Sunday, September 16, 2007

Significance of 108

" I have told you a 108 times not to do that and why the hell did you do it. ", this was one of the most common statement of the yesteryear and i have often wondered why pple specifically pick 108 to express something or sometimes anything, i thought 100 was much more a wholesome number than 108 but little do we know the significance and profoundness of such a number, rarely do we understand that 108 is the base for everything.

Now let me start my explanation with an interesting tale associated with 108.

108 Pitha { Sacred Placed }

Long ago, when Lord Shiva was in deep and incessant meditation, his asceticisim was creating a great heat all over the Universe. As a result, everything that then existed were in a huge peril of being destructed, so Lord Brahma to save the Universe requested Maa Shakthi, the mother of the Universe, to use her strenght and wile to seduce Lord Shiva. Maa Shakthi was then born as Sati, the daughter of Shri Daksha. Years passed by and Sati turned out to be a girl of extraordinary beauty and asceticism. Lord Shiva was so attracted by Sati that he took the form of a human and married Sati. The nuptial knot brought about a huge surge of happiness in Lord Shiva and so was it with Lord Brahma as the tryst with destiny saved the Universe.

A few years later, at a feast, Shri Daksha insulted Lord Shiva. Sati felt so humilited by her fathers act that she began a deep meditation in a sacrificial fire which eventually led to her immolation. Lord Shiva was completely hurt by Sati's act and rushed to pull out as much of his beloved's body as he could grab from the sacrificial fire and ascended to the heavens. As he ascended, bits of Sati's body, 108 bits to be precise, fell in different parts of earth. In time, these places were acknowledged and worshipped and were considered to be extremely sacred.

Now that story was interesting wasnt it, though am not very sure of its authenticity.

Lets brush up with some of the facts that adds significance to 108

1) The diameter of the Sun is approximately 108 times the diameter of Earth. There is a belief that life exists at approximately 108 times away from any source of energy or say any star.

2) Consider the powers of 1,2 and 3 in maths : 1 power 1 is 1, 2 power 2 is 4 and 3 power 3 is 27 and when all of them are multiplied (i.e) 1 * 4 * 27 it would give 108.

The logic behind this is that 1 represents 1 dimensional reality, 2 represents 2 dimensional reality and similarly 3 represents 3 dimensional reality, when all three of them are multiplied it would encompass the whole of existence.

3) The 9 planets travelling through 12 signs constitutes the whole existence
(i.e) 9 * 12 = 108.

4) The 27 nakshatras spread over the 4 elements (fire, water, earth and air) or the 4 directions north, south, east, west constitutes whole of existence which again gives 27 * 4 = 108.

5) The Universe is made up of 108 elements according to ancient texts.

6) The number 9 represents wholeness and 108 when the digits of 108 are added it would give 9. Similarly anything that is multiplied by 9 does sum up to 9. The logic behind this the number 9 represents wholeness or God and anything that is multiplied God times only results in God since God is all there is !!!

7) There are 54 letters in Sanskrit alphabet and each has a masculine and feminine form, Shiva and Shakthi, 54 * 2 = 108

8) There are 108 points that define the human body.

9) In Islam, the number 108 is used to refer God.

10) In Jain, 108 represents the combined virtues of 5 categories of holy ones (i.e) its the combination of 12, 8, 36, 25 and 27 virtues respectively.

11) The Sikh tradition has a mala of 108 knots tied in a string of wool.

12) The Chinese and Taoist use a 108 bead mala, which is called su-chu, the mala is divided into 3 parts of 36 beads each and they represent past, present and future respectively.


108 Gopis of Lord Krishna
108 Holy places of Vaishnava
108 beads of hindu mala
108 Upanishads


All Buddists accept the Buddha footprints with its 108 Auspicious illustrations. These areas are considered to have been marked on Buddha's left foot when his body was discovered.

JYOTISH SHASTRA { Vedic System }

The Universe is made up of 5 elements namely
air, earth, water, fire and space, from these elements came 3 attributes namely :

Raj (birth)
Sat ( protection)
Tam (death or destruction)

The mathematical or the geographical evidence proves that a circle is 360 degrees in space. When we wonder why this circle or the wheel of life is considered to be 360 degrees only then the logic can be observed if the circle is divided using the remaining 4 elements and its 3 attributes.

The circle itself is considered the element of space since a circle consumes space when we draw one. In this space, the 4 remaining elements and 3 attributes creates an idea of time. The circle is divisible by the product of 4 elements and 3 attributes. By moving 3 times, each element completes a revolution.

So now we have the number 12 { 4 * 3 }, this division gave us the 12 months and also the 12 horas ( 1/2 of a day or ahoratri). We can further divide the wheel of time, there are 27 fixed stars (nakshatras) and along with the 3 attributes it would give us 30 degrees for one part of a wheel or say for a single month. But this is only for the days of a month and the night is unaccounted for. So when this 30 degrees is multiplied with 2 it would give us 60 degrees and thats the reference that we take as 60 seconds in a minute.

Thus the 360 degrees * 30 degrees would give us 10800. For practical purposes only 108 is used eliminating the last two zeros. Using the number 108 we co ordinate with the rythmn of time and space and we remain in harmony with the spiritual powers of nature. The idea of a total universe is represented by the number 108. Offering 108 times anything, the devotees believe that they are showing ultimate or complete respect to the sumpreme !!!

So the next time someone uses the number 108 better dont question its significance.

Hope you guys enjoyed my enlightenment.


purvabhatia said...

woah!!! very interesting!!!

thanks for sharing this!

Happy Living

sreekumar said...

It is very interesting,and new knowledge of 108, thank u for sharing it.

optimismattheheights said...

i think u ll take sanyas soon..

from finance to religion

but as i was wondering how come no math here.. then it pops up

good one man..

Anu said...

An interesting and knowledgable info... Thank You so much for sharing it. :)