Special numbers

C.R. Selvakumar selvakum at VALLUVAR.UWATERLOO.CA
Fri Nov 12 17:13:58 UTC 1999

*Remember reading a paper by Parpola sometime ago, wherein
*M. Deshpande told about milkmen pouring little more than
*the purchase volume (will give the ref. later) in India; I think
*discussions on these are in the archives too.
*404 = 4 X 101
*101 is little more than 100 (to cross the threshold value).
*But why 4?
*Classical Tamil anthologies are puRam 400, akam 400, etc.,
*One Sanskritist told me that 4 is the perfect number, 4 corners,
*4 vedas, 4 varNas,etc.,  P. Claus, in a paper on Gollas (ta. kuRumpar,
*skt. yAdhav) says that moving from tribal to a caste, folks leave
*their "circular"  to "rectangular" (4 corners, sharply defined)
*May be the 4 in 404 has all and more of all these elements.

  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)


*N. Ganesan

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