[INDOLOGY] Numbers --- # 1

Ruth Satinsky Sieber Ruth.Satinsky at unil.ch
Sat Jun 18 21:11:10 EDT 2016

Dear Artur,

I have researched the number 84,000 extensively and have never come across any explanation whatsoever of its meaning in Buddhist, Jaina or Brahmanical texts.

However, on p. 3 fn11 of my article cited by Lubomir below, I mention the following:

W. Randolf Kloetzli (personal communication, 13 December 2011) has speculated that the number 84,000
could be “derived from some formula for relating the seven planets to the twelve signs of the zodiac (7 . 12 =
84).” John Brockington (personal communication, 8 January 2012) has proposed that the number eighty-four
represents the seven days of the week multiplied by the twelve months of the year. The number seven, he says, is
prominent with the Ājīvikas, and important in the Iranian tradition, where one finds the concept of the week
very strong. Walther Schubring 1935/1962/2000: 28 has stated: “it should be remembered that the figure of
eighty-four or either of its plurals frequently appear with the Jains and elsewhere where they only fail to give
precise details for something founded on fact.”

Whatever the case, I would not be inclined to see it as a numerical game.

Ruth Satinsky

Dear Lubomir,

Thank you for the link. But - but I do not find in the paper the answer for the question --- why, ultimately, eighty-four?

The inner structure of the number: 7 x 12

Is it a result of some numerological game?



2016-06-18 22:51 GMT+02:00 Lubomir Ondracka <ondracka at ff.cuni.cz<mailto:ondracka at ff.cuni.cz>>:
Dear Artur,

on the number 84 000 in Buddhist (and Jaina) sources, see this very interesting study:
Ruth Satinsky, "What can the lifespans of Ṛṣabha, Bharata, Śreyāṃsa, and Ara tell us about the History of the concept of Mount Meru?", International Journal of Jaina Studies 11.1 (2015) 1-24.

It is available on-line:


On Sat, 18 Jun 2016 14:12:55 +0200
Artur Karp <karp at uw.edu.pl<mailto:karp at uw.edu.pl>> wrote:

> Dear List,
> *84 000*.
> The number appears in Buddhist texts, most intensively in the
> *Sudassana-sutta*, where it serves to contain in itself the final, perfect,
> model shape of reality - in its various perceivable aspects .
> In the Buddhaghosa's *Sumangala-vilasini* Asoka plans to divide the relics
> of the Buddha into 84 000 portions, to be placed in 84 000 stupas - planned
> to be built throughout his kingdom.
> Is there somewhere in the Buddhist tradition a mention of the idea of *human
> body* numbering 84 000 elements?
> Why 84 000? And not, for example - 100 000?
> Thanking you in advance,
> Artur Karp (ret.)
> Chair of South Asian Studies
> University of Warsaw
> Poland

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