns back around to continue counting more mantras. A normal round accounts for 100 prayers, and the extra 8 beads allow for mistakes. Many malas have mala counters on them, usually placed 27 beads apart, so that you would know you are a quarter, half way, or three-quarters done with one round, however the counters can be placed and moved anywhere on the mala strand.
Mala counters each contain 10 beads. After each round of mantra recitations, one bead is moved to the end of the counter. Once all 10 beads have been moved, that indicates that 1,000 mantras have been said. To keep track even further, a counter could be originally placed before the first bead on a mala, next to the guru bead. Then, once 1,000 prayers had been said, the counter could be moved to the next bead, and eventually, after it got all the way to the other end and next to the guru bead again, 100,000 mantras would have been said (well, technically 116,640 if you factor in those 8 extra beads, but you get the point).
I have to say, all of this information was riveting to me, and I have a much greater appreciation for some of the wonderful malas that we sell here at Happy Mango Beads. I never knew what these mala counters were all about, and now I know!!
I hope this was helpful, and maybe now you will be intrigued to get some mala counters of your very own.
Happy Funky Friday!