Jayapataka Swami: Taking shelter of the guru is a trial period and taking initiation means that you are convinced that following the guru’s order you will be successful. Under shelter, it may have similar effect as initiation, if you are very sincere in your practice. But taking initiation is a confirmation that you actually are accepting the spiritual master as your guide. So, as far as whether you can use a counter or a bead, bead is obviously better as it accumulated the various powers of chanting. At the same time, sometimes it may not be possible to use the beads. Lord Caitanya also, counted on His fingers. So I think that counting on the fingers or counting on a digital device is more or less the same. In fact, maybe a digital device is easier, finger chanting very complicated. But we should chant a certain number of rounds, a certain number of mantras and beads gradually get the power of the chanting. Since I had a stroke in 2008, my right side is not coordinated and therefore it is very hard for me to chant on my right hand. I chant on beads sometimes using both hands. But otherwise, Radhanath Swami gave me the counter Ha! Ha!  because I cannot use my right hand. So I cannot tell people that you cannot use the counter, when I have to use it because of my physical difficulty.