1) Spiritual practice and 108
A principle teaching in Hindu philosophy is that spirit is the driving force behind all of creation. Everyone and everything is united by a shared divinity. Remaining informed of this principle, spiritual practitioners look upon all with equal vision, endeavoring to cultivate a consciousness of love and service.
Hindu scriptures strive to remind people of this divine commonality by continuously highlighting the innumerable threads connecting everything in existence. One of these threads is the number 108.
The primary purpose of true spiritual meditation is to bring one’s consciousness to unwavering remembrance of the Absolute. It’s about turning one’s focus towards spiritual reality. Because there are many different types of meditations, and because many of them have some connection with 108, this simple number acts as a pivotal gateway to the various processes by which people can remember the Absolute. As a song has the ability to remind people of all the memories associated with it, becoming cognizant of 108 while performing one spiritual practice can remind people of the profound experiences they had while performing other spiritual practices. In this way, every type of meditation becomes connected and acts in unison in uplifting a person towards transcendental liberation.
2) Divine personalities and 108
Hearing and learning about divine personalities, like Lord Krishna who is closely associated to 108, is a powerful form of meditation.
Devotees who follow the path of bhakti, or devotion, worship Krishna, who spoke the Bhagavad Gita to Arjuna prior to the Kurukshetra war. Before moving to the city to become a great king and adviser, Krishna grew up in the village of Vrindavan as a cowherd boy. While each form of his is considered eternal and glorifiable, devotees see Krishna’s appearance as a cowherd boy to be especially worshipable.
Though kings may be beloved by the public for properly looking after the welfare of a country, the public could never really know and love the king for who he truly is. But kings were once boys, who probably grew up in their respective hometowns, in which they were looked after by parents, had fun with friends, and experienced romantic exchanges with girlfriends.
Vrindavan is Krishna’s hometown, and it is the place where it is said he can truly be himself. He is a simple cowherd boy who herds his cows, plays his flute, jokes around with his friends, and falls in love with his girlfriends, the gopis.
According to scripture, the entire village is sincerely devoted to Krishna, who feels forever indebted to them for this devotion. The love the gopis bear for Krishna is foremost, and of them, there are 108 who stand out as most prominent.
3) The cosmos and 108
Galileo once said, “Mathematics is the language in which God has written the universe.” 108 is embedded throughout this language.
The diameter of the sun is approximately 108 times the diameter of the earth. The distance between the sun and earth is 108 times the diameter of the sun. The distance between the moon and earth is 108 times the diameter of the moon.
Vedic sages were aware of these calculations long before modern mathematical formulas came into existence. Though knowledge of the movements of the stars and planets has its many obvious uses, the luminaries were paid special attention to for astrological purposes. Astrology in Vedic times was considered a very deep science that was used by sages to advise kings in their decision making. It was also used to understand a person’s karma, as well as match couples for marriage. Vedic astrology observes the movements of nine planets through 12 houses (12 times nine is 108), and also recognizes 27 constellations spread throughout four directions (27 times four is 108).
4) Yogic meditation and 108
According to Vedic texts, the soul is encased in both a gross and subtle body. The gross body is our physical body, and is made of earth, water, fire, air, and ether. The subtle body is composed of intelligence, mind and ego. The physical and subtle body are interconnected. The condition of one influences the condition of the other. Meditation positively affects the subtle which, in turn, positively affects the physical. Similarly, working on the physical usually helps to uplift the subtle. 108 plays a significant role in keeping these two bodies healthily connected.
Hindus believe the body holds seven chakras, or pools of energy, which begin at the bottom of the spine and go all the way down to the top of the head. The heart chakra, situated at the center of the chest, encompasses a person’s ability to love unconditionally. An open heart chakra enables one to exhibit forgiveness, respect, compassion, and connection. It is believed there are 108 energy lines that converge to form the heart chakra.
Ayurveda says there are 108 hidden spots in the body called marma points, where various tissues like muscles, veins, and ligaments meet. They are vital points of life force, and when they are out of balance, energy cannot properly flow throughout the body.
Sun salutations, yogic asanas that honor the sun god Surya, are generally completed in nine rounds of 12 postures, totaling 108.
Mantra meditation is usually chanted on a set of 108 beads.
5) Holy texts and 108
Each person is different and, as a result, finds it easier or more natural to connect to the Absolute in different ways. For those who are more scholarly inclined, studying holy texts is its own form of meditation. Spiritual knowledge purifies the intelligence, making one qualified to make good decisions and impart spiritual instructions.
Sanskrit, the ancient language the Vedas were originally written in, possesses 54 letters. Each letter can either be feminine (Shakti) or masculine (Shiva), which totals 108. In addition, there are 108 Upanishads, which are a compilation of texts that clarify and expand on Vedic teachings.
Ultimately, breathwork, chanting, studying scripture, and asana’s help harmonize one’s energy with the energy of the supreme spiritual source. These processes become especially effective when they are performed in connection with the number 108.