What is Vedic Mathematics

Vedic Mathematics is a branch of Mathematics which teaches pattern-observation and faster calculations. It is based on 16 Sanskrit Sutras (aphorisms or word-formulae) using which numerical calculations can be done faster than the conventional methods that are taught in schools. These Sutras are like patterns. After learning these Sutras, one can see one or more patterns in a given calculation and use the appropriate Sutra(s) to get the solution quickly.

History of Vedic Mathematics

The author of Vedic Mathematics, Swami Bharati Krishna Tirthaji, was born to highly learned and pious parents in the year 1884 in Tirunelveli (Tamil Nadu, India). Venkataraman (his earlier name before initiation into the Sanyasa order) was an exceptionally brilliant boy right from his school days. He always loved learning. Sanskrit was one of his favourite subjects. He was greatly influenced by his Sanskrit Guru - Sri Vedam Venkatrai Shastri. Sanskrit was so dear to him that he gained a mastery over the subject at a very young age and for this reason he was awarded the title 'Saraswati' for his expertise in Sanskrit. When he was twenty, he completed M.A. (American College of Sciences, New York - from Bombay Centre) in seven subjects (which included English, History, Science, Mathematics, Sanskrit and Philosophy) at one go. Once again, he cleared all the subjects securing the highest honours in all of them. He was proficient in fourteen languages.

At the call of the National Leaders involved in the freedom struggle of India, he worked as the Principal of National College, Rajmahendri for a short period. But soon he quit the job and went to Swami Satchidananda Sivabhinava Nrisimha Bharati at Sringeri to quench his thirst for spiritual knowledge. After eight years of deep study of the scriptures, Prof. Venkataram was initiated into the Holy order of Sanyasa and given the name 'Swami Bharati Krishna Tirtha'. During these eight years of study (1911 – 1918), Swamiji had spent a lot of time in contemplation in the forest solitude of Sringeri. It is during these times of deep meditations that he got inner revelations on the 16 Sutras from the Parisista (Appendix) of Atharva Veda. Thus he gave the declaration that any problem of Mathematics can be solved using these 16 Sutras.

After a few years, JagadGuru Shankaracharya Sri Madhusudan Tirtha's (of Govardhan Math, Puri) health took a severe turn and Swami Bharati Krishna Tirthaji had to take up his position at Puri Govardhan Peeth. Throughout his life, Swamiji travelled all over India spreading the knowledge of the scriptures of India – the Vedas. During his talks, he spoke on different topics from the Vedas, modern sciences, Mathematics, etc. Vedic Mathematics was just one of his epoch making contributions to the whole world. When people asked how he discovered this new branch of knowledge, he humbly replied saying that it was already there in the Vedas. He just 're-discovered' it.

At the request of his disciples, Swamiji wrote 16 elaborate volumes on the Sutras. Unfortunately, all of them were irretrievably lost and the huge loss was finally confirmed in the year 1956. Everyone was devastated by the loss of such a great branch of knowledge that would have been useful for the whole mankind. But Swamiji was very calm. He said that he could re-write the whole subject from his memory. In one and a half months, he wrote an introductory volume on Vedic Mathematics. However, due to the toll that had taken over his health due to his extensive travel throughout the years and owing to his failing eyesight due to cataract, he could not continue writing. And, in 1960, Swamiji attained Mahasamadhi and left his mortal frame.

It is this introductory volume that is available to us now which itself covers Multiplication, Division, Squares, Square Roots, Cubes, Cube Roots, Factorisation, Simple & Quadratic Equations, H.C.F, L.C.M., Decimals, Fractions, Compound Multiplication and much more. The remaining fifteen volumes had higher levels of Mathematics and included topics like – Subtractions, Mixed Additions and Subtractions, Compound Additions and Subtractions, Additions of Vulgar Fractions, Comparison of Fractions, Decimal operations in all decimal work, Ratios, Proportions, Percentages, Averages, Interest, Annuities, Discount, the Centre of Gravity of Hemispheres, Transformation of Equations, Dynamics, Statistics, Hydro Statistics, Pneumatics, Applied Mechanics, Solid Geometry, Plane Trigonometry, Spherical Trigonometry, Astronomy, etc. Never in the past has anyone made such a discovery by encapsulating such a vast subject like Mathematics in just a few word-formulae.