All our malas are made according to a specific number of spiritual beads: usually 108. Some mala contain 2 x 108 beads and some malas 72. The extra bead that anchores the mala, named the ‘guru bead’, is not counted. This bead is used to simplify the counting of mantras during meditation and symbolizes the crown chakra.
The number 108 is significant for numerous reasons. Some believe that there are 108 stages on the path of the human soul. Also, there are 108 human sins in Tibetan Buddhism. Therefore, 108 times reciting the mantra would be a sacred activity. Shiva Nataraja danced his cosmic dance in 108 poses. Krishna danced with 108 ‘Gopis’ (cow wives) and later married 108 women. Many stages of Buddhist temples have 108 steps.
The number 72 is also a spiritual number, for the following reasons: Indian architecture can be an arithmetic sequence based on the number 72. For example, the main Krishna temple in Dwarka is built on 72 pillars and the upper structure of the temple complex in Java, Borobudur, is divided into three terraces, on which 72 openwork stupas are placed.