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9 x 12 = Mala Beads

As today is the 9th day of the 12th month, we’re looking at the number 108 (9×12). That happens to be the number of beads on a mala, or string of Buddhist prayer beads (sort of an Eastern rosary). Theories abound as to why the mala, used by Buddhists to count off the number of meditative mantras they chant, has that number of beads. Here are a handful.

  1. The sacred River Ganges spans a longitude of 12 degrees (79 to 91), and a latitude of 9 degrees (22 to 31).
  2. Astrology is based on 12 houses and 9 planets.
  3. Buddhists speak of 108 virtues to cultivate and 108 defilements to avoid. 
  4. Sanskrit has 54 characters, with a male and female variation of each character (yielding 108 total).
  5. The faithful are supposed to repeat the mantra 100 times—the extra 8 is there to make up for any accidental omissions or straying thoughts.
  6.  In astrology, the metal silver is said to represent the moon. The atomic weight of silver is 108.
  7. The average distance of the Moon from the Earth is 108 times the diameter of the Moon.  
  8. In Islam, the number 108 can be used to refer God.
  9. The Jain religion describes five categories of holy ones that contain, respectively, 12, 8, 36, 25, and 27 virtues (which equals 108).
  10. Supposedly Hinduism has 108 gods.
  11.  The 1 of 108, and the 8 of 108, when added together equals 9, which encompasses both ends of the basic numerical range (1, 2, 3 … 10), where 0 is not a number.
  12. In one numerical tradition, 1 stands for God or higher Truth, 0 stands for emptiness or completeness in spiritual practice, and 8 stands for infinity or eternity.

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