Japa malas or meditation malas, are used in many forms of Mahayana Buddhism to count mantras (Sanskrit prayers) and for meditation purposes, often with a number of beads, usually a divisor of 108. Pure Land Buddhism uses 27 bead malas. These shorter malas are easier to hold when enumerating repeated prostrations. In Tibetan Buddhism malas are also 108 beads: one mala counts as 100 mantras, and the 8 extra are meant to be dedicated to all sentient beings. In Tibetan Buddhism, often larger malas are used such as 111 beads: one mala as 100 mantras, and the 11 additional beads for errors.
A mantra is a word or series of words chanted aloud or silently to invoke spiritual qualities. Chanting is used as a spiritual tool in virtually every cultural and religious tradition. In the yogic tradition a mantra is a Sanskrit word that has special powers to transform consciousness, promote healing or fulfill desires.