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Symbol Story: 108

August 27, 2021 3 min read

The number “108” has taken on a significance that extends far beyond its numerical value. When used together, these three digits hold sacred meaning throughout multiple Eastern religions, spiritual traditions and yoga philosophy.

In Sanskrit, Sacred Texts and Yoga Asana

In Vedic tradition, 108 is seen as a symbol of completion. The number connects us to three of the most widely known sacred texts in yoga philosophy: the Upanishads, the Primary Tantras and the Rig Veda. There are 54 letters in the Sanskrit alphabet, where each can be seen as either masculine (Shiva) or feminine (Shakti), therefore equaling 108 in total.

In yoga asana practice, 108 sun salutations may be practiced to mark the start of a new season (winter and summer solstice, spring and fall equinox)

In Hinduism, Buddhism and Jainism

In both Hinduism and Buddhism a Japamala or mala bead necklace worn for meditation practice, is traditionally made up of 108 beads.

In Buddhism, there are considered to be 108 total earthly desires that must be overcome by humans. There are also considered to be 108 distinct feelings: 6 senses (smell, touch, taste, sight, hearing and consciousness) each x 3 (pleasant, painful or neutral feelings) x 2 (internally or externally generated) x 3 (past, present or future). In total there are said to be 36 past, 36 present and 36 future feelings, making 108 in total.

In Jainism there are 108 virtues laid out to be honoured.

Traditionally, malas have 108 beads. Some recite a mantra 108 times with the help of the beads. Read our article All About Malas to learn more.

In Vedic tradition, 108 is seen as a symbol of completion. The number connects us to three of the most widely known sacred texts in yoga philosophy: the Upanishads, the Primary Tantras and the Rig Veda. There are 54 letters in the Sanskrit alphabet, where each can be seen as either masculine (Shiva) or feminine (Shakti), therefore equaling 108 in total.

In yoga asana practice, 108 sun salutations may be practiced to mark the start of a new season (winter and summer solstice, spring and fall equinox)

In Hinduism, Buddhism and Jainism

In both Hinduism and Buddhism a Japamala or mala bead necklace worn for meditation practice, is traditionally made up of 108 beads.

In Buddhism, there are considered to be 108 total earthly desires that must be overcome by humans. There are also considered to be 108 distinct feelings: 6 senses (smell, touch, taste, sight, hearing and consciousness) each x 3 (pleasant, painful or neutral feelings) x 2 (internally or externally generated) x 3 (past, present or future). In total there are said to be 36 past, 36 present and 36 future feelings, making 108 in total.

In Jainism there are 108 virtues laid out to be honoured.

Traditionally, malas have 108 beads. Some recite a mantra 108 times with the help of the beads. Read our article All About Malas to learn more.

In Numerology, Mathematics and Ayurveda

In numerology, numbers can be considered messengers. 108 is considered an “Angel number” that offers support and encouragement.

Some traditions consider 1 to represent higher truth, 0 to stand for completeness of a spiritual practice, and 8 as a symbol for infinity.

In Ayurvedic medicine there are 108 marmas, or pressure points, located throughout the body. There are also 108 nadis (lines) of energy at work.

In Astronomy & Astrology

The diameter of the sun is roughly 108 times greater than the diameter of the earth. The distance between the earth and the moon is said to be 108 times the diameter of the moon.

108 is also roughly the distance between the earth and the sun.

In Astrology, there are 12 zodiac signs and 9 planets, which when multiplied equals 108. There are also 27 lunar mansions which are divided into 4 quarters, which when multiplied again equal 108.

Victoria Maybee l Mukha Yoga

By Victoria Maybee; All Rights Reserved @2021

Victoria Maybee l Mukha YogaBy Victoria Maybee; All Rights Reserved @2021