Exploring the Sacred Meaning of 108
February 18, 2016
Often at yoga events or in the yoga/meditation community, there’s a special emphasis placed on the number 108.
For charity, to start the new year right, or during equinoxes or solstices, yogis often do 108 sun salutations. Malas contain 108 beads. But why?
According to Shiva Rea, respected mathematicians of Vedic culture viewed 108 as a number of the wholeness of existence. It also is the number that connects the sun, moon, and earth. For instance, the average distance of the sun and the moon to the earth is 108 times their respective diameters. According to yogic tradition, there are 108 pithas, or sacred sites, throughout India. And there are also 108 Upanishads and 108 marma points, or sacred places of the body.
In addition, in the Sanskrit alphabet there are 54 letters; each has masculine and feminine, shiva and shakti. Multiply that by two and you’ll get 108.
Other Religious/Cultural Significance
The number 108 is used in Islam to refer to God.
One-hundred and eight small Buddhas are carved on a single walnut as good luck charm.
Chinese astrology says that there are 108 sacred stars.
The first space flight lasted 108 minutes on April 12, 1961
Penelope of Ithaca had 108 suitors after believing that her husband, Odysseus King of Ithaca, was never going to return home.
Jews often give gifts and charitable donations in multiples of the number 18, associated with the Hebrew word “chai,” which means life. One-hundred and eight is a multiple of 18.
An official baseball has 108 stitches.
Do you believe that 108 has special significance? Join us at Ithaca108 on our Greece Yoga Retreat and discover the magic a little bit more from May 21–28, 2016.
Photo: Nadine Incoll