"Pie in the Sky" Yogini: What is the Meaning of 108 Sun Salutations?





A japa mala or mala is an eastern rosary with 108 beads. The mala is used both in Hinduism and Buddhism for counting mantras, chants or prayers. 108 has been a sacred number for a long time, and this number is explained in many different ways. Here are a few explanations:

  • Indian/Buddhist thought states that the outer universe is mirrored in the inner man. He is the microcosm and the objective universe is the macrocosm. The number 108 represents the distance between the devotee and the God within.
  • The chain of 108 links is held together by 107 joints, the number of marmas, or weak spots, in the body according to the Ayurvedic way.
  • The 108 sacred meridians points on the human body in Traditional Chinese Medicine.
  • The 108 Karanas of dance, with 108 movements.
  • The Chinese, very aware of the esoteric and the use of this same symbolism employed it also in their various systems, Taoist and Buddhist. The Yang style form with 108 moves is an example.
  • The 108 stations a candidate had to go through to leave the temple, the 108 steps through danger and death, which also signifies the level of the spiritual adept who must overcome on the spiritual planes the 108 intermediate regions of danger and trial.
  • The distance between the earth and sun = 108 times the diameter of the sun.
  • Distance between the earth and the moon = 108 times the moon's diameter
  • The diameter of the sun = 108 times the diameter of the earth.

Lastly and most importantly, the beads represent, in a simple yet powerful way, the ideas of karma and reincarnation--a rarely disclosed fact. The thread that the beads are strung upon symbolizes the Sutratma, the Spirit or Thread Soul. This is the reincarnating Ego, our true Self, that dons a new garment, a new personality for each lifetime. Each bead strung on the thread is one of those lives that has served its purpose in the evolution of the Higher Self, our God within. We are supposed to join with that inner divinity by building a bridge, called Antahkarana, through meditation and other disciplines......this
is enlightenment.
Namaste,
Mary Jane

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