# Speed Maths

Last Updated: Mon, May 05, 2014 06:43 hrs

You have five seconds to solve 996 x 997 without using a calculator. Let’s see if you can take up the challenge. Well, it’s not difficult if you know your way around Vedic mathematics. The base of both numbers — 996 and 997 — is thousand. Subtract each number by 1000 and you get -004 and -003. Now multiply the subtracted numbers and you get 012. After this, cross subtract either of the number — 996 minus 003 or 997 minus 004 — and you get the same number (993). There, you have your answer: 993012.

Vedic maths is the world’s easiest way to solve math problems — and a great way of getting over the maths phobia that several children, and even adults, suffer from.

Some argue that the term ‘Vedic’ might be misleading given that Vedic Mathematics, the first book on the subject, was first published only in 1965. It was authored by Bharati Krishna Tirthaji, the Shankaracharya of Puri’s Govardhana matha and the founder of Vedic maths. The book contains 16 sutras or mental calculation techniques which are said to cover practically every branch of mathematics — arithmetic, algebra, geometry, trigonometry, calculus, applied mathematics, dynamics, hydrostatics and others.

In a world where calculators and computers have taken over the task of exercising our mathematical mind — one of the reasons for the rise in Alzheimer’s disease across the globe — Vedic maths can prove helpful.

Gaurav Tekriwal, a noted TEDx speaker who has been propagating high-speed Vedic maths for years, recalls an incident where he once asked a South African girl to multiply eight by seven. “She drew eight circles seven times and still got the answer wrong as 52.” Indians fare no better. In the Programme for International Student Assessment, conducted by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development Secretariat annually to evaluate education systems worldwide, India ranked second last among the 73 countries that participated, outscoring only Kyrgyzstan.

The serious decline in numeracy levels has caused concern among parents, teachers, students and educationists and created the need for remedial or alternative methods for students. This is where Vedic maths and other methods like Abacus come in. Vedic maths does not seek to replace the school curriculum or conventional maths, but to simplify it and make it fun.

Vedic maths is the genie that introduces you to a simplified, unified and superfast method to solve your maths problems,” says Tekriwal who was preparing for the Combined Admission Test (CAT) when he read Vedic Mathematics. He was awestruck by the simplicity of the solutions. Soon he started teaching it to his friends and in time founded the Vedic Maths India Forum.

Today there are several courses being offered in India and across the world. “In India, there are 10-30 focused Vedic maths institutes having 150-300 centres. And there are over 1,000 Vedic math trainers,” says Tekriwal. Kolkata Vedic Math Forum, for example, offers a 40-hour online course for teachers. This includes 40 live ‘one-on-one’ one-hour lessons online as well as basic and advanced concepts and proofs of Vedic mathematics. This course costs up to \$297. There is also a 30-hour online course for students, designed for those preparing for competitive exams (GMAT, SAT and CAT) and also for those at primary levels. The fee for this course is \$147. Then there are books costing Rs 125-325 and DVDs for Rs 4,500.

As Vedic maths becomes an industry, classes have mushroomed in several bylanes. But not every teacher or trainer truly understands the concepts of Vedic maths, which makes it important to run a background check before zeroing in on a teacher.

With time and research, Vedic maths is evolving. New applications of the sutras have been discovered and the concept is also being applied in information technology. Vedic algorithms have been found to be useful and research papers have been written on them, especially in the field of engineering. For example, Himanshu Thapliyal, a bachelor of technology in computer engineering from GB Pant University of Agriculture and Technology, Pantnagar, has been researching the applications of Vedic maths in information technology and has been awarded a patent in United States for his research on reversible computing at the University of South Florida. Shripad Kulkarni, an engineer in process instrumentation, has also applied Vedic maths in his research.

Many, however, argue that in the time of computers and calculators, Vedic maths is not needed. But then technology cannot be compared with the human brain and has its adverse effects. “The current education system is complex and structured. It involves modern computational systems like calculator and mobile devices which also keep the mind passive,” says Malini Shah, psychologist and co-founder of Aastha Chrysalis Center. “Vedic maths is an unusual way of problem solving. It stimulates interest in learning, gets children involved and keeps their mind active.”