Three symbolises Divine perfection and completeness. It is the symbolic representation of the Trinity in many religions. In Hinduism, it is the Trinity of Brahma, Vishnu and Siva. In Christianity it is the trinity of Father, son and the Holy Spirit. No 3 is also a symbol for Siva because he is the third in the trinity, has three eyes (trinetra), carries a weapon called Trishul and has three braids (trijada). The number three also represents AUM, as it represents three states of consciousness. The importance of the number three is indicated below :
- Agnitraya (Three agnis) – The three agnis are Daksina, Garhapatya and Ahavaniya. Of these the first is in the shape of a semi-circle, the second in the shape of a full circle and the third, a square.
- Adhamatraya. (Three kinds of low people)- The three classes of people who are considered to have a very low position in society are the wifeless, sonless and servant-less ones.
- Abhijatavihitatraya- (Three dealings with men of equal nobility). The three important dealings which should be had with only people of equal nobility are alliance, marriage and litigation.
- Abhinayatraya. (Three kinds of acts) – The three kinds of acts are the Hastabhinaya (actions with the hand), Angyabhinaya (actions with gestures) and Rasabhinaya (actions with expressions of sentiment).
- Avasthatraya – Man lives always in any one of the following states : Wakefulness, Dreaming and Sleep.
- Avasthabhedatraya – The three different forms in which matter exists are as Ghana, (solid) Drava( liquid) and Vataka ( gas )
- Asanatraya – Three kinds of important postures are Virasana, Padmasana. and Svastikasana.
- Itivrttatraya – The three kinds of plots in a story are Prakhyata, Utpadya and Misra.
- Rnatraya – The three different kinds of debts of man are Deva-rna (debts to gods), Pitr-rna (debts to the Manes) and Rsi-rna (debts to rsis).
10. Esanatraya – Esana means desire. The three kinds of esanas are Putraisana (desire for children), Vittaisana (desire for wealth) and Daraisana (desire for wife).
11. Karanatraya- The three instruments of action are mind, speech and body.
12. Karmatraya- The three actions are Srsti (creation), Sthiti (maintenance) and Sariihara( destruction). Yaga, Vedapadiana and Dharma also form one Karmatraya.
13. Karmakaranatraya – The three kinds of causes of action are knowledge, what is to be known and what has already been known (Jnana, Jneya and Jnata).
14. Kalatray – Past, present and future are the three divisions of time.
15. Kavyatraya – Gadya (prose), Padya (verse) and Misra (combination of gadya and padya) are the three different constituents of literature.
16. Kavyagunatraya- The three chief qualities of poetic compositions are Prasada( clearness of style), Madhurya (sweetness of style) and Ojas (force of expression).
17. Kavyopadhitraya – The three main attributes of poetic compositions are Vastu (plot), Riti (diction) and Rasa (sentiment).
18. Gandharvadharmatraya- The three duties assigned to a Gandharva are Pujyaseva (serving venerable people worthy of worship), Nrtyagitavadyaparijnana (study of dance, music and instrumental music) and remaining devoted to Sarasvati (goddess of learning).
19. Gunatraya- The three distinguishing properties of nature (gunas) belonging to all created beings are Sattvaguna, Rajoguna and Tamoguna. The three good qualities (gunas) of Man are Satya (truth), Sadacara (good conduct) and Lajja (modesty). The three results or benefits (gunas) to which man aspires are Dhana (wealth), Kirti(fame) and Svarga (heaven).
20. Gurutraya – The three gurus are Mata (mother) Pita (father) and Acarya (preceptor). Guru, Paramaguru and Paramesthiguru are also three gurus.
21. Tapatrayas – The three kinds of miseries ( which human beings have to surfer in this world are Adhyatmika (of the body and mind), Adhibhautika (inflicted by animals/nature) and Adhidaivika (by fate). The other three tapas (agonies) are Anaksarajnasambhasana (conversing with illiterate persons), Dusprabhusevana (serving arrogant masters) and Lambapayodharalingana (embracing women with hanging breasts).
22. Tauryatrika – The three constituents of triple symphony arc Dance, Music and Instrumental music.
23. Jatitraya – The three distinguishing types of all created beings are Uttama (best), Madhyama (mediocre) and Adhama (worst).
24. Dosatraya – The disorders of the three humours of the body are Vata (wind), Pitta (Bile) and Kapha (phlegm). Avyapti, Ativyapti and Asambhava are also three dosas (fallacies).
25. Triputikas – Jnata (knower), Jnana (knowledge) and Jneya (the object of knowledge ) are the three putikas. Subject, predicate and object are also three putikas.
26. Tripuras – The three demons who always formed a group are Tarakaksa, Kamalaksa and Vidyunmali.
27. Tribhuvana- Svarga (heaven), Bhumi, (earth) and Patala (Netherworld) are the three bhuvanas. (Worlds).
28. Trimadhura- The three sweet things are honey, sugar and Kadali (plantain fruit).
29. Trimurtis – The three Murtis (deities) are Brahma, Visnu and Mahesvara.
30. Trilinga- The three lingas (genders) are Pullinga (masculine), Strilinga (feminine) and Napumsaka (neuter).
31. Triloka- The three worlds are Manusyaloka (world of men), Pitrloka (world of the Manes) and Devaloka (world of the gods).
32. Trivarga- The following groups of three are classed as Trivargas (a) Dharma (Virtue), Artha (wealth) and Kama (desire), (b) Vrddhi (increase) Sthana (same position) and Ksaya (decrease), (c) Sattva, Rajas and Tamas.
33. Pralayatraya- The three pralayas (floods) are Naimittika (floods due to rains in and out of season) Prakrtapralaya (floods arising out of samvarttagni) and Atyantikapralaya (floods due to heavy rains).
34. Trividhayajnas- Yajnas are of three kinds. Karmayajna, Upasanayajna and Jnanayajna. There are six divisions in Karmayajna namely, Nityakarma, Naimittikakarma, Kamyakarma, Adhyatmikakarma, Adhidaivikakarma and Adhibhautikakarma. For Upasanayajna there are nine divisions namely, Nirgunopasana, Sagunopasana, Bhutapretopasana, Mantrayogavidhi, Astangayogavidhi, Layayogavidhi, Rajayogavidhi, Avataropasana and Maharsidevopasana. Jnanayajna has got three divisions namely, Manana, Nididhyasana and Sravana.
35. Trivrtti – Vaidarbhi, Pancali and Gaudi are the three Kavyavrttis.
36. Triveda- The three Vedas are Rgveda, Yajurveda and Samaveda.
37. Trisakti – The three kinds of powers are power of wealth and position, power of endeavour and power of good counsel (Prabhusakti, Utsahasakti and Mantrasakti).
38. Trisariras- The three bodies or physical adjuncts of a soul are Sthula, Suksma and Karana and the three bodies of Paramatman are Isa, Sutra and Virat.
39. Trisandhyas – Prabhata (morning), Madhyahna (midday) and Sayahna (evening) are the three Sandhyas (union of two divisions of time).
40. Dusanatraya- Vata, Pitta and Kapha are the three dusanas (disorder of the humours in a body).