Not only Hinduism, number 108 has its profound significance in Sikhism, Buddhism, and Jainism, all of which are offshoot religions of Hinduism. Japanese monk’s rings their temple bells 108 times to welcome New Year and sign of the old one. Have you ever been asked to chant a mantra for fifteen minutes or 100 times, a rounded figure? The obvious question arises what is the importance of 108? Why is it holy and sacred? Why the Malas(Rosaries) have 108 beads? Why is it widely used in Indian rituals?
Answer lies in Vedic cosmology.
Our early Vedic sages, who invented our modern numeral system, were renowned mathematicians.
According to Vedic cosmology, number 108 is the basis of creation. Number 108 represent our universe. 108 represent the whole of our existence. 108 is a number which resonates throughout the universe.
Astronomical Evidences on auspiciousness of number 108
Vedic cosmology states
1) Diameter of Sun is 108 times that of earth
2) Distance between earth and sun is 108 times the diameter of the sun.
3) Distance between earth and moon is 108 times the diameter of the moon.
1) Diameter of sun = 1,392,000 km. Equatorial diameter of the earth = 12,756.28 km. On dividing, we get 109.11. This minute difference of 1.11 can be attributed to error in modern scientific instrument or measurement.
) Diameter of sun = 1,392,000 km. Mean distance between earth and sun is 149,597,870.691 km. On dividing, we get 107.46973469181034482758620689655. Rounding it off, we get 108. Again, this minute difference of .54 can be attributed to error in modern scientific instrument or measurement.
Distance between earth and moon=384403. Diameter of moon=3474 km. On dividing, we get 110.651410478. Again, this minute difference of 2.65 can be attributed to error in modern scientific instrument or measurement.
Shortest distance between earth and moon=3, 56,399km
Longest distance between earth and moon=4, 06,699 km
Average distance between earth and moon=3, 84,400 km
Multiplying 108*3474(Diameter of moon), I get 3, 75,192 km. So, I can assume very safely that at the time of creation, distance between earth and moon was 3, 75,192 km. Also note the fact that there is a possibility of change in moon orbits over the last 10K years plus variation of 11% between apogee and perigee in moon’s orbit. These facts applies to the above two points as well. So, we can safely declare 108 as the unit of creation.
Astrological Evidences on auspiciousness of number 108
Number 108 holds a special place in Vedic astrology too. You may know about the significance of Zodiac signs in Vedic astrology. We have 12 zodiac signs based on the movement of sun and moon and we have 9 navagrahas(planets) whose positions represents the events that will occur in our life. Multiplying 12*9, we get 108, a sacred number of creations
Scientific Evidences on auspiciousness of number 108
According to Vedic science, our universe is made up of 108 elements. Our modern periodic table has 108 elements-rest of the elements after Hassium are too short lived and only exists in laboratory for 1/1000 of a second. Hassium, the 108th and heaviest element of periodic table has 108 protons.
According to Vedic philosophy, number 9 represents wholeness. Our eyes can see up to 3 dimensions. Multiply the powers of each dimension and find out the number you get. Power of 1= 1(1x1); Power of 2= 4(2x2); Power of 3= 27(3x3x3); multiplying 1x4x27, we get 108. Multiplying these three dimensions means you are deriving a number that encompasses the whole of our universe or the way your eyes sees this materialistic universe. Furthermore, If you add digits of 108, you get number 9(1+0+8). Notably, multiplying any number by 9 and adding up its digit gives the result 9.
3x9=27. Adding up digits, 2+7=9.
420x9=3780. Adding up digits, 3+7+8=18. 1+8=9.
12364x9=111276. Adding up digits, 1+1+1+2+7+6=18. 1+8=9.
This is the reasons, why our ancient books have everything in multiples of 9. 9 puranas, 108 upanishads, 18 chapters in bhagavad gita etc.
Number 108 defines our life cycles
Let us go through our life cycles (Yugas). According to Vedic philosophy, there are 4 Yugas, all of which are related to 108 and 9 as
Kaliyug consists of 432000 years (4+3+2) = 9
DwaparYug consists of 864000 years (8+4+6) = 18 = (1+8) = 9
TretaYug consists of 1296000 years (1+2+9+6) = 18 = (1+8) = 9
Satyug - consists of 172,800 years (1+7+2+8) = 18 = (1+8) = 9
Why to chant mantras 108 times?
Vedic sages believed the outer cosmology should be mirrored in the inner cosmology of the human. They said number 108 units represent the distance from the body of the devotee to the god situated within. According to Ayurveda (Safest ancient medicinal technique), we have 107 weak spots (Marmas) in our body and these weak spots are chained together to form 108 links. This is why all mantras are chanted 108 times because each chant represents a journey from our material self towards our highest spiritual self. Each chant is believed to bring 1 unit closer to our god situated within. This means our soul has to make a journey through 108 stages to attain Moksha(Salvation) . This happens by chanting. By chanting, a devotee starts a symbolic journey from physical body to the heavens.
All sacred beads have 108 beads/Stones. All mantras are chanted 108 times. Most popular of all mala is Rudraksha, which has 108 sacred beads. Rudraksha represent Lord Shiva and his feminine aspect ‘Shakti’ (Power). Cosmic dance of lord Shiva, which is better known as Bharat natyam, has 108 poses. As we know lord Shiva is the deity of destruction. Lord Shiva was so fond of dancing that he danced in 108 poses thus making 108 as the unit of creation.
According to shiva purana, 108 karanas included in his Tandava(Cosmic dance) can be employed in fight, exercise and personal combats. Many of lord Shiva cosmic poses are used in Yoga (Spiritual exercise), Kalaripayattu(world oldest martial art) and kung fu.
Why 108 Upanishads?
108 symbolises the numerical equivalent of OM. 108 is in total sync with rhythms of time and space and represents perfect totality. Reflecting the importance of 108, Vedic sages created 108 upanishads(spiritual books). The ancient sages have compiled the Vedic metaphysics into 108 Upanishads. Some of the more important Upanishads are Katha, Keno, Mundakaya, Iso, Chhandogya, Brihadarnayaka, Isvarya and Aiterya.
1) 54 is the number of letters in divine language Sanskrit, God’s own language. Each letter has feminine (Shakti) and masculine (Shiva) aspects. Hence, 54x2=108 defines Sanskrit, the world oldest and most perfect language.
2) Multiple of 108 is the number of times you breathe in a day. In one minute, you breathe approximately 15 minutes. So, in a day, you breathe approximately 21600(10800 * 2) times. According to our scriptures, we must spend half of our day meditating and chanting the god name and the rest of your day must be spent for your daily activities. Therefore, you must devote 10800 times of your breath for godliness and meditation. This is equivalent to giving 100% of your devotion(100*108=10800)
3) In our body, there are seven main chakras. Chakras are intersections of energy lines, and there are 108 such energy lines converging to or from the heart chakra. One of the energy lines (Sushumna) connects us to the crown chakra, the stage at which the body is enlightened or Self-realized.
Chakras and energy lines
4) Sri yantra, a divine instruments are made of marmas which are intersection of three lines. There are 54 such intersections in sri yantra, each having masculine (Shiva) and feminine (Shakti) qualities. Thus, there are 54x2=108 points that make up the Sri Yantra as well as human body. Sri yantra is made up of 54 pentagons and each angle in a pentagon equals 108 degrees.
5) All major deities of Hinduism have 108 names. Be it Lord Shiva, lord Krishna or lord ganesha, everyone has 108 names. Srimad bhagvatam states 108 numbers of Gopis or lord Krishna maid servants.
6) All rosaries have 108 beads. Even in Mitanni (Egypt) and Persian (Iraq) cultures which is an offshoot of Vedic culture, number 108 left its presence in various traditions, customs and beliefs such as use of rosaries having 108 beads or circumambulating around a rock 108 times.
108 beads in Rosary with Ram written on it!!! Jai shri ram!!!! For god sake, don’t start counting
7) Parashurama,sixth avatar of lord Vishnu, installed 108 Dhanwantari idols (god of Ayurveda) after the drying up of river Saraswati.
8) Mahamritunyaj mantra and gayatri mantra is repeated 108 times. Mahamritunyaj mantra pleases lord Shiva and removes all problems and difficulties in life. Gayatri mantra is like a thanksgiving song to the god. Read below post for more on gayatri mantra
Why gayatri mantra is the most powerful mantra
9) In Mendeleyeev periodic table, there are 108 elements-rest of the elements after Hassium are too short lived. Hassium, the 108th and heaviest element of periodic table has 108 protons.
Stonehenge is 108 feet in diameter
The sacred River Ganga spans a latitude of 9 degrees (22 to 31) and longitude of 12 degrees (79 to 91). 12 times 9 equal 108.
Importance of number 108 in Buddhism?
In Japan, bells are rung in temples for 108 times. Each ring represents one of 108 earthly temptations a person must overcome to achieve nirvana (Salvation).
Bell in Buddhist temple rung 108 times
Similarly, Followers of Zen Buddhism wears juzu(or suchu) around their wrists. Juzu is a prayer ring with108 beads. According to Buddhism sacred scripture “Lankavatara Sutra”, Bodhisattva Mahamati asked Buddha 108 questions after which he had no questions about this materialistic world. Chinese Buddhism talks about 108 sacred stars.
Buddhism further states the following
There are 108 earthly desires in mortals.
There are 108 numbers of lies humans can tell.
There are 108 human delusions or forms of ignorance.
Besides these, there may be many more concepts connecting to sacred number 108. If I have missed any, then please comment and let me know.
Knowledge doesn’t come from book; it comes from experience, enlightenment, inner perception and intuition. It is time to free ourselves from the lies and deception spread throughout the world about our culture.
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