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Indigenously Indigo

Richard Merrick

So, what is it about the color Indigo that is so spiritual? Does it trigger something spiritual in our psyche or was it simply a matter of happenstance due to the availablity of indigo plants?

Indigo in indigenous cultures

Let’s start with a few facts:

Fact 1: India is named after the Vedic god Indra just like China was named after the life energy Chi.

Fact 2: Indigo is the Greek word for India, pertaining to the followers of god Indra in the ancient Vedic tradition.

Fact 3: The Indigo blue color of many Vedic deities originated in the Indus Valley, easily found in the indigo plant indigofera tinctoria.

The color Indigo is clearly at the very epicenter of ancient Vedic beliefs. But what was it exactly that caused this color to be used to represent the Vedic gods over any other color?

According to Hindu tradition, the Vedas are ‘not of human agency’ and called śruti, meaning ‘what is heard.’ This suggests a deep connection to music and, through harmonic equivalence, the quality of certain colors. Like musical tones in an octave, colors represent certain harmonic proportions within the visible octave light spectrum.

You will find in my previous work (excerpt here) that the color indigo was proven to be harmonically equivalent to the ‘supertonic’ tone in a diatonic musical scale (e.g., D in the key of C Major). I refer to this tone as the Harmonic Center because all of the other harmonics appear to oscillate (or orbit) around this frequency rather than the fundamental itself. Let me explain.

In my research, I found that the Harmonic Center corresponds directly to the ninth harmonic wave partial in the harmonic series and is the only harmonic that synchronizes perfectly with every damping and resonance point in a given fundamental frequency (the ‘tonic’ of a ‘key’). In this way, the ninth wave partial provides a harmonic axis for the formation of any tone. Without the ninth, coherent vibration (as standing waves) could not occur and harmonics could not form.

Ninth chords then amplify this ninth harmonic partial, thus creating a very pleasing synchronization pattern with the fundamental. This quality of the ninth was recognized in 19th century romantic music and 20th century jazz, accounting in large part for their characteristically ‘plush’ sound. We can see from this how the ninth harmonic partial could be considered a very important ordering principle in the cosmos and a very spiritual frequency.

So, when the harmonic series is applied to the visible light spectrum (electromagnetic standing waves), the corresponding ninth harmonic frequency turns out to be indigo. Presuming the Vedas were derived in this way from the study of harmonics in ancient times (‘what was heard’), it’s easy to see how this inky blue color could have been taken to represent spirituality and have a resynchronization effect with the fundamental of the cosmos, i.e., God. The harmonic and thus spiritual qualities of the ninth in sound may have been recognized in the color indigo.

Now, as indigo maps proportionally onto the geometry of the human body within a cymatic ring system (as illustrated here), it naturally aligns with a nodal point at the nasal cavity and base of the brain. This is the point at which the spiral of the head breaks through the cranial egg and unfolds into the spinal wave (described here). Given this, would not the term ‘Indra,’ ‘Indian’ or even ‘Incan’ then refer to the unfolding of spirit into physical form at the indigo proportion of resonance at the base of the cranium?

Applying this harmonic mapping next to the solar system, the color indigo is also found to map to Mercury (see this). Could this too have been interpreted as the point at which the spiral of the Sun’s heliospheric current sheet unfolds or resonates out into the heavenly body of the solar system? As incredulous as this may seem, how else would we characterize the amazingly harmonious 12 ratio of the Sun to Mercury?

Sun’s radius : Mercury semi-major axis orbit
695,000 km / 57.91666 Mkm = 12,000

or, as a color ratio:

Violet : Indigo
740Thz / 698.467Thz = 1.059463081 = 2.0^(1/12)

(And yes, this all has something to do with the Mayan calendar date of 2012, but that’s another story)

So we find at the heart of the Vedas the color Indigo – the Incan India ink blue of the Maya – offering mankind the ninth harmonic partial with which to synchronize to the fundamental of Indra, present in all things and at all scales. Here is a brief explanation of the Hindu Navratra by Pankaj Dixit, describing the importance of the number nine in Vedic tradition and its relationship to the night (evening indigo).

In Navratra, Nav means nine and Ratra means night. In Indian philosophy, the number nine is closely associated with the process of creation in the cosmic time cycle. The entire cosmic cycle consists of three phases — creation, preservation and dissolution. Each of these three parts split into triads (3×3=9) brings the numerical order to nine. Adi Sankaracharya in the 8th century AD clearly indicated the significance of number nine in the Soundaryalahiri, 11th sloka: “The four Siva chakras and five Sakti chakras create the nine Mula-Prakratis or basic manifestations, because they represent the source substance of the whole cosmos”.

In modern day, we find indigo associated with blue jeans, tribal tattoos, rhythm & blues, the Indigo Girls, ascended Indigo Children of the New Age, legend of the Indigo (Crystal) Race and linkages between Indigo People and 2012. Then there is the blue genie in Aladdin, Doctor Xavier’s blue telepathic body in the X-Men and blue Doctor Manhattan in the Watchmen – all Vedic god-like superheroes. This indigo color literally permeates pop culture and has become the root of many words describing indigenous natural beliefs. It is now the most common color in the world (outside of white and black) and the color of a mythical superhuman race on a planet named Pandora in the biggest grossing movie of all time – Avatar.

I can’t help but wonder if director James Cameron purposely used this Vedic color to somehow heal the world by resynchronizing the collective psyche through the indigo ninth. We’ll probably never know, but wouldn’t the world be better off with a few more of these blue jean clad, indigenously indigo avatars helping us out? Can’t you just imagine a tribe of blue-skinned musical superheroes floating back in cyberspace, returning perhaps from the golden spiritual center of Mt. Meru, to unfold a new sense of spirituality in the world?

India = Indus = Indigo = Incan = Ink

Navratra = Nine = Night = Na’vi

Richard Merrick

Richard Merrick was the founder and CEO of Postfuture, a pioneering rich-media communications provider for companies like Best Buy and Microsoft. Under his leadership, the company grew from a tiny start-up in 1999 into the top digital communications company of 2004 and 4th fastest growing technology company in Texas. Prior to this, he was the technology founder and elected CEO of 7th Level, a global CD-ROM game publisher and Internet technology company known for such award-winning titles as TuneLand Starring Howie Mandel and Monty Python's The Quest for the Holy Grail. Merrick's work spans many areas of digital media, including search engines, graphics operating systems, multi-media authoring applications, interactive games, voice-response Web agents and dynamically personalized Internet communications. Throughout his career he has been invited to speak around the world on the future of digital media and cited as an expert in leading publications. He is an improvisational pianist & composer, archetypal artist and independent researcher into the physics, history and social ramifications of harmonic science. He received his B.A. (magna cum laude) and M.S.C.S. degrees from the University of Texas at Dallas.

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