Sanctity of a Dominant Digit

In my childhood I was taught the Bengali numbers in an interesting way. It was somewhat related to Sanatan Hindu theological knowledge. My teacher read out ek (one) chandra (the moon), dui (two) paksha (fortnight), tin (three) netra (eye), char (four) vedas (Hindu religious scriptures), pancha (five) vana (arrows), chay (six) ritu (season), sat (seven) samudra (oceans), ashta (eight) vasu ( eight elemental gods), naba (nine) graha (planet), dash (ten) dik (direction). I imitated him and like many others I learnt to count the Bengali numbers in a short time. Later, when I grew up, I realized that it was an easy way not only to learn the numbers, but also to acquire something about Hinduism. Now I can understand the importance of digits in many spheres of Hinduism. But `5’ is the most dominant and auspicious digit of all.


Hindu myths, festivals and rituals, scriptures etc. always show the digital sanctity of `5’. If one studies Sanatan Hindu culture for a long time, he/she must realize this truth well. Our readers can also realize this from the list given below:
(i) Panchagni -five sacred fires/ five mystic fires supposed to be present in the body.
(ii) Panchamla – aggregate of five acid plants (jujube, pomegranate, sorrel, spondias and citron).
(iii) Pancha amrita – five kinds of divine food named milk, sour milk, butter, honey and sugar.
(iv) Panchanan (five heads) – Lord Shiva.
(v) Panchanga pranam-obeisance made with five members of the body (arms, knees, head, voice and look).
(vi) Pancha bhuta – five elements named earth, air, fire, water and atmosphere.
(vii) Pancha gabya (products of cow) – milk, coagulated milk, butter, liquid and solid excreta.
(viii) Pancha Goura- collective name of Gaud, Mithila, Utkal, Kanauj and the region situated on the bank of the river Saraswati.
(ix) Pancha guna (quality)-form, taste, smell, touch and sound.
(x) Pancha kanya (daughter/a female offspring)-Ahalya, Draupadi, Tara, Kunti and Mandadari.
(xi) Pancha karma (deed) – five kinds of treatment in medicine.
(xii) Pancha karmendriya – five organs to work with (tongue, hands, feet, rectum and genitals).
(xiii) Pancha mahayagna – Devayagna (worship of Devas), Pitriyagna (worship of one’s forefathers),
(xiv) Maushyayagna (worship of fellow humans), Bhutayagna (worship of other beings) and Brahmayangna (worship of knowledge).
(xv) Pancha nad (river)-Shatadru, Bipasha, Iravati, Chandrabhaga and Vitasta.
(xvi) Pancha pallab (leaves) – leaves of five trees.
(xvii) Pancha pandava – five characters/brothers of the Mahabharata named Yudhistira, Vima, Arjuna, Nakul and Sahadeva.
(xviii) Pancha patra – five kinds of vessels made of copper and used in a worship.
(xix) Pancha pita (father)-progenitor, deliverer from fear, father-in-law, preceptor and provider.
(xx) Pancha pradip –a row of five oil lamps.
(xxi) Pancha shasya (species of grain)-paddy, kidney-bean/oat, barley, sesame and pigeon-pea.
(xxii) Panchatapa yoga/ panchagni yoga– a participant sitting in the circle with fire in the four directions (North, South, East & West) and the sun overhead forming the fifth fire.
(xxiii) Pancha tattva-In Gaudiya Vaishnavism pancha tatva means the five features of Lord Krishna. Pancha tattva deities (Chaitanya,Nityananda, Advaita, Gadadhara, Shrivasa)are installed on a Vaishnava alter.
(xxiv) Pancha tikta (bitter plant/creeper)-Mangosa, Gulancha, Vasaka, Palta and Kantakari.
(xxv) Pancha tirtha (shrine/holy place)-Yanbapi, Nandikeshwar, Tarakeshwar, Mahakaleshwar and Dandapani.
(xxvi) Pancha vana -five arrows of Kama (the God of Love)
(xxvii) Pancha vati (fig tree) – Ashvattha, Vat, Vilva, Amlaki and Ashoka.
(xxviii) Pancha yanendriya (sense organs) – eyes, ears, nose, skin and tongue
The 5’s enlisted above are frequently uttered in Hindu religion. These are not all. But from the list we can understand easily the dominant power and sanctity of a digit in a particular culture.

Talker: Krishna Das