The Significance of 108

In the Hindu-Buddhist civilizational sphere, the number 108 is among the most sacred and appears as the true or fictitious cardinal number of all manner of philosophical sets and religious series.  What makes this number so special? My friend, mentor Ramsai has done amazing research on this subject. The significance of 108

The Indian Subcontinent rosary or set of mantra counting has 108 beads. 108 has been a sacred number in the Indian Subcontinent for a very long time. This number is explained in many different ways.

The ancient Indians were excellent mathematicians and 108 may be the product of a precise mathematical operation (e.g. 1 power 1 x 2 power 2 x 3 power 3 = 108) which was thought to have special numerological significance.

Powers of 1, 2, and 3 in math: 1 to 1st power=1; 2 to 2nd power=4 (2×2); 3 to 3rd power=27 (3x3x3). 1x4x27=108

Sanskrit alphabet: There are 54 letters in the Sanskrit alphabet. Each has masculine and feminine, shiva and shakti. 54 times 2 is 108.

Sri Yantra: On the Sri Yantra there are marmas where three lines intersect, and there are 54 such intersections. Each intersections has masculine and feminine, shiva and shakti qualities. 54 x 2 equals 108. Thus, there are 108 points that define the Sri Yantra as well as the human body.

9 times 12: Both of these numbers have been said to have spiritual significance in many traditions. 9 times 12 is 108. Also, 1 plus 8 equals 9. That 9 times 12 equals 108.

Heart Chakra: The chakras are the intersections of energy lines, and there are said to be a total of 108 energy lines converging to form the heart chakra. One of them, sushumna leads to the crown chakra, and is said to be the path to Self-realization.

Marmas: Marmas or marmastanas are like energy intersections called chakras, except have fewer energy lines converging to form them. There are said to be 108 marmas in the subtle body.

Time: Some say there are 108 feelings, with 36 related to the past, 36 related to the present, and 36 related to the future.

Astrology: There are 12 constellations, and 9 arc segments called namshas or chandrakalas. 9 times 12 equals 108. Chandra is moon, and kalas are the divisions within a whole.

Planets and Houses: In astrology, there are 12 houses and 9 planets. 12 times 9 equals 108.

Gopis of Krishna: In the Krishna tradition, there were said to be 108 gopis or maid servants of Krishna.

1, 0, and 8: 1 stands for God or higher Truth, 0 stands for emptiness or completeness in spiritual practice, and 8 stands for infinity or eternity.

Sun and Earth: The diameter of the sun is 108 times the diameter of the Earth.

Numerical scale: The 1 of 108, and the 8 of 108, when added together equals 9, which is the number of the numerical scale, i.e. 1, 2, 3 … 10, etc., where 0 is not a number.

Smaller divisions: The number 108 is divided, such as in half, third, quarter, or twelfth, so that some malas have 54, 36, 27, or 9 beads.

Islam: The number 108 is used in Islam to refer to God.

Jain: In the Jain religion, 108 are the combined virtues of five categories of holy ones, including 12, 8, 36, 25, and 27 virtues respectively.

Sikh: The Sikh tradition has a mala of 108 knots tied in a string of wool, rather than beads.

Chinese: The Chinese Buddhists and Taoists use a 108 bead mala, which is called su-chu, and has three dividing beads, so the mala is divided into three parts of 36 each.

Stages of the soul: Said that Atman, the human soul or center goes through 108 stages on the journey.

Meru: This is a larger bead, not part of the 108. It is not tied in the sequence of the other beads. It is the quiding bead, the one that marks the beginning and end of the mala.

Dance: There are 108 forms of dance in the Indian traditions.

Pythagorean: The nine is the limit of all numbers, all others existing and coming from the same. ie: 0 to 9 is all one needs to make up an infinite amount of numbers.

We have listed below 108 Upanishads as per the list contained in the Muktikopanishad . We have arranged them in four categories according to the particular Veda to which each of them belong.

Rigveda(10): Aitareya , Atmabodha, Kaushitaki, Mudgala, Nirvana, Nadabindu, Akshamaya, Tripura, Bahvruka, Saubhagyalakshmi.

Yajurveda(50): Katha, Taittiriya , Isavasya , Brihadaranyaka, Akshi, Ekakshara, Garbha, Prnagnihotra, Svetasvatara, Sariraka, Sukarahasya, Skanda, Sarvasara, Adhyatma, Niralamba, Paingala, Mantrika, Muktika, Subala, Avadhuta, Katharudra, Brahma, Jabala, Turiyatita, Paramahamsa, Bhikshuka, Yajnavalkya, Satyayani, Amrtanada, Amrtabindu, Kshurika, Tejobindu, Dhyanabindu, Brahmavidya, YogakundalinI, Yogatattva, Yogasikha, Varaha, Advayataraka, Trisikhibrahmana, mandalabrahmana, Hamsa, Kalisantaraaa, Narayana, Tarasara, Kalagnirudra, Dakshinamurti, Pancabrahma, Rudrahrdaya, SarasvatIrahasya.

SamaVeda(16): Kena, Chandogya, Mahat, Maitrayani, Vajrasuci, Savitri, Aruneya, Kundika, Maitreyi, Samnyasa, Jabaladarsana, Yogacudaman, Avyakta, Vasudevai, Jabali, Rudrakshajabala.

Atharvaveda(32): Prasna , Mandukya, Mundaka, Atma, Surya, Narada-Parivrajakas, Parabrahma, Paramahamsa-Parivrajakas, Pasupatha-Brahma, Mahavakya, Sandilya, Krishna, Garuda, Gopalatapani, Tripadavibhuti-mahnarayana, Dattatreya, Kaivalya, NrsimhatapanI, Ramatapani, Ramarahasya, HayagrIva, Atharvasikha, Atharvasira, Ganapati, Brhajjabala, Bhasmajabala, Sarabha, Annapurna, TripuratapanI, Devi, Bhavana, SIta.

The Significance of the number 108

We must agree that all measuring systems are merely reference frames. They give us a starting point. It doesn’t really matter if you call them farenheits or cycles. All science is based on fundamental assumptions of the mechanics of this universe. Yet, these assumptions, if correct, connect like building blocks.

Much in the same way, the number ‘108’ is just a reference frame. It is symbolic of a bigger picture: that of humility. When devotees recite 108 Hanuman Chalisas, in their minds they believe, they are proving their love for God, and that there is in fact a need to prove their love. When devotees assign a 108 names to Shri Ganesh, they are once again gauging their devotion through numbers. This, of course, may be considered unreasonable, since it suggests that 108 chants are more effective than 109 chants. How do they know this? Have they proved it? Is 108 the magic number of the universe? No, it is not! It is a reference frame. What is important is that a system is imposed to guide us through the fundamental struggles encountered in any evolutional process. Otherwise, chaos and anarchy follow and nothing gets done.

Having said that, I will show you justifications from a few subcultures in India. Obviously, I consider the Vedic rationale to be the most consistent with the fundamental laws of this universe. The others have borrowed and built, but it still smells of Vedic beginnings.

In present times, we can find many rationales for the proliferation of ‘108’ throughout our scriptures. In fact, this number seems to garner its unfair share of attention from myriad cults and faith systems around the world. I will give you a few justifications that have been brought to my attention.

JYOTISH SHASTRA {VEDIC SYSTEM} This universe was created by the five elements: space, air, fire, water and earth. From these elements came the three attributes: Raj {birth}, Sat {protection} and Tam {destruction or death.}

The mathematical or geographical evidence proves that one circle has 360 degrees in space. Why is this circle or wheel of life considered to be of 360 degrees only? If we take a circle and start dividing it using the four elements and three attributes, all the logic can be observed.

The circle itself, is considered the first element of space, since we must consume space in drawing a circle. In this space {or circle}, the four remaining elements and three attributes create the idea of time. The circle is divisible by the product of four elements multiplied by three attributes. This involves the belief that the three attributes exist in the circle. By moving three times, each element completes its revolution.

So now we have the number 12 {3 x 4}. This division gave birth to our 12 months, and also to the 12 horas {1/2 of the day or Ahoratri}. We now have 360 degrees as well as 12 divisions. We can now further divide the wheel of time: there are 27 fixed stars (nakshatras) along with three attributes that divide the time in smaller portions. So this 27 + 3 = 30 is interpreted as 30 degrees or days of one part of the wheel (circle) or month. All of this is only half of a day. The night is yet unaccounted for. Therefore, we multiply these 30 degrees by 2. This gives us our reference of 60 seconds in a minute.

Thus the 360º x 30º = 10,800. Zero {0} is considered ‘Purna’ or complete. So we take out the last zeros and are left with 108. The idea of our total universe is represented by this number of 108. Offering 108, devotees believe that they are showing ultimate or complete respect to the Supreme.

There are many other justifications but all can be traced back to this system. A few are explained below:


Followers use 108 beads in their malas. They implement the following formula: 6 x 3 x 2 x3 = 108

6 senses [sight, sound, smell, taste, touch, thought]

3 aspects of time [past, present, future]

2 condition of heart [pure or impure]

3 possibilties of sentiment [like, dislike, indifference]


All Buddhists accept the Buddha Footprint with its 108 Auspicious Illustrations. These areas are considered to have been marked on the Buddha’s left foot when his body was discovered.


108 beads on the Hindu maalaa {rosary}

108 Arhats or Holy Ones


108 Gopis {consorts} of Lord Krishna

108 Holy places for Vaishnavas 108 beads on the Japa maalaa {rosary}

108 Upanishads

108 Divyadeshes – Divine or Sacred Tirtha throughout India and Nepal

108 sacred water taps in Muktinath – Nepal


108 Pitha {Sacred Places}

The story goes that Lord Shiva was in deep and incessant meditation. His asceticism was creating great heat in the universe. All existence was in peril and Lord Brahma was deeply concerned. Lord Brahma asked the Mother of the Universe, Maa Shakti, to use Her strength and wile to seduce Lord Shiva. Maa Shakti agreed and was born as Sati, daughter of Shri Daksha. Lord Shiva was so entranced by Sati’s asceticism and extraordinary beauty that he took human form and they were married. Years later, at a feast, Sati’s father insulted Lord Shiva. Sati was so humiliated that she began a deep meditation which led to her immolation. Lord Shiva was completely heart broken. He reached into the sacrificial fire and pulled out as much of His beloved’s body as he could grab. As He ascended to heaven, bits of Sati’s body fell to earth. 108 bits to be precise! In time, these places were acknowledged and worshipped.


In a book by Khurana, the explanation closely mirrors the original Vedic justifications: A circle has 360 degrees, which when multiplied by 60 gives us 21,600 minutes in a circle. 60 comes from the 60 ‘ghatis’ which Sanatana Dharmiks believe in. One ghati is equal to 24 minutes and 60 ghatis come to 24 hours.

One ghati is divided into 60 parts or ‘palas’.

So the 60 ghatis multiplied by 60 palasa comes to 3,600.

This is further multiplied by 60 (becase a pala contains 60 vipalas) which gives us 21,600.

Half of this is for the day, and the other half for the night. So, 21,600 divided by 2 gives us 10,800. For practical purposes, we use 108.

Using the number 108 helps us coordinate the rhythm of time and space & we remain in harmony with the spiritual powers of nature.



Which is the highest or best Yoga practice?

I love answering this question always and my answer, as always is, none. Yoga, is the end, not the means to achieve the end. Yoga is communion with the self. So whatever means suits you catches your attention, or strikes you as pragmatic and effective.

  • Ha tha Yoga
  • Kundalini Yoga
  • Sahaj Yoga
  • Kriya Yoga
  • SIddha Yoga
  • Tantra

among other instruments, to achieve this communion, are just instruments. Everything that we possibly need, is already there with us. Samkhya Cosmology maintains that there are 25 tattvas that manifest in this universe or creation. Incidentally (or not?), research shows that the human body contains 25 elements including some trace elements (not all) from the current periodic table, that play significant biological roles. Some may argue that there are 58 known elements or even all of them in our body. So be it.

The point here is, the human body is perhaps one of the most complex systems to have evolved. It encompasses the best known biological, chemical, electrical, magnetic and physical systems within it. It is not a wonder then, human beings are amongst the sentient species known. The human body is the best available tool, equipped with a powerful mind, to probe beyond the observable, to inquire the supernatural and to discover the metaphysical. Ultimately, to merge with the spiritual.

Anyways, I digress, coming back to which Yoga practice is the best; I would like to use the western movie analogy here. A cowboy who could draw fast, was the one who could shoot the others. He may or may not have the best hand gun in the world. His foes and contestants could even have rifles, cannons, shotguns. But, the gun was  and is as good as the hand that uses it. And, the hand is as fast as the mind that uses it. This was true, even when all shootists trained hard for precision and speed.

Similarly, in all yogic practices the body and the mind have to be trained. Scriptures, texts, tutelage, music, dance, entheogens, chanting, exercises and practice are all part of the training. This training is more to restructure the conditioning of the mind, to  be able to comprehend or accept that is inherent and within,  to better make sense of the day to outwardly experiences that we accumulate post birth.

Like the Oracle says to Neo in the Matrix, ” You have already made the choice! You are here to understand why you made it.”

There have been seers, religious revolutionaries like J. Krishnamurti who sought freedom from the Guru, the book, the tradition and the authoritarian voice of another. “Truth is within you”, he said, and to discover the truth in the luminous light of perception was to transform the very nature of thought and consciousness. It was to awaken intelligence, insight and abundant compassion. The total responsibility lies with the individual. No one, according to J.K. can free another.

Then there was, who I dare to call the nihilist yogi, U. G. Krishnamurti. He was an Indian thinker who questioned enlightenment. Although necessary for day to day functioning of the individual, in terms of the Ultimate Reality or Truth, he rejected the very basis of “thought” and in doing so negated all systems of thought and knowledge in reference to It.

“Tell them that there is nothing to understand.” he said.

Although many considered him an “enlightened” person, U.G. often referred to his state of being as the “natural state.” He claimed that the demand for enlightenment was the only thing standing in the way of enlightenment itself, if enlightenment existed at all. Incidentally, to clutch on to nirvana was also a desire and not a fool proof mechanism, as per the Buddha.

The legendary, Shri Ramakrishna Paramahansa, changed his religion several times to explore the ideology and philosophy behind each. Changing a religion for a Hindu was then and even today is a great taboo. Ramakrishna Paramahansa saw the mother goddess Kali in his wife and remained a celibate thereafter.

All said and done, all perceptions, ideas, beliefs and systems can be changed, broken, reused,  Religious doctrines, texts, philosophies, teachers, yogic systems all exist in abundance for men to extract what facilitates their quest and discard what they cannot. This does not imply, however, that we disrespect the means or belittle the efforts of others. Talking, listening, reading, following, imitating, meditating, self-enquiry, questioning, all are part of the process. Like a clay sculptor, who adds and removes clay as needed to sculpt, we must learn to imbibe and let go as need be. Adapt and Improvise.

5 Reasons why Running is as good as Meditation

I consider, running to be as powerful as meditation, I would say it is the best form of active Zen meditation.

1. All Running needs is our body and some determination

 All that we need for running, is a completely operational body (all limbs intact) and some initial determination to counter any inertia or laziness. A treadmill is not necessary, nor is a professional running track.

Although running outdoors has its own advantages, we can even run on one spot, inside our house, without having to wear any running shoes or gear.

2. Running improves circulation, improves health and improves mental health

Running utilizes 16 different muscles of the body, classified under 3 types of muscles (primary, supporting and auxiliary). It is a powerful exercise to boost blood circulation to the body and to the brain. The Cerebral Blood Flow constitutes 15% of the blood flow to the entire body.

Our blood carries all the nutrition in an assimilable to each cell of our body. Our skin, organs, muscles, cartilages, bones, tissues, membranes, nerves, and tendons, are made up of cells. When these cells are nourished, our body is nourished. Toxins and free-radicals are duly flushed out. The body is healthy. A healthy body is free from distractions. The mind within the healthy body is less distracted and more focused. A mind focused on a singular objective is a mind in meditation.

3. When Running the focus automatically shifts on breathing

It is noticed that when we run regularly, our breathing becomes regulated and deeper, our concentration shifts towards breathing and fills the lungs to their designated capacity. In spiritual practices, regulation of breath is a precondition to further advancement. Is it not meditation then, to have the mind and body together watching the inflow and outflow of breath? Inhaling through the nose twice and exhaling through the mouth twice in the same like letting out steam, helps establish a rhythmic pattern while running. This pattern helps build repetition and establish a mantra like effect on the mind.

4. Running exercises both the left and right brain

The human brain is divided into two distinct cerebral hemispheres. Due to contralateral (criss-cross) wiring of nerves, the right hemisphere of the brain, controls the muscles in the left side of our body and the left hemisphere of the brain controls the muscles in the right side of our body. Running is among a few other exercises which coordinate both the right and left major limbs and muscles of the body, thus employing both hemispheres equally, for a prolonged duration. This is just the physiological advantage. The esoteric advantage is that, the Ida and Pingala naadis (energy meridians), start clearing and get equal attention, thus facilitating a faster spiritual growth.

5. Running elevates Serotonin and Dopamine activities in the brain

Serotonin, also known as 5-hydroxytryptamine is a hormone in the pineal gland, the digestive tract, the central nervous system, and blood platelets. A hormone is a substance our body produces that regulates and controls the activity of certain cells or organs.

Dopamine in the brain,  functions as a neurotransmitter—a chemical released by nerve cells to send signals to other nerve cells. The brain includes several distinct dopamine systems, one of which plays a major role in reward-motivated behavior.

Some sources say that prince Gautama, after he renounced all worldly possessions, he went on to meditate beneath a tree. For his daily meal he had a bowl of freshly condensed milk and rice for seven consecutive days. On the seventh day the consumption of pure milk induced high levels of serotonin and dopamine in his brain. This catapulted him instantly in a very deep state of trance, following which he attained enlightenment, becoming the Buddha!

Unfortunately, we live in a world where we can neither vouch for the purity of the milk nor the rice. We do not often practice strict penances, limiting our meals to rice and milk only.

Irrespective of whether we want our lives to model the Buddha’s or not, when we run, we elevate the serotonin and dopamine levels in our brain, promoting healthier brain and body activity. In the esoteric sense, the brain of a person in a meditative trance is shown to have maintained optimal levels of serotonin and dopamine.

There are other exercises that are equally good, but they require additional accessories (skipping), or need a certain space and facility (swimming), or place a heavy premium on body nutrients and hormones (sex).

How much should we run?

It is always safe to exercise within our physical capacities. Studies reveal that running for 30-40 minutes at a pace of 4-5 kmph, 3-4 times a day promotes optimal health.

Why run and not walk?

A walk if brisk or fast is permissive, however, running is a more engaging for the mind and body, because of the kines-thesis and dynamism involved.

The Sound of One Hand Clapping

The Zen koan of the sound of one hand clap, by Hakuin Ekaku is very simple to understand. In fact it is so integral to our existence that it has been there all along, but we have never bothered to really listen.

Ofcourse it is something to be experienced, and one cannot be articulate enough to describe it in its entirety, and all that. Let us assume that we all know how to clap and we all more or less can relate to the sound of two hands clapping.

Let us come back to it later. Now, haven’t we all been deeply involved in listening to a song that we like.So deeply involved that we could not possibly think of the world, not even ourselves?

Now what if I got as deeply engrossed as that, say, when I am listening to the sound of my teeth chewing food, or water falling on my head during a bath, or my fingers touching the keyboard while I type this post, or the listening to the sound of my breath leave my nostrils. What if I was deeply engrossed every time I sense using my eyes, hands, ears, mouth and nose, so much so that I suddenly realize, that these are not really five different senses, its just one sense. A deeper faculty of observation that employs the bodies organs to feel or sense.

What if I suddenly realize, that it is my nature to observe. Further, when I am deeply engrossed in the observation there is nothing else but the observation. When I am listening to the music, there is only the music. There is no me. I am also the music. The listener and the listened are one. The observer and the observed are one. There are no two hands, there is just one hand.

In effect, when the hands are folded and palms touch each other, without making a sound, it is also a prayer. The highest form of prayer is absolute silence. Silence of thoughts.


Himanshu Says …

– Himanshu Kulkarni 
Life exists in the words that you speak.
Q:     Do you know what came first? The sun (सूर्य)  came or the word सूर्य: ?
A:     The word came first before the actual, celestial body, sun.
जग in sanskrit means सृष्टि or creation, is made of 2 words ज= जनन = birth and ग = गमन = exit, this world is rest house take birth, spend some time and go.
Shiva is  Shava + e = shiva. Shava literally means a dead body and ‘e‘ means energy. Together they form us, this world.
When we utter words from a stanza, in rhythm then that is called MANTRA. Chanting mantras with technique and props is called TANTRA.
After chanting mantras daily after a said time time, develops constructive resonance.  Along with natural frequencies of the pancha mahabhuta (space, fire, air, water and earth)buddhi, mana, and ahankara (8 vidha prakriti),  the invisible cosmic energy in space creates shapes for a short while.
Our mind interprets it as Ganesh, Krishna, Jesus or other gods. So finally, WORDs create the UNIVERSE. Chanting mantra gives birth to objects labelled as dev, danav, manav, yaksha, kinner, gandharva and this is abstract classes are inherited from panchamahabhutas, mind, buddhi, ego et al.
As for the privilege to be born in India, one who is a true scholar (seeker) is born in India, for h(is er) last 2nd last or 3rd last birth.
Invisible cosmic energy is the purest form of energy driving this whole world. It becomes visible in purest form of water and when this water becomes slightly impure by accumulating or mixing with negative thoughts, it forms living bodies of animals. The creation of ‘man‘ is a result of this accumulation. We are impurities of nature and we feel the physical weight.
Ultimately meditation is a journey to transfer our heavy body to invisible weightless cosmic energy (E = mc2) energy and mass are interchangeable. Thus the ultimate aim of our life is to transform ourselves, this heavy body (jad jiva) to invisible cosmic energy (chanitanya mayi shiva) by a process called dhyana, aweakening of kundalini (serepent power).
I do love yogis, llamas, they become channel or tunnel of cosmic energy and transfer it back to nature After some years they become 100% purest form of cosmic energy due to meditation. They become channels of pure energy. As I said earlier, this channel gets dissolved in cosmic energy and only energy remains.
I do respect yogis, buddhists and llamas, by heart and mind.  I have been interacting with them from past 3 years.
I feel pleasant and secure when I interact with them and always want to be with them lifelong, “
॥ श्रीपाद राजमं शरणं प्रपद्ये ॥”
। दिगंबरा दिगंबरा श्रीपाद वल्लभ दिगंबरा।

Soul Karri Recipe: Nirvana

What you are and what you have is the best place to start. Objectively access the persona that your name means and put it in a box clled EGO component and paint it black to signify darkness, creator, or use your imagination and call it a black hole…”a hole in a heart shaped box”. It retains all the past till this moment. Dont take the mind for granted, treat her with respect, you got to know she’s a sensitive kind. Tell her you love her with your life. If you believe i know you will find, a finger and a ring that sets in your eyes.
Then magic happens. With no lingering past and the mind comfortable that it is squeezed into a blackhole and all of it has come to naught… the future too dissolves. Welcome to paradise UVWXY
I am the alpha and the omega.

Ramsai Karri

Dharma: An authoritarian way to create boundaries

Seek knowledge. Be it Buddhism, Christianity, Islam, Sikhism, Hebrew or Hinduism,
don’t hate them for what they are, because we don’t really know what they
Forget the people who represent them verbally or textually. When people start re-presenting
a religion, they corrupt it. Religions do not need to be understood. There is nothing to understand.
If a man was designed to be content with what he had, he would be content with one religion
To the core they all (religions as we know today) create boundaries, they promote
separation, calling it a search for ‘something’ that is not given by the
So what is that something and how it should be searched or achieved, by whatever means (prayers, devotion, non action, zen, knowledge, intuition, yoga and all that).
Before we address the question of what is that something. We need to understand what is meant by ‘existing’. What exists and what does not?
In the end the only religion is knowing our self. Any and all religions are powerful tools for self discovery. Any other definition of religion is just plain escapism, blatant denial of the truth. A religion can be shed off, adopted and used.
All religions are fighting the predominant boundaries which have been suffocating the world,
annexing and expanding under the pretext of religion. It is inevitable, wars are inevitable. This is a bigger system plan. The system of selfs.
Diverse selfs, diverging as long as the universe and creation diverges, galaxies,
universes, men, ants, plants, planets all being spewed and spawned. Which is why
diversity will remain, wars from cellular level to universal level will happen. In Hinduism, we believe that creation itself was born out of conflict, or ‘dvandva’ or dualism.
It is a profound concept that merits years of debate or understood instantly if one wishes to.
But what is more fascinating is the idea that dualism was born out of non-dualism and shall merge into non-dualism. When we connect to the current driving all this, we are indifferent.