A Comprehensive Guide To Why The Number 108 Is So Important

Why The Number 108 So Sacred In India?

In the rich tapestry of Indian culture, there are many reasons why the number 108 holds profound and mystical meanings. So why is the number 108 so important?  From ancient traditions to modern spiritual practices, this number is woven into the fabric of various rituals, philosophies, and symbolic representations, in other cultures as well.

Let’s explore the multifaceted reasons why the number 108 is considered so important and sacred in India and beyond. (And if you want to know what the link between 108 and baseball is, read until the end!)

Why The Number 108 is Significant in Spiritual Symbolism in Hinduism

In Hinduism, the number 108 is believed to represent the wholeness of existence. It is associated with various aspects of the divine, such as:

  • 108 Upanishads (ancient Indian scriptures that explore the nature of reality)
  • 108 names of deities,
  • 108 pithas (sacred sites) across India.
  • The cosmic dance of Lord Shiva, known as the Tandava, is said to have 108 postures.
  • Lord Vishnu and Lord Shiva are said to have 108 names each.
  • And 9 rounds of the 12 postures in the Sun Salutation when multiplied, adds up to 108.

Why The Number 108 Has Cosmic Connections

So why is the number 108 considered significant in n astronomy and astrology?

  • The average distance from the Earth to the Sun is approximately 108 times the Sun’s diameter.
  • Similarly, the distance from the Earth to the Moon is roughly 108 times the Moon’s diameter.
  • In regards to the planets and houses in astrology, there are 12 houses and nine planets. Twelve multiplied by nine equals 108.
  • There are also 108 stars in Chinese astrology, with 72 being malevolent and the remaining 36 beneficial.

This cosmic alignment adds a layer of transcendental meaning to the number, connecting earthly existence with the vastness of the cosmos.

Why The Number 108 in Significant in Numerology, the Alphabet, and Energetic Harmony

  • In numerology, the number 108 is reduced to the single digit 9 (1+0+8=9). Nine is considered a powerful and auspicious number, symbolizing completion, unity, and spiritual attainment. The repetition of the number 9 three times in 108 is believed to enhance its transformative and harmonizing energies.
  • 108 is also a Harshad number, which is an integer divisible by the sum of its digits (Harshad is from Sanskrit and means “great joy”).
  • Also, the numbers 1, 2, and 3 are thought to be powerful.  So in math, 1 to the 1st power equals 1, and 2 to the 2nd power (or 2 x 2) equals 4, and 3 to the 3rd power (3 x 3 x 3) equals 27. Therefore, 1 x 4 x 27 = 108.
  • Even Leonardo Fibonacci, born around A.D. 1170 also posited a theory that the number 108 has a way of representing the wholeness of existence.
  • The sacred River Ganga spans a longitude of 12 degrees (79° to 91°), and a latitude of nine degrees (22° to 31°). Again, if you follow the math, 12 multiplied by nine equals 108.
  • Lastly, there are 54 letters in the Sanskrit alphabet. Each has masculine and feminine, Shiva and Shakti. So, 54 multiplied by 2 is 108.

Why The Number 108 is Used in Meditation and Pranayama

  • Malas, or prayer beads, are widely used in various spiritual traditions for meditation and prayer. The traditional mala consists of 108 beads, with an additional “guru bead” or “sumeru bead” at the center, symbolizing the connection to the divine and the guidance of a spiritual teacher, and spiritual completion.  For a more comprehensive look at mala beads click HERE.
  • During meditation, practitioners repeat a mantra 108 times (Japa meditation), using the beads to keep track. This rhythmic repetition is believed to enhance focus, concentration, and the spiritual benefits of the practice.
  • In pranayama it is thought that if one is able to be so calm in meditation as to have only 108 breaths in a day, enlightenment will come.  Pranayama cycles are also often done 108 times.

Why The Number 108 Connects To Our Heart Chakra

  • In yogic philosophy, the human body is said to have 108 energy lines converging at the heart chakra. The activation and balance of these energy lines are vital for physical and spiritual well-being. Meditating with a mala is thought to harmonize and align these energy channels, promoting a sense of inner balance and peace. One of the energy lines, sushumna, leads to the crown chakra, and is believed to be the path to self-realization.
  • The last representation of the number 108 is that one stands for God/universal energy, zero stands for emptiness or completeness in spiritual practice, and eight stands for infinity or eternity.  This has also been interpreted as one representing God (or your version of a higher truth), zero representing you or pure awareness, and eight representing the eternal unity of both.

Other Connections to Why The Number 108 is Special

  • In Tibetan legends there are 108 Masters and 108 initiates.
  • 108 saints are celebrated in Japan and are known as Vajradhatu.
  • In Buddhism the Buddha is said to have 108 names and there are 108 lamps devoted to him.  Most Buddhist temples usually have 108 steps and 108 columns.
  • The division of the Christian holiday from Soul’s day, which is on November 2nd to Christmas Day on 25th December, has 54 days and 54 nights. The  significance being in the fact that within those 2 dates, light transforms into darkness a total of 108 times and the reverse also occurs the same number of times.

Sometimes when people ask me ‘why the number 108?’, I might just simply explain that 108 represents, something, nothing, and everything.

Conclusion

The number 108 is a bridge between our material and spiritual experience, weaving together different elements of Indian culture, philosophy, and cosmology. From ancient scriptures to modern spiritual practices, its presence resonates across time and tradition.

The use of 108 beads in malas serves as a tangible and symbolic tool for seekers on their spiritual journey, offering a sacred and meditative path toward self-realization and connection to the cosmic order.  Students on my 200 hr Yoga Teacher Training Courses practice mala japa meditation with me, where we use the beads to count out 108 rounds of a mantra.  If you are interested in learning all about mala beads you might be interested in my article ‘What Are Mala Beads, How To Use Them, And Why?’.

Ps. Did you know that 108 is so auspicious that it’s also the number of stitches on a baseball!

why 108 is important

A Comprehensive Guide To Why The Number 108 Is So Important

In the rich tapestry of Indian culture, there are many reasons why the number 108 holds profound and mystical meanings. So why is the number 108 so important?  From ancient traditions to modern spiritual practices, this number is woven into the fabric of various rituals, philosophies, and symbolic representations, in other cultures as well.

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Meditation and Yoga for Kids with Anxiety

For the last 15 years I have been teaching meditation and yoga for kids (specializing in Autism, ADHD and Anxiety), and have seen the positive effects it can have. Through working with children of 4-16 years old and their parents, using different yoga, breathing, meditation and mindfulness techniques, we have been able to reduce their medication, ease their anxiety, and increase their quality of life.  The increase in stimulation, technology, and social media, in modern life, play a big role in these issues. 

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Charlie Stewart-Brown

Charlie began practicing yoga over 27 years ago as a recommendation for her severe anxiety, and has been teaching for over 15 years to people of all ages and abilities. With over 1300 hrs of training and 22,500 hrs of teaching, she is also the lead trainer on the Indiv Yoga 200 hrs YTT & RCYT Kids Yoga Teacher Training Courses, having certified over 400 students worldwide.  She is the voice of the ‘Yoga and Mindfulness Program’ on British Airways long-haul flights, has spoken at many seminars and corporate workshops, and runs exclusive yoga and meditation retreats during the year.

Originally from London and having worked in New York and Lisbon after her Psychology degree, she has since settled  in Switzerland with her husband, and dedicated her life to expanding her knowledge of the science of yoga, mindful meditation and better physical and mental health.

Over the years Charlie has trained with some of the most renowned yoga teachers around the world (David Swenson, Shiva Rea, Anne-Marie Newland, Leslie Kaminoff, Sadie Nardini, Sonia Sumar etc) certifying in Hatha, Sivanada, Ashtanga, Childrens and Family Yoga, Yoga for the Special Child, & Inner Engineering with Sadhguru. She has become highly respected for her successful work in yoga therapy, especially for Autism, ADHD and other behavioural and developmental syndromes. She has also talked at some of the biggest corporations in Switzerland and the annual SGIS (Swiss Group of International Schools) Conference on implementing Mindfulness in the work place and the education system.

Charlie holds the highest yoga qualifications as an ERYT500 (Experienced Registered Yoga Teacher), RCYT (Registered Children´s Yoga Teacher), RPYT (Registered Prenatal Yoga Teacher) and YCEP (Yoga Continued Education Provider) with the Yoga Alliance, and has developed Indiv Yoga™ to bring a more physiological, therapeutic and individual approach to yoga. Indiv Yoga™ Switzerland is a RYS (registered yoga school) and RCYS (registered children’s yoga school) providing Yoga Alliance teacher training certifications of the highest professional standards.

The focus of Indiv Yoga™ is to provide the benefits of yoga to every type of individual, using its teachings to achieve physical and mental balance, and diminish the anxieties of modern life for adults and children.

Read her online testimonials and qualifications for a feel of her knowledgeable and friendly professionalism.

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