Updated: Dec 1, 2021
Seven Steps To The Unknown
When I thought of what would happen if my days and nights become longer or shorter, and what could make life hell or heaven, and when might the duration of an Earth year change - I found the answer very near to me as Mercury zipped around the Sun in 88 earth days, while taking 59 days to spin on its own axis. This fact alone is responsible for varying Mercury's surface temperature from -180°C to 450°C, reminding me of the definition of नरक (hell).
Venus is slower still, spinning on its axis in 243 days, which makes it even more unique. In our mythology, one constantly finds Lord Indra’s kingdom floating in the atmosphere among the clouds. Theoretically, Venus demonstrates precisely this phenomenon, as the surface pressure on the planet is about 93 bar. The only way one can survive is if they float in the atmosphere where pressure and temperature would be lesser, in spite of being the planet with the highest surface temperature.
On the other side of Mother Earth lies the beautiful red planet of Mars, whose size of about 6787 km, orbit speed of 687 days, spin speed of 24 hours and most importantly, the evidence of the availability of water, makes it a perfect planet for human life. The possibility of migration of living organisms from Mars to Earth is a really interesting subject, which demands further probing. But the end of an era due to जलप्लावन (flood) at Mars and the inception of life at Earth, it being the warmer planet, certainly matches with humankind's alleged history.
The massive, gaseous planet Jupiter, being the largest and having a spinning speed of 9.8 hours and a rotational time of 11.9 years, not to mention its 75+ moons, influences human life due to its size, which is two and half times that of all the other planets in the solar system combined together.
Saturn, third outer from Earth, is a gaseous planet with a revolution of 29.5 earth years and a spin speed of 10.5 hours, rich in hydrogen and helium. The most interesting aspect of Saturn is its rings. Despite a humongous diameter of 2,82,000 km, their thickness does not exceed 100 metres. Literature reveals there are a total of seven rings. From the planet outward, they are D, C, B, A, F, G and E.
Uranus, fourth outer from Earth, with a rotation of 18 hours, spins in a direction opposite to that of all the other planets, just like Venus. Its revolution around the Sun in 84 years is typical due to a phase change of 90° between the spinning & rotational plane. Neptune exhibits the fastest winds observed in the solar system, clocking supersonic speeds of 1500 mph. It has a revolution period of 165 years & spin period of 16 hours. Given the strikingly similar compositions of Neptune and Uranus, the ice giants are often dubbed as twin planets. Because these planetary twins were discovered much later, establishing a solid correlation with the initial seven will take time.
Interestingly, the latest numbers indicate that the three terrestrial & four gaseous planets significantly influence the inhabitants of Earth. The theory of seven planets influencing humankind matches well with the ancient philosophy of नवग्रह (nine heavenly bodies) that are worshipped in India. It is worth mentioning here that नवग्रह include Rahu and Ketu, which were never planets.
After the समुद्र मंथन (churning of the ocean) by the देवता और दानव (Gods and Demons), Lord Vishnu, disguised as Mohini, got the अमृत (elixir of immortality) with the responsibility to distribute it amongst everybody. Mohini, with all her grace, asked the Gods and Demons to sit in separate lines and started administering the elixir to the Gods. Svarbhanu, a demon, also snuck beside the Gods & took some elixir. Realising this, Vishnu cut off his head using the सुदर्शन चक्र (divine disc-like weapon) separating his head, which would now be known as Rahu, and the body, now called Ketu. Each entity still enriched with the elixir, Rahu and Ketu got the ability to eat the Sun and the Moon, which is actually the eclipse phenomenon. Therefore, jyotishshashtra revolves around the seven ग्रह (planet), which aligns with modern science, indicating the influence of seven planets.
The whole philosophy of time in terms of weekdays, that is, Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday, is based on the number seven, and thereafter, it becomes repetitive.
If we look back to Vedic literature, we come across the सप्तऋषि (seven sages), who were rescued by Matsya after the great deluge to establish a new world. Not to mention, our ancestors scripted their names in the sky by naming seven stars of Ursa Major which is known to every Indian by heart - Vashishta, Marichi, Pulastya, Pulaha, Atri, Angiras and Kratu.
The most important aspect of a Hindu marriage ceremony is the सप्तपदी (seven steps). Seven steps are taken after tying the मंगलसूत्र (auspicious thread uniting the souls of spouses) concretizing the legality of the marriage. The whole institution of marriage, the union of two individuals and their coming together, rests on a commitment which is seven steps. If this is not enough, the wife continues reminding her husband that they are tied together for seven births!
With this, what puzzles me are not the rituals or the "सात जन्मो का रिश्ता" (eternal togetherness for seven lives), but this enigmatic number of seven. As the सप्तऋषि bring life to a new era, followed by seven ग्रह determining one’s horoscope at birth, or entering into गृहस्थ आश्रम (family life) with seven steps with a relationship that lasts for seven जन्म (lives) - certainly, the mind starts to explore other avenues where the beloved number seven may have similar impact.
क्षिति जल पावक गगन समीरा
The five elements which make up human being, as per Indian philosophy, might have two missing components - perhaps light and conscience, which would make a solid seven pillar base explicit and clear.
When we see through our eyes, we see colours. Definitely, these colours are nothing but a white light. When white light passes through a prism, it splits into separate seven colored lights. Hence, the number seven philosophy stands even in what we see through eyes, our primary sensing element.
Now, will it make you a little nervous to know that this theory continues this way? Suddenly, I realise that nature has provided proof everywhere, only, we do not open our eyes to it. When I opened my eyes this rainy morning, I was recounting my childhood memories of "Be An Ne Ha Pe Na La" or VIBGYOR, the seven colours of rainbow in the sky. This was nature’s proof for this seven step magical wand.
When I look to another organ, I find the heptad repeat, an example of a structural motif that consists of a repetitive pattern of seven amino acids. The positions of the heptad repeat are commonly denoted by the letters a to g. The primary gene sequences of more than a dozen organisms show seven-turn helix transmembrane proteins.
Human can discriminate between two odours that differ in concentration by as little as 7%. Odour intensity is normally categorised as under: 0 - no odor; 1 - very weak; 2 - weak; 3 - distinct; 4 - strong; 5 - very strong; 6– intolerable.
The seven primary odours are:
Musky - perfume
Putrid - rotten egg
Camphoraceous - mothballs
Ethereal - Dry cleaning
Pepperminty - mint gum
Floral - roses
Let me tell you that while starting, I was not sure about this seven theory, but it has started looking promising and therefore needs further deliberation.
Shall we go to third organ? The vital and most important organ, i.e., skin, is the largest among all organs of our body and it covers the body’s entire external surface. The skin made up of seven layers. From top to deepest layers, we have - Stratum corneum, Stratum lucidum, Stratum granulosum, Stratum spinosum, Stratum basale, Dermis and Hypodermis. The first five layers form the epidermis which is the outermost thick layer of the skin. All seven layers vary significantly in their anatomy & function. The skin serves various functions that include:
Barrier against Germs
Barrier against UV light
Barrier against chemicals
Barrier against Mechanical injury
Maintain body temperature
Prevent water loss
Another organ of our body, upon which one of the five important senses depends, is the tongue which can taste salty, sweet, sour, bitter, umami, astringent and pungent - seven tastes in number.
This makes me believe that the number seven is godsent, but this might not be sufficient proof for others. Therefore, I feel it necessary to dig a little deeper.
Next, we go to the स्वर ज्ञान (sound system), which comes out from one’s throat. Or, music that we listen to through our next important organ, the ear. It is well known to all Indians that Hindustani Classical Music in based on Sa, Re, Ga, Ma, Pa, Dha, Ni, Sa. They are exactly seven स्वर (notes), and all music is based on this. In fact, Western Music is based on the same philosophy, be it CDEFGAB or DoReMiFaSoLaTi. We can surely understand that the seven notes, which have a significant role in learning, listening and enjoying music, will certainly impact human beings. These seven notes, when sung, need a specific column length for a particular sound inside our body. These are controlled by inner body. If practiced enough, inner body feelings can very well be understood.
A habitual and firm disposition to do the good as per Christian Virtues are seven in number, and are Justice, Courage, Prudence, Temperance, Faith, Hope and Charity. There has been further deliberation & seven capital virtues are identified as chastity, temperance, charity, diligence, patience, kindness & humility. Practicing them protects one against the seven deadly sins of lust, gluttony, greed, sloth, wrath, envy & pride.
Miller, in his article "The magical number seven, plus or minus two: Some limits on our capacity for processing information" stated a law explaining that the number of objects an average human can hold in working memory is 7 ± 2.
pH is the negative of the base 10 logarithm of the acidity of the H+ ion. At 25°C, solution with a ph less than 7 are acidic & greater than 7 are basic. A solution with a pH of 7 is neutral.
According to Islam tradition, the Prophet Muhammad ascended into the seven heavens during his lifetime and came into direct contact with The Divine. The Dome of the Rock, a commemorative octagon building divided into seven separate panels, was built to honor the event. When devotees perform circumambulation in Mecca, they walk around it seven times. During Hajj, devotees stone the statues of the devils three times using seven stones in each round. Also in the Hajj, the sevenfold run between Safa and Marwa indicates the importance the number in the culture.
There are seven styles of Arabic calligraphy. The Seven Voyages of Sinbad is known from childhood to everyone. A wedding ritual in Islamic culture involves seven happily married wives touching the bride's wedding dress. There are references made to the number seven in the Qur'an, the sacred text of Muslims.
In Judaism, the Sabbath, or seventh day of the week, is considered a sacred day, and seven is also a key number in Jewish mysticism. The number seven is also important for Zoroastrians because it is a perfect union number between man and woman.
It is understood that the names of the following seven chakras (energy centres) are heard by all as per Indian philosophy:
Muladhara (Root base of spine) - Earth/Red
Swadhistham (Sactel) - Water/Orange
Manipura (Solar plexus) - Fire/Yellow
Anahata (Heart) - Air/Green
Vishuddha (Throat) - Etter/Blue
Ajna (Third eye) - Light/Indigo
Sahasara (Crown) - Conscience/white
A complex and ancient energy system mentioned in the Vedas, they are basically bundles of nerves/major organs/energy centre that run parallel to the spine and control the nearby organs, however the crown chakra is suppose to control all of them. The chakras impact the physical, mental, spiritual and emotional health of an individual. Each chakra is connected with colour, area, element and mantra.
The process can go on and on if one looks around for such occurrences, the only thing is that we have to stay near the nature externally and then correlate it with our inner body. Thus, the number seven is directly linked to the power of the divine and has great value as an expression of belief and the miracles of God.