Beautiful, real sandalwood mala. These are made in Tibet and have a wonderful natural fragrance!
Traditionally, these 108 bead malas are used for keeping count while praying and counting mantras. This practice, called japa, is common to Hinduism, Jainism, Sikhism, and Buddhism
The goal of japa may vary greatly depending on the mantra involved and the religious philosophy of the practitioner. In both Buddhist and Hindu traditions mantras may be given to aspirants by their guru, after some form of initiation. The stated goal could be moksha, nirvana, bhakti, or simple personal communion with a divine power in a similar way to prayer. Many gurus and other spiritual teachers, and other religious leaders, especially Hindu and Buddhist, teach that these represent different names for the same transformed state of consciousness. However, this claim is not made about mantras that are not intended for spiritual growth and self-realization.
After long use of a mantra that is intended to foster self-realization or intimacy with a divine power, an individual may reach a state of ajapa japa, or lit. ’repetitionless repetition’, wherein the mantra “repeats itself” in the mind. Similar states have been reached by adherents to other major faith traditions, using prayers from their own traditions.