Number nine (9) is the most intriguing digit of all the numbers. It is an absolute number which when multiplied by any number always reproduces itself; the sum of digits in the product will always be nine.
In Sanskrit, nine is known as Nava; and Navathi means ninety; Navaka means group of nine, fresh, new, and blooming.
The number nine holds special significance in our lives. In fact, we begin our journey with the number nine – that is the number of months we spend in our mother’s wombs.
Yog shastras consider the human body to have nine openings through which we interact with the external world – two eyes, two ears, two nostrils, a mouth and the reproductive and excretory organs.
सर्वकर्माणि मनसा सन्न्यस्यास्ते सुखं वशी ।
नवद्वारे पुरे देही नैव कुर्वन्न कारयन् ॥ १३ ॥
sannyasyāste sukhaṁ vaśī
nava-dvāre pure dehī
naiva kurvan na kārayan
sarva — all; karmāṇi — activities; manasā — by the mind; sannyasya — giving up; āste — remains; sukham — in happiness; vaśī — one who is controlled; nava–dvāre — in the place where there are nine gates; pure — in the city; dehī — the embodied soul; na — never; eva — certainly; kurvan — doing anything; na — not; kārayan — causing to be done.
When the embodied living being controls his nature and mentally renounces all actions, he resides happily in the city of nine gates [the material body], neither working nor causing work to be done.
Hindu philosophy counts the universal elements as the पृथ्वी (earth), अप: (water), वायु: (air), अग्नि (fire),आकाश (space), काल (time), आत्मन (soul) and the मनस (mind)…also nine.
Navavidha Bhakti has nine modes of devotion –
Sravanam (hearing about God); Keerthanam (singing in praise of God); Smaranam (remembering God); Paada–sevanam (serving the lotus feet of God); Archanam (worshiping God); Vandanam (obeisance/salutations) Daasyam (serving for the cause of God); Sakhyam (Mythri; friendship with God) and Aatma Nivedanam (Saranam/ total surrender to God).
Indian Jyotisha, or the science of astrology, is based on the नवग्रह (Navagrahas) – or nine cosmic influences (not planets, as is commonly translated). They are सूर्य (Sūrya), चंद्र (Chandra), मंगल (Mangala), बुध (Buddha), बृहस्पति (Brihaspati), शुक्र (Shukra), शनि (Śani), राहु (Rāhu) and केतु (Ketu).
There are nine primary gems associated with the Navagrahas –
Vajra (diamond); Vydoorya (Cat’s eye); Gomedhika (Hessonite); Pushyaraaga (Yellow sapphire); Marakatha (Emerald); Maanikya (Ruby); Neela (Blue sapphire); Muthya (Pearl) and Pravaala (Coral).
Śṛṅgāraḥ (शृङ्गारः): Romance, Love, attractiveness, Hāsyam (हास्यं): Laughter, mirth, comedy, Raudram (रौद्रं): Fury, Kāruṇyam (कारुण्यं): Compassion, mercy, Bībhatsam (बीभत्सं): Disgust, aversion, Bhayānakam (भयानकं): Horror, terror, Veeram (वीरं): Heroism, Adbhutam (अद्भुतं): Wonder, amazement. Śāntam (शान्तम्) Peace or tranquility…these form the Navarasas (the nine emotions).
Hindu philosophy also believes in nine elements comprising the three gunas – sattva, rajas and tamas, the three parts of the karmic cycle – creation, preservation and destruction, and the three factors of time, space and causation.
The number system too, ends in nine, with the rest essentially just repeating the first set.
And so, it is only natural that one of the biggest celebrations of the year – Navratri, continues for nine days.
These nine days present a opportunity for a reset. And this opportunity comes twice a year. Make the best of it. I am.
See you tomorrow!