Death By Numbers

Famous philosopher Plato said, “A good decision is based on knowledge, not numbers.” Well, either Plato was not superstitious, or he wasn’t a fan of Numerology. But cultures across the milllennia have been unable to ignore the power of numbers, especially the unlucky ones.

The power of numbers

The power of numbers

For example, the recent death in a road accident of India’s new Cabinet Minister Gopinath Munde was all over the news. But there was another story doing the rounds. That the number 3 (he died on June 3, 2014) had proved unlucky for him as it had for his other family members – his brother-in-law Pramod Mahajan, who died on 3 May 2006 and Pramod’s brother Pravin Mahajan, who died on 3 March 2010.

Was it a sheer coincidence or is there really something unlucky about some numbers? Or are some numbers lucky for some and unlucky for others? Do numbers really hold so much power within them? No wonder, the world of Numerology – dealing with numbers and more numbers – has such a huge following among the celebs, who shell out money to get lucky numbers on their cars, mobiles, homes, and even names!!

Name it superstition or belief, the “unlucky” aspect of certain numbers are part of many cultures around the world. But number 13 seems to out-number all other numbers when it comes to being unlucky. On the flip side, the number is actually considered lucky by some fortunate ones born on the 13th of the month. The number 13 has been considered unlucky, especially in Christian faith, since it had proved unlucky for Jesus, because the apostle who betrayed him – Judas – had sat at the 13th place on the table at the famous Last Supper. There’s 13 and then, there’s Friday the 13th – an even more dreaded date…

Again, in Christianity, the number 666 evokes fear – fear of the Devil, no less. Remember the Omen movies? Now, there is even a word for it: Hexakosioihexekontahexaphobia – see if you can pronounce it, if not spell it! In The Bible’s Book of Revelation, John the Apostle refers to 666 as “the number of the beast.” The “beast” refers to the Anti-Christ, or the Devil. Evil, in short.

An unusual number scares the hell out of Chinese people. The Chinese, who set a lot of score by symbolism, fear the number 4 because the pronunciation of the Chinese word for the number four – shi – sounds a whole lot similar to the Chinese word for death. Just as American skyscrapers miss the 13th floor, many Chinese buildings too skip the fourth floor…

Similar to the bad sound-effect of the number 4 in Chinese, the number 9 is feared in Japan because the Japanese world for nine – ku – sounds similar to the Japanese word for torture and suffering.

Friday the 13th

Friday the 13th

We heard of Friday the 13th, but the Italians are superstitious about Friday the 17th, because rearranging the Roman numeral for 17 – “XVII” – can create the word “VIXI”, which is Latin for “My life is over…” No wonder, these Roman digits were often found on tombstones…in modern times, French carmaker Renault sold its model R17 in Italy as R177 because of this phobia..

The 39 Steps was a movie that sent chills down the spine. Well, the number also gets a bad rap in Afghanistan. For the Afghans, the number 39 translates into morda-gow, which literally means “dead cow” but is also a well-known slang for a pimp – or a procurer of prostitutes. Therein lies the revulsion.

Indians fear the planet Saturn more than any other. Because when Saturn is in full flow, he is a very tough planet to deal with. Though Saturn only seems to be doing his job of teaching a lesson as per a person’s karma, it’s another thing for a person to enjoy learning that lesson! So, Indians run away from number 8, the number of Saturn, be it on their car plates or their apartment numbers..

The Japanese have a phobia for another number: no. 42. Once again, it’s the sound of the number that has echoes of the word “shini” or being done to death!

I’ll conclude this blog with number 3 – the same number that proved so unlucky for our Minister yesterday. In The Philippines, they avoid building or taking stairs in multiples of three, because 3 spells death. “Oro, plata, mata” is what they say! The Vietnamese will never take pictures of three people, so if you’re a family of three, you just need to add a pet to the photo! They go so far as to think that such a photo spells doom for the person posing in the centre!

Despite a variety of lucky and unlucky numbers in nearly every culture in the world whether numbers really have an impact on our destiny, is for you to decide…and act!

(Inputs from Speakingtree blog)

 

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