When Buddha was born, he walked seven steps and then stopped without stepping the eighth step, and at every step there was a shower of rain. I ask: what does the seven steps symbolize?
According to Mahāpadānasutta, when he was born he stood firm on both feet, then with his face to the north took seven strides while a white canopy was held over him. There is no mention of a shower at every step though.
According to Mahāpadānasutta commentary, standing firm on both feet is a portend for achieving the four iddhipada (Intention, Effort, Consciousness, Investigation). Facing north is a sign that he'll rise above others, the seven steps he walked is a portend that he'll achieve the seven factors of enlightenment (satta bojjhaṅgā) and finally the white canopy held over his head is a symbol that he'll achieve nirvana.
Number seven is very important number. Music has seven fundamental notes (vibrations), Light too has seven fundamental colors (rainbow colors), so does a human. In yogic tradition enlightenment is about opening up seven Chakras. Therefore human evolution is a seven step journey in yogic traditions of India. Buddha was born in India/Nepal steeped in spiritual/yogic traditions. Walking seven steps is a metaphor which implies enlightenment (Nirvana) as the destiny of the boy.
simple meanings of buddha's seven steps:
- unhappy and painful realm/ hell/narka ko samsara
- hungry and thirsty realm /small mouth if foods and water available /pret ko samsara
- animal's realm /fearful life/dar ra trass ko samsara
- angry and quarreling realm/ ris ra jhagada ko samsara
- normal human realm/nuetral/sadharan manab ko samsara
- exit to the heaven realm/heaven/sworga ko bato samsara
- bodhisattwa's realm/ heaven/ buddha ko samsara