Introduction of Vedic Maths in three universities by Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) ideologue Dina Nath Batra recently might have raised eyebrows, but there could be nothing “right-wing” about it.
Away from the religious brush it is often painted with, Vedic Maths has followers across the globe and it could become the biggest Indian gift to the world other than yoga and curries.
Here’s why: Ask a 12-year-old what 106 multiplied by 102 is and he will take precisely three seconds to say it is 10,812 -- without putting pen to paper.
There are dime-a-dozen institutes offering Vedic Maths -- fondly called VM -- lessons and thousands of videos on YouTube to learn from. That’s how 22-year-old Neha Manglik, who recently scored a 100 percentile in CAT, improved on her problem-solving speed. “I spent a week studying Vedic Maths last summer,” she said.
This stream of mathematics is a set of 16 principles or sutras known to have been derived from the ancient Hindu text Atharvaveda, based on which even a slow learner can mentally solve arithmetic problems at a shooting speed.
Many foreigners have been following it since before the Internet boom. “I began my studies of VM about 20 years ago with a book by John Howse ... I have not studied books by Indian writers. I have written two books which enable children to understand the patterns in mathematics,” said 68-year-old Vera Stevens in an email from New South Wales, Australia.
“My method works very well for dyslexic students who struggle with the way arithmetic is taught in schools.”
Vedic Maths can be introduced to students as young as six and can be pursued up to the research level, though hardly any university in India offers formal education in this discipline.
“VM is innovative and makes mathematics more natural. It is similar to the acceptance of yoga for physical well-being and meditation for inner well-being. I have discussed the Vedic Maths system with people following different faiths in Oman, UAE, Sri Lanka, Hong Kong, US, UK, Singapore and many countries, and have discovered that they are very open to it,” said Lokesh Kumar Tayal, the 44-year-old CEO of Learning Analytic in Singapore. He learnt Vedic Maths 23 years ago at IIT Roorkee and took it up again 2008.
Several institutes offer Vedic Maths courses in and around Delhi through worksheets, videos and workshops.
IIM Bangalore alumnus Pradeep Kumar, who runs Magical Methods in Gurgaon, said its popularity has been swinging up because of social media. “People like it and share. We teach three lakh students across the world every year. I have also trained 3,000 teachers. VM can be used not just for arithmetic but algebra, trigonometry and even differentiation and integration,” he said.
Abacus and Vedic Arithmetic Study (AVAS) in Rohini recently trained 1,000 teachers on behalf of SCERT.
Critics have contested its Vedic origin, saying some of the techniques didn’t exist during the age of the Vedas, while some gave it a religious connotation.
“It’s like saying physics is related to Christianity. It has nothing to do with Hinduism. These are mathematical principles used to improve mental ability,” said Professor K Ramasubramaniam from the Cell for Indian Science and Technology in Sanskrit.