Below is a summary of classical Indian teachings on various aspects of life using a template of numbers from 0 to 9.


0) Zero represents a cycle. Everything in nature goes in cycles: day and night, seasons, etc. Change is the only constant. All that is born has to die (to be born again) and that an absolute truth. So, the existing bad (or good) state of affairs will eventually change. Be patient during tough times and prepare for the trough during good times.

1) GOD is one. He is the intelligence that keeps the circle going. We may call him by different names and practice different rituals to appease him, but he is ONE. The soul, without which the physical body is useless, is a part of that GOD. When the circle of life completes, the soul leaves the body to become one with the heavenly lord.

2) This represents the pair of opposites we see everywhere around and inside us. Ayurveda is based on 20 qualities (10 pairs of opposites: dry/moist, light/heavy, hot/cold, rough/smooth, dense-flowing, hard-soft, fixed-mobile, dull/sharp, gross/subtle, clear/cloudy) that are attributed to the five elements (No. 5) and the three energies (No. 3). It recognizes each person’s individual balance (constitution) according to which the lifestyle changes and herbs are prescribed.

3) Number three denotes the three doshas—vata (energy of movement), pitta(energy of transformation), and kapha (energy of mass/inertia)—that, when in balance, keep the body healthy. They also correspond physiologically to the derivatives of embryologic foregut (kapha), midgut (pitta) and hindgut (vata). The constitution is established at the time of conception. Ayurvedic treatment balances the three energies and Panchkarma brings the out of balance energy back to the gastrointestinal tract for elimination.

4) Number four represents fourfold purpose of live: dharma (work), arth(material), kaam (physical), moksha (spiritual). Dharma: to do well/work honestly in one’s profession. Arth: to earn money by legal means and to enjoy the comforts money can buy. Kaam: to enjoy the pleasures of the physical body. Moksha: work to free ourselves from the bondage of birth and death. Four also signifies the determinants of happiness, which according to a common Indian are: health, affluence, a dedicated spouse, and an obedient child.

5) This number represents the five elements (panchmahabhut) all matter is made from: ether (space), air, fire, water, and earth. Every element/energy tries to go to its source, so everything solid falls on the ground (gravity). Everything liquid flows to lower grounds, trying to go to the sea (its parent/source). Fire rises up to try to reach for the sun (source of all fire). No. 5 also represents the five senses which feed the brain (eyes, ears, skin, nose, and tongue).

6) This represents the pillars of health: eating, sleeping, exercise, cleanliness, discipline, and behavior. Most alternative systems of medicine prescribe a lifestyle during health and disease for prevention and cure, respectively. Living with nature, in balance with the rhythms/cycles of nature is considered healthy. When we continue to disturb this balance, we fall sick.

7) This number represents the chakras or energy centers in the body:Mooladhaar (earth element), Swadhishthaan (water element), Manipur (fire element), Anahat (air element), Vishuddhi (ether element), Agya (bodily intelligence), Sahasra (universal intelligence). Kundalini yoga activates the dormant energy in the mooladhaar chakra and channelizes it up the other chakras. Seven also represents the dhatoo types (tissues) in the body: rus(plasma), rakta (blood), mamas (muscle), meda (fat), asthi (bone), majja(marrow), shukra-aartav (sperm-ova).

8) Number eight represents the eightfold path of aashtang yoga: yam (nonviolence, truthfulness, no stealing, discipline/celibacy, material detatchment), niyam (physical purification—defecation/urination/bath, self contentment, meditation, self study, religious studies), aasan (physical postures), pranayaam (breathing exercises), pratyahaar (control over senses),dhaarna (union of senses with the mind), dhyaan (union of mind with the soul), and samaadhi (union of soul with the supreme). Yoga (pronounced as YOG) is the spiritual path that leads the devoted aspirant to good health and ultimately to nirvana.

9) This number represents the nine celestial bodies according to Vedic astrology: sun, moon, Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, Rahu, and Ketu. Anavaratna (nine stone) pendant or ring has one stone for each celestial body and brings positive energy from that body: Sun–Ruby, Moon –pearl, Mercury–emerald, Venus–diamond, Mars–red coral, Jupiter–yellow sapphire, Saturn–blue sapphire, Rahu–hessonite, and Ketu–cat’s eye. Mantras are spoken in the multiples of nine.n

Peeyush Bhargava is a medical doctor who provides Ayurvedic lifestyle and herbal consultations in his free time.