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The Spiritual Meaning and Symbolism of the Number 5

Radiance Talley | Jan 7, 2021

The views expressed in our content reflect individual perspectives and do not represent the official views of the Baha'i Faith.

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Radiance Talley | Jan 7, 2021

The views expressed in our content reflect individual perspectives and do not represent the official views of the Baha'i Faith.

According to numerology, the number five symbolizes freedom, curiosity, and change – a desire to have adventures and explore new possibilities. But it signifies more than just high energy and excitement. From biology and astronomy to faith and religion, the number five has special meaning and significance.

The Significance of the Number 5 in Science

We know from our physiology that we have five senses — sight, smell, hearing, touch, and taste — to experience the world. We also have five fingers on each hand and five toes on each foot. Most mammals, amphibians, and reptiles also have five fingers or toes on each extremity.

According to astronomy, there are five unique positions in space where a small mass can orbit in a constant pattern produced from the gravitational pull of two larger masses like the sun and the Earth. These five positions are called Lagrange points. There are five Lagrangian points for the sun-Earth system and five different Lagrangian points for the Earth-moon system. 

Lagrange points in the Sun–Earth system (not to scale).
Lagrange points in the Sun–Earth system (not to scale). This graphic was created by Xander89.  CC BY 3.0.

The interaction of these forces creates a point of equilibrium where a spacecraft can remain. For example, the Solar and Heliospheric Observatory and the Deep Space Climate Observatory are currently stationed at the first Lagrangian point, L1, between the Earth and the sun at about 1 million miles from the Earth. L2, which is 1 million miles from the Earth in the opposite direction of the Sun, is currently occupied by NASA’s Wilkinson Microwave Anisotropy Probe.

The Symbolism of the Number 5 in the Baha’i Faith

In addition to being reflected in our anatomy and the celestial orbits’ structure, the number 5 is also evident in the symbology of the Baha’i Faith

RELATED: The Spiritual Meaning and Significance of the Number 9

Along with the nine-pointed star, the other symbol of the Baha’i Faith is an emblem that shows three horizontal bars and a vertical line going through the center, intersecting them all. 

Bahá’í ringstone symbol
The Baha’í ringstone symbol

The line at the top represents God. The middle line represents the Manifestations of God or prophets (i.e., Zoroaster, Moses, the Buddha, Christ, Krishna, and Mohammed), and the line at the bottom represents humanity. The vertical line that connects them all is the Holy Spirit. On each side of the emblem is a five-pointed star.

These two stars represent the Bab, the herald of the Baha’i Faith, and Baha’u’llah, the prophet and founder. In fact, the five-pointed star, or “haykal,” means “temple” or “the body or form of something” in Arabic. One point of each star represents the human head, the two points on each side represent our two hands, and the two points towards the bottom of the star represent our two feet. The Bab often wrote tablets in the shape of this five-pointed star.

An unidentified tablet in the Báb's handwriting.
An unidentified tablet in the Bab’s handwriting

Shoghi Effendi, the Guardian of the Baha’i Faith, wrote that this “5-pointed star is the symbol of our Faith, as used by the Báb and explained by Him.” Interestingly enough, the numerical value of the Bab is also five.

In addition, in the late 1860s, Baha’u’llah wrote messages to five royal leaders — Pope Pius IX, Napoleon III, Czar Alexander II, Queen Victoria, and Násiri’d-Dín Sháh – to declare that he was a Manifestation of God for this age. These messages were written in the form of a pentacle to symbolize the human temple. In this tablet, Baha’u’llah wrote:

Thus have We built the Temple with the hands of power and might, could ye but know it. This is the Temple promised unto you in the Book. Draw ye nigh unto it. This is that which profiteth you, could ye but comprehend it. Be fair, O peoples of the earth! Which is preferable, this, or a temple which is built of clay? Set your faces towards it. Thus have ye been commanded by God, the Help in Peril, the Self-Subsisting.

But the Baha’i Faith isn’t the only religion that associates the number five with symbolic and spiritual meaning.

The Spiritual Meaning of the Number 5 in Other Religions

There are five sacred Sikh symbols that all Sikhs must wear to express their devotion and dedication to their faith. These symbols are commonly referred to as the 5 Ks: Kesh (uncut hair), Kara (a steel bracelet), Kanga (a wooden comb), Kaccha (cotton underwear) — also spelled as Kachh or Kachera, and Kirpan (a steel sword).

A photo of a Kanga, Kara, and Kirpan by Hari Singh, CC BY-SA 3.0.

In Hinduism, the god Shiva has five faces, symbolizing many meanings, such as the five senses. Hindus also believe that there are five elements in this universe: Earth, fire, water, air or wind, and space.

There are also Five Pillars of Islam, which are their core beliefs and practices. One of these pillars is that they must pray five times a day. In Christianity, there are Five Sacred Wounds that Jesus Christ suffered during the crucifixion. The book of Psalms is arranged into five books, and the Torah contains five books — Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy, which are called “The Five Books of Moses.”

RELATED: The Spiritual Significance of the Number 6

As you can see, the number five has so much symbolic meaning and significance to various people in a variety of ways.

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