Since ancient times the number 108 has been considered a consecrated number, not limited to just yoga but in a lot of spiritual traditions all over the world. But, what is the real meaning of 108 and why is the number recurring in many places?
What does it mean?
Characteristically, 1 is said to stand for God or Truth, 0 for Completeness or Emptiness as identified in the spiritual practice, and the number 8 for Eternity and Infinity. Or for others, 1 stands for individual soul, 0 for God or the whole, and the number 8 for eternity.
- 1 reverberates new beginnings, energies of masculine characteristics and plant creation with direction, strength, authority, and love.
- 0 resounds totality, no beginning and end, and freedom from limitations.
- 8 reverberates inner strength, ability, confidence and power. 8 is known to be the number of karma.
108 shows up many times in the ancient Hindu scriptures, known as the Vedas, which structure the basis of spiritual practice and yoga philosophy in South Asian traditions.
- Rig Veda: 108 chapters.
- Primary Tantras: 108.
- Marma points in a human’s body: 108.
- Prayer malas: 108 beads.
The meaning of 108 broadens to some other spiritual traditions:
- Christian rosary is made up a total of 54 beads (2 rounds will make 108).
- The Stonehenge diameter, which is related with Druidry: 108 feet.
Amusingly, in the mathematical terms, the number 108 is also a natural division of circle/s into a pentagram, in which some symbolize the circle as infinity and eternity, and the nature and the cycles of life, whereas the circle that touches all 5 points specifies that spirit, air, fire, water and earth are connected to each other.
The meaning of the number (108) pulls out to other aspects of human knowledge from other places in the world, such as:
- In yoga, breathing is estimated at 10,800 lunar energy breaths in a day and 10,800 solar energy breaths.
- There are a total of 108 sacred stars in the Chinese astrology.
Even in the more modern astronomy, it is a known fact that:
- The sun’s diameter is 108 times the earth’s diameter.
- The distance of earth to the sun is 108 times the sun’s diameter.
- The distance of earth to the moon is 108 times the moon’s diameter.
Despite all the facts stated above, perhaps you might say the significance of 108 in spiritual traditions is just a coincidence? It all depends on one’s perspective. But, needless to say the number (108) appears often in a lot of scenarios, including religion, history, and mathematics.
This article was last revised on 02/26/2020.