Why 108?


For centuries, 108 has been considered a sacred number. It features in both yoga- and dharma-related practices, and makes an appearance in everything from ancient ruins (Stonehenge’s Sarsen Circle is 108 feet in diameter) to classical literature (in Homer’s Odyssey, Penelope has 108 suitors). I invite you to research the history of this significant number for yourself to determine if its frequent manifestation throughout the ages and across so many disciplines is mere coincidence. A sampling of what you will find:

The distance between the earth and sun is 108 times the sun’s diameter. The distance between the earth and the moon is 108 times the moon’s diameter. The diameter of the sun is 108 times the diameter of the earth.

The sum total of 108 (one plus zero plus eight) equals nine, a number that in numerology symbolizes endings and beginnings, or Transformation.

In astrology, there are twelve houses and, including Pluto, nine planets. Nine times twelve equals 108.

In ayurvedic practice, it is believed that the body has 108 pressure points where consciousness and flesh intersect to create life.

A mala or prayer garland usually has 108 beads to signify the chanting of a mantra 108 times. In the Sri Yantra—a mandala representing Creation found in both Hindu and Buddhist traditions, and whose sound is “Om”—there are 54 points where energy lines intersect. Each such intersection has masculine and feminine—Shiva and Shakti—qualities. Fifty-four times two equals 108. The chakras, our energy centers, are the intersections of energy lines, and there are said to be a total of 108 energy lines converging to form the heart chakra.

For a yogi such as myself there is no better number of guitars to present in this collection. The more conventional alternatives of 100 or 101 do not offer such mystical significance. But in many ways, I did not choose 108, it chose me—following me through my days as a reminder to say my mantras, and as comfort and guide throughout the duration of this project. It is, I believe, a divine number. Similarly, the music made with the instruments seen in these pages is, to my ear, divine.