Why 108? The Science Behind

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The vedic culture is a confluence of beliefs, geometry, astrology, philosophy, art, and science, which are combined in a grand vision. Being the oldest civilisation, the vedic rationale may be considered as the most consistent with the fundamental laws of this universe. The others have

borrowed and built, but it still smells of vedic beginnings.

Consider this:

– Lord Krishna was believed to have had 108 gopis

– There are 108 Shakti Peetha, sacred places corresponding to the bits of Lord Shiva’s beloved wife Sati’s body that fell in 108 different

places

– There are a total of  108 Upanishads

– 108 Holy places for Vaishnavas

– There are a 108 Divyadeshes – divine or sacred tirtha throughout India and Nepal

– 108 water taps of sacred importance in Muktinath- Nepal

– Lord Buddha’s left foot is said to have been marked with 108 sacred illustrations when his body was discovered

– In Buddhism, there are 108 Arhats or Holy Ones

– In Islam, the number 108 is used as a reference to God

– According to a tradition in Sikhism, a mala or rosary of 108 knots is tied in a string of wool instead of beads

– The Buddhists and Taoists in China use a mala called ‘su-chu’,

which is split into three parts of 36 each and has 3 dividing beads. It totals to 108

– In Japan, the church rings a bell 108 times on new years’ eve to rid the 108 evils in the body

– In Hungarian historic tradition (recorded in Simon Kézai’s Chronicron Pictum which was written in the XIV Century), the Hungarian and Hunnic nations are both consisted of 108 genus or stem

– It took Russian cosmonaut Yuri Alexeyevich Gagarin 108 minutes to circle around the earth on his first spaceflight

In all probability, the number108 encapsulates in itself the various sciences like mathematics, astrology, philosophy urging us to look at a more holistic picture. Here’s why:

– Our ancients were brilliant mathematicians and 108 was the result of a precise mathematical operation (e.g. 1 power 1 x 2 power 2 x 3 power 3 = 108) which was thought to have special numerological significance.

– The Sanskrit alphabet comprises of 54 letters, with each having a masculine and feminine element, shiva and shakti. 2 times 54 is 108.

– Ayurveda has described 108 pressure points in human body.

– Astrology comprises of 12 constellations and 9 arc segments called namshas or chandrakalas. When multiplied it equals 108. Chandra is moon, and kalas are the divisions within a whole. Additionally, it also consists of 12 houses and 9 planets which again equal 108.

– The Moon goes through the zodiac in approximately 27 days which creates the lunar zodiac called the nakshatras. Each of these 27 lunar signs is divided into 4 amsas (divisions) called padas (feet/footsteps). 27 nakshatras multiplied by 4 padas is 108. The four pada relate to the four ayana: karma, artha, kama, moksa. Each pada has a tone which can activate a planet within the tone. The Moon has a 108 padas and 108 tones.

Chanting “Om” 108 times in a deep state of dhyan, under the sanidhya of your Guru has the power to enable a being to manifest their desire.

A circle has 360 degrees, which when multiplied by 60 (ghatis) gives us 21,600 minutes in a circle. One ghati is equal to 24 minutes and 60 ghatis come to 24 hours. One ghati is divided into 60 parts or ‘palas’. So, the 60 ghatis multiplied by 60 palasa comes to 3,600. This is further multiplied by 60 (because a pala contains 60 vipalas) which gives us 21,600. Half of this is for the day, and the other half for the night. So, 21,600 divided by 2 gives us 10,800. Considering every day has a specific energy, using the number 108 helps us coordinate the rhythm of time and space and we remain in harmony with the spiritual powers of nature.

During the Samudra Manthan, one end of Vasuki was held by 54 Deva Ganas representing the positive qualities and the other end by 54 Asuras representing the negative qualities. Here again it totals to 108! This signifies the Kundalini to rise to the mountain of axis in one’s body with the Kundalini Chakra in the body at the level end of spine.

So is 108 really a magic number or a reference frame that holds a much greater meaning? Are 108 jaaps really more powerful than 109… remains to be determined. In all probability, what it really signifies is a symbolism of a bigger picture, one of humility. A reverence reflected through a system imposed to guide us through the elemental struggles of evolution, witnessed across myriad cults and faith systems around the world. A number that encompasses in itself the calculations of phenomenons like constellations, the sun and the moon is bound to have  much wider and greater significance.

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