Reason behind using 108 as the Emergency Number

emergency medical services-ZHL

108 is the National Emergency Ambulance Number operated by the Indian Government in Public-Private Partnership with emergency service providers like Ziqitza HealthCare Ltd. Have you ever wondered why the number 108 was selected and not 234 or 555 or any other number? We’re sure you must have given it a thought at least once. Even if you haven’t, you would certainly be interested in knowing about it now. Like many of our Indian names and numbers, the selection of 108 number is rooted not only in our mythology but also in various scientific as well as psychological aspects. Let’s have a look at the possible aspects that buttress 108 as apt for emergency ambulance number:

  1. Sacred Origin: In Hinduism and Buddhism, the number 108 is believed to have mystical connotations. The sadhus use malas for incantation, which consists of 108 beads. One japa can be completed by chanting the mantra 108 times, which is measured by the 108 beads in the mala. Gods in Hinduism are considered to have 108 names too.
    In Ayurveda, there are ‘108 Marma’ points that are pre-requisite to giving life to a living being. In Karate, the ultimate Gōjū-ryū kata, Suparinpei, literally translates to 108 in the Chinese language. Even in the Tantras, there is a mention about this number, which is why most consider 108 as a number with sacred origins and apt for emergency ambulance number.
  2. Science: The scientific explanation for 108’s significance is surprising. The earth’s diameter at the equator is 7926 miles, while the sun’s diameter is about 108 times, which is 865,000. The average or midpoint distance between earth and sun is 93,020,000 miles, which is 108 times the sun’s diameter.
    The moon’s diameter is 2,180 miles. The average distance from earth to moon is 238,800 miles. Again, this is about 108 times the moon’s diameter!

    All of these calculative aspects make 108 a special number. And since sun, moon, and earth are considered the real source of life in our galaxy, 108 is rightly selected as an emergency ambulance number to save lives in critical situations.

  3. Energy lines or Ayurvedic explanation: It is believed that the human soul undergoes 108 stages on a journey. Chakras in Ayurveda are nothing but the points at which energy lines intersect. It is said that there are altogether 108 energy lines that converge to form the heart chakra and each of these chakras nourishes physical body and mind.
  4. Law: The uncanny similarity between the numbers for emergency medical service also extends to the legal discipline. Section 108 of the Indian Evidence Act, 1872 refers to the guide for the presumption of a person’s death if there is a lack of evidence. If the person is not heard for seven years, then to prove that the person is dead, section 108 is invoked.
  5. Psychology: 108 is also psychologically enabling a person to remember during a crisis. When we see the dial-pad, our eyes automatically look at the left end of the screen to the first number, and gradually goes down (to 0), and then moves to the left (to 8). Another explanation also talks about how culturally one refers to the male counterpart, 0 to the feminine that is the sole proprietor of the circle of life and 8 to infinity or eternity, which means ‘everything’. Thus, life can be experienced in one-thing, nothing, and everything depending upon the different states of consciousness.

These theories are often debatable. However, many believe at least one of them to be an apt explanation for selecting 108 as an emergency ambulance number.  Also, history and numerology have made it evident that the number 108 has certain connotations that are hard to overlook. We attempted at re-surfacing some of them to better understand emergency care and importance of an ambulance number to save lives in emergencies. If you have any other interesting facts to share, we would love to know.

Nevertheless, 108 is a number subconsciously imbibed in all of us human beings as emergency ambulance number by emergency healthcare providers like Ziqitza HealthCare, whose efforts to make a difference in India’s emergency medical services landscape has paid off. This in itself is a strong reason for you and me to be a first responder and call 108 whenever you or I witness an emergency.

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