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.



Nāda: The MicroCosmic and MacroCosmic Rhythm

Most of us can remember a fundamental concept taught to us in school when we learned of Molecular Motion, States of Matter and Gas Laws:

“All molecules are in constant motion. Molecules of a liquid have more freedom of movement than those in a solid. Molecules in a gas have the greatest degree of motion.”

We now know that even atoms and sub atomic particles are in constant motion. Everything from within the microcosm to the macrocosm is in perpetual motion. Incidentally, this concept has also been integral to the authoritative religious texts in Hinduism. Some intuitive findings of the ancient seers or Rishis, of India,  are based on the premise that the entire cosmos and all that exists in the cosmos, including human beings, consists of sound vibrations, called nāda. This concept holds that it is the sound energy in motion rather than of matter and particles which form the building blocks of the cosmos.

Dr. Robert E Svoboda maintains, in his article THE SOUNDLESS SUSURRATION OF THE KINDLY HEART ” Viewed from the perspective of creation, nada is “that which expresses,” the sound current from which manifestation occurs. From the perspective of dissolution, however, nada is the resonance that follows bindu, the last point that the experiencer holds to before relinquishing all sense of time and space. The transcendent bruit that is nada begins to reverberate through one’s self-awareness as soon as all differentiating thought disappears. Nataraja straddles the bindu fence between creation and destruction, everlastingly awash in the nada tide that He Himself engenders.

Nothing in the universe moves but Nataraja; all else that shifts position, form or condition does so solely through His whirl. Nataraja is the perfect embodiment of a Vedic formula for compressing Reality into words: satyam, rtam, brhat (“the true, the harmonious, the vast”). Reality exists (it displays truth, satyam), it has a natural order or rhythm (rtam) which is self-perpetuating and self-correcting (it is harmonious), and it is all-pervasive, extending beyond the farthest reaches of the human imagination (it is vast, brhat). Nataraja’s form expresses the solidification of resonance, the congealing of music and dance into form. The word ambara can also mean “garment,” and chid-ambaram thus also means “clad in consciousness,” in the same way that a naked sadhu is sometimes spoken of as being dig-ambara, “sky-clad, clothed in the ten directions.” Awareness covers the Lord of Dance, it surrounds Him as it emerges from Him. Alone at the center of the cosmos, He is the embodiment of the consciousness that gave the cosmos birth. Within the human microcosm Nataraja relentlessly dances a tarantella of blood and lymph at the heart-center, thumping out the rhythm of heartbeats endlessly disseminating oxygen and prana, the life force. Like the heart, which sits at the core of the chest, the center of any space or image, in or out of the body, should be relatively empty of matter but full of prana. Any central area is a “heart,” a chid-ambaram that should reflect and express ultimate nature, ultimate sound and rhythm by concentrating prana there. Prana, mind and breath all work together, in the internal and the external universe alike.”

The power (Hara) of the unmanifested absolute (Shiva), when manifested becomes the dynamic cosmic energy (Shakti), much like potential energy transforming into kinetic energy, from inertia to motion. The sound of this energy when “expressed” as Svoboda says, creates matter in various forms and size, ranging from atoms to galaxies to universes.

In the human form, the energy itself, first, manifests into thousands of ethereal energy channels or meridians (72,000) that carry the nada in and out of the body. It is my supposition, that these channels are thus called the naadis.

Inherent, within the nada, are laya and taala, the tempo and the beat. It is no wonder then why human beings are inherently perceptible to music at any age. Rhythmic vibrations, interspersed with silence, pattern within silence and silence within pattern. Space within matter and matter within space, matter that is nothing but energy bound in certain vibrations. We and the whole universe is nothing but these vibrations within and without.


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।

Every body knows it …

” It lies beyond the extremities of repetition”

It is there in me. Living itself out. It has built you and it has built me. It shows as if everything not me, is you. Why has it done that? It got bored of the stillness and it wanted to play. How can it resist seeing itself play? It becomes me. What is it playing with? It becomes you. What is the play? You and Me, Me and you.
Repetition, choiceless-ness, realization, enlightenment are complex synonyms of the play. The antonym is it.