The significance of the Number 33

Morning walks are something to look forward to not just for fresh air, brisk movement and the feeling of wellbeing afterward but also to listen to some chosen interesting tidbit for the 40 min stroll at Thiru Vi Ka Park. Mostly I listen to the curated playlist on my Youtube app, or a multipart discourse by Sudha Seshaiyyan or an Audio story narrated by a leading story teller. Today Uma Balasubramaniam’s introduction to Thirupugazh came up on my newsfeed.  A disciple of the illustrious Thirupugazh Raghavan, she is celebrated in her own right. Her discourse, spanning 46 minutes, explored various aspects of Thirupugazh, including the significance of the number 33. Prior to reciting the first Thirupugazh dedicated to Lord Ganesha, known as “Kaithalam Nirai Kani,” it is customary to sing a musical rendition of “Muruga Muruga” in the Naatai raga. Today, I unearthed the hidden depth of this tradition—Muruga is sung exactly 33 times during this rendition. I looked up my copy of Raghavan Ji’s book on Thirupugazh and sure enough there were 33 Murugas.

thirupugazh Muruga Muruga

Click to listen to the rendition of Muruga Muruga by students of Raghavan ji.

Why 33? 33 signifies the 33 Kodi Devas. Kodi here means types. The Rig Veda elucidates these 33 deities as follows:

8 Vasus: Prithivi , Vayu, Agni, Nakshatra  Varun, Surya, Chandra

11 Rudras: Ananda, vijnana, Manas, prana, Vāc, Tatpurusa, Aghora, Bhairab, Vamadeva , Sadyojata, Atman

12 Adityas: Vishnu, aryaman, indra , Tvastar, Varuna, Bhaga , Savitr, Vivasvat, Amsa, Mitra , Pusan, Daksha

2 Aswini Kumars Twin brothers, sons of Surya

Which totals 33.

This number also holds significance in other religious contexts:

Elohim, the Divine Name, resonates 33 times within the narrative of creation in the biblical Genesis.

The second level of Heaven, Trayastrimsa, is characterized by its 33 divine inhabitants for Buddhists.

According to Al-Ghazali, a muslim saint, denizens of paradise remain eternally at the age of 33.

Jesus Christ’s crucifixion and resurrection occurred at the age of 33.

Astronomy reveals that 33 years mark the interval for the Lunar phase to realign with the Solar calendar.

In the realm of science, the human spine typically comprises 33 vertebrae, counting the individual components of the coccyx.


Do you know any other significance of the number 33? Pl reply in the Comments box.


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