Mystic No.7 in Music !!

seven blue

Compiled by London Swaminathan
Post No.977; Date 13th April 2014

Professor Ramanuja Srinivasan (1887-1975) writes:

“It may be incidentally pointed out that the number 7 which gives the number of time units in Misrajati appears to have fundamental importance in nature. In most of nature’s processes this number turns up at every turn as it were. We have seven days in the week; we have seven lokas, seven Rishis, twice seven manas, seven colours in the spectrum, seven notes in the music scale and so on.

Certain diseases reach critical stages on the 7th, 14th, 21st, 28th days, all multiples of seven. It is no wonder 7 was considered a mystic number by our ancients. Many of our folk tunes (chindus, Temmangus in Tamil) which are a natural expression of the musical soul of the nation seem to be in Misra patterns. Kavadi Cindus such as ‘Bhumi Mechidum’, ‘Sendhil Managar’, and the popular Anandakalippu tune ‘ Nandavanathil Or Andi’ (all Tamil songs) are in this Tala. Many of the devotional hymns lend themselves naturally to this tala patern; very many of the well-known padas of Kshetrajna are in Tripura Tala. There is something remarkable therefore about this tala. May it not be that because of the uniqueness of the number 7 that Syama Sastri gave that special prominence to Tripua Tala?

The above piece is from page 99 of Facets of Indian Culture By R Srinivasan


Why Kalidasa chose No.7?

“ As regards ‘Shakuntalam’, let me at the outset make a few observations about the construction of the drama. To me, this play seems to be perfect from the stand point of construction and scenic development. You know there are seven acts in ‘Shakuntalam’. I wonder why Kalidasa chose the number seven for the number of acts in his best play. According to the rules of Sanskrit histrionic art, a drama may have from five to ten acts. Kalidasa has taken the number seven. We know that seven is considered to be a mystic number, full of occult significance; there are the seven notes of the musical scale and the seven prismatic colours. It is also interesting to note that Shakespeare when he speaks of the world as a stage divides the life of man into seven stages

“And one man in his time plays many parts
His acts being seven stages”—————-

Might it not be that Kalidasa wanted to show this drama was to represent the world with the seven great stages and so divided into seven acts? I would even go further and try to show that there is some analogy between the seven stages mentioned by Shakespeare and the seven acts of ‘Shakuntalam’.
Page 168 of Facets of Indian Culture By R Srinivasan.
(Then the professor compares both the plays in detail).


ORIGIN OF SAPTA SWARAS ( Seven Musical Notes)

It is said that the seven principal Svaras have been primarily devised according to the voices and sounds of animals and birds.
Kalidasa refers to the traditional belief in his Raghuvamasam (1-39), where Dilipa and Sudakshina, on their way to the hermitage of Vashista, came across the sounds of the peacocks, corresponding to the Sadja ( Sadjasamvadhini keka dvidha bhinnah sikhandibhih)
R or Rsaba is like the sound of the bull
Ga or Ganghara is like the sound of the goat
Ma or Madhyama is like the sound of the Kraunca bird
Pa or Panchama is like the sound of the cuckoo
Dha or Dhaivata is like the sound of the horse
Ni or Nisada is like the sound of the elephant

From ‘Sixty Four Arts in Ancient India’, Anil Baran Ganguly, Delhi, 1962

days of wek

Please read my article Four Stages of Life and Seven ages of Man (posted on 21st March 2013:

Four Stages of Life and Seven Ages of Man
Mar 21, 2013

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