108 Mala Beads: The Ancient Knowledge of Indian Culture

108 Mala Beads: The Ancient Knowledge of Indian Culture

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Yoga is an ancient discipline that dates back thousands of centuries, believed to be first described and documented by the Hindu deity, Lord Krishna, in the holy text of the Bhagwad Gita. Yoga has been practised in India since time immemorial.

The concept of Hindu prayer beads or Japa Malas is believed to have originated in India around the 8th B.C.E. According to Yogic practice, one attains clarity and focus by meditating with 108 beads, reciting. Affirmations or prayers while counting the beads. 


Significance of Japa Beads


Meditating with sacred 108 bead malas is an exercise of concentration and devotion. The idea is to recite the same affirmation or prayer 108 times while keeping count with the mala. As you recite, 100 beads are counted towards the completion of your prayers, while the remaining are included as a safeguard for errors and omissions. According to some experts, the remaining 8 can also be viewed as offerings to the higher power.


The 109th bead that hangs at the bottom of your Japa Mala goes by many names, Sumeru, Bindu, stupa or the Guru bead. It symbolises the teacher from whom the student receives their spiritual lessons. The mala itself pays homage to the Student (Shishya) -  Guru (teacher) relationship of Ancient Hindu culture, which is considered to be above the bonds of family, romantic relationships, friendships, and more.


Ancient Indian Knowledge of 108


108 is considered to be a number of power in Indian culture and crops up in many unexpected places. Here are a few reasons why the number is considered to be one of divine importance in ancient Hindu belief.


  • It is believed that there are 108 types of meditation native to India
  • According to the ancient practice of Pranayama, enlightenment is awarded to those who can control their breathing so as to take 108 breaths in a day.
  • In Buddhist belief, mortal beings are said to be prone to 108 kinds of earthly desires, that hold us back from true spiritual enlightenment
  • The Upanishads, i.e. ancient Hindu texts penned by sages to help make sense of the world around them, were written in exactly 108 volumes.
  • Hindu culture reveres and prays to a vast pantheon of gods and goddesses. There are 108 goddesses in the Hindu pantheon of belief, who are said to bring wealth and good fortune to the pious
  • In the art of numerology, 108 is a symbol for the universe, with 1 symbolising God or a Higher Truth, 0 symbolising emptiness or completeness, and 8 signifying infinity or eternity.
  • There are 7 chakras in the human body. The heart chakra is thought to be formed by the convergence of 108 energy lines


Looking to begin your Japa practice?

 At Maha Mala, we pride ourselves on equipping our clients with the tools they need to get closer to their higher truth. Browse through our collection of Japa Malas made with a variety of stones, including quartz, amethyst, rose quartz, rudraksha beads and more!