Why Do Buddhist Prayer Beads Have 108 Beads?

malas meditation prayer beads

Prayer Beads, or Malas are used both as a meditation or prayer tool and as jewelry. You may not know why prayer beads are used or why they have 108 beads.  The truth is that Malas date back thousands of years. Their history originated during the 8th-century B.C.E in India. Most religions today use some sort of beaded necklace for reciting prayers and meditating. In fact, the word “bead” originates from to pray or prayer. 

Many religions use prayer beads in their spiritual practice. This includes Hinduism, Catholicism, and Buddhism.  More than 65 percent of the world has a history of practicing and praying with prayer beads, worry beads, and rosary beads to support their spiritual ascension.

Just as there isn’t only one religion that uses prayer beads, there isn’t just one exact reason that a Mala has 108 beads.  The number 108 has significance in many places and times throughout history. It is known that there are 108 repetitions counted with mala beads. It allows the practitioner to better focus on the vibrations and sounds of the prayers or mantras. So, why are there 108 repetitions?

The Sanskrit Alphabet

One of the reasons why there are 108 Buddhist prayer beads is because of the Sanskrit alphabet. This alphabet has 54 letters in it. Each one of them is feminine and masculine - or Shiva or Shakti. This means there are 108 letters.

The Heart Chakra

Another reason for the 108 meditation beads is because of the heart chakra. Each chakra runs along energy lines in the body. There are 108 energy lines that are used to create the heart chakra. One of these, the Sushumna, goes into the crown chakra. This energy line is called the path to self-realization. If you are looking into the benefits of meditation, these are two of the chakras that you will come across.

The Sun and The Earth

The sun and the Earth play a role in why there are 108 Buddhist prayer beads as well. The sun’s diameter is 108 times more than the Earth’s diameter. In addition, the distance going from the Earth to the Sun equals 108 times the Sun’s diameter. Since there is a natural connection made when meditating, it only makes sense to reference the Sun and the Earth’s size in counting the meditation beads.

The Planets and Houses in Astrology

Astrology seems to play a big role in meditation. The number 108 connects in astrology, too. There are 9 planets and 12 houses in astrology. When multiplying these numbers, you get 108. If you look more into astrology, you will see that there are many astrologists who meditate.

The Powers in Math

When talking about math, you can look at different powers such as 1, 2, and 3. If you take one to the first power it equals 1. If you take two to the second power it equals 4. If you take three to the third power it equals 27. If you multiply these numbers together, you get 108.

The Harshad Number

Did you know that the Harshad number is 108? This is an integer that is divisible by the total of the digits. Harshad means great joy, so that is very fitting for the world of meditation and prayer, as well.

The River Ganga

There are many rivers in this world. The River Ganga is very important to the 108 Buddhis prayer beads. This is because this sacred river follows a longitude of twelve degrees and a latitude of nine degrees. When you multiply these two numbers, you get 108.

The Numbers Themselves

Did you know that some people say there is a meaning behind numbers 1, 0, and 8? The meaning for the number one is a higher truth. The meaning for the number zero is completeness in spirituality. The meaning behind the number eight is eternity.

The Pranayama

The pranayama is another connection to why there are 108 mala beads. Pranayama cycles are often repeated in 108 cycles. It is said that if someone is calm when meditating and they take 108 breaths, they will be enlightened.

Conclusion

These are some of the many reasons why the Buddhist prayer beads have 108 beads. As you can see, there isn’t one right or wrong answer. There are countless other connections to spirituality and religion. For example, there are believed to be 108 different types of meditation.  It is also believed that there are 108 paths to God.  Most of the meanings behind Malas are bases on the connection between nature, spirituality, and the meaning behind numbers and words. No matter what you believe, it is well-known that using mala beads can bring most people more benefits of meditation. If you don’t have any meditation beads yet, you can get some today.



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