Special numbers

John Robert Gardner jrgardn at EMORY.EDU
Fri Nov 12 19:12:53 UTC 1999

On Fri, 12 Nov 1999, C.R. Selvakumar wrote:

> *Remember reading a paper by Parpola sometime ago, wherein
> *M. Deshpande told about milkmen pouring little more than
> *404 = 4 X 101
> *101 is little more than 100 (to cross the threshold value).
> *
> *But why 4?

I'm figuring, if it's John Smith doing the asking originally (as I
recall), that there must be some curiousity at stake as to any possible
serendipity with the Web Error 404 Not Found message and any South Asian
numerological significations.

I'm curious as well, as 404 continues to inscribe itself into the
develomental reincarnations of the web -- ironically, most often when a
resource reincarnates as its URI is then most likely to change!

John Robert Gardner, Ph.D.
Emory University
"If there is something you're thinking of doing, or wish you could do,
begin it.  In boldness there is mystery and power . . . . "  _Goethe

> *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)
> *world.
> *
> *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)
>   C.R.Selvakumar
> *
> *Regards,
> *N. Ganesan

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