Mala Meditation - The Mystical Power of the number 108
Updated: Jul 13, 2018
Urvashee is a dear friend and the gifted creator of countless exceptional Malas. She has dedicated her life to Meditation and to helping others find their way to the light of their own Self with the help of her lovingly crafted Malas - the perfect support for your Meditation practice. In this post, Urvashee tells of the mystical, magical power of the number 108 and shares nine exceptional stories as to why a Mala is made of 108 knots.
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MYSTICAL 108 - by Urvashee Saakshee
Perhaps the most frequently asked question coming to me over the years of creating and tying Malas is: “What is the significance of 108?”
It’s a fair question, and one that invites innumerable replies. Depending on which friend is asking, as well as the mood of the moment, and most of all my memory, I’ll give an entirely different response each time. It’s not that I’m fabricating or making it up: there are literally 108 different reasons why a Mala consists of 108 knots.
I would love to share nine of them with you, both for joy’s sake, and to refresh my memory!
The first is my favourite. It has to do with the heart: no surprise there!
1) There are said to be 108 energy lines converging to form the heart chakra. One of them ~ Sushmanaa ~ leads to the crown chakra, the path to Self-Realisation. With each turn on the Mala and every repetition of Mantra, yet another of those 108 channels to the heart is opened. And the heart is that in which the whole universe is resting.
2) 108 is a Harshad number. The word Harshad comes from Sanskrit, and means joy-giver. A Harshad number is divisible by the sum of its digits.
3) 1 stands for oneness, highest truth, God. O stands for completeness in spiritual practice. 8 stands for infinity or eternity.
4) In Hindu mythology, there are 108 names of God. In the Stotram citing those names, each sound and syllable is Mantra, imbued with the power to release the one singing from the clutches of an identified mind consciousness. Even repeating one single name will bring about the freedom state, and as the Sage Charandass promises in the final verse, the one who sings 108 names of the Mala will become carefree, and will go beyond the net of the senses and the mind sense.
Ajar | Unborn * Amar | Undying * Avigat | Ever Present * Avinaashee | Indestructible
Alakh | Unseen * Niranjan | Pure * Swaamee | Highest Self
Purush | Being * Puraatan | Ancient * Purushottam | Supreme Being * Prabhu | Lord
Pooran | Perfect * Antara-yaamee | Omniscient
Krishn Kanhai-yaa Vishnu Naaraayan | Names of Vishnu
Jyotiroop | Form of Light * Vidhaataa | Lord
Aparampaar | Beyond * Mukund | One Who Liberates * Muraaree | Krishn
Deenabandhu | Brother of the Destitute * Brajanaathaa | Lord of the Gopis
Yaadavapati | Krishn * Jagadeesh | Lord of the World * Chaturbhuj | Four-Armed, Strong
Nirbha-ya | Fearless * Sarvaprakaashee | All Permeating Light
Paarabrahm | Supreme Being * Praananako Daataa | Giver of Life
Sabathaam Ghataghatavaashee | Indweller
Nirvikaar | Formless * Paramayshvar | Supreme Lord * Giradhar | Holder of Mountain
Maadhav Govind | Names of Krishn * Pyaaraa | Beloved
Kamalanain | Lotus Eyes * Kayshav Madhusoodan | Names of Krishn
Sabamayn Sabasay Nyaaraa | Unique in All
Hrisheekaysh Muraleedhar | Flute Player * Mohan | Most Attractive
Om | Praanav * Akhil | Whole, Complete * Ayonee | Enlightenment
Bhagavat | Lord Vaasudayv | Vishnu * Bhagavaanaa | God
Gyaanee | Knower * Dhyaanee | Meditator * Maonee | Silent One
Deenaanaath | Lord of the Poor * Gopaal Hari Har | Krishn
Garudadhvaj | Vishnu’s Carrier * Ghanashyaamaa | Blue/Black Krishn
Bhaktavachhal | Unwavering Devotion * Aru Dayakinandan | Krishn
Karataa Sab Vidhikaamaa | Highest Desire
Aadi Pradhaan | Foremost Leader * Maadhuree Moorati | Sweetest Form
Dharanidhar | Cosmic Serpent * Balabeeraa | Hanuman
Nandanandan | Krishn * Aru Yashodaanandan | Son of Yashoda
Sundar Shyaam Shareeraa | Most Beautiful Shyam Presence
Parashuraam Narasinh | Names of Vishnu * Vishvambhar | All Pervading
Achal | Unmoving * Akhand | Without Limit * Aroopee | Without Form
Eesh | Lord * Agochar | Inapprehensible * Aor Jagataguru | World Guru
Paramaanand | Supreme Bliss * Bahuroopee | Multiformed
Karunaama-ya | Compassionate * Kalyaan | Well Being * Anantaa | Infinite
Da-yaasindhu | Ocean of Compassion * Banavaaree | Sustainer
Dhaaran | Holder * Shankh | Conch * Chakr | Disc * Rukminipati | Golden Lord
Aanandakand | Source of Bliss * Vihaaree | One Who Plays
Kansanikandan Raavanaganjan | Destroyer of Demons
Jagapati | Lord of the World * Lakhmeenaathaa | Lord of Supreme Blessings
Jagannaath | Lord of the World * Aru Badreenaathaa | Vishnu
Nirgun | Beyond Qualities * Saragunadhaaree | One in Whom All Qualities Lie
Daamodar | Vishnu * Raghuvar | Beloved of Vishnu * Seetaapati | Raam
Raamaa Kunjabihaaree | Krishn
Dushtadalan | Destroyer of Evil * Santanako | Eternal Rakshak | Protector
Sakal Srishti Ko Saa-n-ee | Keeper of the Whole Universe
Duhkhharanakay | Destroyer of Pain * Kaotuk | Cared For * Anagin | Innumerable
Shaysh | Serpent * Paar Nahin Paaee | Could Not Go Beyond
Sao Aru Aath Naam Kee Maalaa | 108 Names of Mala
Jo Nar Mukh Uchchaaray | He Who Repeats
Apanay Kulakee Saaree Peerdee | All His Pain Is Destroyed
Aykarusaoko Taaray | Vision of Oneness is Invoked
Guru Shukadayv | Sage * Mantr Nij Deenho | Sing Mantra
Raam Naam | Name of Raam * Tat Saaraa | All Is That
Charanadaas | Sage * Nishcha-ya | Worriless * So Japakari | Repeating
Utaro Bhavajal Paaraa | Will Go Beyond the Senses
By the way, there are another 108 names of each of these 108 Gods. But that’s for another meditation.
5) If one’s meditation practice is perfected and he has attained a state of enlightenment, he may take just 108 breaths in one day.
6) There are 12 houses and 9 planets. 12 x 9 is 108. Or at least there were. Nine planets. I’m good with the astrological houses but don’t, please, ask me to name the planets. One or two might be cited that got down-graded since my schooldays.
7) Astronomically, there are 27 constellations in our galaxy, and each has four directions. 27 x 4 is 108. In other words, the number 108 covers the whole galaxy, which is a metaphor for the whole of creation. On this one, I can do the math, but naming those constellations is definitely best left to the astronomers.
8) The diameter of the sun multiplied by 108 equals the distance between the sun and earth. The diameter of the moon multiplied by 108 equals the distance between earth and the moon. The diameter of the sun is 108 times the diameter of the earth. This one is a wee bit beyond my grasp, but in meditation I can close my eyes, and imagine I am sitting on the sun and envisioning another sun in the far distance, and then sit on that sun and imagine yet another sun… well, you get the picture. And everything is happening in the imagination.
9) There are 54 letters in the Sanskrit alphabet. Each has a masculine and feminine counterpart. 54 x 2 is 108. Sanskrit or Dev Naagari ~ the language of the gods ~ is a transcendent language. Each letter sits beneath open space, just as an embodied being sits open to the sky.
I have also read in certain accounts that a Mala consists of 100 beads with an extra eight added in as a measure against forgetfulness, a precaution of sorts. For what, I’m not precisely sure. A Mala is not meant to keep one tied to the realm of form and name and numbers and tallies and totals. “Utaro Bhavajal Paaraa ~ you will go beyond the realm of senses, time and space.”
If even once you sing God’s name, He will come running.
And once He gets in your heart, He just cannot get out again.