The significance of 108 – a magical number

Do you have a favorite number? Mine has been 13 for a long time and recently I added 108. As you may know, the long Yang form is also called 108 form as it is supposed to have 108 movements. So I had a closer look at the significance of 108.

It turns out to be a sacred number in Buddhism and Hinduism! And I found some more fascinating details.

The significance of 108

meaning of 108
  • 11 x 22 x 33 = ? What you think? Get out your calculator!
  • The angles in a pentagon are each 108 degree.
  • The distance from Earth to Sun is 108x the diameter of the Sun. And the distance between Earth and Moon is also 108x the diameter of the Moon!
  • The first flight in space (by Yuri Gagarin) was officially 108 minutes long.
  • The volume of frozen water increases up to 108%.
  • A core temperature of 108°F becomes life-threatening to the human organs.
  • 108 is a Harshad-number, which means it is an integer that is divisible by the sum of its digits when written in that base. Harshad is Sanskrit and means “joy-bringer”.
  • Talking about Sanskrit: the Sanskrit alphabet consists of 54 male and 54 female syllables = 108 syllables of Sanskrit!
  • In many Indian temples there are 108 steps, windows etc.
  • Mala Bead Bracelets* (which you could call the rosary of Buddhism and Hinduism) are made of 108 beads. Yoga people also often wear a Mala.
  • In India, in case of an emergency, you call 108!
  • On New Year’s Day they ring the temple bells 108 times in some Buddhist temples.
  • Rumour has it that there are 108 pyramides in Egypt.
  • Stonehenge’s diameter is 108ft.
  • An official baseball has 108 stitches.
  • There are 108 cards in the game “Uno*”.

Now back to the signifance of 108 in Taijiquan: surely it is possible to count the moves in such a way that you get 108 moves as a result. However, my assumption is, that this number was chosen deliberately. Especially when thinking about the significance of 108 in Buddhism.

Now if you want to know how to count the long form to have 108 moves, have a look at my list of the yang style Tai Chi 108 form. I even included a PDF for you to download!

Happy Qi!


If you would like to read more about the significance of 108, continue reading here or here.

Check out my book:

The Taijiquan & Qi Gong Dictionary - especially for Tai Chi beginners




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