I have often heard that the number 108 has a special significance in the Vedic culture; when mantras are chanted using beads, it is done in a cycle of 108 times. And when 108 times are completed, the sumeru bead is not crossed and the mala is flipped. I wish to know the significance behind this.

Is there any scriptural reference about this? Has any prominent acharya commented on it?

1 Answer 1


In the Varaha Purana, it is stated:

ashtottara-sataih purva pancasadbhis tu madhyama | kanyasi panca-vimsatya parimanam vidhiyate ||73||

“One round of Mantra Yoga should be either one hundred and eight (108)times which is the best, or fifty (50)times which is medium or twenty (20) times which is the lowest.”

According to Muktika Upaniṣad, there are 108 Upaniṣads. Among these are: (1) Īśa, (2) Kena, (3) Kaṭha, (4) Praśna, (5) Muṇḍaka, (6) Māṇḍūkya, (7) Tittiri, (8) Aitareya, (9) Chāndogya, (10) Bṛhad-āraṇyaka, (11) Brahma, (12) Kaivalya, (13) Jāvāla, (14) Śvetāśva, (15) Hansa, (16) Arunih, (17) Garbha, (18) Narayana, etc. These 108 Upanisads contain all knowledge about the Absolute Truth. Sometimes people inquire about the meaning of these 108 prayer beads, but because we think there are 108 Upanisads which contain full knowledge of the Absolute Truth, therefore 108 beads are accepted.

Sometimes on the other hand, the Vaiṣṇava transcendentalists (Rasikas) think that the 108 beads represent the 108 companions of Lord Kṛṣṇa in His rāsa dance, and therefore 108 beads are accepted.

Sources: https://lovenitai.wordpress.com/2015/08/03/3/



  • Thanks for taking the time out. I have a follow-up question. Can you let me know from which section of the Varaha Purana can I find the verse that you have stated in your answer? Commented Apr 16 at 10:28
  • No problem. Chapter 128 Verse 80.
    – user34325
    Commented Apr 16 at 21:27

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