The number’s significance is open to interpretation. But 108 has long been considered a sacred number in Hinduism and Yoga. Traditionally, malas, or garlands of prayer beads, come as a string of 108 beads (plus one for the “guru bead,” which like a pendant is separate from the necklace of 108 beads. So a mala consists of 108+1 beads. These malas often called japa-malas were traditionally used for meditation purpose, for counting as you repeat a mantra, similar to the Catholic rosary.
*The individual numbers 1, 0, and 8 represent one thing, nothing, and everything (infinity). 108 represents the ultimate reality of the universe as being simultaneously one, emptiness, and infinite.
*Renowned mathematicians of Vedic culture viewed 108 as a number of the wholeness of existence.
*This number also connects the Sun, Moon, and Earth. The distance between the Earth and the Sun is 108 times the diameter of the Sun. The diameter of the Sun is 108 times the diameter of the Earth. And the distance between the Earth and Moon is 108 times the diameter of the Moon.
*According to yogic tradition, there are 108 peethas, or sacred sites, throughout India. And there are also 108 Upanishads or Hindu scriptures and 108 marma points, or sacred points of the human body.
*Sum of individual numbers in 108 is nine (1 + 0 + 8 = 9), so the number 9 is also very significant. It is said that the nine planets control our entire system and nature. So wearing a mala helps master and balance these forces, which normally cause certain imbalances in our system and psyche. The 9 planets are: Sun, Moon, Mars, Mercury, Venus, Jupiter, Saturn, Rahu & Ketu.
*Within the body, there are 108 nadis that converge in the heart center (Anahata Chakra). Nadis are known as energy channels, but can also be seen in modern science as nerves.
*One of the explanations for having 108 beads on a mala are related to the chakras (the seven energy points in our body). It has been said there are 108 energy lines connecting to the heart, with one of them believed to be the path to self-realization.
*When using your mala beads in meditation and chanting your mantra, some have said you are complete once you have done it 100 times. The 8 extra beads are to account for errors. Or even more beautiful, are meant to be an offering to your guru.
*Many choose to recite their mantra in Sanskrit, the ancient script of India. Within the Sanskrit alphabet, there are 54 letters. Each letter has a feminine and masculine version — totaling 108.
*In Vedic astrology we have 12 houses and 9 planets, 12 times 9 equals 108. In addition, there are 27 nakshatras and each nakshatra has 4 padhas (times), totaling 27 x 4 = 108 padhas.
*On the Sri Yantra, there are 'Marmas' where three lines intersect, and there are 54 such intersections. Each intersection has masculine and feminine, Shiva and Shakti qualities. 54 times 2 equals 108. Thus, there are 108 points that define the Sri Yantra as well as the human body.