LAST EDITED ON 03-21-06 AT 12:31 PM (EST)
Watched Deepa Mehta's stirring film "Water" last night (go see it!). The film takes place in India in 1938 and is about the fate of a seven year-old widow. At one point she is given a strand of prayer beads as she prays to Krishna. Yes, you guessed it, 108 times.
Googled the prayer beads. They are called Malas. You can read more here.
What do the numbers mean?
Though we think of Hindu and Buddhist malas as comprising 108 beads ...
108 is a number with numerologic <9 x 12> and cosmological significance. Another, Vedic reason, is that there are believed to be 108 channels going from the heart chakra out to the rest of the subtle body. See the 108 names of the Indian great goddess; many are similar to those of Tara, the Bodhisattva.
Buddhist Theravada tradition presents the number 108 as related to emotions:
"What are the thirty-six feelings? There are six feelings of gladness based on the household life and six based on renunciation; six feelings of sadness based on the household life and six based on renunciation; six feelings of equanimity based on the household life and six based on renunciation.
"What are the hundred and eight feelings? There are the (above) thirty-six feelings of the past; there are thirty six of the future and there are thirty-six of the present.
"These, O monks, are called the hundred and eight feelings; . . . ."