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The Significance of the Number 108

Updated: Sep 5, 2023

The significance of the number 108 is open to interpretation. Over time, there has been much spiritual and scientific relevance given to the number. For many, the number 108 is a sacred number.

Here are some spiritual and scientific meaning and facts attributed to the number 108:

The wholeness of existence: Renowned mathematicians of Vedic culture viewed 108 as the number of the wholeness of existence. Astronomically, there are 27 constellations in our galaxy and each has 4 directions. 27 x 4 = 108. In other words, the number 108 covers the whole galaxy.

Sun, Moon & Earth: The distance between the Earth and the Sun is 108 times the diameter of the Sun. The distance between the Earth and Moon is 108 times the diameter of the Moon. The diameter of the Sun is 108 times the diameter of the Earth.

Earth, Time and Body connection: Just like a circle, the Planet has 360° and each degree is divided into 60 minutes. One of these minutes’ accounts for one nautical mile. That means the circumference of the Earth at the Equator is 21,600 nautical miles. On average, we take this many breaths a day. This connects our human body with the planet.

Mala Bead/Prayer Beads: In Hinduism and Buddhism, a mala comes as a string of 108 beads plus one guru or guiding bead. (A mala is like a Catholic rosary and is used for counting as you repeat a mantra).

The Chakras: 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.

‘Harshad’ Number: An integer divisible by the sum of its digits. 108 is a ‘Harshad’ number. ‘Harshad’ in Sanskrit means ‘joy-giver.’

Meditation: There are believed to be 108 different types of meditation.

Paths to God: Some people believe that there are 108 paths to God.

Dance Forms: There are 108 traditional Indian dance forms. (Traditional Indian dances are used to worship God or tell stories of God).

Buddhism: There are said to be 108 earthly desires in mortals, 108 lies humans tell and 108 human delusions. Buddhist believe there are 108 feelings calculated as follows:

  • x 6 Senses (Smell, Touch, Taste, Sight, Hearing and Consciousness)

  • x 3 Pleasant, Painful or Neutral feelings

  • x 2 Internally or externally generated feelings

  • x 3 Past, Present or Future feelings

Therefore, 36 past, 36 present and 36 future feelings = 108.

Yoga: 108 Sun Salutations are often practiced to honor change. For example, to bring peace, respect and understanding at a time of tragedy or to honour the change of seasons.

108 across the cultures:

  • Tibetans have 108 sacred holy books.

  • In Jainism, there are believed to be 108 virtues.

  • 108 Steps: Many Hindu and Buddhist temples have 108 steps.

  • In Japan, at the end of a year, a bell is chimed 108 times in Buddhist temples to finish the old year and welcome the new one. Each ring represents one of the 108 earthly temptations a person must overcome to achieve nirvana.

  • Lord Buddha is believed to have given a teaching answering 108 questions which are contained within the Lankavatara Sutra (Buddhist scripture).

  • In Gnosticism, (an ancient Christian religion), it is believed that an individual has 108 chances, or lifetimes to eliminate ego and transcend the material world.

  • Atman/Soul – In Hinduism, it is believed that the soul or inner self (Atman), goes through 108 stages of spiritual development.

  • In Taoism, the Wu style of Tai Chi has 108 postures.

  • Lord Buddha’s footprint is imprinted with 108 auspicious illustrations.

  • In Islam, the number 108 refers to God.

  • In the Bible, the words ‘first born’ is used 108 times. The words ‘in truth’ and ‘to forgive’ are used 108 times in the New Revised Standard Version of the Bible.

  • Angel Numbers – the number 108 is a message of support and encouragement. A cycle in life might be coming to an end but new opportunities lay ahead.

  • The Sanskrit Alphabet has 54 letters and each has a masculine and feminine form (Shiva and Shakti) 54 x 2 = 108

  • Stonehenge, a prehistoric monument in England is 108 feet in diameter.

There is a lot of consider here and taking all of this into account, with a simplistic viewpoint, you could say that the auspicious number 108 connects science with human mind, body and spirit.

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