7

There seems to be a special preference given to odd numbers in Hinduism. For instance:

  1. The ahutis in yagnas are always odd.

  2. Tradition of feeding 11 Brahamins.

  3. Tradition of feeding 9 young girls in navratra.

  4. Gifts or donations are always in odd numbers i.e 11, 51, 101 or 1001 and so on.

  5. Even the number of incense sticks in a pack is odd!

I remember asking this question to my father as a child. The response that I got was: "Nature loves odd".

Animals in a pack are always odd. If you count the number of birds in a group, you'd always see that it is odd. The number of days are odd, the number of planets is odd(even after counting rahu and ketu). Since nature prefers odd, so does Hinduism.

I am expecting some references from Hindu scriptures which corroborate the above theory or present any other theory.

  • In odd numbers, after making pairs of 2-2-2, "that last 'One'" still remains! :) BTW, the odd numbers ending with '1' are consider auspicious. Number '9' is considered a complete number. – iammilind Mar 4 '16 at 5:45
  • local superstition. What was your father's evidence for his statement? I have counted even numbers of birds at times. All anecdotal stories, no real evidence. You failed to mention the sacred number of 108 - wait...that is even.... – Swami Vishwananda Mar 4 '16 at 6:36
  • As said by others 108 is even.The Vedas are 4 in number.Gods are always in pair(even again) like Radha Krishna or Shiva Parvati.Dasa Mahavidyas ,Dasaavataras are again even in number.12 is the number of Vedic months,so again even.Tithis are actually 16 in number although the 16th one remains hidden from us,so once again an even number. – Rickross Mar 4 '16 at 7:06
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    @SwamiVishwananda I myself believe my father's theory had no real evidence, hence the question! – Vin Mar 4 '16 at 7:33
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    Even though you may consider this question to be falling under superstition, but you can't deny that 'odd' features prominently in daily hindu rituals. If no specific references are found in any of the scriptures, 'no' would be a simple answer. – Vin Mar 4 '16 at 7:39
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Numbers are considered sacred in Hinduism, whether even or odd. We chant odd numbers first and then even numbers in the Rudrabhishekam. Here are some significance attached to numbers, both odd and even:

Q: Can you elaborate on the number 7, like there are 7 days in a week, the 7 continents, the 7 chakras and so on.

Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Every number is associated with something sacred and has sacredness to it. That’s why when the Rudrabhishekam is done, all the numbers are said. Number 1 and 2 are very sacred. Number 3 is also sacred. Number 3 is associated with so many things, Brahma, Vishnu and Mahesh; Satva, Rajas and Tamas; Vata, Pitta and Kapha; Morning, Afternoon and Evening; Present, Past and Future. So number 3 is very sacred.

Then number 4 is more sacred. The four directions; the four Vedas has so much sacredness attached to it. The most sacred of the symbols Swastika has four corners.

Then number 5, the five elements which are very sacred; the five organs of senses; five organs of perceptions; five organs of action. Pancha Devata, there are five important categories of Devatas. A village panchayat has only five members and so 5 is very sacred.

Then comes 6, Shad Darshanas, the six systems of Hindu philosophy; Shadangas, the six angas are very important. Then the sixth sense, you say the mind is the sixth sense.

Then 7; seven Swaras, seven Chakras, seven days of the week, seven planets… 8 has its own sacredness, Ashta Dikpalakas, are the eight divine entities ruling eight quarters or the universe, Ashtadhatu, eight metals which are very essential for the body. Ashtalakshmi, the eight types of wealth. So 8 has its own significance.

Coming to 9, Navagrahas; Navaratna, nine gems; Navaratri, nine nights. In nine months a child is born. There are nine types of bhakti. 10 and 11 is also sacred. No number is left which is not sacred. In the West number 13 is considered unholy, but in India no number is considered unholy or unlucky. All the numbers are good numbers. Every number has some significance, some glory attached to it.

From a Q&A with Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: http://celebrating-silence-of-life.blogspot.in/2011_11_01_archive.html

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    wonderful answer :) – Vin May 2 '16 at 2:56
  • @Vin: thank you...not mine...thanks to Sri Sri.. :) – Amit Saxena May 2 '16 at 3:08

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