A mantra is a word or phrase in Sanskrit that is believed to have spiritual powers. Reciting a mantra has various benefits. It releases positive energy from the mind and keeps it free of negative thoughts. A mantra also keeps the chanter’s mind and body relaxed without stress while boosting concentration and attention span.
It is often recommended that mantras, especially short ones, must be chanted 108 times to reap maximum benefits. Chanting 108 times is also said to usher peace and harmony in the universe. There are many explanations why the number 108 is significant.
Number of Upanishads
The Upanishads form an integral part of the Vedas. Although the exact number of these scriptures is still a debate, 108 Upanishads are well-known. They are considered to be the most important and oldest Upanishads.
Number of Shakti Pithas
There are 108 Shakti Pithas or primary sacred places dedicated to Ma Shakti across the country. It is believed that each pitha is related with a specific part of the deity’s body. Almost all of them are located on hilltops or elevated places.
108 Names of Deities
A majority of the Hindu gods and goddesses have 108 names. Therefore, each chant is said to be recited in honour of a name of the deity.
The average distance of the moon from the earth is the average diameter of the moon multiplied by 108. The same calculation applies to the distance between the sun and the earth. Similarly, the average diameter of the sun is 108 times the average diameter of the earth.
The three digits 1, 0 and 8 have their own importance in numerology. The first digit 1 highlights universal consciousness from which leadership, authority and new beginnings emerge. The second digit 0 represents both eternity and perfection. The third digit 8 denotes achievement, abundance, power and influence.
Another explanation is that 9 is represented as the number of completion in numerology while 12 is a cosmic number. The product of these two numbers yields 108.
According to the Vedas, 1 indicates the masculine solar symbol or God, the highest truth. 0 signifies the feminine or lunar energy. Finally, 8 represents the symbol of infinity. In other words, the number 108 is the essence of creation and depicts the universe and our existence in it.
As per Vedic cosmology, the distance between the God within us and our body is 108 units. With each chant count, you are closer to the lord by one unit.
There are 12 zodiac signs and each of them is influenced by the 9 planets. There are additionally 27 lunar mansions, with each mansion featuring four directions. The product of 27 and 4 is 108. Some people believe that each mansion is divided into four quarters.
Importance to Human Body
As per Ayurveda, the human body has 108 pressure points or marma points that play a key role in giving life to human beings. Also, among the seven chakras or energy centres in the body, the heart chakra located in the middle of the chest stimulates compassion and joy in human beings. It is said that this chakra is formed by the convergence of 108 energy lines or nadis.
Chanting a mantra 108 times is also believed to open the crown chakra and pave way for self-realization.
Hindus often use a mala or garland with beads to keep a track of the number of times they recite a mantra during meditation. The garland has 108 beads encompassing a guru bead or large bead in the centre and smaller beads around it. It keeps the chanter focused on the mantra without any distraction. The garland is held between the middle and index finger while the counting is done using the thumb starting with the large bead and proceeding to each small bead. You must pull the mala towards you each time you say the mantra. By the time you reach the guru bead once again, you would have completed reciting the mantra 108 times.