The Unifying Power Of Number: The Zero

Thea, The Vedic Altar Updated: An Essay in Twelve Parts, # 3

The Mother, Sri Aurobindo’s co-worker, was the channel for his vision as the 9th Avatar of Vishnu to be rooted in this Earth dimension. He stated that had it not been for her he would have ‘remained up there’. In fact, in this incarnation as the Evolutionary Avatar he embodied the Transcendent in the structure of reality as expressed in the trinity Transcendent, Cosmic, and Individual (Soul). This trinity, apart from providing the central ingredient of almost all metaphysical systems and religions, in one form or another, has been especially prominent in his mission; more than just philosophically relevant, it has been made applicable through the processes of Yoga he and the Mother undertook.

The descent of Vishnu’s 9th has been played out according to a precise formula. Sri Aurobindo was assiduously engaged in rendering it applicable over the final years of his sojourn on this planet. It consists of the numbers 9/6/3/0. As an indication of its importance, he enshrined it in his own symbol in the central square known as the Lotus of the Avatar. In it we find an arrangement of 9 and 6 petals in a descending order, resting on 3 leaves.

The numbers and descending arrangement when transposed to calendar time allow us to verify his credentials as the Avatar of Vishnu. With this simple equation his revelation of the supramental Truth-Consciousness as the next stage in evolution became applicable for Earth use.

We are aware of the role Number has played throughout the Vedic Age and into the present on the subcontinent. But to render the Formula applicable it had to be supported by a particular number system (0-9) and an appropriate calendar by which the Formula could be related to the experience of time on Earth. India has both calendar and number. The revelation of the Zero was especially important, India’s contribution to the world of mathematics centuries ago. If that had not been the case, the sacred Formula could not have been applied in a manner that would convert Mahakala from Destroyer to Dissolver; that is, to remove the ‘sting’ from his contribution to the trinity of Creation, Preservation and Destruction (Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva). This is an especially significant shift with the potential to lift the doomsday gloom that has been hanging over our collective psyche for the past 2000 years in one form or another. To be precise, without this transformation, appropriately expressed in the calendar, Time would be unable to play its part in the appearance of the Vishnu Line when the Avatar re-sets the cosmic clock. This, above all else, has been the purpose of the 9th’s birth on a particular date: a re-organisation in no way speculative but rendered applicable via Number and Calendar.1

It is the date and time of the Avatar’s birth itself that sets the Clock ticking, the very first ingredient in the re-establishment of the Dharma in this cycle. But to recognise the pattern, I repeat, the appropriate calendar must be used. And given the current stage of evolution and its position within the ‘parable of evolution’, that calendar must be universal. At independence the calendar India officially adopted suits the purpose of universalism to a sufficient degree. Thus, Number and Calendar are the primary ingredients in this updating of the ancient Veda. Furthermore, that both systems have a global application points to the role India is to play in the world as indicated in the cosmic harmony itself and preserved for us in the Rig Veda. Having reached the stage of evolution where the Earth is increasingly perceived as the planetary home of all human beings, and if India is by destiny the central figure in the comity of nations, then this universalism is an indispensible ingredient.

The reason why the number system in use throughout the world can serve the purpose of re-establishment of the Dharma rests on a simple aphorism of the new cosmology: The 0 and the 9 are equal. This aphorism, apart from providing applicability indicates a spherical process rather than linear as in the series 1-10 of the Wisdom Schools that came into existence after the Vedic Age – for example, the school of the Greek sage Pythagoras. This is illustrated by his main teaching tool, the Tetraktys comprised of 10 dots to form a pyramid; there is no place for the 0 in this diagram. His system, as well as others that evolved out of the Egyptian initiatic tradition, would have utilised the linear pyramid and similar diagrams as geometric figures to convey the inner teaching. In so doing the limitations are made evident of all schools post Vedic to serve the purposes of the new age. It is a case of linearity in contrast to sphericality.

In the pyramid the construction is on the basis of 1 to 10, as indicated above. The 0-9 is spherical; they join at the top of the sphere as we find in the revered Ouroboros symbol, the Serpent biting its Tail. Where Head (0) and Tail (9) meet, there is a joining of 0 and 9, an overlapping, if you will. Applying this to calendar time, in a sequence such as the date 1950, if the 9 and 0 are eliminated, the final sum will remain 15 (by the mathematics of unity – 1+9+5+0=15, or 1+5=15). This application was well known in ancient Vedic Mathematics. It was called reduction to the ‘seed digit’ by the Ancients and is central to the evaluation of the cosmic credentials in Vishnu’s 9th avataric descent – a further example of the updating of our times.

Regarding Vedic Mathematics, it has been argued that the system presented by Jagadguru Swami Sri Bharati Krishna Tirtha2 should not be called Vedic because his aphorisms are not found in the Veda as he has used in his application of the sutras. It needs to be pointed out – and this will serve our present updating exercise as well – that the contemporary sage’s methodology is the same as the Ancients’, the process of discovery was the same though the function may vary in the contemporary application. The emergence of Vedic Mathematics in modern India reveals the eternal quality of the Dharma and once again how ‘seeds’ from the Vedic Age continue to flower today, provided the same method of discovery is used.

It is not the purpose of this series to prove that science in the Vedic Age was earlier or superior to that of the Greeks. That exercise can best be tackled by historians. My intention is to carry the experience of the Ancients into the modern era, and also to reveal that the passage of time enhances the experience. That can best be done by presenting an example of an updated vedi that rests on the same principles as the former. This contemporary example is not proof of the scientific skills of the ancients but is an application revealing the same features of the tradition that are found in texts such as the Rig Veda – that is, the cosmic harmony as expressed in the Journey, the central experience of the ancient school which I often refer to as an initiation.

The Mother was especially adept in the use of Number and Symbology. In fact, in the example of the updated vedi I will provide, she has carried them to heights never reached earlier, not even in the Vedic Age. Her superlative talent is proof of what I stated in Part 2 of this series: both Time and Circumstance join to enhance the original vision. This is an example of the ‘nourishment’ the Seed receives in the course of evolution as it moves ahead spherically, spiralling out into a ‘field’ that comprises ever larger quanta of energy for its enrichment. This enlargement is understood by the sequence of numbers or multiples of 9: the first is 0-9, then the next lap of the spiral is 9-18, then 18-27, and so on endlessly to reveal the larger quantum of energy embraced in each extension.

The Mother could not have undertaken her task as Sri Aurobindo’s helper in the manner required had the number system and calendar not been those used throughout the world. With these at her disposal, the original vedi has evolved to manifest its finest seed-potential through the consciousness of one of the world’s most eminent Seers. The updated vedi will be seen to reinforce certain premises Sri Aurobindo elaborated regarding the Supermind: for example, the simultaneity of Being and Becoming and the ability of only the supramental Truth-Consciousness to harmonise and integrate them into our experience of Reality, thereby resolving a paradox that has troubled the mind of seekers since the Vedic Age. This reconciliation and integration had not been achieved until the advent of the 9th Avatar of Lord Vishnu in our Age. It can be expressed as Time in its essentiality (Being) and Time in its periods (Becoming), Time compacted to a ‘seed’ and Time evolving out of the seed of itself ceaselessly, carrying evolution along on the spiral of creation. It concerns the most remarkable feature of our existence on this particular planet in this solar system – the miracle of Transcendence and Immanence. Vishnu’s 9th and 10th appearances cemented the phenomenon in the evolutionary matrix as the key undertaking for the displacement of Mind as the reigning principle over the human species, and the establishment of Supermind at the apex, the fourth, and highest principle of existence. It is this action direct from the Supreme that has the potential to alter life on Earth. The Mother captured this exceptional process in her contemporary vedi, a process already completed and indeed responsible for the remarkable changes we have been witnessing, affecting every aspect of existence.

When the human eye of consciousness crosses a certain threshold, then evolution is observable today in the cosmic harmony just as it was for the Rishi millennia ago. It is the coveted experience of Oneness which alone allows for the incorporation of Equivalency to unfold via the consciousness of the Seer and made operational on Earth. This enhanced perceptive capacity is the signature of the Supermind.

1 In the words of the mathematician Laplace (1749-1827), as quoted by C. N. Srinivasiengar in his The History of Ancient Indian Mathematics, a case is made for the utter simplicity of the discovery (the Zero): ‘The idea of expressing all quantities by nine figures (or digits) Linkwhereby is imparted to them both an absolute value and one by position is so simple that this very simplicity is the reason for our not being sufficiently aware how much admiration it deserves.’ Simplicity can be the key to effective application, as the Formula reveals.

2 Vedic Mathematics, 1st edition, Hindu Vishvavidyalaya, Sanskrit Publication Board, Banaras Hindu University (1965).

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