My interpretation of what interests and confounds me ....

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Wonder-struck by the wonderful wonder of the wondrous number 7 (and wondering why)!

The number 7 has always had a strange, magnetic charm on me. For some wild reason, time and again, I come up against it, in its myriad, mysterious ways in my day-to-day affairs. Wonder whether you share my experience. Let me explain.

As a growing child, while memorising the names of the 7 seas (Mediterranean, Adriatic, Arabian, Black, Red, Caspian, Persian) or the 7 SI base units (metre, kilogram, kelvin, second, mole, ampere, candela) was not what one relished, it was fascinating to dig into the escapades of the Secret 7. Exposure to the delights of the Magnificent 7, in 7(0) mm. was even more electrifying!

One had also been told that the "surs" (Sa, re ga ma, pa, dha, ni) are 7 in number. Ditto for the colours of the rainbow (no self-respecting parent would have failed to grill/drill that famous acronym - VIBGYOR - down the nut of her/his hapless kid, so that the kid can in turn, in good time, perpetuate the fraud further down the generations, till it prevails ad infinitum!). On a comparative note, the scales followed by the western stream of music too would amount to 7 (whether it be the A, B, C, D, E, F, G - preferred by the supercilious classical musician or the more down-to-earth Do, re, mi, fa, so, la, si - practised by her not so polished cousin).

But, have you ever asked, as to why for godsake, the wonders of the world have to be 7? Or for that matter why Snowwhite had to be saddled with 7 dwarfs? If that defies imagination, why does the habits of effective people have to be, of all numbers, 7?

Even the Gods in heaven are not spared. We therefore have, arranged rather systematically, the wisdom of the 7 rishis (sapta rishis), or the divine pleasure of wallowing in the fantasies of 7 damsels (sapta sundaries), so picturesquely portrayed by the pen of the mythological bard.

Then of course, Hindus have the 7 rounds around the holy fire, as the husband and wife solemnly tie each other into an everlasting bond. This is inevitably followed by them experiencing the 7th heaven, 7 days a week, during their honeymoon (possibly!) to the 7 sisters of North-east India. A little while later however (to be more precise, at the end of 7 years), they accost the itch, which, it has empirically been proved, befalls all couples sooner rather than later! This may of course be precipitated by regular infliction of the 7 cup (sweetmeat) by the good lady on the hubby. In between, the couple may (or may not, depending on their combined profligacy quotient!) fall for the 7 deadly sins. To overcome the ill-effects of the sins, and to cleanse oneself, one (or both of them) may decide to practise meditation that would involve a convoluted methodology of 7 chakras.

If the mundane and the mythological are held hostage to the tyranny of 7 can medicine or mystics be spared? We are told that there are 7 layers to our existence comprising the body, breath, mind, intellect, memory, ego and self. As for medicine, it evolves around 7 key steps of healing viz. patient, doctor, caregiver, drugs, environment, sleep and spirituality.

Technology, as always, the last refuge of the rationalist, is also sucked in by the mysterious beauty of the number 7. The network (as in the hardware of computers - and not as in social networks) has a 7 layer stack (for the curious, the layers are respectively the application, presentation, session, transport, network, datalink, and physical), and is the reason why this blog travelled all the way to your home, and you are able to read on your computer, the drivel that I wrote on mine.

With so much to go for the number 7, is it any wonder that the most dashing and romantic of all heroes (with the most memorable name to boot - the name is Bond ....!) has been pushing his luck with the number (00)7? And, no marks for guessing why that 7 was so elusive on the throw of dice in that charming game of "Lucky 7"?

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