There are many differing explanations as to why 108 is a significant number in Hinduism, however they all lead back to ancient Indian numerology and astrology.
We have outlined a few of the relevant beliefs regarding the significance of the number 108.
- It is said that the diameter of the sun is 108 times the diameter of the Earth. The distance from the sun to the Earth is also 108 times the diameter of the Sun. It is also said that the average distance from the Earth to the moon is 108 times the diameter of the moon. Check the math here. [Considering this statement- it then makes sense to conclude that a full round of japa (recitation of mantra) on a Mala represents the symbolic journey from the earth to the sky!]
- The sanskrit alphabet has 54 character each with a Male (Shiva) and Female (Shakti) counterpart. Therefore in total there are 108 characters in the Sanskrit alphabet.
- In Indian Astrology there are 12 constellations, and 9 arc segments called ‘namshas’ or ‘chandrakalas’. The 12 constellations multiplied by the 9 arc segments equals 108.
- In Hinduism it is said that the soul or ‘Atman’ goes through 108 stages on the spiritual journey.
- There is said to be 108 names given to the Indian Goddesses.
- There are 108 forms of Indian dance.