Vedic Mathematics: Ancient Indian Knowledge
BY: DR. ABHIJIT DAS
Mar 22, INDIA (MERINEWS) Indian civilization has surprised academicians time and again with simple age old techniques for solving complex problems. Vedic Mathematics, derived from the Ganita Sutra in the Vedas is one such technique.
Vedic Mathematics is the name given to the ancient system of Mathematics which was rediscovered from the Vedas between 1911 and 1918 by Sri Bharati Krsna Tirthaji (1884 - 1960).
In the beginning of the twentieth century, when there was a great interest in various Sanskrit texts in Europe, some scholars ridiculed certain texts which were titled GANITA SUTRA, which means mathematics. They could not decipher any mathematics in the translations and therefore dismissed the texts as rubbish. Bharati Krsna, who himself was a scholar of Sanskrit, Mathematics, History and Philosophy, studied these texts and after lengthy and careful investigation was able to reconstruct the mathematics of the Vedas.
Bharati Krsna wrote sixteen volumes expounding the Vedic system but these were unaccountably lost and when the loss was confirmed in his final years he wrote a single book - Vedic Mathematics. It was published in 1965, five years after his death.
According to his research all of mathematics is based on sixteen Sutras, or word - formulae. For example, ‘Vertically and Crosswise’ is one of these Sutras. These formulae describe the way the mind naturally works and are therefore a great help in directing the student to the appropriate method of solution.
Perhaps the most striking feature of the Vedic system is its coherence. Instead of a hotchpotch of unrelated techniques the whole system is beautifully interrelated and unified. The multiplication method, for example, is easily reversed to allow one-line divisions and the simple squaring method can be reversed to give one-line square roots. And all are very easy to understand. This unifying quality is very satisfying; it makes mathematics easy and enjoyable and encourages innovation.
In the Vedic system difficult problems or huge sums can often be solved immediately by the Vedic method. These striking and beautiful methods are just a part of a complete system of mathematics, which is far more systematic than the modern system. Vedic mathematics manifests the coherent and unified structure of mathematics and the methods are complimentary, direct and easy.
The simplicity of Vedic Mathematics means that calculations can be carried out mentally (though the methods can be written down). There are many advantages in using a flexible, mental system. Pupils can invent their own methods; they are not limited to the one correct method. This leads to more creative, interested and interesting pupils.
Interest in the Vedic system is growing in education where mathematics teachers are looking for something better and finding Vedic system is the answer. Research is being carried out in many areas including the effects of learning Vedic Mathematics on children, developing new, powerful but easy applications of the Vedic Sutras in geometry, calculus, computing etc.
But the real beauty and effectiveness of Vedic Mathematics cannot be fully appreciated without actually practicing the system. One can then see that it is perhaps the most refined and efficient mathematical system possible.
Why do we need to combine Pure and Vedic Mathematics?
Schools all over the world utilize pure mathematics for their curriculum. Therefore an in-depth knowledge of pure mathematics is essential from the examination point of view. Unfortunately the mathematics that is taught is most schools and colleges lack flexibility and therefore become ‘boring’ to the students. On top of that many teachers lack the insight and knowledge required to teach the subject. Fixed methods are also used for all operations thereby making the process of calculation lengthy and tiresome.
The right combination of Vedic and pure mathematics ensures correct understanding, extreme flexibility and an in-depth knowledge of the subject, thereby making calculations extremely rapid and interesting. This combination can be utilized for simple addition and subtraction, and also for more difficult operations like calculus, and algebra. Many of these operations can be done mentally. Therefore this can be used for students of all ages and standards. There are also wonderful methods for checking the sums.
Utilizing this method, the student will become faster and more accurate in all-mathematical procedures.