A quick google search shows an overwhelming number of explanations for the significance of the number **108 **in the practice of *Japa* – the mental repetition *(or loud for beginners)* of mantra as a meditative practice. Some explain that **1** stands for the highest truth, **0** for the completeness of spiritual practice and **8 **for infinity. Another says that the diameter of the Sun is **108** times that of the earth! *(It is actually a 109 times bigger, but close enough!)*

Here’s a little extract of our group repeating Gaṇeśa Gāyatrī mantra 108 times.

This is an explanation from **Swami Dayananda Saraswati** whose teachings we follow through our teachers. He says that a certain number of repetitions are advised for *japa* of a particular mantra to be efficacious. All names in the universe are the names of *Īśvara*, of the divine, but it would be impossible to repeat all these names. Therefore, we use a formula! All names in Sanskrit are between ** a** &

**, the 54 letters. We account for all permutations and combinations of these letters by counting in ascending and also descending order.**

*h*

Thus, one mantra chanted **108 **times symbolically covers all names! When we chant a mantra for 1001 or 1008 times, it is symbolic of having done it an infinite number of times!

Here’s a little extract of our group repeating Mahāmṛtyuñjaya mantra 108 times.

Swami Harshananda of the Ramakrishna Math says that a mantra becomes effective only when its japa is done. The count of mantra for *japa *can be **10**, **12**, **28**, **32 **or ** 108**, the last number being the most widely recognized. He further explains that if a human breathes on average 21,600 times per day

*(the number is actually a wider range between 17,000-30,000!)*, counting half that during sleep and daily functions of caring for the body and eating etc., leaves us with breathing 10,800 times during our active waking state.

In other words, we are expected to utter the mantra **with every breath** and the number **108** is a reminder of that ideal.

On a more practical note from me – does the number matter? Yes and no. **Yes,** because 108 seems long enough to give your practice the time required. **No,** because it doesn’t matter how many times you repeat your mantra, if it wasn’t infused with a prayerful attitude.

More on that prayerful attitude in another post 🙂

*Thanks to my new friend Jens Keygnaert for giving me the idea for this post. If you know of other explanations for the number 108, please leave your comment below!*

108 = 1^1 x 2^2 x 3^3

A more symbolic derivation: 18, 108, 1008… are 1 centre + 8 on the periphery, like in the magic square; 8 signifies the multifaceted earth/nature (Veda: the 8 vasu-s), 1 the undifferentiated consciousness.

All applications, such as 108 = 12 x 9, the Navamsa Zodiac central to Hindu astrology, are cute, but not as intrinsic as the arithmetic analysis. The relation with sun and moon, that the distance to them divided by their diameter approximates 108, is temporary: the distance to the moon slowly becomes larger, so this fraction will remove itself from 108; though perhaps we should praise ourselves lucky to live at the time when this equation does apply.

Dear koenraad, “cute” is the perfect description 🙂 Thank you for sharing the symbolic derivation. Magically enough, we had 108 registrations for today’s event to recite the Mahāmṛtyuñjaya mantra 108 times!

– I was told that 18 , 108 is a holy number in India. It is often used in a symbolic way.

F.I in bhagavad Gīta there are 18 chapters, 18 days of war and 108 persons??? 6 pandas, 100 kauravas a storyteller and Krishna???

– 54 letters in sanskrit alphabet x2 = 108

– 1 plus 8 is =9 what stands for fullness and ending

– seems distance earth to moon is 108 times diameter of the moon

Indeed, so many explanations in India for this number!

pandavas of curse