Features Saturday, October 25, 2014 - 05:30
The News Minute | October 15, 2014 | 1.25 pm IST The debate has been on for some time now, ever since Human Resources Development Minister Smriti Irani said she wanted to “Indianise” the education curriculum. One of the areas she was looking at was the introduction of Vedic Maths in schools. On Wednesday, in an opinion piece published in The Hindu titled “Everything Vedic in ‘Vedic Maths’”, a teacher of the subject James Glover described Vedic Maths as: “Vedic Maths is concerned with a universal structure of Maths revealed through a personal approach to problem-solving and other fields of human activity.” The article seeks to explain the nature of the subject and is also a response to an article written by C K Raju under the title “Nothing Vedic in ‘Vedic Maths’” and also published by The Hindu. Raju had argued that there was nothing “Vedic” in Vedic maths. He says: “But where in the Vedas is “Vedic mathematics” to be found? Nowhere. Vedic mathematics has no relation whatsoever to the Vedas. It actually originates from a book misleadingly titled Vedic Mathematics by Bharati Krishna Tirtha. The book admits on its first page that its title is misleading and that the (elementary arithmetic) algorithms expounded in the book have nothing to do with the Vedas. This is repeated on p. xxxv: “Obviously these formulas are not to be found in the present recensions of Atharvaveda.”” Raju too wrote in the context of Irani’s wish to “Indianise” education in schools. Raju goes on to explain how mathematicians in the Indian sub-continent contributed to the discipline in extraordinary ways.  Saying: “Promoting the wrongly labelled “Vedic mathematics” suppresses the mathematics that really does exist in the Vedas,” Raju gives examples of maths related content in the Yajurveda. Glover counter’s Raju’s understanding of Thirtha’s text, saying that Vedic Maths had little to do with history. Instead, he said that the principles or sutras of Vedic Maths were to be found in a particular Veda which may not be published. He says: “However, on page 231 of “Vedic Metaphysics,” Tirthaji states that he found all 16 sutras in the Sthapatya-Veda in connection with astronomy. It is quite feasible that this is not a published source. Nevertheless, the indication is that Prof. Raju thinks the Vedas are a fixed set of texts from antiquity and that they are published and can be searched through. But this is not so. Yes, there are ancient texts commonly accepted as Vedic but there are other treatises, or expressions, which may constitute Vedas — those that are not published or even translated from the original Sanskrit language.” Quoting a Vedic philosopher Shankaracharya Shantananda Saraswati, Glover argues that the “Vedas mean universal knowledge and are not restricted to a hoary past. Vedas are living knowledge and not something from history.” For a detailed understanding of both writers’ arguments read the original articles linked above.
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