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18169Meaning of 108 beads on a mala by Swami Jnaneshvara Bharati

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  • medit8ionsociety
    Feb 20, 2012
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      On a mala, or set of mantra counting beads, there
      are generally 108 beads, or some fraction of that
      number. The question often arises: Why are there
      108 beads on a mala?

      Below are some of the many reasons that have been
      given for having 108 beads on a mala, as well as a
      few other points of interest. None of these reasons
      are being promoted here as more or less true than
      the others. However, you may notice that 108 appears
      to be somewhat like a road map of reality in general,
      and the human in particular.

      Regardless of the meaning of 108, it is important
      that if a mala is used to count mantras, the mantra
      be remembered with sincerity, devotion, feeling, and
      full attention.

      9 times 12: Both of these numbers have been said to
      have spiritual significance in many traditions.
      9 times 12 is 108. Also, 1 plus 8 equals 9. That
      9 times 12 equals 108.

      Powers of 1, 2, and 3 in math: 1 to 1st power=1;
      2 to 2nd power=4 (2x2); 3 to 3rd power=27 (3x3x3). 1x4x27=108

      Harshad number: 108 is a Harshad number, which is
      an integer divisible by the sum of its digits
      (Harshad is from Sanskrit, and means "great joy")

      Desires: There are said to be 108 earthly desires
      in mortals.

      Lies: There are said to be 108 lies that humans tell.

      Delusions: There are said to be 108 human delusions or
      forms of ignorance.

      Heart Chakra: The chakras are 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.

      Sanskrit alphabet: There are 54 letters in the
      Sanskrit alphabet. Each has masculine and feminine,
      shiva and shakti. 54 times 2 is 108.

      Pranayama: If one is able to be so calm in meditation
      as to have only 108 breaths in a day, enlightenment will come.

      Upanishads: Some say there are 108 Upanishads, texts
      of the wisdom of the ancient sages.

      Sri Yantra: On the Sri Yantra there are marmas where
      three lines intersect, and there are 54 such
      intersections. Each intersections has masculine
      and feminine, shiva and shakti qualities. 54 times
      2 equals 108. Thus, there are 108 points that define
      the Sri Yantra as well as the human body.

      Pentagon: The angle formed by two adjacent lines in
      a pentagon equals 108 degrees.

      Marmas: Marmas or marmasthanas are like energy intersections
      called chakras, except have fewer energy lines converging
      to form them. There are said to be 108 marmas in the
      subtle body.

      Time: Some say there are 108 feelings, with 36 related
      to the past, 36 related to the present, and 36 related
      to the future.

      8 extra beads: In doing a practice of counting the
      number of repetitions of the mala, 100 are counted
      as completed. The remaining are said to cover errors
      or omissions. The 8 are also said to be an offering
      to God and Guru.

      Chemistry: Interestingly, there are about 115 elements
      known on the periodic table of the elements. Most of
      those, around or higher than the number 100 only exist
      in the laboratory, and some for only thousandths of a
      second. The number that naturally exist on Earth is
      around 100.

      Astrology: There are 12 constellations, and 9 arc
      segments called namshas or chandrakalas. 9 times 12
      equals 108. Chandra is moon, and kalas are the divisions
      within a whole.

      River Ganga: The sacred River Ganga spans a longitude
      of 12 degrees (79 to 91), and a latitude of 9 degrees
      (22 to 31). 12 times 9 equals 108.

      Planets and Houses: In astrology, there are 12 houses
      and 9 planets. 12 times 9 equals 108.

      Goddess names: There are said to be 108 Indian goddess names.

      Gopis of Krishna: In the Krishna tradition, there were
      said to be 108 gopis or maid servants of Krishna.

      1, 0, and 8: Some say that 1 stands for God or higher
      Truth, 0 stands for emptiness or completeness in
      spiritual practice, and 8 stands for infinity or eternity.

      Sun and Earth: 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.

      Moon and Earth: The average distance of the Moon from
      the Earth is 108 times the diameter of the Moon.

      Silver and the moon: In astrology, the metal silver
      is said to represent the moon. The atomic weight of
      silver is 108.

      Numerical scale: The 1 of 108, and the 8 of 108, when
      added together equals 9, which is the number of the
      numerical scale, i.e. 1, 2, 3 ... 10, etc., where 0
      is not a number.

      Meditations: Some say there are 108 styles of meditation.

      Breath: Tantra estimates the average number of breaths
      per day at 21,600, of which 10,800 are solar energy,
      and 10,800 are lunar energy. Multiplying 108 by 100
      is 10,800. Multiplying 2 x 10,800 equals 21,600.

      Paths to God: Some suggest that there are 108 paths to God.

      Smaller divisions: The number 108 is divided, such
      as in half, third, quarter, or twelfth, so that some
      malas have 54, 36, 27, or 9 beads.

      Hinduism: 108 is said to refer to the number of Hindu
      deities. Some say that each of the deities has 108 names.

      Islam: The number 108 is used in Islam to refer to God.

      Jain: In the Jain religion, 108 are the combined
      virtues of five categories of holy ones, including
      12, 8, 36, 25, and 27 virtues respectively.

      Sikh: The Sikh tradition has a mala of 108 knots tied
      in a string of wool, rather than beads.

      Buddhism: Some Buddhists carve 108 small Buddhas on
      a walnut for good luck. Some ring a bell 108 times
      to celebrate a new year. There are said to be 108
      virtues to cultivate and 108 defilements to avoid.

      Chinese: The Chinese Buddhists and Taoists use a
      108 bead mala, which is called su-chu, and has three
      dividing beads, so the mala is divided into three
      parts of 36 each. Chinese astrology says that there
      are 108 sacred stars.

      Stages of the soul: Said that Atman, the human soul
      or center goes through 108 stages on the journey.

      Meru: This is a larger bead, not part of the 108.
      It is not tied in the sequence of the other beads.
      It is the quiding bead, the one that marks the beginning
      and end of the mala.

      Dance: There are 108 forms of dance in the Indian traditions.

      Praiseworthy souls: There are 108 qualities of praiseworthy souls.

      First man in space: The first manned space flight
      lasted 108 minutes, and was on April 12, 1961 by
      Yuri Gagarin, a Soviet cosmonaut.
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