Significance of 108 Beads

Why do malas have one hundred eight beads? Here are some of the many reasons given.

  • Mathematically, 108 is divisible by the sum of its integers.
  • There are 108 techniques of meditation; 108 paths to God.
  • Hindus have 108 deities. Each of these deities has 108 names.
  • In Islam, the number 108 refers to God.
  • In the Jain religion, 108 is the combined number of virtues of the Holy Ones.
  • Buddhists carve 108 Buddhas on a walnut for good luck and ring a bell 108 times to celebrate a new year. There are 108 virtues to cultivate and 108 defilements to avoid.
  • 108 is a Harshad number, which in Sanskrit means "great joy". There are fifty-four letters in the Sanskri alphabet, each containing a masculine (shiva), and feminine (shakti) aspect. Two times fifty-four equals one hundred eight.
  • It is said that human beings have 108 earthly desires, tell 108 lies, and suffer 108 delusions. There are 108 qualities of praiseworthy souls.
  • There are 108 lines of energy that form the heart chakra; 108 marmas (energy intersections) in the subtle body.
  • In the practice of Pranayama, if one can calm oneself to the point where one takes only one hundred eight breaths a day, enlightenment will be achieved.
  • There are 108 Upanishads, or wisdom teachings, in the Hindu tradition.
  • The angle formed by two adjacent lines in a pentagon equals 108 degrees.
  • Astrologically, there are 12 constellations, and 9 arc segments called namshas. There are 12 houses and 9 planets. 12 times 9 equals 108. In astrology, the precious metal silver represents the moon. The atomic weight of silver is 108. Chinese astrology says there are 108 sacred stars.
  • The sacred River Ganga (Ganges) spans a longitude of 12 degrees and a latitude of 9 degrees. 12 times 9 equals 108.
  • It is said that 1 stands for God or higher Truth, 0 stands for emptiness or completeness in spiritual practice, and the looping 8 stands for infinity.
  • The diameter of the Sun is 108 times the diameter of the Earth. The distance from the Sun to the Earth is 108 times the diameter of the Sun. The average distance of the Moon from the Earth is 108 times the diameter of the Moon.
  • Atman, the human soul, goes through 108 stages on the journey back to God-head.
  • There are 108 forms of traditional Indian dance.
  • And finally, the first manned space by Soviet cosmonaut, Yuri Gagarin, lasted 108 minutes.