When 0 (Zero) is Considered Inauspicious…

Zero is a unique number that makes zero, if it’s multiplied with any number. Zero by itself has no value, but it’s a very selfless digit. If kept along side another digit, it increases its value. As the money increases, the number of zeroes also increases-
10
100
1000
10000 and so on…

But in India, that invented zero, it’s preferable to add 1 instead of 0 at the end, when it comes to give or receive money, e.g.
11
51
101
1001
5001
10001 and so on…

Number 0 (Zero) is considered inauspicious. In Hindi, Zero is called Shunya that means a void, a state of nothingness, a state of Moksha (Salvation). Therefore, at the end of whatever is given or taken, there should be 1 (unity) and not 0 (emptiness) as per Indian culture and traditions.

Rounded numbers like 500, 1000, 2000 etc are considered stable numbers and are not supposed to increase or decrease, showing no trend. But then the continuous change is the nature of life, and we desire changes for the betterment, for the prosperity and growth.

When we add 1 to an amount, it signifies a growing trend. So when we give money in the form of gift or otherwise, we wish that the amount being so given should increase and thus bring prosperity and happiness to the receiver.

51, 101, 501 etc are prime numbers or multiples thereof. Prime numbers are considered as strong numbers that can’t be broken easily. It signifies, “this bond will not break easily.”

This is precisely the reason that
on the solemn occasion of marriage, when two bodies and souls come together to unite for leading the future life together, cash gift in the form of Shagun is given in a number that can’t be split or divided.

This odd sum (indivisible) of money advises the newly wed couple symbolically that both of them are now a single entity and their bond is inseparable, and their resources and expenses are to be shared without dividing the same.

Though the custom of adding rupee one while giving cash gifts started with marriage, it’s now followed on all auspicious occasions like festivals, birthdays, inaugurations etc. The reason is simple. In a gift amount of Rs 501 for example, the amount in round figure, i.e. Rs 500 means for spending or saving, but the extra buck is considered a good omen. It’s considered the seed to grow, to be invested or given in charity.

We believe that the number 1 symbolises the initiation and so it’s an auspicious number. That’s why we never add one rupee and invariably give Rs 500, 1000, 5000 etc in case of rituals like death ceremony or death anniversary, as death is considered an unfortunate event in the life.

As a marketing strategy, we have seen companies like Bata pricing their shoes at Rs 999, Rs 1599, Rs. 3099 etc. Why? Because, it gives a psychologicsl impact that 999 is less than 1000, while 1001 is more than 1000. So people prefer to pay less, at least psychologically. After all, marketing is a different ballgame altogether.

Incidentally both 0 and 1, which we have talked about, are binary digits or bits of binary numeral system, the primary language of computers. Why? Computers don’t understand language or numbers in the same way as we do, so these two simple numbers are sufficient for them to communicate, as we do with the amount of gift.

–Kaushal Kishore

32 Comments

  1. Thank you, Kaushal, for your eloquent addition to our knowledge of Indian customs and interesting mathematical connections.
    As you, no doubt, remember, “You have to be odd to be number one.”

    Joanna

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you for your generous words that mean a lot to me. Once again, Joanna, thanks for value addition with your beautiful quote! Much appreciated!

      Like

  2. Zero, though, is a ground for new beginnings. Imagine you have a piece of land, it’s a great place to start building a house or plant your garden. Where there used to be nothing, a lot can grow. It’s fascinating how people around the world have different perceptions around numbers, names, colors, etc. It’s nice to learn about it.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. That’s the other way to think so. It has its own perspective. Thank you for sharing this beautiful reflection and also for appreciating our perspective. This world has diverse culture and traditions and we should enjoy this diversity.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Dear Kaushal,
    You have broadened our understanding with many beautiful, loving reasons for your country’s choice in using “one” as the favored number. Truly the desire for unity is one of the holiest desires of all and India has my awe and respect because it’s a nation that is outstanding for its peaceful and kind ways. I had not given thought as to why zero was used by my country until reading your writing, which not only awakened an appreciation for your choice, but ours as well. When I read that in Hindi, Zero is called SHUNYA which means a void, a state of nothingness, a state of Moksha (salvation) and then later you referred to it as “emptiness,” I had a “wow!” realization. Truly salvation comes when we are emptied of self-living-for-self (the carnal nature,) for it is then that our God can fill us with Himself.
    I doubt that the US and other countries knowingly chose zero for this reason, but God works to will and to do in us, eh?… He puts the thoughts in our heads and has made us and all countries beautiful in our time. Verily, we were made to express and glorify Him and oh how our diversities and the numbers one and zero do that.

    I had a dream long ago that being given a check with the amount written on it continuing off paper into infinity and it was connected with the name “Alan” which means “harmonious” with a spiritual connotation of “At ONE with creation.” If I remember correctly it began with the #1 and all the following numbers were zeros. When I asked the Lord what It meant, the revelation came that there is abundant life when when we have ONEness.” Truly, we have it when we love and respect one another.
    I appreciate your wisdom and labor of love in your writings so much, my treasured brother.
    🙏Bless and bless you more!
    ❤️Michele

    Liked by 1 person

    1. After all marketing is a different ballgame altogether. Need more information why computer don’t understand languages or numbers and why two simple numbers are sufficient them to deal as we want. Please notify most about selfless digit 0 but it’s positioning increases the value and other position can’t make effect also round number void multiple thereof , 1 number is being so given cash will increase a growing tend , stable number that can not be spilts or divided. Dear Sir I wish you maybe explain about zero from where the cycle of rebirth. In the reality we are setting a rate for dividing in to per kg/ M.T

      Liked by 1 person

    2. You have very well explained the whole thing revolving around the two numbers in a few beautiful words that I accept and resonate with. The distinction in cultures and traditions and even religions are bound to vary from place to place and from country to country. So far as India is concerned, we have a lot of diversities in almost every aspect, but we have to remain united for our own well-being.. That’s why unity becomes of paramount importance for us. Moreover, we believe in ‘Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam’ that means the whole world is a village. Thank you, Michele for your thoughtful and enlightening reflections. Blessings to you too 💐💖🙏

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Thank you dear Kaushal. Would to God every country had unity as its goal. United States sadly has become “Divided States” and there is mourning in my heart for my country and for the world…. How can we stand if we don’t honor each other, laying down our lives for one another in order to be “one”? I love the example of your beloved India showing kindness, gentleness and respect. These qualities are what are needed in all of us with an extra dose of humility, too. Your response to my comment was filled with those graces, Kaushal, and I feel privileged to know you. Yes, we do know each other by the spirit.
        God bless you for the thoughtful, wise and loving words that flow out of you enriching us!
        ❤️Michele

        Liked by 1 person

      2. You’re more than welcome, Michele. Your comments are like bliss. It’s my privilege and honour too, to connect with you. Much appreciated. Stay blessed, always 🙏💐💖

        Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s