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.
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”)
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
Upanishads: 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
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
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
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
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
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
Islam: The number 108 is used in Islam to refer to
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
There can be several spiritual reasons which can be quoted in regard to significance of 108, but a very simple reason is that great acharyas like Ramanujacharya, Madhvacharya, Sankaracharya, Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu, Nimbarakacharya, Vallabhacharya, and in modern times, Srila Prabhupada have all emphasized on a fixed count of chanting of the holy names i.e. 108 in every mala. So by following in the footsteps of the great devotees of the Lord, we please the Lord very easily.