What is Vedic Maths?
Vedic Maths is the synthesis of two words – the Vedas meaning ‘Knowledge‘ and ‘Mathematics‘ meaning the ‘Science of Calculation‘. So Vedic Maths essentially means Mathematics from the Vedas.
Vedic Maths was rediscovered by Tirthaji who was a revered saint in the early 20th Century in India. As the legend goes, he wrote a book after years of research titled ‘Vedic Mathematics’ where he gave 16 Sutras or word formulas by which anyone can calculate faster and simplify the way to do Mathematics.
While studying Vedic Maths, there are two types of methods a student is introduced to. One is a General Case which is applicable to all numbers and the second type is a special case which is applicable to only certain type of numbers. The knowledge of both cases makes calculations less tedious and makes maths fun.
Due to the simplicity and ease of the Vedic Maths System, it is gaining wide popularity and acclaim world over. Especially students of competitive examinations find it very useful as they have to solve numerous math problems in less time and they are always in need of solutions which give them accuracy in their results. Vedic Maths is that system as it also has an inbuilt checking tool in its methods thereby meeting the expectations of the students.
Vedic Maths is a reliable and relevant tool for students in many countries where Maths education is in a crisis. For example in the United Kingdom according to the report published by the Guardian, over 17 million adults have maths skills less than an eleven-year-old. South Africa, Ghana and Oman rank in the bottom three in the world for Numeracy Skills according to a report published by TIMSS. It is in these countries that a subject like Vedic Maths is most needed and required.
Vedic Maths just like Yoga and Ayurveda is India’s newest gift to the world. Vedic Maths is being proposed to be a part of the Indian school curriculum in the New Education Policy 2019. So far states like Uttar Pradesh, Punjab, Haryana, Silvassa and Bihar have already implemented Vedic Maths in its schools due to the system’s efficiency and simplicity.
Origin of Vedic Maths
Indian religions consists of Hinduism, Jainism, Buddhism and Sikhism of which the Vedic period (under Hinduism) marks the beginning of the period wherein works of Sanskrit are written. The word “Veda” means “knowledge or wisdom” in Sanskrit and these Veda’s are the regarded as the oldest sacred texts.
- The Rigveda – hymns to be recited by the hotṛ;
- The Yajurveda – formulas to be recited by the adhvaryu or officiating priest
- The Samaveda – formulas to be sung by the udgātṛ and
- The Atharvaveda is a collection of spells and incantations and speculative hymn.
History and Evolution of Vedic Maths
India has a rich, diverse and intellectual past.
India is applauded and known the world over thanks to its contributions, advancements, and achievements in many fields since time immemorial. It is one of the greatest ancient civilizations and because of its glory and heritage, it is respected worldwide.
India gave solutions to the world’s problems. Through its ingenious solutions, it helped the world advance and progress especially in the fields of science and mathematics.
‘Zero’ is one of the greatest contributions from the times of Aryabhatta in the 5th century. India also invented the decimal number system which is used to this day among other mathematical concepts. India had a series of astronomers and mathematicians like Bhaskaracharya, Brhamagupta, Madhava etc who worked relentlessly and made path-breaking achievements possible.
It is in this context that a spiritual guru who was also a mathematician wrote a book in the early 20th Century in India. As the legend goes he went into solitude in the forests of South India between 1911 and 1918, meditated and researched for nearly a decade and came up with an ingenious way to speed up mathematical calculations – mentally.
It is said that he took the help of lexicography, lexicons of earlier times because as a language develops and comes in context with other languages words change their meaning. Words get additional meaning and words get deteriorated in meaning. So he studied old lexicons including Visva, Amara, Arnava, etc. With these, he got the key in that way in one instance and one thing after another helped him in the elucidation of the other mathematical formulae.
His Holiness Shri Bharti Krishna Tirthaji – the spiritual guru gave 16 Sutras or word formulas by which one can supposedly do difficult calculations easily. He said that the techniques were from the ancient Indian scriptures called the ‘Vedas’ and hence called it ‘Vedic Mathematics’.
Tirthaji propagated the techniques through lectures and classes across India. He was the first monk of his order ever to visit the west and promote Vedic Mathematics in the Universities in the United States. He spoke at various lectures attended by thousands of students of various universities and organizations such as Stanford University, University of California, San Diego College, etc. His visit was even covered by the New York Times and the Los Angeles Times.
He addressed a select group of Caltech graduate students in mathematics at the California Institute of Technology. He was introduced by Mr. Wesley L.Hershey’s executive secretary of Caltech YMCA and thereafter Bharati Krishnaji discoursed and gave blackboard demonstrations. This meeting was the first in the United States in which His Holiness presented his mathematical discoveries.
Tirthaji authored his book ‘Vedic Mathematics ‘in 1957 and it was published in 1965 posthumously. His work was an epic instant bestseller among students and also attracted its own line of critics.
Ignoring the merits of the mathematical system given by Tirthaji, mathematicians criticized him for calling it ‘Vedic Mathematics’ and they said that the Vedas does not contain any mathematics and that the maths in the book were not from the Vedic Period as well.
Much has changed, after over 55 years since the book was published. The academic student community, in general, loves the methods given by Tirthaji. It is important for mental mathematics and its importance among competitive exam aspirants cannot be denied.
The rise of the internet only led to making Vedic Maths popular and most needed to make Maths fun and interesting rather than dull and boring. A search on Google generates over 35, 90,000 results as we speak in 2020.
A talk was given on TED on YouTube titled ‘The Magic of Vedic Math’ by Gaurav Tekriwal in New York, an active advocate of the subject generated over 2.5 million views. This is perhaps the talk that introduced Vedic Maths to students worldwide in the 21st century.
A wide range of books are now available on Amazon and some of them can also be found on Kindle, Amazon’s e-book store. Hundreds of Mobile apps are now available on Apple’s App Store and Google’s Play Store to learn Vedic Mathematics. Some of them also use Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning so that you can better learn the system.
A knowledge that was criticized is now commanding the attention globally thanks to the falling numeracy levels in those countries.
There are thousands of students studying Vedic Maths online via websites like Udemy and SkillShare. On-demand Satellite DTH operators like Tata Sky beam Vedic Maths programs pan India through their channels. There is live online training that goes on round the clock to train more teachers in the field to have a better understanding of Vedic mathematics.
In India, Vedic Maths is being introduced in the states of Uttar Pradesh, Haryana, Bihar, Silvassa and Punjab. A lot of academic as well as entrepreneurial interest is there in many countries including India, the United States, Australia, South Africa, New Zealand, Philippines, UAE, Syria, Ghana, Tunisia, etc.
It is no doubt that we can safely say that Vedic Mathematics is India’s newest gift to the World.