Special numbers

N. Ganesan naga_ganesan at HOTMAIL.COM
Fri Nov 12 17:47:11 UTC 1999

   Interesting. It appears that dividing by
   4 is often (not always) considered to be
   adequately 'detailed'. Thus four-way classification
   is popular as in  directions (of course
   further refinements to 8 and 16 also occur)etc.
   In tamil the expression 'naalu pErai kEttup paaru'
   literally means ask four persons but it actually means
   ask several different people. The number 108 is also said to be
   4 times 27 where 27 is supposed to represent the number of
   constellations (according to Tamil system) in the sky.
   The four is the number of subdivisions and each division is
   called a paatam. The sanskrit system is supposed to have 28
   constellations. The name for the constellation is naTcattiram in
   tamil and I believe it is based on the Tamil word naaL (mIn) =
   star.  (kOL = planet)

When folks say, "4 pEr vENum", they refer to 4 people
for the final carrying away of the corpse :-)

In Dravidian, the word for "number" and "eight" are the
same and identical(ta. eN, ka. eNTu, ...). It looks the original
arithmetic was based on 8. So any division by 4, 8, 16
are pointing to that idea. May be 108 = 100 + 8
is coming out of this, 8 being equivalent to what is 10
in decimal system.

  It is highly significant that the Sanskrit word for
planet, "graha" is an exact loan translation of "kOL".
"graha" as "planet" has no cognates in IE, ("graha" is like
english "grab", no planet). For details, see Parpola's book.
ta. kOL(planet) from the verb "koL"(to hold/grab) follows
ta. noun/verb pairs: a) vIDu(house)/viDu(to leave),
b) pATa(singing, RV)/paTu(-ttu)(to harmonize. cf. isai - music)
c) mAyA/maya(-kku) (to bewilder/confuse)
d) mIn(fish/star)/min(to shine) and 100s more sets like these.

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