Ever wondered why is it advised to recite the Gayatri mantra 108 times? Or why are we told to chant Maha Mrityunjay Mantra 108 times to avoid unnatural death? Have you ever wondered why there are 108 beads in Japmalas? Why our Gurus always taught us to recite and repeat mantras at least 108 times to enter into a deep state of meditation and transcend our body and soul to that Supreme Lord?

The number 108’s significance is deep-rooted in Hinduism:

  • The distance between the Earth and the Sun is 108 times the diameter of the Sun.
  • The diameter of the Sun is 108 times the diameter of the Earth.
  • The distance between the Earth and Moon is approx. 108 times the diameter of the Moon.
  • We have 27 constellations in our galaxy, according to our Vedic astrology, each having 4 different directions. Thus, 27*4 = 108, this covers the whole galaxy!
  • There are 12 zodiac signs and 9 planets (navgrahas), 12 times 9 =108, the wonderful number of creations!

According to Ayurveda, it is believed that ‘108 units represent the distance from the body of the devotee to the god situated within’. As per Ayurveda, there are 107 weak points inside a human body that are joined together to form sacred bead of 108 links. Therefore, every single chant along with this single bead is said to bring devotee’s body and the God within closer by 1 unit. These 108 beads together represent a soul’s journey through 108 stages to achieve Moksha. Hence, Mantras are chanted 108 times.

108 Upnishads:

It is believed that the Upanishads, the ancient text of wisdom, are 108 in number.

Sanskrit Alphabets:

There are 54 alphabets in Sanskrit, which have both masculine and feminine pronouns. Hence, Sanskrit language has a total of 54 x 2 = 108 alphabets, the sacred number!

Heart Chakras:

Our body consists of 7 main chakras, also known as intersection of energy lines. There are 108 energy lines, meeting the heart chakra. One of these lines connect the body to the Crown chakra, and at this stage, our body attains enlightenment.

Harshad Number:
  • In Sanskrit, Harshad means ‘great joy’. 108 is a Harshad number, which is divisible by its own sum of digits.
  • It is believed that we breathe approx. 21600 (10800*2) times in a day; and to attain enlightenment, one must spend half of its breath in meditation and in chanting God’s name.
  • As per Bhagvad Gita, there are 108 names of every God in Hindu culture.
  • It is believed that there were 108 Gopis of Shri Krishna who devoted all their life to Lord Krishna.
  • According to Shiv Puran, there are 108 tandavs (cosmic dance) related to Lord Shiva.
  • It is said that there are 108 desires and 108 lies that humans possess in their lives.
  • Some believed that there are 108 feelings; 36 each related to Present, past and future respectively.
  • According to our ancestors, 108 paths lead us to the divine God.
  • There are traditionally 108 dance forms in India.

The number 108 describes and links the inner environment with that of the outer. One must realize that while chanting Japa mala, we actually try to establish a touch with the gigantic space and devote time to the God to eliminate any negativities and distractions.