What is the significance of this number?
A mala or a garland that is used by people in Hinduism to recite mantras often has 108 beads. These malas are called japa malas as they have been used since time immemorial by people interested in meditation to recite various mantras. The process of repeating mantras is called japa and the beads on the mala help the practitioner in counting these repetitions. Many people, especially in the west, often wonder why there are always 108 mala beads in a mala. This article attempts to explain the significance of this number.
The number 108 is considered sacred by Hindus because of various reasons.
- Sanskrit language has 54 letters with each having a masculine as well as a feminine form totaling 108
- In Yoga, it is believed that if one is able to take just 108 deep breaths in a whole day, he can attain enlightenment
- It is believed that there are 108 energy lines all over our body that converge to our heart. One of these lines takes us to the path of self realization
- There are 108 feelings with 36 related to past, 36 related to present, and remaining 36 related to future
- There 108 Upanishads or sacred texts of wisdom in ancient Hinduism
- Lord Krishna used to have 108 gopis or maid servants
- Each of the Hindu deities has 108 names
- It is believed that atma or the soul of the human body has to pass through 108 yonis or stages in his journey towards salvation
Whatever the spiritual or scientific reason behind having 108 mala beads, it is a fact that these beads are meant for counting the repetitions of the mantras given by the gurus to their disciples. You have to recite these mantras with sincerity and devotion to advance on your spiritual journey.
There are many types of 108 mala beads bracelets and the most common material are sandal wood, rosewood and many more. For someone not familiar with these Jewelry, it can be hard to tell which kind of wood, as they all look quite similar, but each have their individual scent which can be recognized.
If you are planning to create your own 108 mala beads, you can think of different materials and use different spacers in between each beads. The guru bead is also quite common and mostly the bead is engraved with the Chinese word “佛” which means Buddha. You can think of other types of guru beads, such as using unique charms as replacements for the guru bead, it is up to you. Use your imagination!
The pricing of these kind of bracelets are really expensive, especially sandalwood beads, as it takes approximately 30 years to grow these trees only to be cut down by people to create these elegant types of Jewelry.
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