(Continued from the previous issue ... )

And that no man might by or sell, save he that had the mark, or the name of the beast, or the number of his image.

Here is wisdom, Let him that hath understanding count the number of the beast; for it is the number of a man; and his number is sis hundred threescore and six. (Rev. 13:17, 18)

And the beast was taken, and with him the false prophet that wrought miracles before him, with which he deceived them that had received the mark of the beast, and them that worshipped his image. These both were cast alive into a lake of fire burning with brimstone. (Rev. 19:20)

NUMBERS ALL!

Can you imagine a world without numbers?

Without numbers there is no mathematics. There won’t be the math teacher who every day comes to class to frighten the students. There may not be the moneylender who calculates the interest and collects the borrowed money with interest. These are some of the trivial pleasures that we might enjoy, if there are no numbers. But without numbers, we have to encounter a lot of difficulties.

In our day-to-day life, numbers are very significant.

To assess someone’s property, to file a case against acquisition of property disproportionate to one’s income, to weigh the jewelry owned women, to measure the intelligence of the children, to boast about your son that he has scored four marks higher than someone else’s son, to buy and sell goods, for the financiers to advertise and cheat people saying, ‘for your money we give so much interest’, for the Gujarati textiles to allure us with ‘Aadi discount sale of so much person’ – for many more affairs we need numbers.

Other than these, there are many more functions of numbers. That is why to learn the mysteries and the wonders of numbers, we have a special subject, mathematics, which we learn for many years.

From the act of checking to see whether we have won a lottery, to the launching of a rocket in space, we can't do anything without numbers.

To be precise, we are helpless without numbers in this world.

Leave alone this world, f we read the Bible, we find that numbers are being used in heaven as well. "Twelve doors, seven golden lamps, one million and forty four thousand people" - as depicted in the Book of Revelations, the heaven seems to abound in numbers. Wherever we go, the numbers follow us. We are not sure about the origin of numbers.

However, we know that even in the primitive age, man needed numbers to keep count of his cattle, to check whether they had all returned from the pastures.

How did the primitive man keep count?

He arranged stones equal to the number of the cattle and thus kept count of his cattle. Every time the cattle left the pen he kept one stone for each animal on the right, and as they returned, he arranged the stones on the right, thus counting the heads of cattle. If the stones outnumbered the returning animals, he knew how many were missing and went in search of them.

This method worked well for quite some time, till the cave men shifted a few stones to the left and took away some of his cattle. This created problems.

To put an end to this problem, man started counting, using the parts of his body. He counted his share of the cattle, by counting the fingers and also the lines on the fingers. We still find traces of this method in villages:

"What was the water-level in the river yesterday?"

"Yesterday it was knee-level; but last week, the same river had water up to the height of two men."

We don't know whose knee-level was the standard; neither do we know the height of the man, which was taken to be the standard height to measure the height of water.

It is only an approximate measure, yet they understand what is meant.

Even now the roadside flower-women use their forearm to measure the flower and nobody uses the ruler.

Even in TV cookery programmes, the one who gives the recipe refers to four pinches of salt and not to grams.

This kind of working knowledge of mathematics was widely prevalent during those days. When the cattle outnumbered the fingers and the lines on fingers, man struggled to keep count. So later on, when he needed a more accurate measure, he raked his brain and formulated the numbers.

We don't know the exact date of the origin of numbers. However, we know that in Egypt and in Mesopotamia, numbers were in use for more than about 5000 years. We know this from the excavations.

My Math Teacher often used to tell us that we should feel proud because India introduced the concept of zero to the world. (But he never felt proud when I scored the same number in Mathematics.)

The truth is that not only the 0 but also the other numeral 1,2,3, etc, have been Indian contributions. These numbers which were in use in India spread to other parts of the world through the Arabs, who visited India for the purpose of trade. That is why these numbers are called the Indo-Arabic numerals.

All right. You may wonder what is the need for me to discuss numbers here.

I am writing this only because there is a need. Do you notice that these numbers which were formulated for our convenience is slowly taking control of us? If you think deeply you will agree with me.

Why have the numbers taken over more than ever now?

There is a reason. This domination of numbers is an indication of the nearing of the end, mentioned in the Bible. This is the foundation laid by Satan for the enormous work he is planning to do with numbers.

Think about it. How greatly has numbers dominated us recently?

I hospitals, the newborn child wears a number tag around the wrist. Here begins our association with numbers.

"Have you given the drops to baby no. 7?"

"Why does no. 10 keep crying? It may b wet ... change."

"Baby no. 5 throws up often, doctor."

It is a practice in all hospitals to refer to babies by the numbers. As the babies have not yet been named, they are referred to by their nos. So we can justify this practice.

But what happens in schools? After we name our children and send them to school, the school gives them numbers for identification.

The child gets a roll number in school and gets a register number during exams, instead of the name. Does this number leave them alone after school? No. It continues to follow them throughout. How?

(In the next issue we shall see how numbers have dominated us in life?)